I mentioned this guy last week in the Dream Team GW3 and his point of difference capacity, but I felt he deserved a proper article devoted to him… He’s one of the few OOP players going around at the moment and we should keep a close eye on him to see if he has the ability to score midfield points to supplement his defender point scoring rights. And he’s super cheap too!
Marc Wilson (4.5m) – 0.5%
If Marc Wilson was available in FPL as a midfielder you wouldn’t go anywhere near him. He currently plays as a defensive midfielder and there are far more attacking midfielders available in the bargain basement bin. But he’s not a midfielder as far as FPL is concerned though. He’s delightfully picked as a defender.
To get a better understanding of my rationale I’ll take you back 12 months… Wilson missed about 4 months of last season due to a broken leg and only ended up playing 20 games. He played these as a left back, hence his positional choice in FPL this season. History will show that Stoke were fantastic up to the new year and kept 9 clean sheets in the first 18 games, that equals big point scoring defenders and nearly every one of us had a Stoke defender in our teams. Unfortunately Wilson only played in half of that dream run before the injury and by the time he was fit to resume Stoke were poor. Their run of 10 losses in 13 games from the start of the year nearly got them relegated. Due to this, Wilson’s total points last year doesn’t really reflect what the rest of the Stoke defence managed to score because he missed such a big chunk of that great defensive run in the first half of the season. Hence, his value is 4.5m.
Tony Pulis out, Mark Hughes in! The inevitable occurred and Pulis was handed his marching orders. Although the choice of replacement in Sparky has led to some banter about whether he is good enough for the job or not, I don’t think that’s entirely fair. All of us remember his time at QPR, and some of us his time at Fulham and Man City but he was fantastic at Blackburn prior to those and should be given a chance.
One of the first things Sparky did was say “I’d like to make them a little bit more offensive but we’re not going to chuck the baby out with the bathwater” and that he sees “steady progress” to how he wants them to play. Either he has an alarming disregard for babies, or he’s alluding to a gradual change in how he sees this team playing as opposed to trying to get to the finish line straight away. A risk when a new manager joins a club is that he tries to change too much too soon, which can lead to some ordinary performances, often in defence. It doesn’t feel that is going to happen here.
Sparky’s influence has already seen a fundamental shift in the way Stoke play. During their win against West Ham last game week, their pass completion rate of 78% was 8% higher than their average last season and they had 55.1% of possession. They kept West Ham to precisely zero shots on target. Granted this is West Ham and not a Man Utd or Chelsea, but this is still a Premier League team away from home which is pretty impressive. This season the midfielders aren’t getting sun burnt tongues watching the ball fly over their heads for 90 minutes, they are actually being asked to pass the ball around to each other and other fancy Dan things…
One of the second things he did was turn Marc Wilson back into a midfielder. This was the position he spent most of his time back at Portsmouth (where he was club captain, one of the youngest captains in Pompey’s history by the way) so it’s not completely foreign to him. He’s already struck up a good partnership with N’Zonzi and is getting some very good reviews. Importantly, he doesn’t have much competition for the role. It seems so far this season that the third centre midfielder being deployed is either Whelan or Adam (and potentially Ireland now). The other remaining option for the defensive midfielder role is Wilson Palacios but the general consensus is he’s nearly finished.
So what have we got so far…
- Stoke should be solid in defence = tick
- Wilson has good job security = tick
What more do you want from a super cheap “defender”? Well, some sort of attacking capacity would be handy… This is where the argument sort of hits a wall. Fortunately it isn’t a brick wall, it’s probably made of cardboard or some flimsy polystyrene. Although he’s playing as a defensive midfielder Wilson is showing that he can provide some influence in attack but not quite enough just yet to be confident he can hit the points on a regular basis. In GW2 against Palace he created a few goal scoring opportunities and against West Ham he had a couple of shots on goal. Once he becomes more comfortable in the role and the style of play I can definitely see him getting some attacking points on occasions.
In summary. If Stoke hadn’t purchased Erik Pieters and Marc Wilson was still playing in defence for Stoke he would represent pretty good value already. The fact he’s regularly playing in midfield but getting the benefits of his defender status now represents great value. They have a few tricky games coming up (Man City home and Arsenal away) but their run after that is very tasty. He is at the very, very top of my shortlist for when GW6 rolls around. It might even be about the time I wildcard to bring in some of the new guns and having a 4.5m player of any position getting games and points is vital.
P.S. If you happen to stumble upon this Marc, GET IN SON!!!!