It’s Friday and I’ve got “wild side” lyrics from Lou Reed to Motley Crue running through my head as I have activated my wild card ahead of GW3. Surprising? Not really, as this is the third year in a row that I’ve made this decision. Hasty? Maybe? Well played? Not sure, as it will be 8-10 weeks before I know the ramifications of this decision. As they say, “if it feels right, do it!” I’ve been doing work all week on a reworked squad that removed players going into poor runs, as well as any flagged or injured players, which shuffling some budget players around.
I wasn’t completely unhappy with my squad, as they scored 78 points in GW1 but followed that performance up with a dud, 58 points and a red arrow. Yet there was more to the decision to activate the wild card than just a red arrow. Two weeks typically isn’t enough time to get a feel for the league or how teams will actually perform. Don’t get me wrong, defenses like Leeds, West Brom and Fulham are THAT bad! Teams such as Liverpool and Manchester City are top of the league for a reason.
The first problem I had to address, that poor Southampton team. Sorry Saints supporters, your team has been complete dogshit to start the season. Good on paper, but poor on the pitch and that has led me to bin Alex McCarthy. This is a decision I knew better than to go with at the start of the season, knowing that Mat Ryan at Brighton is (or was) the best budget keeper to buy. However, with Emiliano Martinez moving to Aston Villa, FPL managers now have a starting third option. What I like best about Martinez, he was on pace to finish above 0.35 VAPM. He played just 771 minutes in the absence of Bernd Leno, but his 2019/20 numbers were fantastic, finishing with a 0.38 VAPM. This season I predict he will post a 0.37 VAPM, which is on par with more expensive options.
ALEX MCCARTHY TO EMILIANO MARTINEZ
The defense is still anchored by Liverpool’s duo, Virgil van Dijk but to upgrade my attack, I’ve moved off Trent Alexander-Arnold in favor of Andrew Robertson in order to save 0.5. Right or wrong? I still feel any combination of these three will reap big numbers this season. Charlie Taylor also remains in my 15-man squad and will mainly be the first player off the bench, if needed. In order to allow for the most budget in this reworked squad, I had to back Tyrick Mitchell, who’s now 4.1, but will he be another Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the coming weeks? Time will tell, as Palace rolls into some good fixtures and are still with some defensive injuries. Finally, I am taking a slight gamble on Nelson Semedo, never seen the kid play at Barcelona and it might take a week or two for him to hit the starting XI, but feel it’s a gamble worth taking. At 5.5 he will be more attacking than Wily Boly, which is good and replace Matt Doherty in a similar role, at least that it my hope.
KIERNAN TIERNEY TO NELSON SEMEDO
KYLE WALKER-PETERS TO TYRICK MITCHELL
The midfielder is relatively unchanged, as I retain Mo Salah or #AlwaysCaptainSalah, as I refer to him this season and Kevin De Bruyne. Looking over FDR and statistics, while discussing options with a few rational voices, no not the ones in my head, but the guys from the FPL Roundtable, I’ve decided use midfield slot for a number of different players over the coming weeks. Players who were on my short list included Wilfried Zaha, Mateusz Klich, Harvey Barnes (or any other LEI midfield at or below 7 million), Mason Mount and Jack Grealish.
While my intentions were set to go with Zaha, I am not completely sold on their attack this week against Everton. Sure, they play at Selhurst Park and the Toffees still bleed goals with Jordon Pickford, there was a better option available for GW3. Decided to hold going Leicester as well, as they play Man City, while Leeds United is punching well above their weight after two weeks with six goals. I’ve decided Grealish starts this week against a bad Fulham defense, as he’s coming all the first game last week with 15 touches in the box! Granted Sheffield United was playing with 10 men, but an impressive number, nonetheless. He will rotate over the next six game weeks with Barnes and Zaha or at least that is the plan as of this article.
The plan from the start of the season was to roll with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for just two weeks then roll into another premium midfielder. The addition for GW2 strengthened the midfield and now the inclusion of James Rodriguez, who looks to be the real deal at Everton, now reunited with Carlo Ancelotti. He’s coming of a convincing perform last weekend and feel he’s excellent value for what he brings to the Toffees. I also replace Harrison read with André-Frank Zambo Anguissa, which isn’t much of a shout, as long as Anguissa gets his 90 minutes, he’s worth a 4.5 million bench spot.
PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG TO JAMES RODRIGUEZ
ALLAN SAINT-MAXIMIN TO JACK GREALISH
HARRISON REED TO ANDRE-FRANK ZAMBO ANGUISSA
Here is where things get interesting, as I wanted to hold Aleksandr Mitrovic through GW9, as I feel Fulham have some favorable fixtures and I think he will score 5-6 over that period. Fulham hasn’t looked good since returning to the Premier League, but Mitro IS that offense and feel he has the statistics to back his play as a second or third forward at 6.0 million. That move is still possible, if I decided to use Anguissa as my fourth midfielder and upgrade the 4.5, non-playing LIam, Delap at Man City. With Jesus and Sergio Aguero injured, who knows, the kid might get some time, not that I am expecting anything from a 4.5 forward.
At this time, I moved off Mitrovic, as well as Callum Wilson, much like ASM was just a two week play. In their place I’ve gone with “The Mexican” Raul Jimenez and former Watford star, Richarlison. The FDR for Wolves is excellent and this squad continues to add talent, which should help Jimenez capitalize on his chances up front. Richarlison is in a similar position, the addition of players like Abdoulaye Doucoure, Allan and Rodriguez have improved Everton to a very competitive level and Richarlison hasn’t really tapped all of his skills to date, he’s got 20+ goals in him. Could this be that season?
CALLUM WILSON TO RICHARLISON
ALEKSANDR MITROVIC TO RAUL JIMENEZ
KEINAN DAVIS TO LIAM DELAP
Here is how my 15-man squad stacks up after wholesale changes going forward. I’ve got the option to play a 4-4-2 or a 3-5-2. If Delap gets that odd start, maybe even a 3-5-2, but that’s not something I am banking on. This week it’s a 4-4-2 as Anguissa is my first bench spot.
Now with the first wild card activated and out of the way, I can concentrate on the weekly transfers, as it’s never too early to look towards the festive period, which will be upon us before we know it. As for the WC team, time will tell if this strategy is successful. Two years, it was a string of 10 green arrows in a row. Would love to see that this season, barring any stoppage in play due to that damned virus. Good luck in GW3!