Pro Pundits - Tom

Why I’m Wildcarding before a Double Gameweek 27 Bench Boost

Tom Freeman has finished inside Fantasy Premier League’s top 1k a staggering five times in his career. He is back with his latest column outling his plans for Double Gameweek 26 and beyond.


So, where were we? The last time I checked in, Gameweek 23 had drawn to a close and I sat just outside the top 300k overall.

I talked up Burnley’s prospects ahead of their double, specifically focusing on Matthew Lowton (£4.5m) and Johann Berg Gudmundsson (£5.4m), and also touched upon Lucas Digne (£6.1m) and Raheem Sterling (£11.6m).

Since then, it’s all been a bit meh for my own team with no real rank movement, but for context, here’s how Gameweek 25 shaped up:

So, in this my latest column, I’m going to discuss my Gameweek 26 Wildcard and also run through my chip strategy. I’m not quite ready to share my final team as I’ll be tinkering right up till deadline, but after reading this you should know which players I’m leaning towards.

CHIP STRATEGY

The Complete Guide to Scout’s tips and advice to FPL Gameweek 23

Firstly, it’s probably best to talk chips.

The original plan had always been to follow up my Gameweek 16 Wildcard with a Free Hit in 18 and Bench Boost in 19. However, the fixture rearrangements that were announced on New Year’s Eve involving Burnley, Manchester United, Manchester City and Aston Villa, plus Leeds United and Southampton later losing their double, meant that I shelved that strategy.

So now, after much deliberation, I’ve decided to Bench Boost in Gameweek 27. Why 27? Well, I don’t want to hold too much value on my bench for too long after Wildcarding, and I also want to target two specific fixtures which I’ll come to later.

This new strategy of course effects the way I build this Wildcard, and as a result, there has to be some sacrifices as I attempt to spread funds around the squad. I’m pretty sure it won’t be for everyone, but I hope by reading this, you can at least see why I’ve included some players and dismissed others.

I should also point out that I still have my Free Hit and Triple Captain chips available, and plan to use the former in either Gameweek 29 or 33.

THE GOALKEEPERS

Villa bank 11th clean sheet as Martinez bags another haul

Emiliano Martínez (£5.3m) is a bit of a no-brainer in goal, given Aston Villa’s fixtures.

Though the team’s overall level has dropped in recent weeks he’s still making lots of saves. In fact, over the last four Gameweeks, he’s comfortably ahead of any other keeper in the division:

The second spot is harder to decide on, but for now I’ve landed on Sam Johnstone (£4.5m). 

West Bromwich Albion have looked much better in recent matches, now that their new arrivals have been properly integrated into the starting XI. I am realistic though, and do expect more save points than clean sheets.

Alphonse Areola (£4.5m) and Alex McCarthy (£4.5m) are other names I considered, and may still turn to, but for now, Martínez and Johnstone are in my draft.

THE DEFENDERS

A Manchester City double-up makes a lot of sense here, given that their 10-point lead at the top of the table has been built on a solid defensive platform. That’s seen them concede just nine goals in their last 23 Premier League games, which is pretty remarkable. 

However, given my OR and the fact I’m playing catch-up, I’m tempted to double-up in midfield which would give me the opportunity to pair Kevin De Bruyne (£11.8m) with Ilkay Gündogan (£6.1m).

Going in with one City defender, which would be either João Cancelo (£6.1m) or John Stones (£5.2m), does come with risk though. 

For example, the advantage I gained from Sterling’s goal against Arsenal was pretty much wiped out once they registered a clean sheet. I’ve just got to hope we see a bit more rotation in the coming weeks. It’s probably wishful thinking, but it does feel like I’ve got to at least try something different.

Fit-again Pereira already showing signs of last season's form

Elsewhere, I’ve also found a spot for differential Ricardo Pereira (£5.9m) who took up an advanced role as a right-winger against Aston Villa. 

