Welcome back another edition of the FPL Weekly Wildcard!
Each week, the Weekly Wildcard maps out an ideal team to wildcard into to help navigate the coming several weeks.
Obviously, we hope this series is of great benefit to those of you playing your wildcard during the week in question. However, the actual aim of this weekly article is to help readers build an ideal squad to tackle FPL in the long-term, in which you can choose some of these picks to help prepare your squad for the upcoming fixtures.
It’s all very well and good to create an ideal team with a single gameweek in mind, however this is of little use to anyone who isn’t playing their Free-Hit at that given moment, and attempting to shoehorn in players with a single gameweek in mind is often a recipe for disaster.
Therefore each week this series will create an optimised wildcard team with the medium-to-long term fixture schedule in mind, so you can be rest assured that bringing in one or two of these picks won’t damage your future FPL prospects, but rather help set you up for series of green arrows instead.
In this week’s wildcard draft, I have gone for a few differential picks which many of you may scoff at. However, with just 5 gameweeks remaining, it’s crunch time for the majority of FPL managers who still have a higher rank in their sights. Therefore, with much of the squad deciding itself and the template looking as strong as it has ever been this season, a few successful differential picks could make all the difference!
In addition to this, I believe it is important to mention that I have created this side under the presumption that Ben Crellin’s fixture predictions regarding the movement of certain GW36 fixtures into GW35 comes to pass. If you are not already aware of this concept, it would essentially mean that 8 teams (Aston Villa, Southampton, Crystal Palace, Everton, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal & Leicester) would get a double gameweek in GW35, and 4 teams would blank in GW36 (Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal & Leicester). For the reasoning behind this, please consult the expert!
I have carefully manufactured this squad with these potential doubles and blanks in mind, and have managed to create what I believe to be a nice balance – with 7 of my picks doubling in 35 and a strong starting XI for the following blank gameweek in 36.
This week’s squad comes in at 104.7m.
Emiliano Martinez – £5.4m
I spent quite a while scanning through all of the options for the Goalkeeper spot this week, which eventually brought me to the conclusion that there is no point in trying to over-complicate it. Given his performance over the entire span of the season, combined with the fact he is one of the only decent Goalkeeping options that is expected to have a double gameweek in 35 and not then blank the following week – Martinez seems the obvious and most convenient pick. With hauls against even the strongest sides in the Premier League this season, I wouldn’t want to bet against Martinez bagging another handful of clean sheets in his final 6 matches – no matter who the opponents are!
David Button – £3.9m
Thanks to the convenience of having a completely nailed Goalkeeper in the squad already, I have used this spot to shave some much needed additional funds to spread across the rest of the team. At 3.9m, Button is as cheap as they come, and shouldn’t be expected to start. However, if you fancy the outside chance that Fraser Forster sees some more minutes from now until the end of the season, nobody would begrudge you spending the extra 0.1m for him instead.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – £7.6m
A dramatic final few minutes against Newcastle over the weekend would have seen owners of Alexander-Arnold displaying a wide range of emotions, ultimately finishing in disappointment after a late Joe Willock equaliser. That goal prevented TAA picking up his 5th consecutive return in the league – a hot streak which has seen him rise once again to the forefront of FPL managers thoughts.
Despite last weeks disappointment, not many will be put off Trent at this point, with the Liverpool Right-Back showing superior xGI to all other defenders and having a great set of fixtures through to the end of the season (including no blank in GW36).
Luke Shaw – £5.4m
Next up is Luke Shaw, who is showing the next best attacking threat behind the aforementioned Alexander-Arnold. Shaw has been a revelation this season, finally showing Manchester United fans the sort of attacking prowess that brought him to the club several years ago. As just a small snapshot of this, you can see via the table below that he has the most penalty box touches in the past 10 gameweeks out of any defender.
In addition to these promising statistics, he is likely to have an enticing double gameweek in 35 versus Villa and Leicester.
Stuart Dallas – £5.3m
I stated last week that Dallas may be one of, if not the best budget defender we’ve ever seen in FPL, and I’m standing firm by that proclamation once more. With 10 attacking returns this season, including 7 goals, it’s easy to see why he is the top point scoring defender in the game so far.
Despite this, one common complaint about owning any Leeds defender this season has been their somewhat leaky defence due to their cavalier style of play. However, Bielsa has steadied the back-line significantly in recent weeks, and has managed to concede only 2 goals in their last 3 matches against Manchester City, Liverpool & Manchester United – winning one and drawing two. With Leeds having a favourable set of fixtures from here on out, I can see Dallas picking up a considerable amount of both attacking & defensive returns over the coming weeks.
Michael Keane – £5.1m
Introducing my first differential pick of this week’s wildcard draft; Michael Keane! With Everton being one of the few teams with a double in 35 and a fixture in 36 I was keen (sorry – couldn’t resist) to have at least 1 of their players in this week’s draft, eventually deciding Keane was the way to go. To be honest, I could have just as easily have picked Godfrey, Coleman or Holgate – but with a little extra money to spare I’ve gone with Keane as he presents a marginally larger goal threat combined with an assurance of a starting spot. Whilst he is currently yellow flagged, I wouldn’t plan on playing him in GW34 anyway, looking to have him in my squad ready for Everton’s double against West Ham and Villa in GW35, followed by Sheffield United in GW36.
