Former #FPL Champion and Friend of the site @spiderm4tt has given his thoughts on any wildcard worries you may have heading into GW34 and looks a a potential team for now and GW38
Here is my chosen squad of players as if I was playing my wildcard this week for Gameweeks (GW) 34-38. I have briefly given some of my thoughts and reasoning behind the selection for each player and how they each fit into the squad, without overspending my budget. I have used my team value of 106.3m. If you are struggling for funds, I have put in some cheaper alternatives, or vice versa, I’ve put in a few expensive alternatives if money is no problem.
I have always said there are many different ways/tactics to play Fantasy Premier League (FPL), whether it be choice of players, formations, transfers, captains etc, but what isn’t an option, and is same for all of us, is that we are only allowed to own a maximum of three players at any one time from each team, and also we can not own all the players at once. Therefore, balancing the books successfully in FPL management is as significant and important as it is in picking a successful player itself, and also in picking a successful squad.
My wildcard for GW34 to GW38:
Schmeichel & Pantilimon
My main reason for picking these two goalkeepers is that they both have upcoming double gameweeks (DGWs). Schmeichel has a DGW34, Pantilimon has a DGW37. So effectively you are getting two extra games from this one position in your team for the run-in, which could prove fruitful in the end in save points alone, never mind the extra potential points for a clean sheet, or two, if they happen to occur.
Another reason for selecting these two goalkeepers is that they are both cheap. I usually prefer to spend the minimum amount on goalkeepers as possible, as these cheap goalkeepers can often equal, or out score, the more expensive goalkeepers from the bigger teams, mainly due to save points, as well as the odd clean sheet here and there. Also their cheap cost allows you to maximise your funds for your outfield players, which is where the main FPL points come from on a weekly basis.
A further reason for owning two goalkeepers from ‘lesser teams’ is that it allows you to have the maximum allowance of three outfield players from the big teams. Owning a goalkeeper from say Chelsea, Liverpool, or Arsenal, for their DGWs, will mean that a vital place has been taken up in the place of a big hitting attacking front seven player, which isn’t really ideal.
Terry or Ivanovic
For my first choice defender pick I have gone for Terry, or Ivanovic. Either player is a viable pick as they play for the second best defensive team in the Premier League, with only Southampton conceding less Premier League goals. They both also offer decent attacking points potential returns. This is helped by having an extra game in DGW34, along with a decent run-in, which begins immediately after the DGW with a favourable home fixture to Crystal Palace in GW35. This is followed by two further home games in their final three fixtures – Liverpool GW36 & Sunderland GW38 – with an away game to WBA GW37 sandwiched in between. With their good fixtures, and the way Chelsea are tightening up at the back as they close in on their 4th Premier League title in 10 years, it is hard not to see either of these two defenders accumulating a further significant amount of points before the season is over.
However, I cannot decide between two players! Despite Ivanovic seemingly being the better of the two players in FPL as he is doing well this season with his four goals and five assists, he has only accumulated 16 points more than Terry, who has three goals and zero assists, and Ivan is at a significantly higher price too. Bonus points (BPs) are similar for each player, but the problem is with Ivanovic is that he is partial to a yellow card (7) and a red card (1) at times, whereas on the contrary, Terry has picked up just the one yellow card this season.
I suppose if money is no object then Ivanovic maybe the better pick due to him being the slightly greater goal threat and the better assist potential, however, I feel that Terry is overdue another goal or two before the season is over. There is actually a viable case for owning both of these players, but I feel this may limit your chances of getting in a big hitting front seven player from Chelsea for their DGW34, and also it may tie up too much funds in defence, which could then make it difficult to bring in a third big hitting Arsenal attacking front seven player for their good closing fixtures that includes an attractive DGW37.
Skrtel or Moreno
For my second defensive pick I have gone for Skrtel or Moreno. Of the two players I feel this is a little bit more easier to choose between than the Ivan versus Terry above. My preferred choice of the two is Skrtel as he’s more of a goal threat (unfortunately it can at both ends though!). He also attracts the BPs, in which he currently leads the way for defenders with a remarkable 22 bonus points this season.
Moreno, however, is a good alternative, if not just to save funds as he is cheaper than Skrtle, but also has the potential to pick up attacking points from his left back, or out of position (OOP) left wing back position. If Liverpool can get back to the defending which recently seen them equal their record of six consecutive away clean sheets (which gave them seven away clean sheets total for the season), then clean sheet points in their two away DGW34 fixtures, followed by their favourable home GW35 & GW37 fixtures to QPR & Palace respectively, may just be on the cards.
