Another wave of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) Wildcards are being activated over the October international break.
Of the site users we polled who still had a Wildcard intact last week, around 30% were planning to deploy the chip in Gameweek 8.
In lieu of the weekly Scout Squad article, which will return on the Wednesday before the next FPL deadline, we asked the usual panel of Sam, Az, Tom and Neale for their own hypothetical Wildcard drafts.
It’s actually more than just hypothetical for Az, whose real-life chip is in play over the international fortnight.
Five-time top 1k finisher Tom, meanwhile, played his Wildcard last week, so he’ll be discussing what changes he would make in hindsight.
TOM’S GAMEWEEK 8 WILDCARD TEAM: SON IN, TAA OUT, FORMATION FLEXIBILITY
As I played my first Wildcard last week, the team in the graphic is naturally very similar to my own right now. However, I have made a couple of small tweaks, which I’ll touch on below.
Firstly, I’ve replaced Cesar Azpilicueta with Ruben Dias, in an attempt to capitalise on Manchester City’s good run of fixtures (BUR, bha, CRY), while I’ve also included budget midfielder Mathias Normann. The 25-year-old is on set-pieces at Carrow Road and came close to scoring in Gameweek 7, forcing a save and hitting the Burnley crossbar.
The idea behind the set-up above – which enables me to switch between various formations (4-4-2, 4-3-3, 3-5-2) – was to ensure that I could bench Adam Armstrong in Gameweek 7 and Bryan Mbeumo in Gameweek 8, for their tough fixtures against Chelsea. Further down the line, using this rotation, I can also leave Kieran Tierney out in Gameweek 12:
In goal, I’ve opted for David Raya, who was on course for a double-digit haul on Sunday until Jarrod Bowen equalised late on. However, Aaron Ramsdale and Robert Sanchez are equally good alternatives if you don’t fancy the Brentford stopper.
At the back, Trent Alexander-Arnold is the obvious omission, but if it does look like he will be available, I’d be tempted to sacrifice one of my Man City defenders and downgrade Son Heung-min to bring him in. However, having owned the South Korean international most of the season, it’d be a hard decision with Newcastle up next.
Elsewhere, Southampton – who have a nice run of fixtures coming up (LEE, BUR, wat, AVL, nor) – are represented via Tino Livramento and Adam Armstrong, and should be given a lift by the imminent return of Stuart Armstrong, who is an important player for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side. With him in the starting XI, they’ll start to click in my opinion.
Raphinha and Bryan Mbeumo are my two favourite mid-price/budget midfielders in the game right now, and at this stage, I’m not willing to gamble on one of Pep Guardiola’s midfielders. If I had to, I’d opt for Phil Foden, but with Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez, Ferran Torres, Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish and Kevin De Bruyne all competing for minutes in the attacking slots, I’m not convinced predicting Pep is worth it.
Up front, given his forthcoming fixtures, I can see the argument for taking Michail Antonio out, but I’m not convinced that it needs to be done right now. If I do fancy a change further down the line, Dominic Calvert-Lewin could be a nice replacement once fit.
AZ’S GAMEWEEK 8 WILDCARD TEAM: FODEN AND RAMSDALE IN
It’s a couple of days after my Wildcard video over on our YouTube channel and my early thoughts haven’t really changed.
I can’t remember a time before or since my “wing-back year” of 2017/18 when I have ever put so much money in my defence, but I am finding the allure of a Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joao Cancelo and Antonio Rudiger triple-up to be increasingly more appealing. These three players have returned 13 clean sheets out of a possible 21, highlighting their consistency for ‘core’ defender points. Alexander-Arnold and Cancelo are also looking good for attacking returns and bonus, with both registering two double-digit hauls this season already. Rudiger is simply the lynchpin of the Chelsea defence, and the easiest way to tap into it without running the gauntlet of rotation every week.
My midfield and forward line features players that I would feel comfortable playing in most weeks, but using the FFScout Transfer Tool, I’ve planned ahead for the next five to six weeks to see where my weaknesses are. Emile Smith-Rowe, Andros Townsend and Ivan Toney can all come in and out of my side when the fixtures suit and I like the idea of having a decent first sub, especially with Phil Foden in my side, who could always fall victim of ‘Pep Roulette’.
