FPL Season 2018-19 – The first wildcard

Now that we’ve taken a break from playing new slot sites and seeing as the official game’s first wildcard of the season in Fantasy Premier League is available once until the 29th of December 2018 (14h00), we are now almost at the middle of the season’s first half. With the second international break coming up after gameweek 8, it’s likely that some of the FPL managers will be putting their first wildcard to work during the coming weeks. A well-planned wildcard can be of enormous value. In order to provide some insight and support in these crucial times, we’ll use this article to make a wildcard suggestion of our own, naturally within the set £100m budget. Do remember that a 2nd wildcard chip becomes available after 29 December to help you completely restructure your team during January to May 2019 which can be productive for those double game weeks later in the season.

GOALKEEPERS

As far as goalkeepers are concerned in FPL, our recommended strategy would be to choose two that, in theory, won’t need replacement before you use the next wildcard. By choosing Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel (£5.0m) and Wolverhampton’s Rui Patricio (£4.5m), we’re getting two goalkeepers of international quality, who both play at decent teams and provide excellent rotation opportunities for FPL managers, and without having to break the bank. Rotating this pair with a total value of £9.5m would give the following run of fixtures:

GW8GW9GW10GW11GW12GW13GW14GW15GW16
SchmeichelEVEarsWHUcarBURbriWATTOTcry
PatriciocryWATbriTOTarsHUDcarnewBOU

When a team name abbreviation is written in bold/capitals, it means the goalkeeper in question is playing a home game against that team. By rotating Schmeichel and Patricio, we’ll have at least one of our goalkeepers facing low-ranking and/or low-scoring opposition every week until at least gameweek 16. Both goalies are dead-on starters for their clubs and though neither Leicester or Wolves are known as extremely solid in defence, both teams are likely to end up comfortably somewhere around the middle of the table and get clean sheets from time to time.

DEFENDERS

In the current top 10 of highest points scorers in FPL, there are two defenders, namely Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso (the second-highest scorer overall) and Liverpool’s Andy Robertson. Had it not been for Benjamin Mendy’s injury a few weeks ago, then this top 10 would’ve probably included three defenders. In other words, investments in premium defenders have paid off so far this season, so for the wildcard we would suggest two premium defenders, two medium-priced defenders, and a fifth budget enabler who starts for his club.

We start with Marcos Alonso (£6.9m). Yes, he is the most expensive defender in the official game by far, but he’s also the starting left-back for title candidates Chelsea under a manager who allows his full-backs to operate very far up the pitch and rarely tinkers with his starting formation. In seven games so far, the Spaniard has booked three clean sheets, provided 5 assists, and scored 1 goal. He’s also the defender with most shots in direction of the goal in the Premier League (14) and the defender who has most often hit the woodwork (2). Until gameweek 18, Chelsea are playing three more top six candidates (United, Spurs, and City), but all of them will be faced at Stamford Bridge.

The second premium defender in our wildcard squad is Tottenham’s Kieran Trippier (£6.2m). The English international seems to have cemented his place in Pocchetino’s starting eleven at right-back, especially now that his principal rival for the spot, Serge Aurier, is injured for the coming few games at least. On top of that, Trippier is one of Spurs’ set-piece takers, for both corners and attacking free-kicks, which only adds to his appeal. With Cardiff, Wolves, West Ham, and Palace coming up in the next week gameweeks, Tottenham’s fixture calender further justifies Trippier’s inclusion in our wildcard team who has picked up 7 bonus points already this season.

From Liverpool we’re taking another right-back who is also an English (youth) international, namely Trent Alexander-Arnold (£5.1m). We could’ve also included Liverpool’s Robertson in this list, instead of Alonso or Trippier, but selecting a Liverpool player comes with a higher risk of rotation. Alexander-Arnold has nevertheless played at least 88 minutes in each of Liverpool’s league games so far this season, in which he booked five clean sheets and provided a single assist. In addition, he’s taken six shots at goal and hit the woodwork twice, so more attacking returns seem to be on the cards. With Huddersfield, Cardiff, and Fulham coming up over the coming five gameweeks, the Liverpool defender seems to be offering excellent value for money.

