It’s the most Wildcard-y time of the year
With the Josep rouletting and everyone telling you of Mo Salah fear
It’s the most Wildcard-y time of the year!
Well, that might have been Gameweek 8, where many used theirs to good effect. If I am honest with you and myself, I do wonder if that period was the optimal moment; shift to big at the back, sort out forwards, Manchester City midfield, etc.
Of course, it is very easy to look back on that with rosy hindsight and say I would have made the moves that paid off, for example, Reece James (£6.2m) and Ben Chilwell (£5.7m), but given that in my final week before Wildcarding I played five at the back, I think there is a chance it was my own best opportunity having arrived there with free transfers anyway.
However, with that moment gone and a reasonable if not spectacular rank of ~50k, there are as I see it two opportunities to use the Wildcard left.
One of those is in the final week before it is lost, Gameweek 20. This would be to prepare the team for Chelsea’s poor fixtures, subsequent blanks (assuming no double is arranged here) and the Africa Cup of Nations. The other is right now, in Gameweek 16.
Gameweek 16 brings about five fixture shifts that I have kept my eye on since planning Wildcard deployment weeks ago and some further circumstantial benefits that we could not have predicted.
The fixture shifts I am targeting are:
- Manchester United’s favourable run
- Manchester City’s favourable run
- West Ham’s favourable run
- Leeds United’s unfavourable run – I have Raphinha (£6.7m)
- Wolves’ unfavourable run – I have Raul Jimenez (£7.6m)
The circumstantial benefits are:
- The ability to respond to the emerging COVID-19 news at Tottenham, which also affects Brighton and potentially Leicester
- Manchester United’s change in management
- Various injury and selection issues, such as Phil Foden (£8.1m)
Naturally, this second group of benefits could apply to any week in which a Wildcard is played, but it is fair to say that more than the average number of spanners have been thrown into the works of this week.
This being the final week of European football and no international football until the New Year, meaning any new problems in future Gameweeks will at least come with a free transfer, sweetens the deal. It is the last opportunity to set up for the coming weeks and respond to new information in a way that others may not. Namely, without spending points on transfers.
Before we go any further, I should mention that this article and team were submitted on Wednesday 8th December. Any new information we get after this point will not have been considered and may well change my – and your – eventual wildcard.
I have been an owner of Robert Sanchez (£4.6m) since Gameweek 1 and he has served me well. I am a firm believer in picking goalkeepers for the long term, picking them cheap, picking a £4.0m back-up and not making unforced transfers for them. So, my next pick conceivably needs to last until the second Wildcard – which could well be March or April – be under ~£4.5m and be viable against any opposition.
Vincente Guaita (£4.6m) is that goalkeeper. He comes from a team with the third-best expected goals conceded (xGC) so far this season, behind only Manchester City and Liverpool, and is comfortably within the acceptable price range. You may notice that my previous goalkeeper, Sanchez, is of a similar price and came from the team with the fifth-best xGC so far this season (and third-best last season), so it is a strategy that has served me well.
Andy (@FplMode) pointed out on this week’s Scoutcast that, despite those defensive numbers, Crystal Palace have conceded the twelfth most goals in the league this season (21), a clear disparity with their xGC (15.14).
Given Guaita was one of the worst goalkeepers in the league according to expected goals prevented (xGP) last season it is reasonable to conclude that this may well be down to him. I acknowledge this is not ideal, but I am happy enough to back the underlying numbers given there are limited alternatives. I do not need Guaita to pull a 2020/21 Martinez, just hold his own against the likes of Sanchez, Jose Sa (£5.0m), Aaron Ramsdale (£5.0m) and David de Gea (£5.0m), which is something I think he will do. Others will favour one of the £5.0m options, and that is fair enough, my main opposition to them is funds, which as you will see I have spent elsewhere.
My second goalkeeper is the non-playing Patrick Gunnarsson (£3.9m). The reason I have elected against one of the usual £4.0m backups, such as Sanchez’s in Jason Steele (£4.0m), is that Guaita’s backup is Jack Butland (£4.4m), ruling him out based on price. Given the chances of someone like Steele happening to play in the same week that Guaita does not are so low, I would rather save the £0.1m.
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