There was talk that Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers had put Timothy Castagne (£5.7m) and Pereira on the same side to double-up on Jack Grealish (£7.6m), who eventually missed out. However, I don’t buy that, and these comments from Rodgers after the game do suggest it’s a tactic we might see more of:

“It’s been something I’ve been waiting to do for quite a long time, but this is the first period where both of those boys were fit to play. They’re different types. Because of how we play, they find themselves in that attacking third of the pitch quite a lot. Tim will run more without the ball and penetrate, and Ricky’s one who can be inside and manipulate the ball. I just thought that combination of those two, because Ricky is comfortable coming inside, he can turn, he can pass, he’s very aggressive when he attacks. I thought the two of them were very good and combined well together.” – Brendan Rodgers

Pereira finished the match with 33 final-third touches, more than any other player on the pitch. He also took three shots, twice testing Martínez, and took up some nice position’s infield which you can see on his touch heatmap from the game below:

I also like Digne, who is currently owned by just 8.8% of FPL managers.

Everton’s defence isn’t exactly watertight right now, but Tom Davies’ (£5.2m) recent performances and the return of Allan (£5.2m) offers encouragement that they can add to their total of five Premier League clean sheets.

It’s also worth noting that their opponents on Monday night, Southampton, have conceded the highest number of chances from their right-flank over the last six Gameweeks, and will be without Kyle Walker-Peters (£4.7m) and Oriol Romeu (£4.5m).

Luke Shaw (£5.1m) and Antonio Rüdiger (£4.6m) are also in my thoughts, I’m just not convinced now is the time to invest given their immediate schedules. 

THE MIDFIELDERS

The biggest decision here is that I can only pick one of Bruno Fernandes (£11.6m) and Son Heung-min (£9.5m).

Potential reasons for losing arguably the best asset in the game include fixtures (che + cry, mci, WHU, blank) and the fact I probably won’t captain him until at least Gameweek 32. Despite this, Fernandes usually finds a way to return so I need to think this through carefully.

The alternative is Son. I’ve heard some say he isn’t in form, which is probably fair, but tougher fixtures can do that to a player and we are talking about one of the league’s most clinical forwards. There is potential to do well beyond the double too, with games against Crystal Palace and Arsenal to follow.

City duo De Bruyne and Gündogan will be included, and I’m also considering Harvey Barnes (£6.9m).

The 23-year-old has already netted 13 goals in all competitions this term, and I see him getting plenty of joy down Arsenal’s weaker right-flank this weekend. James Maddison (£7.3m) being out isn’t ideal, but I’m hoping it won’t disrupt their flow too much.

Above: Harvey Barnes’ xG shot map in 2020/21

However, if I decide on Fernandes over Son, I might need to drop down to a cheaper option in this slot, someone like Ademola Lookman (£5.0m), Bukayo Saka (£5.2m) or Bertrand Traoré (£5.9m).

This of course means I can’t fit Mohamed Salah (£12.6m) in, which is kind of scary, but if there is ever a time to leave him out it’s probably now. 

Since beating Palace 7-0 back in December, Liverpool have played 11 Premier League matches and won just two. The injury to Jordan Henderson (£5.4m) is a further setback, and my feeling at this moment is that I’ll make a move for Diogo Jota (£6.6m) once fit. The Portugal international recently returned to full first-team training, and it’s hard to argue against the value he offers when available, having scored nine goals in his first 17 appearances.

THE FORWARDS

harry kane fpl injury return spurs west brom gameweek 23

Harry Kane (£11.1m) and Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.7m) are obvious inclusions given their respective schedules, and it’s likely I’ll hand the former the armband too.

The final forward spot is still up for grabs, which unfortunately means I have to lose Patrick Bamford (£6.9m) who has been in my team since Gameweek 1, and is one of the few highlights of my season so far.

I’m looking at Mbaye Diagne (£6.0m) as a possible replacement, who has made a big impact since he joined West Brom and has been getting shots off in some good areas.

Above: Mbaye Diagne’s shot map (shots on target in green) since making his debut in Gameweek 21.

In fact, no forward has registered more big chances since he made his debut, despite sometimes looking isolated. 

Other options include Michail Antonio (£6.5m) and Ollie Watkins (£6.5m), and it’s likely I’ll make a late call on that one.

THE BENCH BOOSTERS

As I mentioned earlier, I’m planning a Gameweek 27 Bench Boost with an idea to focus on two fixtures.

West Bromwich Albion v Newcastle United

Albion have put in a couple of much improved displays against Man Utd and Burnley in recent weeks, and appear to have found a system which seems to be working. Signing a proper holding midfielder in Okay Yokuslu (£4.5m) is huge for them, and that improved defensive setup means I’m willing to take a risk on differential Ainsley Maitland-Niles (£4.5m). 