Despite our aversion to doubling up on defensive assets from the same team, Wolverhampton Wanderers are offering outstanding value that’s hard to ignore at the moment. Wolves have conceded just 6 goals in the first seven games of the season, which actually makes their defence the fourth-best in the league, after City, Liverpool (both 3 goals), and Chelsea (5). Out of their backline, we have gone with right-back Matt Doherty (£4.5m), who has brought his FPL owners 3 clean sheets and 2 assists already (and 6 bonus points). He gets the freedom to boom forward almost at will, and with games against Palace, Watford, and Brighton coming up next, the Irish international could be raking in the points.

Our fifth defender is, perhaps unsurprisingly, Crystal Palace right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£4.3m). The young defender started the season off with a price of £4.0, so when it became clear that he’s Roy Hodgon’s right-back of choice, he suddenly became one of FPL’s most interesting defensive assets. Palace are having a kind of up-and-down start to the season, with their home form being of special concern, but the Eagles are currently 13th in the table and their form seems to be improving. More importantly, there are only five teams with a better defence than Crystal Palace, who have conceded 8 goals in this season’s first seven games. As a fifth defender for your FPL team, Wan-Bissaka is probably your best choice and has already picked up the joint highest bonus points for a defender (9 the same as Alonso).

MIDFIELDERS

At the moment, there is great FPL value to be found among midfield players. Of the ten highest-scoring players so far, half are listed as midfielders. Of the top five point scorers, three are midfielders (Hazard, Sterling, and Mané). For our wildcard selection, we’re going with two high-priced midfielders, two mid-priced ones, and a fifth starting differential player.

Our first premium midfielder is Chelsea’s Eden Hazard (£11.1m), simply because he’s too good to ignore now that he’s in what could be the best shape of his life. He’s the star man in Maurizio Sarri’s completely overhauled Chelsea, and in that role the quick Belgian has already scored 6 goals and assisted 2 more in just 7 games. As a result, Hazard is currently the highest scoring player in FPL with 60 points (incl. 10 bonus points). With fixtures against Southampton, Burnley, Palace, and Everton coming up in the next five gameweeks, as well as a home game against troubled Man United, The Chelsea forward could keep scoring big for the foreseeable future.

The next midfielder in our wildcard team is Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling (£11.0), who at the moment is the second-highest scoring midfielder in FPL (47 points incl. 6 bonus points). The English dribbler has scored 4 goals and provided 2 assists in just six games this season, as gameweek 2 was the only week in which Sterling didn’t play any minutes. Obviously, with the Champions League and League Cup in full swing, rotation risk for players in Pep Guardiola’s squad is higher than ever, but Sterling seems to be one of Pep’s most assured starters in the Premier League. In this week’s Champions League game against Hoffenheim, he was replaced by Riyad Mahrez after 75 minutes, so he’s likely to be starting against Liverpool. With games versus Burnley (home), Southampton (home), and West Ham (away) in the next five after that, Sterling could be a top performer over the next gameweeks.

Our first medium-priced midfielder is Tottenham’s Lucas Moura (£7.4m), who could be providing exceptional value for money over the coming months. The Brazilian forward has played at least 67 minutes in each Premier League game this season so far, in which he has scored 3 goals and gave 1 assist, resulting in a total of 37 FPL points. On top of that, both starting midfielders Alli and Eriksen are currently injured and not expected back until after the international break, at the earliest. This situation is likely to only increase Moura’s role in Pocchetino’s squad, which will hopefully result in more returns for his FPL owners as well.

