It was a while coming, but for good reason. Go and grab some popcorn because this will be huge! This is my second favourite time of year, besides early August. A new wildcard has become available to us, and boy isn’t it well timed. Most of our teams have been struck by injuries, and some of our hands have been forced! I’ll be doing a wildcard special this week, so sit back and relax! There’s plenty to get through…
The hot buys and quick sales will be structured a little differently this week, with the focus off past performance and more concentrated on the weeks ahead! Forget what your players have done so far, this is a new start.
- Koscielny – Arsenal’s backline has been on fire of late, and 5.5 is a bargain for a stalwart in the leagues tightest defence. He gets plenty of attention from the bonus point system and is amazing value. Sagna is an alternative option at the same price. Mertesacker is also available, however at 6.5 I think his value is being stretched.
- Coleman – Make no bones about it, if you couldn’t fit him in yet it’s time to wildcard. He has to be there! By far the Premier League’s best RB this season and looks like he will finish the competitions highest scoring defender. Who needs Baines?!
- Nastasic – Players coming back from injury around this time of year are absolute gold. Managers squads are getting ever thinner and their value will have dropped significantly. Nastasic is City’s preferred starting CB alongside Kompany and he will cost you just 5.1. What else do you want? Some better injury luck to be honest, let’s hope he can stay fit!
- Chester – If you’re after a fresh fifth defender then look no further. This is the beauty of a wildcard, and it can free up the necessary cash elsewhere. Hull are incredibly solid at home (6 goals conceded in 10 games with 6 clean sheets) and he will set you back just 3.9. Bargain.
- Bardsley – An interesting option, and one I am considering very strongly short term. Sunderland have turned it around at the back, however these runs don’t usually last for long. They do have fantastic fixtures ahead and I think he is a great little short term option, just be wary of own goals!
- Szczesny – Howard’s red card ended up being a very timely one for me, getting on the Szczesny bandwagon early. You can do no wrong at 5.9, I prefer to select a lock in keeper and he is certainly that! Arsenal have a kind run of fixtures with their next 4 fixtures featuring 2 bottom 5 clubs at home and the struggling Southampton and Villa. Lock and load! Cech is another great keeping option, hopefully Chelsea will remain water tight at the back.
- Clyne – He will have been forgotten after Southampton’s tough run of fixtures, however he is fit again and will provide great value at 4.5 with the Saints kind run for the next 6 games. West Brom, Sunderland, Arsenal, Fulham, Stoke, Hull and West Ham to be precise. Mid season is the perfect time to re-unite friendships with the early season bolters!
- Zabaleta – He has returned from injury and is fit to reclaim his RB position in City’s starting XI. He is great value at just 6.0 in one of the League’s best defences. Don’t let the tough fixtures put you off, 5 assists in 17 games and clean sheets on the horizon make him a great target. Kompany is also a great alternative is you have the cash in the bank. Much safer option compared to the injury prone Nastasic.
- Azpilicueta – Finally a riskier proposition, but one that should be firmly on our radars. Azpilicueta has re-claimed his starting position in Chelsea’s first XI, filling in at LB funnily enough with Cole left out high and dry! Ivanovic’s injury will see him move back to RB and his versatility will only bring him more game time. Just be wary for any signings Chelsea make in defence. I’m looking at bringing in either him or Nastasic at this stage, both are great value options.
- Ozil – He will be the most popular transfer in this week by default. It just makes sense. His value has dropped to 9.9, Walcott has gone down and Ozil has returned from injury. I’ll be locking him in that’s for sure, there isn’t really an abundance of great alternatives either. It probably comes down to him and Toure, and I’ll be backing Ozil every day of the week. Stubbornness? Maybe!
- Eriksen – Will definitely be the popular midprice pick for the week, and for good reason. Spurs are under a new manager and Sherwood has brought Eriksen right back into the thick of things. He has scored 27 in his 4 games since returning with 2 goals and an assist. His role in the hole is very fpl friendly and he looks to be fantastic value at 7.2. You really can’t go wrong with a midpricer at the moment as there is so many great replacements. Ramsey is the same price and about to return if things go array. Looks like I’ll be jumping on board with Cabaye doubtful.