Jeffrey Schlupp is another defender who has a DGW34. This is followed by some favourable fixtures in the run-in, in particularly at home to Newcastle GW35 & QPR GW38, which offers the potential of more clean sheet points to add to the recent clean sheet against Swansea in GW33.
Schlupp, like Moreno, is an attacking left back at a good price, and who has also been playing frequently this season OOP in an attacking left wing back role under Nigel Pearson’s recent new attacking formation, which has seen Leicester score an impressive ten goals in the past four games. While Schlupp never recorded any attacking returns in those games, his attacking potential is clearly there to see as he gets high up the pitch on a regular basis, and this could help him add to his tally of three goals and one assist so far this season.
Patrick van Aanholt, or PVA for short as he’s known in the FPL world, does not have a DGW34, but he does however have a DGW37 upcoming, with one of those fixtures in his DGW being at home to Leicester City, who maybe a little hungover after celebrating their Premier League safety the way they are going at the moment!
PVA, like the above mentioned Schlupp & Moreno, is an attacking left back, who can also (and does on his own accord at times) play OOP. PVA has yet to register a Premier League goal this season, but from what I have seen of him and his left foot shots, his first league goal cannot be far away. While Sunderland do not offer too much hope of a clean in the run-in, PVA does however enjoy a dribble, or two, along with a few crosses into the box, which has rewarded him and his owners an impressive five assists so far this season. You will be hard pushed to find a more attacking points potential defender in the Premier League this season. At 4.1m he is a potential bargain, as well as being helpful in balancing the FPL financial books.
Toby Alderweireld is my final defensive choice for my GW34-38 squad. With a shoulder injury he recently sustained at Stoke City GW33, it was looking likely to be that the season was over for him, however, recent team news coming out of Southampton suggests otherwise, and hopefully he should be back soon, if not this upcoming GW34. Alderweireld and Southampton do not have a DGW, but they do however play for the best defensive team in Premier League, conceding only 24 goals this season, which is two less than Chelsea.
Alderweireld would be my first choice FPL Saints cover for the run-in mainly due to his cheaper price over the more expensive, and more popular, Clyne and Bertrand. He is also Southampton’s first choice centre half with Fonte. Alderweireld was however deployed OOP in midfield GW33 to cover Victor Wanyama’s suspension, who still has one more game left to serve until his ban is over. If Alderweireld returned to Premier League action soon, and was to deployed more in this OOP midfield position, then this could potentially heighten his points potential to not only clean sheets.
So that’s my defence! Now onto the midfield…
What can I say about Eden Hazard that has not already been said!? He is a different class this season, in reality as well as in FPL terms, in a FPL season that is generously sprinkled with top quality midfield players. He fits the FPL game perfectly, and the FPL game fits him perfectly too. The terms ‘must have’ or ‘essential’ is talked about quite a lot by FPL managers during the course of the season when discussing which FPL players we all ought to own – or dare not go without.
For me there has only ever been one must have player this season, and it is Hazard. He is even more of a must have for his DGW34, where he will most probably be the standout pick for the captaincy, despite both his games being away, and potentially difficult. Hazard also has favourable GW35-38 fixtures, which includes three at home, where he continues to produce good fantasy football points on a consistent basis regardless of the opponent – he defines the term ‘fixture proof’. With an incredible thirteen goals, nine assists, and a huge 40 BPs – he is essentially, essential.
Cesc Fabregas at the start of the season was put up against Hazard for which was the better of the two to own. With plenty of tooing and frowing at the start of the season, there was not much between them, as Fabregas displayed his FPL points return qualities of years gone by – despite at times playing in a more deeper and more disciplined role from when he was bringing in the many FPL points at Arsenal. This deeper role at Chelsea is most probably the reason why he’s only registered three Premier League goals so far this season. However, his seventeen FPL assists so far this season, which is more than double Hazard’s assists (8), underlines his FPL pedigree.
As the Premier League entered the New Year, Fabregas picked up injuries and illness, a suspension, a dip in form, to add to a blank GW27. As a result, many FPL managers dispatched him quicker than he dispatches a pin point precision assist pass to Costa. However, one goal, two assists, and five BPs in his last four games, are possible signs that Fabregas could just be coming back into good form just at the right time for us FPL managers, as well as for Chelsea and their title aspirations.