The fourth midfield pick for our wildcard is Everton star man Richarlison (£6.7m). The Brazilian forward started off the season in blistering form, scoring three goals in his first two games for his new club, accumulating 23 FPL points in the process (incl 5 bonus points). His early red card in gameweek 3, which meant a 2-game suspension, put a halt to his great start, but he happily continued during the first international break. In his first game for Brazil, he scored two goals and gave an overall high-level performance, and he was back in Everton’s starting eleven as soon as his suspension was over. Over the last two gameweeks, Richarlison returned an unimpressive 5 FPL points, and his blank at home to Fulham was especially disappointing. The powerful dribbler nevertheless took four shots at goal that game as he was deployed as a central striker for about 70 minutes. The kind of willingness Richarlison shows every game to create danger for the opposition, in combination with his price tag and the fact that he’s part of a team that has been underperforming until now, he’s a must-have midfield asset for FPL managers.

The fifth and final midfielder in our wildcard is Watford’s Roberto Pereyra (£6.3m). Like Richarlison, the Argentinian winger got off to a flying start for Watford this season, scoring 3 goals in the first three games and rewarding his FPL owners with 26 points. He hasn’t come up with attacking returns since then, but Watford’s fixture schedule for the past four weeks might have had something to do with that: Spurs and United at home, followed by Fulham and Arsenal away. With Watford seemingly holding on to their early-season shape for the moment, and with games versus Bournemouth, Wolves, Huddersfield, Newcastle, and Southampton coming up over the next five weeks, Pereyra might soon be back to his scoring and/or assisting ways.

FORWARDS

The two highest-scoring forwards in the official game right now are two of the usual suspects, namely City’s Kun Aguero and Tottenham’s Harry Kane. These two FPL favourites are followed by a somewhat surprising, but nonetheless extraordinary performer so far this season, Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic. Seeing as an assured or practically assured starting position in the first eleven is a primary condition for the players we select for this wildcard, we’ve gone with one semi-premium striker, one mid-to-lower priced forward, and one budget asset.

The main man up front in this wildcard team would be Leicester’s Jamie Vardy (£8.9m). The English striker, who is no longer available for the Three Lions and can thus rest during the international breaks, is back to his old best with two goals and an assist in his last two games, earning his FPL owners 19 points in the process. Vardy is certain to start under manager Claude Puel, and rightly so, because he can cause problems to any defence. He’s always on the move and always looking for a way to goal, which are some of the reasons why he has become something of an FPL favourite. Over the coming five gameweeks, the Foxes are hosting Everton, West Ham, and Burnley, and visiting Arsenal and Cardiff. In other words, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Vardy turn up on the score sheets with some frequency over the coming weeks.

The appeal of our second striker pick seems to be missed by most managers at the moment which only makes him more interesting. Brighton’s Glenn Murray (£6.5m) isn’t the fastest or the most elegant striker in the Premier League, not by a long shot, but he scores goals. He ended last season with an impressive 12 goals and 111 FPL points, and this season he stands at 4 goals (and 30 FPL points) from 7 games. The English veteran played 90 minutes in every game bar last weekend against City, though the reason was more tactical than anything else. Brighton have an extremely kind run of fixtures coming up until gameweek 16, with no games against any of the top six until then. The Seagulls do face West Ham at home, plus Wolves and Palace, while they’ll be visiting the likes of Newcastle, Cardiff, and Huddersfield. Brighton is obviously not a team that will dominate the Premier League for weeks on end, but Glenn Murray might be a good pick and a great differential for the foreseeable future.

Finally, our third striker and final wildcard pick is Wolverhampton’s Raul Jiménez (£5.6m). It’s rare to see a starting striker at a mid-table club carrying around a price tag as low as £5.6m. Very rare indeed, especially when taking into account that Jiménez already has 2 goals and 2 assists to his name, meaning he’s had a key role in half of all of his team’s goals in the Premier League so far. On top of that, the Mexican forward has taken 22 shots at goal already this season, a total only bettered by Aguero, Mitrovic, and Salah. Of course, Wolves aren’t a free-scoring team, and they have just been promoted and might encounter a period of lower results, but Jiménez looks like an excellent option for the third striker spot in any FPL squad. With games against Palace, Watford, Brighton, Huddersfield, and Cardiff on the cards over the coming seven gameweeks, he looks likely to be adding to his goal and assist totals soon.