- Hazard – If you have missed out recently I feel for you. There have been a number of opportunities to jump on board and I truly feel he is a must have in midfield. He’s as sure a thing as you can get and the lack of premium options only helps his case. Lock and load.
- Toure – It will take a lot to force me to buy Yaya, however those who have continued to back him in are continuing to reap the rewards. He is only going from strength to strength and those free kicks are getting even better. They might as well be a penalty for him! Consistency personified, a safe option going forward.
- Silva – Personally I will be sticking with Silva. He plays in a much more advanced role and relies less on dead ball situations. When fit he is a top 3 midfielder in fpl and at 9.3 selected by 5.2%, I think he is the perfect inclusion for those looking for a Walcott replacement (who don’t have him already of course). Will be amazing if he can stay fit.
- Gnabry – One option not many will consider, but a perfect little purchase as your 5th midfielder. Priced at 4.2 he is a bargain for the potential he possesses. He was incredible in the FA Cup against Spurs and will get a great run in the first team with Walcott out injured. I suspect Oxlade-Chamberlain is still a few weeks away from a first team start, so he will get enough of a run to make an impact. I’m bringing him in! The Ox is another to look out for when he returns from injury, as he looks to build up match fitness. He could be a great midfield option at just 6.8, look at the opportunities just one injury creates!
- Ramsey – Whatever you do, don’t leave Ramsey out of your wildcard planning. I think he’ll return to the bench as early as this weekend, with a first team comeback just one GW away. Now priced at just 7.2, he will be a great option to watch once fit. Just beware of the Fellaini syndrome, players in a breakout season don’t always keep up such incredible form after an injury lay off. Perhaps wait to see him get back on the scoresheet first.
- Lallana – Another midpricer to keep on the watchlist. He does not look like slowing up and looks on a mission to be named in England’s world cup squad. He is enjoying a career best season and 7.3 is not bad value. Yet another replacement option if you decide to take the gamble on Eriksen.
- Gerrard – Finally I have an option that everyone should have their eyes on. Gerrard has returned from injury and will start this weekend against Stoke. He is priced at just 8.7 and is by far the best midfield option after Silva, Yaya, Hazard and Ozil. Perhaps he is even an alternative to Ozil! He notched 1 goal and 5 assists in the 5 games before his injury, and Liverpool should start banging the goals in with both him and Sturridge returning. As a differential, they don’t come much better.
- Suarez – There is no way forward without him, so whatever you do, make sure he is in your team post wildcard.
- Sturridge – I think Sturridge will make his first team return as early as this weekends clash against Stoke. Whilst it will almost certainly be from the bench, you can almost lock him in against Villa at home. At 9.1 he represents incredible value and I will certainly be re-uniting the SAS partnership upfront. Since Aguero has gone down the third striker has been a big problem. Worry no more! Don’t leave him out of your plans.
- Rodriguez – The form cheap striker of the EPL at the moment, he has been banging in goals for fun. However I always get concerned after a mid pricer has such a great run, as they rarely keep it up for much longer.He didn’t score for the first 6 games of the season, and a return to that kind of form cannot be ruled out of the question. A very risky pick, but a differential that could pay off handsomely if it succeeds. If it helps your team structure then don’t be afraid to pull the trigger.
- Adebayor – I’m afraid I must admit a sin. I am not only seriously considering him, he is in my starting XI for the next gameweek. Adebayor has returned from the wilderness and sent sparks flying, re-igniting Spurs long lost hunger for goals. I am leaving the cash in the bank to move him on to Sturridge next week, risky I know, but I just couldn’t resist a home game against Palace. Long term he is still a great alternative to someone like Lukaku if you want to change things up, however he doesn’t fit into my teams structure. Don’t change your structure around him whatever you do.