Following Semi Ajayi’s (£4.8m) red card at Burnley, the on-loan Arsenal man shifted out to a wider attacking role, which manager Sam Allardyce has hinted we might see more of in the coming weeks. I don’t have any stats to back it up, it’s more of an eye test thing, but for just one match I’m willing to give it a go.

West Ham United v Leeds United

The second matchup I want to target involves West Ham United, who are now in the top four and have a few players tailor-made for a Bench Boost.

Opponents Leeds United have now conceded eight goals from corners this season, a league-high alongside Sheffield United. Jannik Vestergaard (£4.7m) almost added another earlier this week, and given that the Hammers approach is largely based around crossing, I’m considering Craig Dawson (£4.5m). He’s already scored two goals in 10 games this season and always carries a threat from set-pieces.

I also think Marcelo Bielsa’s side can struggle against players who run directly at them, which is why I like Jesse Lingard (£5.9m) who has looked lively since moving to East London.

Above: midfielders sorted by shots since Jesse Lingard made his West Ham United debut in Gameweek 21.

So, I know this Wildcard won’t be for everyone but I hope having read this, you can at least understand why I’ve chosen the squad I have.

Also, before I sign off, earlier this week I was fortunate enough to join fellow Pro Pundits Lateriser and Zophar again on The FPL Wire.

We talked strategy, Wildcards and captains, plus loads more.

The chat complements this column, and goes a bit deeper into some of the players and teams covered, so if you’re into that kind of thing please check it out on the link below…

I’ll update you on how it’s going next time I check in, but for now, thanks for reading and best of luck in Double Gameweek 26.

Become a Member and get unrestricted access to our data and articles

Full-year memberships are now available for the price of £19.99. Monthly subscriptions also cost just £2.99. A FREE trial is now available during December.

Join now to get the following:

  • Plot your transfer strategies using the fully interactive Season Ticker.
  • Get projections for every Premier League player provided by the Rate My Team statistical model.
  • Use Rate My Team throughout the season to guide your selections and transfers.
  • Get access to over 150+ exclusive members articles over the season.
  • Analyse our OPTA-powered statistic tables specifically tailored for Fantasy Football Managers.
  • Use our exclusive tool to build custom stats tables from over 100 OPTA player and team stats.
  • Enjoy our brand NEW Flat-Track Bully feature which introduces an opposition filter to your tables.
  • View heatmaps and expected goals data for every player.
  • Use our powerful comparison tool to analyse players head-to-head.

ALREADY A USER? CLICK HERE TO UPGRADE YOUR FREE ACCOUNT

NEW TO SCOUT? CLICK HERE TO START A MEMBERSHIP ACCOUNT

avfc82 https://fantasy.premierleague.com/entry/894/history”

4,459 Comments Post a Comment
  1. PocketZola
    • 3 Years
    2 months, 17 days ago

    Bench is too weak for a bb unless I take a -12. Or wc? wc and bb remaining

    martinez
    canc rob tark
    salah sterling gun raph bruno
    dcl bam

    subs, forster, coufal, mitchell, brewster

    raph to barnes?

    1. Chandler Bing
      • 4 Years
      2 months, 17 days ago

      I wouldn't BB here. Wait

      1. PocketZola
        • 3 Years
        2 months, 17 days ago

        Thanks mate, should i wc?

    2. sp1122
        2 months, 17 days ago

        I’d wait.

        I’m in a similar position -12 to get something worthwhile which includes removing robbo.

        1. PocketZola
          • 3 Years
          2 months, 17 days ago

          having sterling really messes up my plans

    3. S3
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      2 months, 17 days ago

      A.Shaw
      B. Digne
      C. Pereirra

      Which comes tops?

      1. Pomp and Circumstance
        • 9 Years
        2 months, 17 days ago

        Digne

      2. Cojones of Destiny
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 3 Years
        2 months, 17 days ago

        B

        1. S3
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 2 Years
          2 months, 17 days ago

          worry is Everton don't really keep clean sheets

      3. mrelpea
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        2 months, 17 days ago

        B for attacking returns potential against abs injury blighted Southampton and West Brom

    4. *Reformed-Character*
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      2 months, 17 days ago

      Digne & Watkins -4
      VS
      Bamford & regullion

    5. John wick
      • 5 Years
      2 months, 17 days ago

      Wc team
      Martinez
      Stones cancelo digne
      Salah bruno barnes gundo
      Dcl kane bamford

      Button coufal saka burn

    6. Jokesy87
      • 6 Years
      2 months, 17 days ago

      Martinez
      Shaw targett cancelo
      Gundo Bruno salah son
      Kane(c) Watkins Bamford

      Sanchez raphinha burn struijk

      A)g2g
      B) Bench boost
      C) 1 FT - any changes?!