Vladimir Coufal – £4.7m
With 7 assists to his name this season, Coufal has been quietly ticking along for his owners all year. With 3 of these assists coming in his last 4 matches, you’d be forgiven for thinking he has been one of the hot properties in recent weeks. However, with his side conceding a considerable amount of goals during this time, Coufal has been restricted to a handful of 4 point returns rather than larger hauls. Despite this, I am still excited by the prospect of owning Coufal over the coming weeks – as I expect West Ham to tighten up considerably with the return of both Rice & Cresswell now on the horizon. With a notably kind run-in and their ambitions for European football still in play, I expect them to finish strongly.
Mohamed Salah – £12.7m
Why did we ever doubt him? 3 goals in Mo’s last 4 matches have reminded all FPL managers why he has been seen as one of the strongest picks in recent seasons, with the Egyptian netting a beauty against Newcastle last week to really hammer the point home. Once again, it is always worth reminding why we all love him as an FPL asset so much. The graphic below showing his xG over the course of the season should serve that purpose nicely.
Bruno Fernandes – £11.5m
Much like Salah in reverse, Bruno has seemingly gone off the boil just as his big-hitting premium rival has returned to form. However, I still believe in Bruno’s ability to satisfy our thirst for large points hauls from now until the end of the season – and that those brave enough not to dump him will be duly rewarded.
Looking at both Goals & Assists imminent charts over recent weeks, it presents a strong argument that whilst points are not currently flowing – they shouldn’t be far off. When you also factor in his season long scoring record and the fact his side should double in GW35, I’m confident that his recent dry spell does not indicate a significant and long-lasting regression in his ability to find the back of the net.
Jesse Lingard – £6.7m
Dropping Lingard out of the wildcard draft after just one blank would be pretty harsh, wouldn’t it? Despite his first blank since he played Fulham all the way back in GW23, I doubt many owners will be put off having Lingard in their side at the moment.
9 goals and 4 assists in just 11 league games has made Jesse one of the hottest commodities in the FPL universe this year, and with West Ham’s remaining fixtures against Burnley, Everton, Brighton, West Brom & Southampton – I can’t personally see him slowing down any time soon.
Jarrod Bowen – £6.0m
You were probably wondering where all the differential were by this point, weren’t you? At just 3.2% at the time of writing, I am convinced Bowen could combine with Lingard in this wildcard draft to turn the ‘shield’ pick into an aggressive ‘sword’ to help rise the ranks should West Ham hit form. Bowen has racked up 8 goals and 5 assists this year, and considering his low price tag and his previously restricted minutes I believe he is being wrongly overlooked for the run-in. With Antonio still out, Bowen has taken up a regular role at the head of the West Ham attack, and his 5 attacking returns in his last 5 fixtures show a great deal of promise.
James Ward-Prowse – £5.8m
Okay, now you definitely think I’ve lost it. I have to admit this is a huge gut call and it could fail completely, but if you’re chasing rank and are looking for a midfield differential with the ability to score big on any given week irrespective of the fixture in front of him, look no further than James Ward-Prowse. Yes, it is almost impossible to predict when his returns are going to come, but Ward-Prowse has ascended to the ‘Beckham’ territory of respected set-piece masters this season. With a double gameweek coming up and no blank in 36, those with an appetite for risk could be rewarded if JWP smashes in a couple of free kicks and Vestergaard latches onto a corner or two in their final 6 fixtures.
Harry Kane – £11.8m
Enough of the differentials now! Harry Kane is probably already in your team despite his blank gameweek in 33, but if he isn’t I’d still highly recommend bringing him in. The stats really don’t lie when it comes to Kane, and he is leading the way amongst forwards in terms of xGI for the season. This is backed up strongly by his over goal contributions, managing 34 returns in just 31 matches.
With the striker now coming into a run of fixtures against Sheffield United, Leeds & Wolves not many would bet against him adding to those figures.
Ollie Watkins – £6.6m
This striker spot in particular is open for debate. I have gone for Ollie Watkins thanks to a combination of lower price, his upcoming double gameweek, his lack of a blank in 36 and the fact he’s picked up 4 attacking returns in his last four matches. However, I could just as easily argue the case to pick either Bamford or Calvert-Lewin instead – who both also represent strong options. However, due to the fact DCL is slightly more expensive (and not in any sort of form) and Bamford doesn’t double in GW35, I’ve sided with Watkins.
As you can see from Kane’s xGI statistics table above, Watkins also features as one of the top performing strikers in terms of xGI this year – and a strong end to his season could see him grab a spot in the England squad for the Euros!
Kelechi Iheanacho – £6.2m
Iheanacho has rapidly risen from his status as an interesting differential to a template pick in the last few weeks, with the Leicester striker on a career-best hot streak of 14 goals in 14 games in all competitions. Thanks to his incredibly low price-tag managers have been easily able to bring him into their sides, resulting in a near 100% EO last weekend. With Southampton up next, and a double gameweek on the horizon afterwards, I can only see this figure increasing further!
Credits: All data is taken from the members section of Fantasy Football Scout.