There is a large number of Fantasy Premier League managers who have Wildcarded for Gameweek and are looking for ways to put the finishing touches to their squads.
Manchester City players and budget forwards seem to be the most talked-about subjects in this context, so we’ve put together another panel of managers to help you out…
WHO’S ON THE PANEL THIS WEEK?
Tom Freeman / avfc82 – A long-term member of and frequent poster to the Fantasy Football Scout site. Tom has five top 1,000 finishes to his name in ten years of playing FPL.
FPL Hints – One of the most-followed names in the FPL community, a seasoned veteran as well as a Scout writer and an Official FPL panellist. Finished 110th in the world in 2011/12.
Greyhead – The writer of, among other things, our weekly Great and the Good series. Greyhead finished 85th in the world in 2018/19.
Who are the best Man City players to get under Wildcard? I’m currently on Zinchenko, KDB and Sterling, but am also considering Otamendi, Stones and Aguero
Aleksander: “To try to solve Pep roulette is not a very pleasant task, but I will give it a go. Last week I would have said Zinchenko and just hope that Mendy remains close to a return for a couple of more months.
“Also, it doesn’t seem like it will be straight forward for Mendy to walk into this City team anyway, with Zinchenko in decent form right now, both for club and country.
“However, after Laporte’s long-term injury an opportunity to go for the cheaper Otamendi has opened, and on a Wildcard, I think I would take that chance.
“I just think centre backs are safer from rotation than wing-backs, and I think Pep wants to pair his centre backs already against Norwich and play them together to build a relation between them. There is a risk that Fernandinho or Walker could line up alongside Stones, but my money is on Otamendi for that spot.
“For my own team, I can’t get Otamendi in this week without a hit, so I will use this Gameweek to see if he actually starts and plays well, but I assume he does and therefore is a risk worth taking on Wildcard.
“Then it is the difficult choice of what attacking players to go for. Sterling and KDB have shown what they are made of this season, but so has Aguero. It has to be two of those three for me.
“The Silvas are tempting to save some money, but the points potential of the three mentioned players are just too high to ignore.
“The choice depends on what team structure you prefer. I like the look of the mid-price strikers this
“Also, going with two midfielders allows you to double the chances of bringing in small additionals of clean sheets as Manchester City should keep plenty of those this season. That is also why, combined with the cost element, I prefer to have a defender from City and not go all-in on their attack. I just have to take the unavoidable Aguero hattricks on the chin and hope KDB and Sterling can keep up.”
Should Salah be the automatic captain choice considering he has had a rest over the international break as opposed to Man City assets who have mostly been in action?
Legomané: “I can certainly understand the logic behind this question. A classic dilemma to follow the early season International break – for FPL managers, a premature prorogation period which by its nature breeds uncertainty. “What if..?”
“Mo Salah is undoubtedly a terrific captaincy option for Gameweek 5. His early season form has been bubbling toward scintillating. In particular, his second goal against Arsenal in Gameweek 3 was an emphatic statement that he intends to recapture the form of his record-breaking 32 goal return in 2017/18
“Meanwhile, the odds of rotation must be a little higher than ‘normal’ for some Manchester City assets this Gameweek. Their squad depth is unrivalled in the league, and on paper an away fixture at defensively frail Norwich looks a simple task for them ahead of an important midweek Champions League tie in Ukraine.
“Of the three prime captaincy options among Man City players, only Sergio Agüero has been at his leisure this past fortnight. Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling have, however, both been in amongst the goals and assists for their national teams – continued form is unquestionable.
“Personally, my armband is somewhat loosely attached to Sterling for now. Perhaps it’s subconsciously because thus far, the apparent ‘obvious’ captaincy pick has been outscored by my vice each Gameweek.
“My conscious deduction process for splitting these two fantastic options so far has centred around the teams they face. Simply put, Norwich
“For others, the deciding factor will be influenced logically by the perceived certainty of starts. One thing is for sure, come Friday I’ll be keeping a keen ear for any unexpected hints from Pep!”
