Here’s our FPL wildcard GW9 article where FFGeek Contributor Andrew Whitfield has activated his wildcard. He talks through the draft team and reasoning plus reviews GW8
FPL Wildcard GW9 – Andrew Whitfield activates his wildcard
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Andrew finished with an overall rank of 132k last season and 6k in 18/19 and 19k in 17/18
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– I am not a fan of international breaks but they do of course provide us with a chance to step back and reflect on the season so far. Some people will have already boldly made early transfers which of course is high risk stuff when so much can happen in two weeks. And some will be pouring through stats and calmly plotting future moves. Others will simply enjoy the break from what can be an intense game at times. Sometimes switching off completely for two weeks and recharging your batteries is the best thing you can do.
– And some people ( including me ) will have activated their wildcard and be busy tinkering away with their team. It’s a great time to wildcard over one of the international breaks. You have “injury security” with unlimited transfers and you also have the opportunity to beat price changes if you act early. I have already beaten three price rises of my intended purchases since the window opened and beaten three price drops of players who are leaving my team.
– Before I look at my new shiny team, here is a review of my GW8.
GW8 Review – 70 pts (GW average 55 ) Total points: 457 Overall Rank – 1,191k Green arrow 372k OTV – £102.2m
– 70 points from eight “ returners” including an 18 point captain return is a good week by any standard. Normally it would be a great week, although with a lot of popular players landing points, there were plenty of FPL managers doing well. Whilst I had eight returns, captain Kane was my only one in double figures. So it good, but not spectacular.
– A welcome green arrow though of 370k, and a 520k rank rise over the last two weeks, which is good progress, up from 1.7M to 1.2M. It’s so close at this early stage. I am only 26 points off 500k and 59 points off 100k which equates to just 2 points per week over the remaining weeks !! The average rank of the so called “Elite managers” is around 900k. The consensus amongst top FPL managers is that anything around 1M at this early stage in such an unpredictable season, is still a decent place to be.
– Returns from Kane ( 18 ), Salah 9, Chilwell 8, Taylor 8, McCarthy 6, Justin 6, Rashford 5 and Calvert Lewin 5 certainly kept the scoreboard ticking. Justin was also brought down for a penalty that Vardy missed ( !! ), Rashford somehow failed to get a touch on a Bruno cross that went straight in and then came close late on, Chilwell came close to a second goal. Mitrovic could have had a last minute penalty but handed it to Lookman. Plenty of “nearlies” but then again, a last minute captain goal was “fortunate “.
– My two big decisions of the week came good, which was pleasing. Kane over Son for captain was worth 6 points. But my biggest call was doing Trent to Chilwell. I could have done Saiss to Zouma instead and kept Trent. So while Zouma and Trent scored just 3 points, Chilwell scored 8 and it meant I promoted Taylor to the line up for an unlikely 8 too. A 13 point swing in my favour. I also considered a -4 to get Grealish in for Podence too but that would only have gained a net 1 point. So all in all, my decisions came good.
Here is my current team with GW8 scores:
So why am I wildcarding ?
– There is a case for holding on as long as possible until GW16 before you “use it or lose it”. There is a likely double gameweek for Man City, Man Utd, Villa and Burnley coming up in GW18. So holding it to GW16 is good preparation for that. But it shouldn’t be too difficult to plan for given we will probably have good coverage of the first three teams.
– I like wildcarding during the international break, rather than having to rush my thought process in a few days. It’s a good chance to catch price changes and insure against injuries. I also think that we have enough data now to form good views of where we are at with teams and players. It feels like the right time.
– There is also a significant fixture swing now for Spurs, who play Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. They have struggled unconvincingly to single goal wins against Burnley, Brighton and West Brom, so it’s possible we are seeing a slowdown of their goal sprees. At the same time, Man City have a very nice set of fixtures coming up which includes home games v Burnley, Fulham, West Brom and Newcastle. It could be a significant and even seismic turning point of the season.
