With Gameweek 16 fast approaching, it is almost time to activate my first Wildcard ahead of the upcoming Blank and Double Gameweeks.
I am currently sitting around 350k overall with 851 points, which is ‘okay’ for this stage of the season, but it’s obvious I need this Wildcard to act as a catalyst for improvement.
So, in this, my latest column, I’m going to run through my chip strategy for the coming weeks and highlight a pool of players I’m considering for my Wildcard. There is still just under a week before final decisions need to be made, but unless additional fixtures get added, I don’t envisage too much changing.
- Gameweek 16 – First Wildcard
- Blank Gameweek 18 – Free Hit
- Double Gameweek 19 – Bench Boost
When I started writing this column on Monday morning, my understanding was that we were unlikely to see another Double Gameweek as big as 19 (which currently features ten teams) in 2020/21. Since then, we’ve learnt that the EFL Cup Final has been moved to a later date towards the end of April, which suggests we’ll now see another big Double in Gameweek 26.
However, having spent a fair bit of time looking at possible scenarios, I’m sticking to my original strategy and will plan accordingly for future Blanks and Doubles.
A key reason for this is that I like the budget options on offer at West Ham United, Southampton and Leeds United, all of whom feature in this Double and have okay fixtures either side. That means players from these teams can rotate in and out of my starting XI as and when needed, without too much value being left on the bench. Going forward, I’ll probably be looking at an additional outlay of around £1.5m on bench players each week, which I’m hoping won’t prove an issue.
So, if I Bench Boost in Double Gameweek 19, I also have to Free Hit in Blank Gameweek 18. While the pool of players is naturally smaller with only five matches scheduled for that week, I see it as an opportunity to make up ground, with Manchester City looking like one of the teams to target.
My remaining chips, second Wildcard and Triple Captain, will then be used around Double Gameweek 26.
For those wondering, I did consider going a week early with my Wildcard to avoid being priced out of any moves, but felt I’d be losing good players with good fixtures in Gameweek 15, like Kevin De Bruyne (£11.8m), Jack Grealish (£7.8m) and Ollie Watkins (£6.1m). By waiting, I also get another week of information, which is often valuable.
Losing Son Heung-min (£9.7m) and Harry Kane (£11.0m) for Double Gameweek assets is a risky play, given their fixtures, which see them take on Fulham and Leeds United at home before Gameweek 18. Ideally, I’d hold both, but I’m currently leaning towards keeping just one, and then moving that player on for an additional Double Gameweek player ahead of Gameweek 19. That way I can capitalise on those fixtures.
However, when planning future transfers, I also need to consider what follows the Double Gameweek.
In Gameweek 20, I’ll want De Bruyne back in my squad without taking a hit, ahead of a trip to West Bromwich Albion.
All of these kinds of scenarios are worth thinking about now, to ensure a successful Wildcard isn’t undone in the weeks to follow by a lack of planning. Gameweek 20 is as important as any, and I need to make sure that I can capitalise on any fixture swings without unnecessary hits, and that I also have good captaincy options in place.
This is where a captaincy planner can be useful, like mine below. It should also mean I have the correct big hitters in place going forward.
- Gameweek 16 – Salah (new), Son or Kane (FUL)
- Gameweek 17 – Salah (sou), Son or Kane (LEE)
- Blank Gameweek 18 (Free Hit) – De Bruyne (BHA)
- Double Gameweek 19 – Salah (MUN, BUR)
- Gameweek 20 – Fernandes (SHU), De Bruyne (wba)
- Gameweek 21 – De Bruyne (SHU)
Alex McCarthy (£4.6m), Illan Meslier (£4.6m), Sam Johnstone (£4.5m).
Right now, I’m leaning towards pairing Meslier and Johnstone together, despite Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion’s ongoing defensive issues. That combination gives me a solid fixture run right up until Gameweek 25:
LEE, ARS, Free Hit, BHA + SOU / wol + whu, new, FUL, shu, CRY, ars, bur
Ideally, I don’t want to use transfers on this position up until my second Wildcard, which this setup should allow.
While clean sheets may be hard to come by, what these keepers will provide is save points, and lots of them. In fact, no other keepers can match them for saves this season, with 120 between them.
Hopefully by the time the Double Gameweek comes around, Sam Allardyce will have had sufficient time on the training ground to tighten Albion up, but if I do have doubts around this, McCarthy at Southampton is another option I’m comfortable with.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.2m), Andrew Robertson (£7.2m), Rúben Dias (£5.7m), Reece James (£5.3m), Aaron Cresswell (£5.2m), Eric Dier (£5.0m), James Justin (£4.9m), Stuart Dallas (£4.7m), Vladimir Coufal (£4.6m), Charlie Taylor (£4.5m), Fabián Balbuena (£4.4m)
In my current draft, both Liverpool defenders feature having delivered a combined 19 points in Gameweek 14. Over the last three Gameweeks they lead the way amongst defenders for final-third touches, and if anything, I see them upping their output in the coming weeks.
Ideally, they’d be joined by James (if fit), but team value may restrict this, so I will likely have to select two or three of the sub £5.0m options listed above. If money is tight, Balbuena dropping to £4.4m may be useful.
Of the single Gameweek candidates, I like Dias and Dier, who may also come into my thinking.
Mohamed Salah (£12.5m), Sadio Mané (£11.9m), Bruno Fernandes (£11.0m), Son Heung-min (£9.7m), Jarrod Bowen (£6.4m), Theo Walcott (£5.8m), Raphinha (£5.4m), Tomas Soucek (£5.1m)
It’s almost certain I’ll include Salah and Fernandes as my midfield heavy hitters, and compliment them with a couple of budget options.
Raphinha looks like he’ll make the cut, and has been posting some encouraging numbers since making his first start in Gameweek 9. Amongst midfielders, only Mané has attempted more shots in the box over that period, while he also ranks sixth for chances created. With a great looking Double, he should offer real value.
West Ham duo Soucek and Bowen are also appealing, with the latter’s share of corners heightening his appeal, while Walcott is a differential pick. If Danny Ings (£8.4m) is set for another spell on the sidelines, I’m quite fond of this move. In the three games Ings missed earlier this season, Walcott deputised up front with only four midfielders registering more shots in the box during those games.
I won’t rule Chelsea midfielders out either, but with points often spread around the team, I will probably look elsewhere.
Harry Kane (£11.0m), Jamie Vardy (£10.2m), Patrick Bamford (£6.4m), Chris Wood (£6.2m), Che Adams (£6.0m), Rodrigo (£5.7m)
As discussed earlier, I could do a transfer hokey-cokey with Kane and Vardy or go cheap. Either way Bamford is a certainty, but the other spots are up for grabs.
A Leeds’ attacking triple-up may be a bit too much, but considering their expected goal (xG) total this season is only behind Liverpool, for a short period, a move for Rodrigo could work. However, Wood may be the better bet. He isn’t someone to get too excited about, but has been consistent in recent seasons and does tend to pick up bonus points when he scores, which I like. The fixtures before the Double Gameweek are about as good as it gets for Burnley too.
Michail Antonio (£6.2m) may become an option, but with ongoing injury issues, time is running out and it’s hard to see him featuring right now.
So, I hope this have given you some ideas for the coming weeks.
I’ll be finalising my team at the weekend, but will update you on how it’s been going the next time I check in.
Thanks for reading, and best of luck to you all over the Christmas period.
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