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.

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4,459 Comments Post a Comment
  1. JoeJitzu +42
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 7 Years
    1 month, 17 days ago

    A. Raphinha to Barnes
    B. Bamford to Kane

    Leaning towards B and captaining Kane?!

    1. HonestBlatter
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 10 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      B. Keeping Raphinha even bench boosting due to excellent eye test results

    2. chriscosta
      • 10 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      B

    3. AgentRed
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 7 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      Yep I'd do B and captain if you can afford it

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

      Cheers all

  2. Better luck next year
    • 1 Year
    1 month, 17 days ago

    Play 2 out or these 3?

    Lowton, Michell and Dallas

    1. Whazza
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 8 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      Lowton Dallas

    2. Maxim Tsigalko
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 9 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      I would hit personally

    3. chriscosta
      • 10 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      both DGW players

  3. corderz
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 6 Years
    1 month, 17 days ago

    Martinez Pope
    Cancelo Shaw Mee Dallas Coufal
    Salah Bruno Sterling Gundogan Raphinha
    Ings DCL Bamford

    A) Ings, Coufal, Pope > Vardy, Burn, Areola

    B) Ings, Sterling, Coufal > Kane, Barnes, Dias

    1. chriscosta
      • 10 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      B

  4. chriscosta
    • 10 Years
    1 month, 17 days ago

    Go to take my 3rd hit this season

    Coufal & Maddison > Digne & 5.7 Mid (-8)
    Playing BB This GW

    Martinez Mccarthy

    Michell Stones Cancelo Ayling ???

    ??? Bruno Salah Son Gun

    Bamford Walkins Kane

    (C) options

    A) Kane
    B) Son
    C) Bruno
    D) Salah

    1. Whazza
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 8 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      D

  5. Wılly
    • 7 Years
    1 month, 17 days ago

    A. Targett & Richarlison
    B. Watkins & Reguilon

    1. Whazza
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 8 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      A cuz not sure Reggie is nailed

  6. Uncle John from Jamaica
    • 8 Years
    1 month, 17 days ago

    Chaps

    Is there any reason not to TC Kane. Two games against relatively poor sides. Appreciate Spurs not in form but surely he has a goal or two in him plus must be a guaranteed starter.

    1. Whazza
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 8 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      Not really, no. Plenty of other good options tho

      1. fcsaltyballs
        • 5 Years
        1 month, 17 days ago

        Are you TCing Kane Whazza

    2. fcsaltyballs
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      Difficult... I’m on TC Kane but Bruno is turning my head too...

      On paper it’s Kane with two nice fixtures, but Spurs form and the two sides Kane is playing improved defence it’s not as straightforward

  7. TNB
      1 month, 17 days ago

      Play
      1. Raphina vs AV
      2. Ings vs EVE

      1. Bobby_Baggio
        • 9 Years
        1 month, 17 days ago

        1 easy

      2. Pep Roulette
        • 3 Years
        1 month, 17 days ago

        1

      3. Pops15
        • 4 Years
        1 month, 17 days ago

        Raphinha

      4. boroie
        • 2 Years
        1 month, 17 days ago

        1

    • Bobby_Baggio
      • 9 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      Which team please?

      A) TC (-4 - moves were Ings + Son > Kane + Barnes)
      Pope
      Stones - Mee - Dias
      Gundo - Bruno - Salah - Raphinha - Barnes
      Kane - DCL

      (Mccarthy) - Bamford - Coufal - Alioski

      B) BB (-12)
      Pope
      Stones - Mee - Dias
      Gundo - Bruno - Salah - Raphinha - Son
      Watkins - DCL

      (Areola) - Bamford - Pereira - Digne

    • fcsaltyballs
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      Who will most popular captain be in top 10k?

      1. Hazz
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 3 Years
        1 month, 17 days ago

        I'm sure Kane will be.

    • I Member
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      Is Josh Maja any good?

      1. GE
        • 4 Years
        1 month, 17 days ago

        He plays in PL, so yes 🙂

    • boroie
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      This worth a -4?

