Normally the first Wildcard burns a hole in my pocket and by Gameweek 3 or 4 it’s been played but this season has been different.
I built my team for Gameweek 2 onwards knowing that that might have cost me in Gameweek 1 (it definitely did!) but that it might allow me to have a better start to the season and hold the Wildcard a little longer – second international break rather than the first.
I started the season without Raheem Sterling (£11.8m), preferring to have Kevin de Bruyne (£10.3m) instead.
At the time I remember thinking the Wildcard would be my route to bringing Sterling in when he surely punishes me for not having him.
However, his season is yet to truly fly in my opinion and I haven’t felt the need to own him – yet.
This means that my Wildcard is still in my back pocket ready to deal with the Liverpool blank, the busy Christmas period and the fixture-swing clubs.
Whilst I am sitting just five points outside the top 10k right now I am not alone in still having the original Wildcard left to play with a fifth of the managers in the top 10k still holding theirs.
This adds an interesting dimension to the game and is unchartered territory for me. As the 2019/20 has gone on I have looked in to the statistics behind the best use of the Wildcard last season and found that the managers who played the second one in early January tended to fair better than those, like myself, who held it for the Blank and Double Gameweeks later in the campaign.
As a result of this when I didn’t play my Wildcard at the first or second international breaks I decided, barring catastrophe, to hold the original one as late as possible so as hopefully to gain the advantage of an effective early January wildcard (albeit in late December) as well as holding the second Wildcard to navigate the Blanks and Doubles – I’m hoping this gives me the best of both worlds, although we’ll have to see how it plays out.
As a result, I now have two free transfers going into Gameweek 18 with which I can take a punt on if I want.
I have decided to take Sadio Mané (£12.2m) out this week as I don’t want to bench all that level of my budget.
Given that I did the Mohamed Salah (£12.2m) to Mané move late I don’t have much value in him he shouldn’t cost too much for me to get him back if I need to.
I am, however, planning to have Salah in my Wildcard so I won’t need to worry about value. This week, therefore, I have the pick of the midfielders and there are a wealth of options.
The options for Mané replacements came down to these…
Anthony Martial (£7.7m) plays Watford this week who, while showing some degree of the so-called ‘new-manager-bounce’ against Liverpool, have conceded nine goals in the last five Gameweeks.
Lucas Moura (£7.0m) is the less popular option from the Spurs midfield but, like many of his colleagues, he has had a whole new lease of life under Jose Mourinho.
The Brazilian has three goals in his last four and, as a result of his price, the player most easy to hold and after Gameweek 18 as part of my Wildcard. He is that much cheaper than the other options when it comes to working Salah back in.
Spurs’ shots on target ratio of 47.5% since Gameweek 13 is the highest in the league, thus making Son and the next option really good candidates…
Son Heung-min (£10.1m) has three double-digit returns in his last five matches, coinciding with Mourinho’s arrival at Spurs.
Using the Members Area to run a comparison of Moura and Son over the last six and then four Gameweeks shows Son winning the statistics both time, although this was by a smaller margin over the last four matches. As such of the two spurs candidates if I pick one of them I’ll likely go with Son.
Given that the original plan for my first Wildcard was to use it to bring in Sterling, I should probably consider him this week.
His form this season has been inconsistent at best. However, whilst he wasn’t up to the player of old we did see glimmers of his former self in Gameweek 17 and he did get attacking returns.
For me this game against Leicester is critical for Manchester City if they want to maintain their title challenge and thus Sterling surely needs to play a big role in this game.
My major concern is with his statistics in home matches this season. Of Sterling’s 10 goals in 2019/20, eight have come away from home and 14 of his 17 big chances have occurred on the road.
When I rolled my transfer from Gameweek 17 to give me two free ones for Gameweek 18 I was really excited for punts on a couple of players who could easily be changed on a Wildcard.
However, now while I am pondering who should come in I am finding the prospect difficult, with five points to make up on the top 10k and a cup match again Frank Olufsen to try and win I’m feeling more pressure!
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