Heading into Friday with a bold, new found confidence as I activated my wild card on Tuesday night. While there is no “right time” for this decision, it could be seem as hasty, giving the matra of “patience” I’ve adopted this season. It’s been two weeks above the weekly average (65.5/PPG), but the fact I was short a premium forward was beginning to weight on my conscience, which was part of the reasoning behind the activation.
Emotions really ran the gamut this week, as there was really no expectation to activate the wild card ahead of GW3. Ahead of the season, the first window was going to be after the fuirst international break, after GW4. However, the opportunity presented itself, thanks in part to the form of some players in GW3 and the FDR of teams like Arsenal, Manchester City, Everton, Crystal Palace and Chelsea. In some respect my newly created squad feels “template” ahead of this weekend’s fixtures.
Ederson (£5.5) was on my preseason list as a goalkeeper of interest, but decided on David De Gea, based on last season’s success and Golden Gloves. City had just two fewer clean sheets than United, but the saves (115 vs 58) De Gea. The upcoming run has City in a very good position, which could potentially push for 4-5 clean sheets over that period with almost no risk of rotation. He could even get the odd assist. I also changed my backup from Maarten Skelenberg to Huddersfield, Ben Hamer (£4.0), currently the starter, but expect him to lose out to Jonas Lossl in the coming weeks.
Only two defenders were changed with the wild card, as Benjamin Mendy (£6.1) and Andrew Robertson (£6.0) removed at the heart of my defense. In what’s being called “template” I bought in Marcos Alonso (£6.6), after his 13-point haul last week against Liverpool, which I believe to be a bit more than lateral move off David Luiz. Starting just three defenders puts Ryan Bennett (£4.0) and the suspended, Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£4.0), second and third on my bench for GW3.
I believe the midfield has been upgraded, based on recent returns. While it does feel a bit “bandwagon-ish” adding Richarlison (£6.7), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (£7.1) and Pedro (£6.6) gave me a new look midfield that opened up formation options I didn’t really have with my initial draft. Mo Salah (£13.0) remains at the premium option, with very little interest in transferring out. There have been some pundits, considering going “no Salah” if he doesn’t perform this week. I don’t support that strategy. Regardless of how I feel about this group of midfielders, I do think it’s the right direction to go, based on recent form. That could change after a single gameweek, but indications are I have moved on the right players, at the right time.
The differential in my midfield , James Milner (£5.5) at 2.8 TSB%, was a late addition and final piece of my wild card. There were no intentions to add a third Liverpool player, but research of VAPM, xG+xA and current form put Milner near the top. That and the fact Milner is still on penalties, when he is on the pitch. Even though he was £0.5 more than what I had planned, there are more opportunities I will be playing five midfielders than 4-5 defenders.
While there was some speculation I was going to drop Marko Arnautovic (£7.0), I decided to keep him, even with some difficult fixtures in the short term. He’s where the goals will come from at West Ham. Wilfried Zaha (£7.0), brought in at the start of the season, was rightly priced and a great forward option, he retains his position in the starting XI. Moving forward, my confidence wasn’t in these two starters and I knew a premium forward was needed. After hiding behind the couch last week watching Sergio Aguero (£11.1) record his first hat trick of the season. Might not be his first, based on their next five fixtures, especially if he remains in form and in favor with Pep.
Again, this 15-man squad feels a bit of a bandwagon, maybe that is how it feels when you have high owned players, which is bordering template. Honestly, I don’t care. What I do care about is their performance. As long as they bang and provide returns, all is well. It’s also a bit of a risk wild card, after just two weeks, providing limited data on players and their performance. But, what’s done is done and I am looking forward to GW3! Good luck!