The international break is almost over and the return of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) is just around the corner.
The lack of Premier League action has been a bit more bearable this time around for me, as I am on a Wildcard.
I will be discussing my Wildcard picks in this article but first I’ll be answering some questions from the community ahead of Gameweek 8.
Q: A mid-priced Manchester City midfielder seems essential for Gameweeks 8-10 but all of them have various levels of safety v risk. Who’s the best one for a three-week punt? (@The_TVSnob)
A: Firstly, there’s an excellent article by Tom Freeman on Man City assets that I’d recommend reading.
The article already covers stats in depth so without going into that, I think Phil Foden (£7.9m) is the one. Jack Grealish’s (£7.9m) performances have started to dip a bit and I think it’s time that he gets a bit of a breather from the starting XI and Foden’s recent performances for club and country have been exemplary. I think this is a big year for the youngster and on current form, he is as likely to start as any Man City midfielder. Brighton and Crystal Palace are not easy games, either, so I don’t think Pep Guardiola has the luxury of benching his most in-form player for those matches.
Q: With Reece James back in training, I’m considering including him in my Wildcard team. If he doesn’t start against Brentford, Tino Livramento or Shane Duffy will come on for me. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ruben Dias are my other defenders. Thoughts? (@sharansanil18)
A: I had covered Chelsea assets, particularly in defence, in depth in this piece a fortnight ago. The conclusion I reached was that in order to improve the supply to Romelu Lukaku (£11.7m), Chelsea’s best crosser, Reece James (£5.5m), needs to be in the starting XI.
We don’t know the extent of James’ fitness yet so he could still miss Brentford but then he is back for the trio of fixtures – Norwich, Newcastle and Burnley – which look great for attacking returns. Sure you could go Antonio Rudiger (£5.8m) for the security of starts but those fixtures look prime for attacking returns and the upside of James is too much to resist for me.
One caveat with James, though, is that he can also play in central midfieldd, which means the chances of him being brought on for a late cameo are quite high, much more so than it is with Ben Chilwell (£5.6m) and Marcos Alonso (£6.0m). However, I do believe he is the clear first choice for that right wing-back slot and the competition isn’t as fierce on the opposite flank, so it is a risk worth taking in my opinion. With Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m) and Ruben Dias (£6.1m) secure starters in your squad, I think you can afford one ‘risky’ pick in James with Shane Duffy (£4.3m) and Tino Livramento (£4.2m) as back-ups.
Q : Should we sell Marcos Alonso? (@beckmaniac)
A: This is a tricky question. At the start of the season, I would have said that Ben Chilwell is our clear first-choice left wing-back and that Marcos Alonso’s appearances would be limited.
Chilwell’s recent struggles have been well documented but he looks to be back in the groove with goals for club and country. He is also a much better crosser of the ball than Alonso, so he also helps in improving the supply to Romelu Lukaku.
However, Alonso was impressive for Spain over the international break, putting in strong performances in both matches. He also offers a significant height advantage over Chilwell and when facing teams such as Brentford, that might work in the Spaniard’s favour.
So that means there is legitimate competition for that left wing-back spot now, and performances/opposition could dictate who plays in each match. The positive thing, though, is that if either is benched, it is rare they come on as a substitute. So, if you have a decent option off the bench, I would stick with Alonso for now.
If I was to bring in one of the two on Wildcard, it would be Chilwell. But I still prefer Reece James over either of them due to the reasons mentioned in the earlier question.
It’s going to be almost impossible to predict who starts with the fixture congestion Chelsea have between now and the end of the calendar year. If you don’t fancy the headache, I would sell and bring in somebody like Antonio Rudiger or Cesar Azpilicueta (£6.1m).
Q: Who are the best three premium defenders from Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City to have in our Wildcard team (@PriteshShetty87)
The Liverpool one is easy and doesn’t really need much explaining why: Trent Alexander-Arnold.
The Man City one is slightly trickier. I still think Joao Cancelo (£6.2m) will play a large number of games due to Benjamin Mendy’s non-availability and his versatility on either flank but he is not as nailed as Ruben Dias. Oleksandr Zinchenko’s (£5.3m) return from injury is also a slight concern.
The centre-back’s potential is a bit limited, though. The Man City attackers will likely hoover up the bonus points so you’re looking at a six-pointer in most weeks. Cancelo has looked menacing in attack, by contrast, and I would take the risk there as the upside is worth it.
For Chelsea, it depends on your squad and your appetite for risk. If you’re looking for the most nailed option, it would be Antonio Rudiger. If you’re looking for someone who’s almost as secure but has some attacking upside it would be Cesar Azpilicueta. Reece James is the one to go for if you are ok with “upside chasing”.
Q: How many “high risk, high reward” players should we target on a Wildcard, i.e Joao Cancelo, Ben Chilwell, Phil Foden, Hwang Hee-chan? (Sam @lotfpl)
A: This is an interesting question. Of the four players mentioned, I don’t think Joao Cancelo and Hwang Hee-chan (£5.6m) are huge risks in terms of game-time. They are arguably part of their team’s first-choice starting XI. Hwang offers something different from the other three Wolves wingers in that he’s a goalscorer. The other three are primarily creators so I do believe in terms of security of starts that the South Korean is pretty nailed. The risk with Hwang is, of course, that there are no real exit routes around the £5.5m bracket.
Ben Chilwell again depends on the makeup of your squad. Benchings are inevitable so if you have the depth, it’s a decent option. Phil Foden also isn’t that much of a riskm in my opinion, in the short term.
So if I had to answer your question, I’d say maybe two. I wouldn’t include Cancelo in that list though.
Q: Now that Son Heung-min has risen in price, is there any midfielder who is nailed and good FPL wise in the £7.0m-£10.0m bracket? (@FPL_Mihir)
A: First off, I don’t think it’s necessary to spend your money as the cheaper midfielders are offering value in the sub-£7.0m range. Don’t let price bias cloud your thinking: get the cheaper guys and keep cash in the bank for when more expensive options emerge. I’m a big fan of having some money left over to allow flexibility even after a Wildcard.
There are some options, though. Phil Foden has been discussed already and I do fancy Mason Mount (£7.4m) for the upcoming run, as well. Thomas Tuchel namechecked him as having a good relationship with Romelu Lukaku and his stock has gone up after how poor Chelsea have looked in his absence.
My Wildcard team
This is the Wildcard team I’m currently looking at ahead of Gameweek 8. Raphinha (£6.6m) will probably be benched for Shane Duffy and in case Reece James does miss the Brentford game, I’ll have Tino Livramento sub in.
There are some question marks regarding Romelu Lukaku’s availability but I think his withdrawal from the third/fourth-place UEFA Nations League game was just precautionary.
Most of the picks are fairly template but I’m punting on Adam Armstrong (£6.0m) ahead of Saints’ great run of fixtures.
My fellow Pro Pundit Lateriser and I discuss our Wildcard drafts and several other transfer targets in this week’s episode of the FPL Wire.
I highly recommend checking it out below!