I promised myself I would not do any puns in this article, but I have to say that he is certainly a ‘Fab’ pick – for now, and also the run-in until the Arsenal midfield players become attractive for their DGW37. Fabregas is also a possible good differential DGW34 captain option if you are chasing down your mini-league rivals.
Raheem Sterling is another potential big hitting DGW34 player, and at a fair mid price too. With seven Premier League goals and ten assists so far this season, Sterling has the potential to add to his tally over the DGW34, and also in the following kind home fixture against his old club QPR in GW35, especially if Brendan Rogers continues to play him in up top in a front three instead of at right wing back, which he has done a few times this season.
With Sturridge now being confirmed out for at least the first of the two DGW34 matches for Liverpool, it is now more likely that Sterling will be utilised up top as Liverpool will require his trickery and creativity in the final third of the pitch. Also what is important about owning Sterling is that he is a good alternative candidate for the captain armband for DGW34, as his two away fixtures, to WBA & Hull City respectively, are kinder than Hazard’s over the same period. I usually prefer form over fixtures, but fixtures over form has come out on top many times in FPL GWs, and it could happen again this DGW34. Also Sterling will be heavily owned by many FPL managers, and he is currently way out in front for transfers in this round – so going without him may be costly if he decides to explode.
Jordon Henderson is almost a must have wildcard player for me, not just for his DGW34 and favourable GW35 tie, but for the run-in. This is because of his value for money. His low FPL price will free up much needed funds, not just to bring the big hitting DGW34 players of Fabregas & Sterling, but it allows to bring in other big hitting players for the run-in, in particular from Arsenal for their final few good GWs, which one includes a DGW37.
Also lets not forget about the player himself and how well he is finally doing from FPL point of view. With four goals, two assists, and seven bonus points in his last six games, Henderson is in a rich vein of consistent form at the moment, and with being on penalty duties when Gerrard is not around, this can only heighten his already good FPL points potential. Gerrard maybe back now from suspension, but his game time could still be limited between now and the run-in. Conversely it’s worth noting that Henderson plays 90 minutes week in, week out. Therefore a guarantee of 180 minutes over DGW34, followed by plum home fixtures in GW35 & GW37 to QPR and Palace respectively, Henderson could just be that guarantee to get in some good FPL points.
Alexis Sanchez is my first pick as my final midfielder. To date this season I have normally preferred to roll out the 3-4-3 formation with Boyd for example being my cheap 5th midfielder to then allow owning three good forwards. However, Sanchez would allow an alternative 3-5-2 formation if needed for the run-in. This is because currently there is a wealth of DGW34 & DGW37 midfield talent on offer, and vice-versa, there is a dearth of big hitting forwards due to constant injuries and uncertainties surrounding Sturridge and Costa.
Sanchez for me is almost probably as a must have, or essential, as Hazard is for the run-in. He doesn’t just have a run of favourable fixtures, but he also has an attractive DGW37, in which could see him being the standout captaincy pick, like Hazard will be in DGW34. This is because Sanchez is top quality with huge FPL points scoring potential each time he steps on to a football pitch. He is currently the second highest FPL total points scorer, with an impressive fourteen Premier League goals and eight assists in his debut season. He has also returned a healthy 26 BPs.
Also what is interesting and very significant about Sanchez in relation to FPL, is that he has produced double figure points hauls on no less than seven occasions this season. This is what is called ‘explosiveness’! If Sanchez decides to ‘explode’ points wise between now and the run-in in, which is very possible due to his favourable fixtures, you could be significantly left behind in the rankings or your mini-leagues if not owning him, and your FPL season could therefore implode.
Furthermore, his price of 11.2m may be high, but if not get him in soon he could be out of reach for some FPL managers as his purchase price could inevitably rise, and it probably will rise much sooner than his DGW37.
That’s it for the midfielders….now onto the forwards!
Sergio Aguero is my numero uno choice of forward, for yesterday, for the now, and for the final run-in! Despite him missing quite a few games midway through the season, and also along with a barren spell in front of goal, he has still managed to accumulate an impressive twenty Premier League goals, seven assists, and 22 BPs. However, even with all his goals, assists, and BPs this season, any FPL manager who owns Aguero, especially more so recently, would feel a bit hard done by as his good play has not really resulted in good FPL points on the whole.