– Ownership of Man City players is currently low. Not surprising given that there are no Man City players at all in the top 40 scoring players in FPL !!! So the hope is that the significant improvement in fixtures for City can provide a golden opportunity to jump on the likes of Sterling, Jesus , De Bruyne and the city defence before the crowd does, with ownership of all City players at unusually low levels, creating an opportunity for rank gains.
– If “the template “ is going to be changing, is this a good opportunity to react quickly and get ahead of the curve and jump on the right teams and the right fixtures before the rest of the crowd follow suit.
– There is also a tasty set of fixtures for Villa and i don’t have any Villa players and that’s been hurting me !! There is an opportunity to target some good fixture opportunities like Man Utd v West Brom and Leicester v Fulham.
– I have Saiss and Mitchell not currently playing or not first choice. I have Podence and Mitrovic who have both only found the net in one of their eight fixtures so far !! My key differentials are not producing.
Could a wildcard backfire ?
– It’s the high ownership levels of Spurs players that represent the risk, if the plan is to transfer them out before others do !!!
– So YES it could backfire !!!! If I am losing Son who is nearly 60% owned, and he continues to score heavily, it’s going to hurt. If you throw in possibly losing Kane too at 45% ownership, and they both “go nuts” during this difficult fixture run, it could backfire and be the most spectacular own goal in wildcard history !!
– On the plus side, the Spurs players are NOT going to be as highly captained when the fixtures are difficult, and we need to embrace the opportunity with some very attractive alternatives over the next few games.
– As a “template manager”, I like to own the highly owned players for “rank protection”, and respond to how the template changes, rather than instead getting ahead of the curve BEFORE the template changes . So that will take me a little out of my comfort zone too.
So here is my current wildcard team and thoughts:
– I have made the switch from McCarthy to Martinez. The Villa fixtures over the next seven are superior to Southampton’s. Villa have home games coming up v Brighton, Newcastle, Burnley and Palace. They also have West Brom in that spell. In terms of my own definition of template, based on player ownership of my fellow contributors and of trusted managers I follow, there is an even split of contributors on these two keepers, but my 20 managers that I follow strongly favour Martinez, as do 9 of Geeks 10 top managers. He is the clear template keeper with a sea of green fixtures to match.
– I have gone for his understudy, Steer, for protection against a Martinez injury. It does limit my other Villa options of course by having both keepers. It means I am restricted to only one other Villa player.
– Chilwell is the “must have” in defence. I brought him in ahead of GW8 for Trent, which worked out well. Chilwell is so attacking and he spends much of the game camped in the opposition box !! With Chelsea having kept 6 clean sheets in 7 in all competitions, he is a player who promises big hauls and one I am excited to own. I have already beaten a price rise on him.
– I was a Trent owner all season until GW8 before I shipped him out for Chilwell for one game only to review on my wildcard. I have been “exposed “ to the Liverpool double up so far this season and to Robertson. A Liverpool clean sheet worked against me. Many are now coming off Trent and going without a Pool defender. I am actually going on to Robertson. He is only 17% owned. He has more touches in the opposition box than any other defender by some distance. He has out performed Trent for FPL points not just for this season but over 17 games since lockdown. He dominates set pieces. The tables have turned now so owning a Pool defender will actually now be a differential “rank gainer”. I like that. I am also happy to keep Robertson over Trent when he returns.
– My plan was to have Chilwell and Robertson as set and forget premiums and then rotate Lamptey and Walker Peters for a third spot in a 343. But fixtures and the rotation schedule are not great. I love watching Lamptey play but I worry about Brighton clean sheets and the ability of the strikers to convert his potential assists. I can also see him being first sub in my team most weeks with how the rotation looks and that would really frustrate me seeing those points on my bench. 4.7M is a lot of money if I don’t start him. So I am going Walker Peters but not Lamptey. KWP is very attacking too. He has Ings and Adam’s on the end of his crosses too. He provides some security against those McCarthy clean sheets too when he plays.
