GW31: Wildcard

Updated: Apr 9

How did I fare in GW30?

A week before the penned in Wildcard, GW30 added another 66 points to my total score, rising my rank from 489 to 370 overall.

I am delighted to be sitting in this position with 8 gameweeks to go, but it’s added extra pressure to the Wildcard – I need to decide which players to keep faith in and which to ship on for newer, shinier assets.

Captain Harry Kane delivered the goods against Newcastle, whilst Salah, Fernandes, Raphinha and Watkins returned with single-digit contributions.

Although it was a strange week in FPL, I enjoyed the weekend’s football after a long and tiresome international break. Almost every game was entertaining, with only two games contributing fewer than three goals.

Bad luck:

- My Marcus Alonso punt went down in flames after Chelsea conceded 5 goals against West Brom. The marauding left-back hit the woodwork twice, so I’m counting myself rather unlucky despite the defensive frailties.

- Son’s benching and subsequent cameo appearance blocked Jesse Lingard from coming off my bench, which was incredibly frustrating. The Korean will survive my Wildcard because of Spurs’ double gameweek in GW32, but I am starting to lose patience with his lack of returns.

Good luck:

- Expecting John Stones to start against Leicester was perhaps a poor decision, so I was relieved to see him stick firmly to Pep Guardiola’s bench.

- Watkins scoring late against Fulham was fortunate, as Villa have lacked potency in front of goal since Grealish’s absence.

Bad judgement:

- Benching Lingard was a major error this week; had I kept him in the starting line-up, I would have soared even further up the overall rankings. After Dean Smith’s comments, I was led to believe Grealish would feature from the start against Fulham, and I therefore opted for Watkins over Lingard, which regrettably was a mistake.

Good judgement:

- Despite COVID-19, fixture postponements and injury problems, I have managed to manoeuvre through most of the season without a Wildcard. Although it obviously required some luck along the way, I judiciously and carefully considered my transfers a lot more this season and limited hits, which has benefitted in a significant improvement on last year’s finish (13k). Hopefully, my final Wildcard will reap similar rewards to my GW5 Wildcard and earn me a strong finish to the season.

What are my initial Wildcard thoughts?

Every draft I have planned has centred around either the 3-5-2 formation, as there are limited budget forward options in the game at the moment with favourable fixtures.

On the contrary, there are several enticing midfield options in the game right now, so I don’t want to limit myself to the 3-4-3 or 4-4-2 every week.

Manchester City assets (such as De Bruyne, Gundogan and Mahrez) are definitely tempting on the Wildcard but I’ve decided to evade all of them as it stands. Predicting Pep Guardiola is almost impossible on a week-by-week basis, especially with Manchester City playing midweek fixtures every week until the end of the season. (Although unlikely, I may still decide to bring one of them in on a one-week punt this week, before moving them on for Heung-Min Son in GW32.)

Furthermore, a triple-up on Liverpool assets seems ideal considering their luxurious run of fixtures, with Klopp’s men gunning down the fourth and final Champions League position.

Although I wouldn’t necessarily advise against this, I am keen to transfer in a full 15-man squad on my Wildcard, rather than choosing a £4.2m midfielder/forward to rot on my bench as the third substitute. If at all possible, I would like to have maximum flexibility heading into GW35, GW36 and GW37 (which could become blank and/or double gameweeks if the Premier League decide to give all clubs a home game in the final two weeks of the season).

Which players are definitely on my Wildcard?

After mocking up a few drafts, I am pretty certain the following players will be on my Wildcard for the following reasons:

Trent Alexander-Arnold (LIV)

Liverpool have sensational fixtures between now and the end of the season, and he has led the league for xA and big chances created among defenders since GW25.

Antonio Rudiger (CHE)

Owning at least one Chelsea defender seems sensible between now and the end of the season, as Tuchel’s side are bottom for xGC since GW25, despite the freak result against West Brom. At £4.7m, Rudiger offers the perfect price and, whilst he is still prone to the odd rotation, he has cemented himself as the preferred left-sided centre-half under Tuchel.

Luke Shaw (MUN)

I loved owning Luke Shaw earlier in the season, as he offers a great mixture of clean sheet potential and attacking potential for a cheapish price. No defender has scored more points than Shaw since GW25.

Mohamed Salah (LIV)

Thanks to Liverpool’s sublime fixtures, I can see myself captaining Salah three of four times between now and the end, which is important when planning a Wildcard. Liverpool still have lots to play for also, so I can’t see the Egyptian missing out all too often.

Bruno Fernandes (MUN)

Win, lose or draw, Bruno Fernandes finds a way to score FPL points. I could overthink it and play the odds, but the midfielder sits at the top of the FPL scoring charts for a reason. He’s definitely in the 15 for me.