Who would form the best cheap defender (under £5m) rotation for Gameweeks 5 to 8?
FPL Hints: “I’m on an active Wildcard at the moment and, instead of having cheap rotating defenders strategy that I can rely upon I’m opting for three of four starting regular defenders.
“One of those defenders is £4.6m option, Erik Pieters. He has a generous fixture run between Gameweeks 5 and 8. Between now and Gameweek 14 Burnley only face one team that finished in the top five last season.
“In addition, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that he picked up two assists in Gameweek 1. With Ashley Barnes being in the form of his life there may be scope for Pieters to register more assists.
I am planning to play 4-5-1. Will it be a good move if I switch to Barnes from Pukki given the fixtures of Burnley and Norwich in upcoming weeks or will it be too risky to go without Pukki given his ownership? Pukki is overperforming according to XGA stats, so Pukki party may come to an end soon with tough fixtures ahead. Any other alternative suggestion of a
Tom: “Teemu Pukki is no doubt a good option going forward, and losing a player with such high ownership is not something everyone will feel comfortable with, but I do quite like the sound of this
“Pukki probably won’t continue scoring at his current rate, but to counter that his overall numbers are still quite encouraging, and it isn’t just goal threat he brings – I think he’ll add several assists to his tally over the forthcoming months.
“But… Ashley Barnes is someone I like a lot, he’s a player I’ve previously owned, and from the second half of last season till now, his shots in the box and xG numbers are right up there with the best of them. Both he and Dwight McNeil are interesting options now Burnley’s fixtures have turned, and that is the reason I’d be tempted.
“Whilst Pukki faces Manchester City, plus away trips to Burnley and Crystal Palace over the next three, Barnes is up against Brighton & Hove Albion and two of the newly promoted sides, Norwich City and Aston Villa.
“Other options worth considering, and they need to be nailed if playing a 4-5-1 each week, are Sébastien Haller
Aleksander: “First I would like to express my concern for the 4-5-1 formation in general. If your main striker doesn’t play you can only call on (probably) two 4.5 options from the bench while you also have inflexibility if a lot of mid-range strikers start to deliver. This price bracket has started this season really well which makes the 4-5-1 a no go for me.
“Pukki has a difficult match next, but then okay fixtures from Gameweek 6 to 12. Four of those are away, but I assume that the home teams won’t sit back against Norwich and that could give Pukki rooms to shine in those matches as well. Le’ts hope the West Ham game was a one
“Barnes has of course shown in 2019 that he can score a lot of goals, so choosing between them is a coin toss in my book. I don’t think you should consider ownership at all when making your decisions this early in the season. Pukki
“If you are decided to go 4-5-1 and want to pick only one striker I would go someone a bit more expansive like Abraham, Haller or Wilson. This is to make sure you have an easy switch to whatever mid-price striker that pass your eye test in Gameweeks to come.
“In this range, my advice would be Haller with semi-appealing fixtures and excellent service from the trio behind him. The Haller idea is a bit more caution way of playing, and something I like to do to avoid hits. But each to their own, and the more risky play is to move Pukki to Barnes. For information, my front three is currently Haller, Barnes and Pukki so I like the prospect of all three.”
With Spurs back to full strength (Alli is back, Eriksen stays, Son back), does it make Kane a good pick?
Tom: “On the face of it, Spurs haven’t had a bad start to the season, having drawn at champions Manchester City and North London rivals Arsenal, whilst beating Aston Villa on
“Only the 1-0 home loss to Newcastle United you’d consider a poor result, but for anyone who’s watched them this season, they aren’t quite clicking, and this is concerning if you have 11.0 invested in Harry Kane.
“Despite Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Son Heung-min returning, the issue I have with Spurs is they haven’t been very good for quite a while now. Their league performances in 2019 have been average at best and their record reads played 22, won nine, drawn four and lost nine.
“Will they improve?
“What’s clear is Harry Kane is regularly dropping deep, even more so when Eriksen doesn’t play. He had a quiet North London derby and despite converting his penalty, he also only took two shots from open play. To be fair to him, the whole team struggled creatively, but to compete with other premium assets he needs more service in and around the box.