– Instead of Martinez and Walker Peters, I could go McCarthy and Targett to cover the same defences for 0.3M less, but I can see me leaving Targett points at first sub too often. The Villa clean sheet prospects are very strong and I want to cover all of them with Martinez.
– One reason I am not going Lamptey, is James Justin. I have owned him all season. Yes his place remains under threat when Perreira returns, but the Foxes fans seem to think he has “a few more games”. Leicester have only conceded 3 goals in 4 away games and 2 of those were at Man City. That includes trips to Leeds and Arsenal. It’s a tricky GW9 fixture, but then Leicester have Fulham at home, followed by Sheff Utd and Brighton. Justin is also an ideal rotation with Walker Peters. If Justin loses his place, I can see Lamptey coming into my side at some point, when he can feature more.
– So I am happy with Chilwell, Robertson and a Justin / Walker Peters rotation. I currently have a cheap 5th defender to save money who will sit last on my bench and shouldn’t be needed.
– Mo Salah is the easy one !! He hasn’t left my side all season and he really seems in the groove right now. Salah also has most shots of any midfielder and most penalty area touches. If Milner comes in for Trent, will that see Milner taking pens away from Salah ? Probably not.
– The big talking point is going to be whether to remove Son for the tough fixture run. If so, who to replace him with. The 58% ownership of Son represents both huge risk but huge opportunity, given the sharp turn in fixtures, both for Spurs but in particular Man City. I am set on selling Son. He has already gone from my team so I will take on the chin whatever punches he lands. He won’t be highly captained which at least limits the risk. But looking at it from an opportunity angle, what can you do with the Son money ?
– There are some great midfield options. Ideally, i would like Salah, De Bruyne , Bruno Fernandes and Grealish. That’s a power four. Then there is Ziyech. Enough you would think to make the ranking risk move away from Son the correct percentage call. Ziyech was very impressive v Sheff Utd but it’s a very small sample size. The best Chelsea assets of Pulisic, Havertz and Ziyech seem to change with the wind direction. I am cautious for now with Ziyech.
– My perfect four are Salah, De Bruyne, Fernandes and Grealish. But to get all four in, I would have to lose BOTH Robertson to a cheap defender AND Kane to a budget striker and run with three budget forwards. That rules out the likes of Kane, Vardy, Werner and Aguero who can all be explosive players in the right fixtures. Personally, I prefer the balance of both Robertson and an explosive premium striker.
– So of my “magic four”, I will probably sacrifice Bruno Fernandes. Man Utd have taken only 1 point out of 12 at Old Trafford, scoring just two goals !! In contrast, they have won seven consecutive away games in the league and have scored 10 goals already away from home this season !! Bruno could end up right there come the end of the season. He controls everything, he is on pens and set pieces, and he even scored two goals and an assist from open play this week !!! He is dangerous not to own. However, I WILL have him in my team at least this week at home to West Brom. I want to attack that Man Utd v West Brom fixture. I have deliberately kept money set aside to switch him to De Bruyne in GW10 v Burnley or definitely for GW11 v Fulham. That’s my plan.
– De Bruyne will be in for the tasty fixture run for Man City. He is an elite player. I prefer him to Sterling, especially if he is still on penalties. So it’s Bruno Fernandes along with Salah. But Bruno just keeping the seat warm for KDB.
– Jack Grealish looks amazing right now. I have dodged some very big bullets as he could have had some very big hauls. With those Villa fixtures jumping off the page, he is the first name on my team sheet !!
– I am going for Soucek as my 4th mid. Many will have him as 5th mid. But his stats have been great all season. He now has the fixtures to match and finally broke his scoring duck last game. He is also a 3% differential.