Diogo Jota (LIV)

Although he’s perhaps a slight rotation risk, Jota is an utter bargain for his price. He should play a big part for Liverpool during the run-in and even if he comes off the bench, he can still return plenty of points.

Jesse Lingard (WHU)

The West Ham midfielder has been in scintillating form since his arrival from Old Trafford and is averaging a double-digit haul every game. He may be overperforming in relation to the underlying statistics, but I’m eager to ride the streak while it’s still red hot.

Harry Kane (TOT)

With a double gameweek in GW32 and decent fixtures afterwards, Kane is likely to remain in my team until the very end.

Kelechi Iheanacho (LEI)

The flavour of the month since taking his chance at Leicester, Iheanacho offers excellent value and has the fixtures to target. There remain a few question marks over his future in the starting line-up, but he’s undoubtedly worth a punt on a Wildcard until Rodgers shakes things up.

Matej Vydra (BUR)

At £4.8m, Vydra is the cheapest ‘playing’ forward in FPL right now, having started the last 6 games for Burnley. For me, he’s worth the extra £0.6m more than Keinan Davis – Vydra may keep his place more often than not, as there’s no guarantee of Ashely Barnes being thrown back in when he returns.

Which players am I undecided on?

The only midfielder I am keen on but have yet to mention is Heung-Min Son. In all likelihood, the Korean will make the cut in GW31, but I am toying with the idea of captaining Mahrez, Gundogan or Foden in GW31 before transferring them out for Son in GW32.

I won’t rule out the Manchester City option just yet, but I can’t seem to get a read on Pep Guardiola’s team sheet this week and, unless there’s concrete news in the pre-match press conference, I’ll likely pick Son from the outset.

As you can see, my main areas of uncertainty lie in the goalkeeper spots and in defence.

I’ve listed below the pool of players I’ve considered for the final spots:

Premium goalkeepers:

Hugo Lloris (TOT)

Not only does he have a double gameweek in GW32, but he also has favourable fixtures until the end. Spurs’ defence is always a worry, but he could be an excellent differential, as others will go for Mendy or stick with Martinez.

Edouard Mendy (CHE)

He offers excellent value at £5.2m and an easy route into the Chelsea defence. Personally, I’m not particularly tempted with doubling up on Chelsea defenders, as their fixtures are rather ‘hot and cold’ between now and the end.

Emiliano Martinez (AVL)

He’s been an absolute warrior in FPL this season, and who’s to say he’ll be beaten by any other keeper from now until the end. Despite the rubbish fixtures, he’ll continue to get plenty of save points, may steal a clean sheet here or there and has a double gameweek to reschedule.

Budget goalkeepers:

Robert Sanchez (BHA)

Brighton are second only to Chelsea for fewest xGC and his fixtures line up beautifully with Hugo Lloris. When Spurs blank in GW33, Brighton play Sheffield United – be aware that Fulham and Southampton also blank in GW33 so Lloris cannot be covered by Areola or Forster (other popular budget options).

Alphonse Areola (FUL)

Fulham need to grind out results to stay in the Premier League and Areola has been known to earn double-digit returns much like Martinez. From GW35, Fulham have nice enough fixtures and he could rotate well with Chelsea’s Mendy.

Budget defenders:

Wesley Fofana (LEI)

Leicester have four amazing fixtures between GW32 and GW35 – and Fofana is realistically the only player I can afford from the Foxes. He offers little going forward, so it depends how comfortable I feel banking on clean sheets only.

Reece James (CHE)

I'm not particularly keen to double down on Chelsea's defence, as their fixtures aren't as great as they're cracked up to be. However, James is the most nailed on option at right back and should see plenty of game time, so could be worth the risk.

Conor Coady (WOL)

Their 3-2 loss to West Ham did little to encourage me, but Wolves’ fixtures between GW31 and GW35 are glorious from a defensive point of view.

Joel Veltman (BHA)

At only £4.4m, Veltman offers a fantastic route into the Brighton defence, particularly when he returns to his natural position at right wing-back. Veltman also has a plum fixture against Sheffield United in blank GW33.

Matthew Lowton (BUR)

Although Burnley haven’t been as defensively robust as they have been in recent seasons, Lowton has turned into an attacking full back. Among defenders, Lowton is second only to Trent Alexander-Arnold for xA since GW25.

Rob Holding (ARS)

With David Luiz unavailable for the next few weeks, Holding is likely to replace him. At £4.2m, he offers excellent value, and Arsenal have great fixtures between now and the end of the season.

I am still in the process of deciding my exact Wildcard team, so look out for the team reveal on Twitter shortly before the deadline! Unless I gamble on a Manchester City player, I’ll be captaining Mohamed Salah in his game against Aston Villa.

Good luck everyone!

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