- Welbeck – Another great cheap forward option, although I’m not sure of his value long term. He is relishing the chance to lead the line for United and has scored 5 goals in his last 5 games. Bear in mind that he has started and played 2 full games in the FA Cup and Capital One Cup in the past week and RVP is on the verge of a return. Too risky for my liking.
- Bony – There is no doubt that Bony is finally starting to hit his straps. 2 goals in an extremely impressive performance against Man City, followed up by the winner last weekend in an FA Cup tie against United. If the past week is anything to go by then fixtures aren’t his biggest concern, and if he can keep this form up he looks unbelievable value at 7.3. We all know of his goal scoring ability after his goal a game season last year, so the last piece of the puzzle is finding some consistent form. He does however have a tough couple of fixtures coming up, so it may be best to hold off and see if he can keep it up. Definitely one to watchlist.
- Benteke – Finally you can’t write off the big Belgium. We have moved into a world cup year after all, and he will be hungrier than ever. He has returned to full fitness and should return to all of our radars. Forget the fact that he hasn’t scored since September, the time is now. Don’t bring him in until he shows some signs of life, however once he starts banging them in I get the feeling they will flow. Keep an eye on him at just 8.7, an in form Benteke is worth much more.
- Dawson – AVB had the Spurs defence sorted at the start of the season, however it wasn’t the brand of football they wanted. The clean sheet against Stoke was their first in 9 games, and Sherwood doesn’t look like shutting up shop. Hold him for this weeks game against palace, but I’d be looking elsewhere for value defensive options. Nastasic, Azpilicueta and Koscielny for a start.
- Distin – He has been ruled out for a couple of weeks, and with that news comes the end of Everton’s easy fixtures. Little did that matter, as Everton managed to concede 1 goal in every game for the past 6 gameweeks, even against the League’s lowest scoring oppositions at home. I give up. Thanks for your services Distin, but it’s time to go. See the aforementioned transfer targets above.
- Howard – If you have held him for whatever reason, this should probably be his last week in your team. Szczesny looks a very viable replacement.
- Debuchy – A lot of people decided to trade him in over the past month, for reasons I must have missed. His red card means he will miss this weekends clash against Man City, not the worst thing to have happened. However missing yet another game after that means he has to be traded. I don’t really rate Newcastle’s defence anyway, and I think he should be traded in the long run either way. Williamson is just 4.4!
- Johnson – Unfortunately Glen Johnson didn’t turn out to be the value option he potentially could have been. He still hasn’t scored this season (which is a surprise) and Liverpool’s defence remains shaky. He just doesn’t hold the value that Zabaleta does at a similar price, with 5 assists compared to just 1. A calf complaint could be the perfect time to move him on. (If he moves to Arsenal scratch everything, he’s back on the radar)
- Lovren – For anyone stuck with those expensive Southampton centre backs from the start of the season, you can finally be free! Lovren and Fonte no longer hold any value at all and can be shipped on for a nice profit. Plenty of replacements at his price.
- Terry – At 6.6 I just can’t give you any valid reason to keep Terry. Yes he scores the occasional goal, if you had to guess, how many do you reckon he has scored this year? I know I would of thought more than 2. Just 2. Kompany has done exactly the same in a handful of games at a cheaper price! Azpilicueta looks the best way into Chelsea’s defence, while you can grab Cech if you want a stalwart. Ivanovic continues to start but I feel he could get the boot at any time if Chelsea buy a LB.
- Cabaye – An achilles complaint is never good news. Pardew has said that he is doubtful for this weekend, notice how he didn’t say he was hopeful. Cabaye isn’t expected to return to training until friday, so how the hell is he meant to play? Whether he will return fully fit after this weekend is doubtful anyway, achilles usually don’t just disappear into thin air. I’m looking to move him on, however if you can cover him this week it might be worth holding him. Might.