Speaking of Foden, I can already see myself regretting this pick when he misses out, but with Burnley, Brighton and Crystal Palace on the horizon, I want to tap into the City attack before potentially hopping off again when the fixtures stiffen a bit from Gameweek 11. Foden has simply impressed me the most over the last few weeks, and while I think Jack Grealish has the greatest chance of seeing the most minutes, Foden looks to be the player with the highest points ceiling when he does play.
One of my big decisions on the Wildcard are which Brentford attacker to get, with Bryan Mbuemo and Ivan Toney both posting similar underlying stats. While Mbuemo has the “out of position” factor, Toney has penalties and takes up a forward space where I can’t see too many options outside pf Michail Antonio, Romelu Lukaku, Cristiano Ronaldo and perhaps Raul Jimenéz. If I went with Mbuemo, I’d likely have to go for a £4.5m forward and I am currently favouring having a strong squad in case injuries or rotation hit.
Picking the best Everton midfielder is also a tricky one. I’ve gone for Townsend as it looks like he’s settling into his role as chief creator for the side, but after seeing Demarai Gray’s heatmap, I could turn my attention to the player who may well end up as bargain signing of the season.
The other position up for debate is in goal, with Aaron Ramsdale currently looking the most likely, with his attractive price tag and three clean sheets in the last four matches for what looks like an improving Arsenal side. I may end up plumping for David Raya or sticking with Robert Sanchez however, and all of these keepers should offer good value without having to go into the £5.0m+ bracket.
SAM’S GAMEWEEK 8 WILDCARD TEAM: FOUR MID-PRICED MIDS AND WATKINS
Having had Robert Sanchez for the opening seven Gameweeks of the season, now feels like a good time for a change of goalkeepers. With the exception of their Gameweek 8 match against Chelsea, Brentford have a fantastic run of fixtures which is mostly green all the way through until Gameweek 17, so having David Raya in goal seems great. With the change of management at Watford, I would understudy Raya with Ben Foster. As a result of the injury to Daniel Bachmann, Foster has been playing in goal for Watford and even with Bachmann available now I think there is a good chance that Claudio Ranieri stays with the veteran former England goalkeeper.
Most Wildcarding FPL managers (as well as those just using transfers) will be looking to invest in Trent Alexander-Arnold as well as a defender from both Chelsea and Manchester City. In seasons gone by, Joao Cancelo has been a bit of a rotation risk but he is now regularly starting in a team that has looked defensively solid as well as having great attacking potential. I would save some budget by going for Antonio Rudiger at Chelsea to cover their likely clean sheets over their great run of fixtures as well as going for the safe starter option. Thankfully, Timo Livramento and Ben White offer fantastic budget options who have great fixtures and, in Livramento’s case, have attacking potential too.
In midfield, Mohamed Salah is in my opinion essential and not having him, especially in Gameweek 8 when he will be highly captained against Watford, is not something that I would be prepared to do. Alongside him, Lucas Moura against Newcastle feels like a great option and this leaves money in the back to upgrade him to either Phil Foden or Jack Grealish ahead of Gameweek 9. Bryan Mbeumo has really impressed so far this season, especially with his relationship with Ivan Toney after the Chelsea game in Gameweek 8. Mbeumo looks like a fantastic option ahead of the great fixture run as well as being a great differential, especially as he has managed two eight-point returns in the last three Gameweeks.
Raphinha is the creative spark in the Leeds team and therefore owning him for their nice run of fixtures seems wise. He was tenth for xG underachievement in Gameweek 7 and should have returned points for his managers. He is also fifth for creativity among midfielders on the ICT index, something that bodes well for future returns. Likewise, Conor Gallagher has been impressive for Crystal Palace so far this season and has indeed been unlucky not to return more FPL points than the 34 he already has. He is an impressive eighth on the ICT index for threat among midfielders and has already managed a double-digit haul. With the exception of Man City in Gameweek 10 and the clash with Arsenal in Gameweek 8, the fixtures look really nice for Gallagher.
