If I thought Romelu Lukaku (£11.5m) joining Chelsea and Harry Kane (£12.3m) staying put at Tottenham Hotspur would result in wholesale Wildcard usage before Gameweek 4, the impending arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester United will now fast forward this process by tenfold.
And it won’t be much of a surprise – at least to me – if about 60-70 percent of FPL managers have the great man in their FPL squads. But love and fanaticism can make you go blind to certain things which otherwise might feel like a knee-jerk reaction if looked at from a logical point of view.
What is the Wildcard chip in FPL?
The Wildcard is by far the most powerful chip in Fantasy Premier League (FPL). Veterans of the game need no introduction to it, while those who are new to FPL need to understand the implications of activating such a powerful chip.
A wildcard chip allows you to make unlimited changes to your team without incurring any point hits. All FPL managers are given one free transfer per week and can extend to two free transfers if you roll (save) a transfer.
A manager cannot roll more than two free transfers, meaning if a manager fails to use any of his free transfers across two Gameweeks, they would lose their third free transfer for not using the previous two. Every additional transfer a manager makes on top of their initial free transfer would result in a four-point hit per transfer. For instance, if you have one free transfer remaining for Gameweek 4 but make two transfers, you will incur a four-point hit.
When can I use Wildcard in FPL?
Well, every FPL manager gets two Wildcard chips throughout the season. The first chip can be used any time before the January Transfer window opens. It expires in the last week of December, so if you don’t use your wildcard before that, it will be lost as there is no roll (save) for this chip.
The second wildcard can be used after the first one expires and can be used at any time during the second half of the season.
Now, to use the wildcard, you have to make your transfers and upon confirming these changes, the option to play wildcard will appear on your screen. However, a key point to note, once you confirm the wildcard chip, it cannot be cancelled. So before activating the chip make sure you are absolutely certain about using it.
When should you use your Wildcard chip?
That’s the beauty of this chip. There are no hard and fast rules on when you have to play them. Yet, it is important to avoid knee-jerk decisions and not to use the Wildcard after one bad Gameweek. However, the key to a successful season often rests on your wildcard selection and when you decide to activate it.
For me, the first wildcard should be planned in advance to target fixture swings when picking your squad for Gameweek 1. When I was preparing my squad for Gameweek 1, it was done on a short-midterm (3-7 weeks) success planning and thus far an overall ranking of 150k tells me it is working exactly as I planned it to be.
Should we use Wildcard for Gameweek 4?
I see both pros and cons of Wildcarding at the current moment, hence I’m quite on the fence about it and haven’t come to a final decision.
A late wildcard is an extremely powerful tool in this game. When a majority of the managers have already used their wildcards and only a handful have the chip at their disposal, the opportunity that arises is unique.
Hence, I am leaning towards not using the Wildcard chip now as the spine of the squad wasn’t only picked for three Gameweeks. With a free transfer and a four-to-eight points hit (if need be), it should be enough for me to navigate this September phase and save the wildcard chip for future Gameweeks.
Also Read - TOP 10 DIFFERENTIAL PICKS FOR 21/22 FPL SEASON
An unorthodox approach
No Manchester United players, one £4.0m bargain player, and two and a half premium players. This team definitely won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but after an early Wildcard, this team will surely give you a sense of longevity and flexibility in order to be successful until you use your second Wildcard.
Although it’ll have shades of every top-tier FPL team, on a closer look, it’ll still be quite different from what I expect most Wildcards to look like. Two free transfers should allow easy swapping of premium players rather than reshuffling your entire squad and this is the purpose of this unorthodox squad.
Best FPL Gameweek 4 Wildcard Team
INDIVIDUAL PLAYER ANALYSIS
Robert Sánchez (£4.5m)
The Brighton & Hove Albion goalkeeper has had a decent start to the 2021/22 Premier League season. In his three appearances for the Seagulls, Sánchez has been able to keep one clean sheet and has 10 points to his name. At his price, he’s a good option.
