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.
Amidst all the chaos in the world of Football this week, it’s been easy to forget that we all have another gameweek to plan for beginning this Friday. However, in a week where many of us probably wondered what was going to become of the game we all love, a little bit of FPL escapism may be just what we need.
Besides, there’s plenty of reasons that we need to maintain a sharp focus on our FPL squads going into GW33, with 4 teams blanking, injuries to highly owned players and goalkeeper rotation striking during the previous gameweek!
This week’s wildcard squad comes in at 104.1m, hopefully a fee most of you should be able to afford at this point in the season.
Illan Meslier – £4.7m
With goalkeeper rotation striking in gameweek 33, now may be the perfect time to look towards keepers who are completely nailed to start. Illan Meslier provides exactly this assurance at the reasonable fee of £4.7m. The Leeds back-line has tightened up over the course of the season, and whilst most FPL players saw them as a team to target in the earlier weeks, they have now improved somewhat. Their last 2 performances against potent attacking opposition (Manchester City & Liverpool) showcased this improvement, only conceding once in each fixture. With a strong list of fixtures after they face Manchester United in GW33, I see Meslier as a cheap option to keep a keen eye on for the remainder of the year.
Robert Sanchez – £4.5m
Whilst Meslier’s fixtures are generally favourable, I have also picked Sanchez in this wildcard side as Brighton’s fixtures rotate fairly well with Leeds from this point onwards. A key example of this is GW33, where I would personally be starting Sanchez against Sheffield United instead of Meslier against Manchester United. Brighton’s underperformance of xGC has been well documented throughout the season, but they are now showing signs of delivering on those promising statistics, with 3 clean sheets in their last four. With the combination of both keepers coming in at £9.2m, it seems like a strong pairing of keepers from now until the end of the season.
Trent Alexander Arnold – £7.4m
Trent’s FPL appeal and overall ownership will continue to rise yet again this week, after another strong performance against Leeds which resulted in an 8 point haul. His assist during the week made it 3 attacking returns in 3 weeks for Alexander-Arnold, reminding us all why he was a lock in most of our teams last season.
His recent return to FPL points comes as no surprise to those who avidly follow xGI charts each week, with the Liverpool Right-Back consistently coming out on top amongst all defenders throughout the season. With extremely favourable fixtures and Champions League qualification on the line for his team, Alexander-Arnold seems like a brilliant asset to make sure you jump on from now until the end of the season.
Luke Shaw – £5.4m
Another strong showing for Luke Shaw against Burnley sadly didn’t result in any attacking returns last weekend. However, anybody watching the match would have probably came away with plenty of encouragement that points shouldn’t be too far away. As one of the most forward thinking full-backs in the league, Shaw has consistently appeared near the top of any xG/xA charts throughout the season, much like the aforementioned Trent.
His season-long heatmap tells a story by itself, showing Shaw appearing to assume an advanced position around the left edge of the opposition’s box, as well as also revealing the key factor that he is on corners. At £5.4m you would hardly be breaking the bank to keep Shaw in your team, and with a blend of defensive & attacking returns expected in the coming weeks he looks to be a good player to hold.
Stuart Dallas – £5.2m
Stuart Dallas should go down in history as one of the best ever budget defenders of all time in FPL. Starting at just £4.5m, the Leeds ‘defender’ has netted 7 times in the Premier League so far, alongside a couple of assists and a handful of clean sheets to boot. He is the top scoring defender in the game this season, and whilst he is significantly over-performing on his relative xG, he still comes out top amongst all defenders in this category by a fair margin.
Leeds’ fixtures soften considerably after they play Chelsea in GW33, and I’d recommend bringing Dallas in as soon as possible for their final run-in.
Vladimir Coufal – £4.6m
Coufal has been a frustrating player to own in recent weeks, and despite notching 3 consecutive assists has only 12 points to show for it in the past 3 gameweeks. However, I do expect West Ham to tighten up their back line considerably over the coming weeks, and whilst their Champions League hopes took a knock against Newcastle, they have promising enough fixtures to consider themselves in the hunt for 4th spot. With this added motivation in mind alongside Coufal’s added attacking responsibilities during Cresswell’s absence, I expect him to be a good back-up defender to have in your squad for the remainder of the campaign.
Rob Holding – £4.2m
If you’ve got the spare £0.4m to upgrade your fifth defender slot from a £3.8m non-playing asset, I’d highly recommend you take a look at Rob Holding. The Arsenal defender is back in the regular starting line-up, and despite being injured for portion of the season has been involved in every single Premier League match in which Arsenal have managed to keep a clean sheet in this season.
Arsenal also play Newcastle, West Brom & Crystal Palace in their next 5 – leading me to believe that having the luxury of a fifth defender spot dedicated to a starting Arsenal defender could be an extra £0.4m well spent.