Even on the back of three blanks between Gameweeks 5 and 7, I don’t think you can Wildcard and not own Romelu Lukaku. Were it not for the post and a few inches with the offside flag, he could have braced in Gameweek 7 and Chelsea’s run of fixtures looks excellent going forward.
Raul Jimenez is FPL royalty and a player that in seasons gone by has always been able to be relied on to return points for his FPL managers. Jimenez scored his first goal on his comeback from injury in Gameweek 6 and topped it off with two assets for Hwang Hee-chan in Gameweek 8, so seems to have found a reliable new attacking partner. Ollie Watkins was a popular FPL pick last season and the arrival of Danny Ings worried us in terms of game-time and Watkins potentially being shifted out wide, but these concerns have proved to be unfounded as he and Ings are playing centrally together. Watkins’ goal against Spurs was his first attacking return of the season but something I can see him building on in the next few weeks. When you compare Watkins to Ings, he has registered more attempts (13 to eight), more shots on target (seven v four) and more big chances (three to one), despite playing two fewer matches. The Aston Villa fixtures look set to improve now, too, meaning that he could be a great differential.
NEALE’S GAMEWEEK 8 WILDCARD TEAM: THREE PREMIUMS, 4-3-3
In our last stab at a make-believe Wildcard, I eschewed selecting three premiums and instead went early on City and Chelsea defenders, an astute move that now begs the question of why I didn’t follow up my own advice and instead built a poxy squad that managed to find room for Fabian Delph.
I’m playing it slightly different with my imaginary Gameweek 8 chip.
It’s effectively a 4-3-3 with three premium assets, featuring Kevin De Bruyne alongside Mohamed Salah and Romelu Lukaku, although there is also scope for a 5-2-3/5-3-2.
Phil Foden could very well end up offering much better value than the Belgian over the coming weeks and months but there is always a “could” with these mid-price sorts, and we have seen how the likes of Ferran Torres and Riyad Mahrez have nosedived from ‘must-have’ status to ‘get rid’ in the space of a Gameweek or two. We know that De Bruyne, however, will start the bulk of City’s league matches from past experience. Take last season as an example: from Gameweeks 1-27, the only matches he didn’t start were either because he was sidelined through injury or, in the case of two substitute appearances, only just returning from those fitness problems. Already top of City assets for minutes per shot, he’ll surely be boasting likewise for chances created when the favourable fixtures get going.
With the value offered in defence by Ben White and Tino Livramento, I’m not seeing too many weaknesses even with three heavy hitters. The midfield is only three-deep, of course, but Mathias Normann and Josh Brownhill are mere second and third substitutes who hopefully won’t be seeing much more than an odd auto-sub appearance once a month. I’m not one for having prolific points-machines on my bench (who is?) but having Livramento/White and then the set-piece-taking Normann to come in as emergency fillers isn’t too shabby.
Arguably the main concern with this set-up is the absence of full-back/wing-backs from Chelsea and Manchester City, particularly as Aymeric Laporte doesn’t offer much more security than the man we all really want, Joao Cancelo. I could, however, nab the Portuguese defender by downgrading Michail Antonio to an Allan Saint-Maximin type or perhaps by moving out Raphinha for Bryan Mbeumo.
David Raya, Antonio Rudiger, Laporte, Ruben Dias, Mohamed Salah, Raphinha, De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Antonio would likely all be regular starters if I stuck with the above squad, with the others rotating as follows over the next six Gameweeks and then beyond:
- Gameweek 8: White (CRY) and Livramento (LEE) start, Toney (CHE) benched
- Gameweek 9: Toney (LEI) and Livramento (BUR) start, White (AVL) benched
- Gameweek 10: Toney (bur) and Livramento (WAT) start, White (lei) benched
- Gameweek 11: Toney (NOR) and White (WAT) start, Livramento (AVL) benched
- Gameweek 12: Toney (new) and Livramento (nor) start, White (liv) benched
- Gameweek 13: Toney (EVE) and White (NEW) start, Livramento (liv) benched
Having three premiums also means I can choose between shifting Lukaku or De Bruyne out for Harry Kane or Son Heung-min in Gameweek 12, with Trent Alexander-Arnold potentially coming in at that point at the expense of Cancelo or Rudiger.