Aguero, however, is still one of the very best forwards in the world, not just in the Premier League. His record of goals per minutes played is outstanding, and with favourable fixtures in the run-in, it is likely he could significantly add to his goal tally. Also what makes Aguero almost a must have is his FPL explosiveness, similar to what Sanchez & Hazard have – but Aguero has this potential explosiveness in greater abundance, with probably only Suarez, RvP, Bale, and Ronaldo, of FPL days gone by, can only equate to. This in turn allows him to be a good quality captain option for the run-in, especially in the single GWs.
Harry Kane is my second pick for the forwards. He has same amount of Premier League goals (20) as Aguero, with only one less assist (6), but has accumulated nine more bonus points (31). Kane is demonstrating incredible value for money in FPL, and also like Aguero, Hazard, and Sanchez this season, he has also shown this rare FPL points explosiveness, and on no fewer than seven occasions, which included an 18 pointer and a 17 pointer against Chelsea and Leicester City. This demonstrates his ability to score goals (and points) against any Premier League team. These great points return, along with his ‘fixture proof’ status, have made Kane, and will continue to make him, a viable captain pick over the big explosive players mentioned above.
Jamie Vardy is my final pick the forwards, not just for the DGW34, but also for the run-in, with three out of his last four GWs of the season being home fixtures, which include Newcastle and QPR. With his attractive 4.6m price tag too it helps to balance the FPL books and it allows the money to spent elsewhere – on the big hitters. It also allows the option of flexibility in formations for the run-in, such as 3-5-2 or 3-4-3. Also lets not forget Vardy is in a rich vein of FPL form recently, which mirrors his team, as Leicester City have been scoring goals freely in their surprising, and refreshing to watch, new attacking formation. Also I suspect Vardy will not just be a bench warmer for the many managers who own him after the DGW34 has passed – if he is, he will be a nice first sub.
Ok that’s it – that’s my FPL wildcard squad for GW34-38!
If you cannot afford Sanchez, then Ramsey/Cazorla/Ozil are all good alternative Arsenal attacking midfield options. Or if your prefer 3-4-3 formation over 3-5-2, then you could get Cambiasso instead as a cheap 5th midfielder. Cambiasso has a DGW34, is picking up points, and has decent remaining fixtures, like his teammate Vardy, who you could then swap out for Giroud as your Arsenal big hitter instead of Sanchez.
Bringing in Coutinho as a cheaper alternative to Sterling could also work too if funds are tight, or if you fancied an alternative good differential. Coutinho who’s had a decent run of form has the potential to score well over the forthcoming games as he will be deployed in a front three, or maybe even at a false nine position again like he did recently against Newcastle GW32 in the absence of Sturridge.
These alternative moves will save you a few million in funds if needed.
Future planning for GW35-38:
The future plans/tactics after DGW34 would be to roll over the free transfer in GW35, as Chelsea and Liverpool have plum home fixtures with potential good attacking and defensive returns, while at the same time bring Sanchez into the line up for Hull City away.
For GW36 you can bring in one, or even two, Arsenal DGW37 midfielders, from either Ozil, Cazorla, or Ramsey, to give you two, or the full quota of three Arsenal DGW37 players, whilst in the meantime trying to capitalise on their favourable home GW36 fixture to Swansea City, who may by then have their heads in a holiday brochure, if they haven’t already.
For GW37, you have the option of using the free transfer to upgrade Vardy to Defoe maybe, which would then give you the maximum three Sunderland DGW37 players along with the already owned Pantimillion and PVA. If not getting in a third Sunderland player, the option is then there to address any injuries or suspensions you may have, or a good tactical option could be to roll over the free transfer to give you two free transfers for the final GW of the season where you can take a couple of GW38 punts, which may be fruitful!
By the way, as it best to have plans and options, a week is a long time in football as it is too in FPL, and all these best laid plans could go out of the window before you know it! However, from my experience, it’s always good to plan and plan and plan, and also to be flexible and adaptable to the present situation in and around you, especially if any unexpected problems arise. Also do not be afraid to change your mind, or your plans, if you need to, at any given time!
All the best everyone. I hope you all have a profitable DGW34 – and I hope you all have a strong finish to the season in order to achieve your FPL goals and ambitions.
Take care & God bless,