Mohamed Salah – £12.5m
There was frustration among Salah owners on Monday night, with the winger consigned to the bench for the majority of Liverpool’s match against Leeds, coming on for a solitary point late on in the game. However, now that he has had his rest and Liverpool are out of all other competitions, there is plenty for owners to feel positive about. Despite a fairly inconsistent patch of form, Mo Salah still leads the way for xG over the past 10 gameweeks (vs Midfielders).
Salah should continue to play a pivotal role in helping his team ensure they qualify for the Champions League next season and I’d be surprised if he was given another rest for this reason. This in combination with Liverpool’s brilliant remaining fixtures & his race to win the Golden Boot should mean the Egyptian King of FPL should have a strong end to the campaign.
Bruno Fernandes – £11.6m
Bruno has gone through a period of somewhat patchy form of late in FPL, although he still looks to be playing a key role in Manchester United’s successes in recent weeks. As he comes with such a high price tag, many will be considering whether or not he is still necessary to keep in their team’s at the moment. However, despite this I would personally still recommend having Bruno in your side.
Fernandes still leads the way for xGI & overall points in FPL this season, and although he has experienced regression in terms of his points output in recent weeks, the underlying numbers are still strong enough in my opinion. Over the last 5 weeks, he still leads the way for xGI created, and anybody who watched Manchester United’s match against Burnley will have seen the influence he had on each of their 3 goals. Returns will surely start flowing again soon.
Mason Greenwood – £7.1m
In the graph above, you may have been surprised to see that Mason Greenwood appears directly behind Fernandes & Salah in xGI in the most recent 5 gameweeks. What makes this feat all the more impressive is the fact that his team didn’t play in gameweek 29, meaning all United assets are at a significant disadvantage in this model.
In reality, Greenwood has been finding the net with ease over the past month or so now, and despite his low ownership at this point, many are now looking to bring Mason into their sides ahead of their promising fixture against Leeds this week. Bringing in Greenwood is no doubt a risky move, considering he is by no means guaranteed to play every minute from now until the end of the season. However, with Martial out indefinitely & both Cavani & Rashford also being rested on occasion to keep them fit for the run-in, the young striker should see a significant amount of time on the pitch – especially considering the red-hot form he is currently in.
Jesse Lingard – £6.6m
It’s hard to pick a wildcard side without Jesse Lingard in it at the moment. The West Ham loan signing has been in sensational form since joining the side back in January, and it is well known that he has scored more goals than any other Premier League player since he made his debut for the Hammers back in GW22.
Lingard has now scored 9 goals & picked up 4 assists in that time, including 5 goals & 2 assists in his last 4 matches. It’s hard to find a player in better form in the game right now, and with West Ham using him as a catalyst in their race for the Champions League, I see no reason why he should stop scoring any time soon.
Jarrod Bowen – £6.0m
While Jesse Lingard has been picking up all the plaudits (and deservedly so) during recent weeks, Jarrod Bowen has quietly been starting to pick up consistent attacking returns as well. Since Antonio fell victim to injury in GW30, Bowen has been deployed in an even more advanced role – now heading up the attack.
Admittedly this pick is slightly more of a gut call, but with 5 attacking returns in his last 4 matches, I fancy him to continue his scoring streak. If this slightly outside pick doesn’t suit your preferences, I might recommend a punt on Traore (£6.0m), Pereira (£5.4m) or Sigurdsson (£6.8m) if you have a little more spare cash to work with.
Harry Kane – £11.8m
When initially writing this article, I was trying to build a case for a one week punt on Jamie Vardy, before moving back to Harry Kane in GW34. However, despite Leicester’s enticing fixture against Crystal Palace, I couldn’t build a strong enough case to go with Vardy at the moment, with the forward now having played 7 Premier League matches without a goal.
If you like living dangerously, I can definitely see a scenario in which Vardy hauls against Crystal Palace. However, if you are happy to use your bench a little bit for one week, I’d recommend simply going with Harry Kane despite his blank gameweek. At such a hefty price tag, he is always relatively difficult to bring into your side without significant squad surgery elsewhere. In addition to this, he is the top scorer & assister in the league this season, and has a lovely run of fixtures coming up after GW33. If there was ever a player worth holding through a blank, it would probably be him.
Kelechi Iheanacho – £6.1m
Yet again, Kelechi Iheanacho makes the weekly wildcard side with relative ease. At such a low price tag, the Leicester forward is significantly exceeding expectations during his recent run in the side. In fact, since gaining a regular starting spot in GW26, Iheanacho is 3rd amongst all forward in terms of xGI, and is ranked second in actual goals (7).
Chris Wood – £6.3m
Rounding off this week’s wildcard side is a slightly boring inclusion, but in my opinion he’s earnt it. As you can see from the chart above, Chris Wood has also been hot on the heels of the big hitters in recent weeks, notching the 4th best xGI during that time. The Burnley striker has also managed 5 attacking returns in his last 5 matches (3 goals, 2 assists), and continues to be an effective focal point for his side. With Wolves, Fulham, Leeds & Sheffield United all left to play, I expect Wood to pick up a fair number of goals in the remaining weeks.
Credits: All data is taken from the members section of Fantasy Football Scout.