So it’s been officially announced that Chelsea and Aston Villa will both open their accounts with a double gameweek, followed by a blank in GW3. To put it simply, our early plans need to go out the door. My original team has been thrown out the door, however there are a few things we need to consider with this news. How many DGW players do we carry into GW1 considering they will miss GW3? Do we use our wildcard? All plans I’ll assess here!
Deja vu, this all seems rather familiar! For those who didn’t play last year, we were faced with the exact same situation in GW1. Previously this was unheard of, so there was many untried ways of tackling the early DGW. Having learned from last season I’ll take you through some of the options from both teams, then give my views on the biggest question of all. Do we wildcard or not?!
Let me make this clear, if you’re after DGW options then Chelsea is where it’s at. Two home games against newly promoted Hull and a struggling Aston Villa. Clean sheets, goals, the whole lot is on offer. So which players should we be selecting? I’m only considering those with solid job security, which at Chelsea is hard to come by. However Hazard (9.5) should be in 100% of all teams taking the game half seriously this season. He’ll play both games and if you can remember back to the start of last season, his double gameweek was epic. Get him in your team and throw away the key, then make him captain. Mata (10.5) is another option talked up, only priced a little higher. For me he is a definite pass. Spain have a match 3 days before the start of the season, ridiculous I know. I expect him to be rested against Hull and come into the side for the midweek clash. This will cause us two issues. Firstly it rules Mata out as a safe option, but it also means another fringe player will have to make way. Names like Oscar (8.5), Lampard (8.0), Schurrle (8.0) and Ramires (6.5) have been thrown into the mix, however job security over both games must be questioned. Mourinho has stated Lampard will be carefully managed throughout the season, while Ramires will play a role deeper in midfield. I definitely wouldn’t consider Ramires, however if you’re after a risk then Lampard has huge potential. Looking at the superior quality available to Mourinho this season, I can’t see how any of those players vying for that third attacking role in Chelsea’s midfield 3 can get consistent game time. So far I’m only on board Hazard, Lampard could be a sneaky midfield option also.
In attack there is only one option standing out to me at this stage, and he is a massive risk in anyone’s books. Lukaku (8.0) is showing unbelievable pre-season form and should get 1st team game time ahead of both Ba and Torres. While a sub appearance may be a chance, I think Mourinho will be keen enough to get off to a flyer to start Lukaku in both games. Even if he doesnt, he shouldn’t need long to impact for Chelsea in what I expect to be 2 comfortable wins. At this stage I’m on board!
Finally the defence, and I do love the prospects. We all know that Chelsea defenders have been capable of great attacking returns. Add to the mix an almost certain clean sheet against Hull and a likely second against Villa and you have great potential. Once again the plethora of options available to Mourinho will be the only issue. Personally I’m eying off Cech (6.5) in goals as he is the only one to offer the total job security of 180 minutes. Whilst he won’t get me any attacking returns, the guarantee of game time and hopefully a few save points has me after his services. Cole (6.5) is the next safest, however Bertrand should not be underestimated. I do expect Cole to start both games but I couldn’t say that with 100% confidence. His attacking returns haven’t been brilliant recently either. With Terry (6.0) back at full fitness, Cahill (6.0), Luiz (6.5), Ivanovic (6.5) and Azpilicueta (6.0) are left to fight with him for just 3 defensive positions. Whether Mourinho rates Luiz as a defensive mid is unclear as of yet, however I can be fairly sure that Ivanovic will start at RB for the first game against Hull with Azpili on international duties just before. The second game though is far less clear. Ivanovic could drop into CB, removing Terry or Cahill. Azpili could even come straight on for Ivanovic. I’m not too sure what will happen just yet, so many questions! Ivanovic should be your best bet, but I think I’ll stick with Cech for now. He did prove last season he loves a goal however, so if you’re a risk taker then he looks great value. Screw it I’ll go Ivanovic! Expect this to change around 47 times before season kick-off, perhaps toss a coin!
Aston Villa options:
Ok I’m not going to waste anytime here. Benteke (9.0) is an absolute jet and will be in my first XI for GW1. That there is no doubt. He proved last year that he can score against anyone, so don’t get put off by Villa’s 2 games away to Arsenal and Chelsea. However if you’re talking about the rest of the Villa team… Well be put off. I wouldn’t be touching any of them with a 10 foot pole. Clean sheets won’t happen, so put a line through their defensive options. Yes even Baker (4.0) will struggle to score more than 2 (if he starts) and has the potential to lose value after the DGW has everyone dumps him in haste. In midfield I don’t see much either, Tonev (5.0) could provide some value at some point during the season but not to begin with. Weimann (6.0) could be solid but that’s seriously clutching at straws. I’ll be selecting Benteke and running.
A winning wildcard?
In my view there is two ways of tackling the DGW. Pick a team purely for GW1, or select a couple of players for the double (I believe that is a must) whilst keeping your team structure relatively close to what you had planned, allowing for a quick switch back in GW2 and 3. Here’s the positives and negatives of both.
It will give you a chance to jump on early season bandwagons that perhaps you didn’t have your eye on to begin with. Last season guys like Michu and Fellaini fired in GW1, so those who took the wildcard straight up hardly missed out. Those who didn’t were left with the pain of minimising the damage bringing them in. Secondly it will give you a chance to look at every managers preferred line-ups when the heat is on. No mind games, no bs. If you are going to use your wildcard straight up then make sure you do your research, the information gathered during the first gameweek is gold! Price rises are a massive part of the game. By riding the price waves correctly you can improve your teams value immensely, which will prove to be vital when trying to gain the best possible team later on in the season when the best options are far more clear. Just quickly, a players price will rise the more times he is transferred in, and will drop if he is transferred out of a lot of teams. Just to clear that up. You can get on top of all these things if you use your wildcard before GW 3. The disadvantage obviously being you lose your ace card!
The biggest advantage? You have a wildcard up your sleeve! Depending on if you want to save it for the end of the season or the first international break, it is an extremely powerful tool to have. If you’re going to go throwing it away straight up then you better use it wisely! Secondly you get to pick a team of players you feel most comfortable with. Last year I had Michu locked in all pre-season and had actually traded him back into my team before Swansea had even played. Of course he went on to post the highest score of anyone playing just the one game, notching a lazy 18 points. Bloody frustrating. Trust me you do not want this to happen! However not taking the risk could leave you playing catch up from day 1.
Anyway they are the two options available. Obviously there are positives for both. To give you an idea of my thought process last season here’s my wildcard article written at a similar time during pre-season. I stand by my judgement of both options in saying that I will be wildcarding before GW3! Hopefully it will get me ahead of the pack, a head start I will most definitely need! However here’s a key point to note. If you’re after a high overall finish, I’d wildcard early. If you’re focused on winning a cash league, definitely hold onto it!
At the end of the day there isn’t really a right or wrong answer, it mostly comes down to personal preference. Last seasons winner used his wildcard in gameweek one, while the runner up didn’t. Personally I always like to take risks and using my wildcard early is something I have always done early days, now I just have a good excuse to use it! Cheers.