“If I owned Kane, I’d be tempted to make a move to Sergio Agüero or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang till we see evidence of this happening regularly.“
Greyhead: “Here comes the Kane! Tough one to grapple with as everything points to Harry being a strong pick with great fixtures, four goals whilst on international duty and he has even broken the August curse.
“To your point, the Spurs attack will be strengthened with Son, Alli now in contention and Eriksen hanging around for a bit longer at least, so why are we hesitating?
“Well quite simply for those opting for a premium forward formation he has to compete with Aguero, the City man has better xG (2.76 vs 1.92), better shot accuracy (six shots on target compared to four) and less than half the minutes per shot on target (44.5 vs 90).
“There is also the fear that he will start to drop into a deeper role with Son now back, so all these nagging doubts whilst the City and Liverpool premium assets flourish put me off investment for now.
“If you have him then I wouldn’t throw him over the top rope just yet as he may well hulk up and Kane-mania might start running wild but on the other hand I wouldn’t advise adding him to your stable when there are other such enticing options.”
Should I spend more in defence to have Virgil van Dijk or go for a similar priced mid/forward like Mount, James or Barnes?
FPL Hints: “Before the season started, I thought Van Dijk would be a mainstay in my team until May. After all, he was priced £0.5m cheaper than Robertson despite only scoring five points fewer than him.
“I’ve since upgraded to Alexander-Arnold due to his supplementary attacking prowess. In any case, Van Dijk cuts a formidable figure in the Liverpool defence and there are still slight questions on whether James and Mount (similar price bracket) will regularly start, let alone continue their spree of regularly Fantasy returns.
“It will be telling to see if James will start regularly in the Europa League or Champions League after the international break. Also, a case can only be made to spend a bit more on Abrahams instead of Mount.
“As for Barnes, it’s hard to ignore him, especially with his generous fixture run and lack of midweek European commitments. Clearly, we all need a premium Liverpool defender and Van Dijk is a safer and reliable option (and cheaper than Alexander-Arnold). You can easily fit all four of the players named above if you wanted but for now, I personally won’t take a risk on Mount and James.”
Legomané: “As an owner of VVD, Mount and Barnes, my simple answer is why not have them all?
“Identifying whether or not there is a correct time to abandon the Liverpool defence feels like a season-defining decision. I am currently operating with a double up (TAA) in a 4-4-2, so offloading VVD to facilitate a switch to 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 in the near future has certainly crossed my mind
“The issues for me are practicality, personnel and timing. This week ahead of an appealing Newcastle home tie does not strike me as the opportune moment to move away.
“However, the following fixture run of CHE-
“Practically speaking, without additional funds, a straight swap doesn’t feel particularly appealing. None of my affordable watchlist picks (Iwobi, McGinn, Ceballos, Yarmolenko)
“For non-owners, I could certainly get on board with a swap to Ashley Barnes in Gameweek 6 or Mason Mount in Gameweek 7 – both players have terrific underlying stats and are approaching some rather delicious fixtures. It’s all just a matter of timing.”
With Burnley’s good upcoming fixtures, loads will be hopping on the Barnes bandwagon. Is Wood a decent differential alternative?
Greyhead: “The Burnley front two always remind me a bit of the Minogue sisters with Barnes the more successful eye catching Kylie and Wood well, he’s the other one.
When I first thought about this I was tempted by the New Zealander, he’s cheaper, has the same great fixtures and was only a couple behind Barnes in goals scored last season.
“Then someone much smarter than me pointed me towards Kylie, sorry I mean Ashley’s stats. Barnes is in the top three forwards for shots at 15 with 11 of those inside the box and an xG 2.04 so he is competing with the best in terms of current form.
“He has done this with a mixed set of fixtures so the signs are good with the likes of Norwich and Brighton to come.
“I have no doubt that Wood will improve and will get a goal or two over the next few weeks but I would be looking to the locomotion of the Barnes train as in this case it’s better the devil you know.”
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