- Nasri – With Silva’s return came the end of Nasri’s relevance. At 8.4 there is just so much better value in the midprice range, or just 0.3 up to Gerrard that he simply must be traded. If Silva goes down, we still have back up!
- Morrison – He has struggled with injuries and is no longer locked in West ham’s best XI after a few poor weeks. At 4.7 you almost might as well hold, however Bannan still holds good value at 4.4. Gnabry is also a great one to consider, as previously mentioned.
- Navas – He will be in and out of City’s starting XI with the return of Aguero and Jovetic almost ready to return. If you trialed him then good on you for trying, however he has to go immediately.
- Shelvey – If you got stuck with Voldy then I feel for you. He has dropped off and just can’t find that finishing touch at the moment. You might as well trade him to a value option and save the cash.
- Henderson – He was a great option for a couple of weeks, but surprisingly (not) it didn’t last long. Gerrard is now back and I can see Henderson dropping into his customary deeper role. Whilst he may perform better than before, he won’t maintain the value of the other midprice options. 6.4 is an awkward price.
- Sterling – Another Liverpool player who benefited from his team mates injury will soon be in trouble once again. Sterling has been admittedly brilliant in Sturridge’s absence, but with his first team return imminent, it’s time to drop Raheem after this week. I can’t see him kicking out Coutinho, Sturridge or Suarez…
- Oviedo – For those still stuck with the unlucky Brian, it’s time to swap him over. Baines is back and that’s the last we will see of him unless Leighton leaves or gets injured once again. I can’t see either happening.
- Negredo – His away form. Need I say anymore? When you are paying 9.8 for a striker, the least you want is consistency. At home you will get just that, with Negredo scoring in his last 6 consecutive home starts. However his away form is deplorable, with just 1 goal and 1 assist coming in 9 away appearances for the Spanish striker. Whilst there is merit in holding him for City’s home clash against Cardiff, Aguero’s return will signal the end of his fpl relevance. Start planning a way to get him out, Aguero seems a pretty good place to start.
- Dzeko – If you picked him up for this period then you would be fairly happy with his output, however it’s best to look to trade him out. Rodriguez, Bony and Adebayor all hold value in a similar price range. Don’t let him overstay his welcome.
- Giroud – Injury, illness. Whatever he is missing with, it’s hurting his fpl prospects. Arsenal are almost certain to sign a striker during the transfer window, and whilst they will probably just be back up to Giroud, you need to be very wary. I’d hold off this trade for as long as possible. I expect Giroud to return this week anyway.
- Lukaku – He hasn’t exactly been consistent this season, to say the least. 1 goal in the past 7 weeks is not enough of a return for someone priced at 8.7. If he is valued at only 8.0 for you then I advise holding, however if you have picked him up recently he might as well be shifted out. Having said that I have no doubt he will have at least one more burst before the season is out, so keep an eye on his form.
- Podolski – Unfortunately this risk didn’t quite pay off. He was given a start up front against Cardiff which is all we could hope for, however he didn’t grasp his opportunity. In fact he looked confused at times. This really hurt and I could see him remaining stranded on Arsenal’s bench, even though I would love to see him start left wing on a regular basis. Keep an eye on his playing time, but trade for now.
Walcott – Ok, so after all that we come to the conundrum of the week. I have done most of the dirty work already, so here it is simply. Walcott is out for 6 months and must be traded immediately. What you do with him depends on your wildcard situation, something I will touch on very soon. However the simple straight swap is to Ozil. Is just makes sense. Though there are quite a few alternatives. I would highly recommend you trade him to another premium and not someone like Eriksen, as there is no point in going backwards. Gerrard and Silva are both brilliant alternatives if you can’t reach Ozil. In fact I recommend Silva if you don’t have him anyway. Coutinho is a riskier prospect and one that I would shy away from, however the potential is there. Personally I have gone straight to Ozil, you can’t really go wrong there.