      1. Easy Cheesy
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 1 Year
        2 months, 17 days ago

        B

    7. arkom
      • 4 Years
      2 months, 17 days ago

      XXX / Pickford
      YYY / Dias / Cancelo / Digne / Dallas

      XXX = MARTINEZ or LLORIS?

      YYY = REGUILON or PEREIRA?

      TY guys for your help!

      1. Nightcrawler
        • 1 Year
        2 months, 17 days ago

        L and P

      2. mrelpea
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        2 months, 17 days ago

        M and P

    8. IRBOX ⚽
      • 4 Years
      2 months, 17 days ago

      How many DGW players do you have this week? 14 here, Bamford the lone wolf

      1. Cojones of Destiny
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 3 Years
        2 months, 17 days ago

        11 or 10+1 depending on below Q

      2. Yeboah Power XI
        • 11 Years
        2 months, 17 days ago

        14. Starting Bamford over Lowton or Mitchell

    9. Cojones of Destiny
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      2 months, 17 days ago

      on WC:
      a. Get B. Traore
      b. Play Raph

      1. mrelpea
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        2 months, 17 days ago

        B

    10. Shark Team
      • 3 Years
      2 months, 17 days ago

      Is it worth Bench Boosting :
      Sanchez Dunk Dallas Raphinha

      1. Cojones of Destiny
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 3 Years
        2 months, 17 days ago

        No

      2. Art Vandelay
        • 10 Years
        2 months, 17 days ago

        I have Sanchez Burn Raph and Strujik (playing Bamford) and can’t decide either.

        I am not sure I want the success of my BB to be determined by Brighton so considering a hit for Burn to Digne and then BBing (bet then lose a 29 player..)

        I will probably just TC this week and BB in 30

    11. ajk1211
      • 5 Years
      2 months, 17 days ago

      On WC - Worth losing Salah for KDB (have Gundog) or go double City defence?

    12. Shark Team
      • 3 Years
      2 months, 17 days ago

      Do you think AVL-EVE will move to DGW28?
      If yes then why it's not announced yet?

      1. TorresMagic™
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • Has Moderation Rights
        • 11 Years
        2 months, 17 days ago

        no

    13. Adam Johnson
      • 1 Year
      2 months, 17 days ago

      Is Coufal to any 5 mill defender worth it for a -4, thinking of Targett.

      1. Piksau
        • 6 Years
        2 months, 17 days ago

        Just did the same transfer with my 1 FT

    14. Yeboah Power XI
      • 11 Years
      2 months, 17 days ago

      Morning all. Who’d you go with:
      A: Mitchell
      B: Lowton

      1. Piksau
        • 6 Years
        2 months, 17 days ago

        B

    15. S3
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      2 months, 17 days ago

      will you keep Vestergaard for his DGW 27 or sell?

      1. JoeJitzu +42
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 7 Years
        2 months, 17 days ago

        If you aren’t BB or WC and could bench then hold

    16. Remo85
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 1 Year
      2 months, 17 days ago

      Pope

      Mag Cancelo Dias Tarkowski Digne
      Salah Fer Lookman Son
      Bamford

      Mcar Antonio Harrison Brewster

      What would you do? I have wildcard, bench boost and triple left.

      1. JoeJitzu +42
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 7 Years
        2 months, 17 days ago

        Hmm a little light up top, have you FTsvand money itb?

        1. Remo85
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 1 Year
          2 months, 17 days ago

          1 free T and only .3 in the bank

      2. Piksau
        • 6 Years
        2 months, 17 days ago

        Mag->AWB or Shaw
        Dias->Stones
        Upgrade a forward to watkins
        Get Gundogan in....Foden could be a victim of KDB coming back into the team

    17. JoeJitzu +42
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 7 Years
      2 months, 17 days ago

      A. Raphinha to Barnes
      B. Bamford to Kane

      Leaning towards B, captaining Kane and BB?