      Fernandes -> Barnes
      Ings -> Kane

      WCing after GW30 so will get Bruno back in then.

      Bruno’s fixtures until then are:
      che(a), cry(a)
      mci(a)
      WHU(h)

      Only fixture I like there is Palace and there’s every chance his minutes could be managed in that game with Chelsea and City the weekend either side of that game.

    • tim
      • 11 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      Evening lads!

      Martinez
      Cancelo Dias Targett
      Son Salah Bruno Gundo Barnes
      Kane(C) Watkins

      McCarthy, Struijk, Brewster, Mitchell

      GTG?

      1. Bank$y
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 2 Years
        1 month, 17 days ago

        BB? Gtg either way

        1. tim
          • 11 Years
          1 month, 17 days ago

          WC

    • Abusive_Sgt_Daelrhos
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      Totally confused if I should do Maddison-->Barnes? Don't wanna take hit if Maddy is fit:/

    • Garam MOSALAH
      • 7 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      Better defender

      A) Dier (BUR,ful)
      B) Holgate (SOU,wba)

    • AD2110
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      Struijk to:

      A) Digne
      B) Dias
      C) Stones
      D) Targett

    • MikeLowrey
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      Last question I hope!

      A) Grealish & Bamford to Lookman & Kane (-8)
      B) Coufal to Ricardo (-4) - bench Jack

      Will FH in 29

    • Sanguinista
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 8 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      Any comments on this Bruno less WC draft?

      Martinez (Forster)
      Stones Digne/Pereira Reguilon (Dallas) (Cancelo)
      Salah Gundo Son Barnes (4.4)
      Vardy Kane DCL

      Hoping to carry forward 2 xfers to 28 and then bring in Konsa for Digne/Pereira if Everton don't have a DGW. If they do, then will to Barnes to Raphinha and carry forward 2 xfers to 29.

      1. Concrete
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 17 days ago

        Not sure about going without arguably the best player in the game

      2. Kane Lane
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 17 days ago

        Do it play your own game I took him out for -4 I done Fernandez Bamford to Kane Barnes. Let's hope he blanks

      3. FPL_Motty
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        1 month, 17 days ago

        Awful. Banking on vardy matching bruno, good luck with that

    • Concrete
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      A Digne
      B Regulion - plan for 29

      1. Baps hunter
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 3 Years
        1 month, 17 days ago

        A

    • Thunder Warrior
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      Gw26&27 how many games for KDB and Foden?

      1. Miro
        • 10 Years
        1 month, 17 days ago

        3 each imo

    • Breezyy
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      https://twitter.com/robguesty/status/1365301647526793219?s=21

      Look it’s probably bs and might not be in the double but this does really worry me C him I think I’ll switch to Bruno. Thoughts?.

      1. Viper
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 11 Years
        1 month, 17 days ago

        I wouldn't let that change your decision. Kane plays if fit

      2. lugs
        • 3 Years
        1 month, 17 days ago

        Kane will be rested when Europe comes around again

    • Viper
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 11 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      The only way I can do Bamford -> DCL (-4) is by doing Robertson - > Any other defender (-4).

      Is selling Robertson this week for a hit worth it? I'd probably be buying Digne

      1. Tonyawesome69 FHXX
        • 2 Years
        1 month, 17 days ago

        Yeah I probably would

      2. Concrete
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 17 days ago

        Same boat with TAA

        No defence, no Henderson and no form

        I’m thinking yes if it’s to get DCL

      3. ILOVEBAPS
        • 9 Years
        1 month, 17 days ago

        Definitely worth it

    • TAT
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      I need to make two FT’s (and most likely a hit) to finalise my BB26 team.

      - Is Bamford + Anguissa to Kane + Lookman decent moves? I’m also considering Mee to another def, but not sure who. Could be a 5.7 or less def.
      - Alternatively, I could do Bamford + Anguissa to Kane + Traoré, but that means a Mee downgrade instead. Maybe Maitland-Niles?