The big question of the week is what to do with our January wildcard available to us for a limited amount of time. I reckon there is 2 options. Use it this week and patch up your injuries. This is what I am doing, and whilst it is certainly risky, a well taken wildcard early can have massive advantages. I used mine perfectly in GW2 and it has set me up brilliantly, while some people who waited got stuck on the wrong bandwagons. The advantage of taking it early is that your team has 2 extra weeks of perfection to catch up to those who wait patiently. Personally I had 3 guys who were going to miss this weekend and another in doubt, and an 8 point hit was on the cards. What the hell is the point of taking a big hit when you have a wildcard available to you? Personally I was reasonably happy with my team anyway and it was just a patch job.
The obvious risks involved with an early wildcard is missing out on what happens during the transfer window. It can be a massive advantage to take your wildcard before GW24, so you can construct your team around any new players that have joined the Premier League. However you can also miss out on a few price changes, and if there are no big changes made then you are really losing out. The next 2 or 3 gameweeks are huge. For someone like me who has taken the wildcard early, I need to pray for no injuries. The hectic festive period is over and any more injuries now will just cause me more pain and I will have to take hits to patch them up anyway. However if we have a couple of good weeks, you sit ahead of the bunch who wildcarded late. It’s a simple risk reward system.
My most simple advice is this. If you are looking at anything like an 8 point hit or more, I reckon you might as well wildcard. Injuries are hitting hard and if you don’t like your team you are better off taking it. However if your squad has escaped most of the carnage and you are happy where you sit, definitely hold! Your wildcard should be used as a last resort and if it can be held, it only brings you advantages. Just don’t hold off in the anticipation of any massive signings, I can really see this being a slightly dull transfer window, with most of Europe’s big targets off the agenda until Summer. Then again what do I know!
Finally I thought I should give you an update on my team, how I am travelling and what changes I have implemented with my wildcard. Here goes:
Who says you can’t do well making hits?! Ok I admit, it’s not something I am proud of. However it’s how I like to play the game, if I really want a player I will chase him. That’s the fun of fpl. Besides, I can’t really complain with an overall ranking of 5k halfway through the season! Imagine what I could of done with those 64 points back! Anyway, I have focused on my teams structure most with my wildcard. I got my structure right at the start of the season with a cheap defense, so that saved me a lot of hassles while others scrambled after a poor wildcard. As you can see between GW’s 3 and 7, just after my wildcard, is where I gained most of my ground. This is a great lesson to learn, and why wildcards are the most important aspect of your fpl season.
I am once again going with a cheap defence, looking for those players who hold the most value. Szczesny is a lock in goals, whilst my bench keeper is as cheap as possible. Don’t waste value there. Coleman, Dawson, Nastasic, Clyne, and Chester will hold down my defence. Chester is by far the best 5th defender option, with Hull’s incredible home record. I am confident Southampton can return to their tight defensive ways, while Spurs and Man City defenders can’t do much wrong. Coleman is obviously a lock every week with his goal scoring prowess.
My midfield gained an upgrade when Aguero went down, and boy was I lucky. Hazard has been a brilliant addition and he will sit there every week besides Ozil, Silva and Eriksen. As I said earlier there are so many alternatives to Eriksen it’s not funny, so there isn’t much risk there compared to the upside. Finally Gnabry sits safely on the pine, however I get the feeling he will come off the bench for me next week.
Finally in my forward line, this is where I will be looking for most of my points this season. What you can’t see is that I have 2.0 in the bank, so Adebayor will go straight to Sturridge next week, before Rooney eventually becomes Aguero. It is important to leave room in your budget for future transfers, as you don’t want to be taking big hits to change your structure later on. Decide on your structure the week you use your wildcard, and stick to it. However don’t plan too far ahead, because unexpected events will hit hard, and hits will have to be taken. Whether I end up going with Adebayor over Sturridge this week is up for debate.
It is done! I hope I haven’t bored you to death, that was massive. Truly a wildcard special! Good luck with your trades this week and make that wildcard decision with care. Feel free to ask any queries in the comments and I’ll try and get back to them. Cheers!