      Martinez
      Shaw Cancelo Lowton
      Sterling Gundogan Fernandes Son (A. Raphinha)
      DCL Watkins (B. Bamford)

      Pope Dallas Lewis & A. Or B.

      1. Easy Cheesy
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 1 Year
        2 months, 17 days ago

        B

      2. SON of CITY
          2 months, 17 days ago

          be careful with Sterling though.

        • Piksau
          • 6 Years
          2 months, 17 days ago

          B
          Bench Raphina and play Kane
          Pep Roulette could hit in 2nd fixture with Pep resting players for the Utd match

      3. timPgoodwin
        • 6 Years
        2 months, 17 days ago

        Contemplating triple captaining Bruno this week, completely overrated chip that never works out!

        1. JoeJitzu +42
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 7 Years
          2 months, 17 days ago

          Wow gutsy call and one that could work out.

          I’m personally doing BB for same reason as you

      4. OptimusBlack
        • 8 Years
        2 months, 17 days ago

        For Lobg term who to keep in ur team ?
        A- Sslah
        B- Burno

        1. Piksau
          • 6 Years
          2 months, 17 days ago

          Both are good....but i would look at their fixtures upto GW30....Salah has better....better fixtures overall actually....
          Bruno is in much better form overall alongwith the team also in much better form....
          I have both and don't see selling either of them......

      5. Rinseboy
        • 9 Years
        2 months, 17 days ago

        I really like this wildcard for and set up for Potential DGW in 28 and for 29.

        But who would you start Reguilion or Watkins this week?

        Martinez
        Digne Pereira Regullion Dias
        KDB Gundo Bruno Barnes
        DCL Kane
        Watkins Raphinha Dallas

        1. Piksau
          • 6 Years
          2 months, 17 days ago

          Reguillon Guaranteed a start? Jose is changing the backline too much.....
          Watkins more nailed on

      6. Forcella Boys
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        2 months, 17 days ago

        I’m on Wildcard and chasing in ML, should I go Gundogan or Foden ?

        1. Piksau
          • 6 Years
          2 months, 17 days ago

          Gundogan or Foden could be rested before Utd fixture.....Pep Roulette could be merciless in the next couple of GWs

      7. King Kohli
        • 8 Years
        2 months, 17 days ago

        Cooper nailed on for Leeds?

        1. Cowboy John
          • 8 Years
          2 months, 17 days ago

          Yes.

      8. Bocaginge
        • 5 Years
        2 months, 17 days ago

        Bamford to DCL worth a -4? (1.9ITB)

        Areola
        Cancelo / Stones / Perreira / Digne
        Fernandes / Salah / Son / Gundo
        *Bamford / Watkins

        Martinez / Soucek / Antonio / Dallas

        1. Piksau
          • 6 Years
          2 months, 17 days ago

          Yes....although you should also note that Leeds play in GW29....

      9. Piksau
        • 6 Years
        2 months, 17 days ago

        TC who?
        A) Watkins (Lee, SHU)
        B) Bruno (Che, Cry)
        C) Son (Bur, Ful)
        D) Gundogan (WHU, Wol)

        1. SON of CITY
            2 months, 17 days ago

            B

        2. SON of CITY
            2 months, 17 days ago

            would you BB this......?

            johnstone Dallas. Targett. lookman

            1. Piksau
              • 6 Years
              2 months, 17 days ago

              Yes

          • Toastie
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 3 Years
            2 months, 17 days ago

            Do we think this -12 is worth it for a bench boost, feels mad but for a bench boost maybe not?
            OUT: Kilman, Sterling, (Ashley) Barnes, Brewster
            IN: Digne /Pereira, Gündogan, Calvert-Lewin, Diagne

            1. Etern007
                2 months, 17 days ago

                I don't think it's mad. With two games you'd expect that bench to make that worth it.

            2. Jive Turkey
              • 8 Years
              2 months, 17 days ago

              Hi All. Which looks better?

              A) Barnes // Dias // Diagne DGW starts & a Raphina // Dallas // White bench for 29
              OR
              B) Son // Stones // Pereira (Brom) DGw starts & a Maja // Ayling // Burn bench for 29

            3. DandyDon
              • 2 Years
              2 months, 16 days ago

              STONES! His 3rd goal for my team! Anyone have Dias and Stones!? I went with Ederson for the double up on the WC unfortunately