      Martínez
      Cancelo - Dias - Digne - Mee*
      Gündogan - Raphinha - Fernandes - Salah
      DCL - Watkins
      (Pope - Bamford* - Dallas - Anguissa*)

      1. Baps hunter
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 3 Years
        1 month, 17 days ago

        Elmo or Konsa?

        1. TAT
          • 3 Years
          1 month, 17 days ago

          Instead of Maitland-Niles, you mean?

          1. Baps hunter
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 3 Years
            1 month, 17 days ago

            Yes, in case they have dgw 28.

            1. TAT
              • 3 Years
              1 month, 17 days ago

              Ah, that's a good point, thanks! Certainly makes a Villa def a better option. Konsa probably most likely to feature out of the two though

          2. Baps hunter
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 3 Years
            1 month, 17 days ago

            But Lookman isn't bad option either...

            1. TAT
              • 3 Years
              1 month, 17 days ago

              He's one I'm considering at least. Don't know what to expect from those two fixtures, but you got o save cash somewhere, and he's one of the better options at that price.

      2. Baps hunter
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 3 Years
        1 month, 17 days ago

        I have:

        Pope/Martinez
        Dias, Digne, Dier, Stones, AWB
        Salah, Bruno, Gundo, Barnes, Raphinha*
        Kane, DCL, Watkins

        1. TAT
          • 3 Years
          1 month, 17 days ago

          Really nice team! I'm a -8 from getting a team that includes both Barnes and Kane (which would be ideal), and it would involve dropping one of the City defs or Digne – which makes it less ideal to have them both.

    • Tonyawesome69 FHXX
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      Which option would you go for? Cheers

      A. Pope and Soucek to Fabri and Barnes (-4)
      B. Holding to Targett/Aina
      C. Soucek to Lookman

      TC26 WC31 FH33

      1FT 1.1itb
      Martinez
      Cancelo Stones Digne
      Salah Bruno Gundo Raphinha*
      Kane DCL Bamford*
      (Pope Soucek Cresswell Holding)

    • Slitherene
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      Hope Lowton, Grealish, Jesus -> Reguilon, Son, Kane doesn't backfire!

    • Fuddled FC
      • 9 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      Grealish > Barnes worth a hit ?

      Yay / Nay

      1. Viper
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 11 Years
        1 month, 17 days ago

        Yay.

        Who would you play otherwise?

        1. Fuddled FC
          • 9 Years
          1 month, 17 days ago

          Dallas

      2. Tonyawesome69 FHXX
        • 2 Years
        1 month, 17 days ago

        Yes grealish is probably out of the double. Don't trust what smith said

    • boroie
      • 2 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      Am I the only one getting Bruno out?

      1. Wılly
        • 7 Years
        1 month, 17 days ago

        KDB in, for me

        1. boroie
          • 2 Years
          1 month, 17 days ago

          I’m doing it to allow for Kane to come in

    • HD7
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      Martinez
      Cancelo Stones Mitchell
      Salah Bruno Gundo Maddy*
      Ings Bamford Kane

      Fraser, Mee, Strujic, Bissouma

      Did Cavani Sterling to Kane Gundo(-4):

      A) Save. Play Mee if Maddy is out
      B) Maddy to Son/Barnes (-4)
      C) Ings to DCL (-4)
      D) Both transfers -8

    • Kane Lane
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      1st Question

      Who to play

      A) Firmino

      B) RAF

      2nd Question

      A) Would you take out Justin for Castagne -4

      B) Play Dallas

      Thanks

    • ronpateluk
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 17 days ago

      Ings and Soucek to Watkins and Barnes for -4?

      1. Ch0udini
          1 month, 17 days ago

          Good for me

      2. Ch0udini
          1 month, 17 days ago

          Choose one:
          Current team
          Johnstone Mendy
          Stones Cancelo Cresswell Dallas Lowton
          Salah Bruno Gundo Barnes Raphinha
          DCL Bamford Antonio

          WC draft, managing 29 without FH:
          Ederson Sanchez
          Digne Pereira Cancelo Dallas Targett
          Bruno Son Barnes Gundo Raphinha
          DCL Watkins Kane

          Which is better?