– I have limited budget for my 5th mid. So Orieu will serve the purpose of bringing two points off the bench from 2nd sub if needed while freeing up funds to put it where it’s needed in my starting line up. He does seem to be shooting a lot when I have watched him.
– The big decision up front is whether to stick with Harry Kane for the worsening fixture swing, or sell. If selling, do I move him to Vardy or Werner, or switch him to a more budget option and put the money into those midfield options !! As a fairly cautious manager, having committed to selling Son, I am going to initially keep Kane for GW9 at least, partly for some “rank protection “ and partly to see how the “new template” amongst my trusted managers “shakes out”. I want to see how my trusted managers deal with Kane before letting go. He is also a very easy switch to other explosive strikers in one move.
– Spurs attacking output has slowed but Kane is in goal scoring form, is pretty fixture proof, and he boasts the most shots on goal this season with 26. Depending on how the trusted managers deal with “the Kane conundrum “, keeping Kane now gives me the option to switch him easily to Vardy in GW10 for Leicester v Fulham !! That’s very appealing !! Vardy has Fulham, Sheff Utd and Brighton so I like having that flexibility by holding Kane this week. The Kane to Vardy switch would also give me extra funds to get Walker Peters or Justin up to Bellerin or Cancelo.
– Who is 2nd amongst strikers for “shots in the box”, “penalty area touches”’, plus top for “expected goals” this season ? It’s Patrick Bamford. I still don’t rate him, having watched him a lot in the championship. I am not sure the Leeds fans do either. He misses a lot of chances. But the fact remains that Leeds simply play “playground football “ they attack attack attack !! They are exciting to watch, they just pump balls in the box. I think even I could get on the end of some of them !! Even in getting battered 4-1 at Palace, Bamford scored one and but for a bizarre VAR call, would have had two !! So I am going to sit back and enjoying watching Leeds play, instead of viewing from behind the sofa.
– Calvert Lewin stays in my team. He has Fulham next. The return of Richarlison will help him. He has returned in 7 games out of 8 this season. That’s the consistency I like from my strikers !!
A word on my template:
– The players who currently hit my criteria based on ownership levels of the 20 managers I follow, plus my fellow contributors are – Martinez, Chilwell, Salah, Son, Grealish, Kane and Calvert Lewin. I am letting Son go but have the other six. I am happy with my choice of “template alternative “ in Bruno Fernandes or De Bruyne which seems a good percentage call to cover any risk, based on fixtures. I can then take stock on how Kane fits into the template ( or not ) and react accordingly. I don’t want to stray too far from my templated players. My plans and tactics and way of playing revolves around them.
– Normally, I like to balance my template picks with 2/3 low ownership differentials. Previously I had Mitrović ( 7% owned ) and Podence ( 4% owned ) . I am actually left with just Soucek at 3% as very low ownership differentials. I did consider Che Adams at 4% for this reason instead of Bamford. It’s hard to make significant gains if I cover the risks but without having enough differentials.
– However, taking on the 58% ownership of Son and potentially taking on the 45% ownership of Kane is going to be a hugely significant differential and a turning point of the season. That’s going to be a far bigger differential than my low ownership players. It could go very badly or very well. Getting ahead of the curve with the inevitable shift of the template away from Spurs represents a great opportunity to climb the ranks .
My transfer plan:
GW9 – Wildcard including Bruno v WBA
GW10 – Kane to Vardy v Fulham
GW11 – Bruno to de Bruyne v Fulham
Liverpool , with Salah and Robertson, play Fulham in GW12 so a bit of a theme developing.
If I do the Kane to Vardy move, it will give me the funds to get Cancelo into my team for those Man City fixtures. That will give me a back line of Chilwell, Robertson and Cancelo, all three capable of delivering at both ends of the pitch and delivering double figure hauls. Yes that’s three premiums in defence but it effectively gives me 10 attacking players !!
So that’s the plan. Let’s see how it works out !!!!
Happy tinkering !!!