Brighton are a good defensive unit and until a standout goalkeeper like Emiliano Matínez (£5.5m) comes to the fray like last season, I see no reason to not spend your money on the rest of the squad. With one of the easiest run-ins of fixtures till the second international break, Sánchez stands out as a no-brainer for a measly £4.5m.
Going big at the back
With the plethora of attacking options at our disposal, it will certainly not be a popular choice to go big at the back. However, you can’t pick every attacking asset out there and it is not a guarantee that they’ll all fetch you points.
However, if you can figure out which defensive units to target, it will certainly fetch you those extra clean sheets and attacking outputs. These five defenders are likely to get you those crucial points. They have an excellent run of fixtures and the make-up of their respective defensive unit backs up my point.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m)
While I understand that with all the premium options available in the midfield and forward ranks it may seem beneficial to pass on a player like Trent for the time being, but it is not. Although midfield and attacking premiums can be replaced by similar premiums, there is no replacement for Trent Alexander-Arnold. The Scouser has amassed an Expected Assists (xA) of 1.76 in the first three Gameweeks, which is head and shoulders above any other defender.
Vladimir Coufal (£5.0m) of West Ham United comes second and is way off with an xA of 0.90. Moreover, Jürgen Klopp trusting a young Harvey Elliot (£5.5m) in a high-magnitude clash like Chelsea suggests to me he is here for the long run which can only boost Trent’s numbers. Elliot often drifted wide in attack in his first two games which allowed Trent to drift infield and operate as a midfielder – inadvertently filling the Reds’ creative void. Taking all these into consideration, I’m confident he’ll score the most points among defenders at the end of the season.
Antonio Rüdiger (£5.5m)
Chelsea have the meanest defence in the world, and it’s not really up for debate. The eye test also highlights the difficulty opposition teams face while creating good goalscoring opportunities. I had my eyes on the Chelsea defence ever since Gameweek 1 and have finally made up my mind on who to target for my FPL team. Both wing-back slots are up for rotation and the odd rotation might really offset the balance of your FPL team for a particular Gameweek.
In Thomas Tuchel’s three-at-the-back approach, Antonio Rüdiger is the most nailed-on player and has the left side solidified as his own. The Royal Blues will soon reward him with a new contract, which shows their intention of him being a mainstay under Tuchel. The German has a good aerial presence and thus will likely get you three-four goals by the end of the season.
Andreas Christensen (£5.0m)
“A great midfield and a great attack will win you matches. But a great defence will win you titles.” This holds true for FPL too. If your defence can give you 12-18 points every Gameweek, you are in with a shout of having a great FPL season.
Hence why we are doubling up on the Chelsea defence. At £5.0m, Christensen represents unbelievable value pound-for-pound as well as the cheapest way into the best defence in the world. Andreas Christensen had a great Euro 2020 and has backed that up with consistent performances for Chelsea. Although I expect him to be rotated occasionally, it is his ball-playing ability that is key for Chelsea to beat the high press, and at £5.0m, you can’t really go wrong.
Shane Duffy (4.1m)
The Brighton defender has had a promising start to his 2021/22 season. Brighton are a decent defensive unit under Graham Potter and in Jöel Veltman’s (£4.4m) absence, Duffy has really solidified his position with consistent performances. Moreover, Duffy is a constant threat from set-pieces as he showed by scoring against Watford in Gameweek 2.
In three matches, Duffy has already had eight Shots with three of them on target. More importantly, it is not until Gameweek 9 that they face a Top 6 team with Manchester City and Liverpool on the trot. Thus, including the Brighton defender in your squad till Gameweek 9 can fetch you crucial differential points.
Conor Coady (£4.5m)
Just like Leeds and Luke Ayling, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Conor Coady have a fantastic run of fixtures until Gameweek 15. Wolves and their new boss Bruno Lage have been unlucky not to have registered a single point after the first three Gameweeks. They lost every match by the same score line – 1-0. What’s impressive about them, though, is that they have conceded 27 shots in three matches, which is only second to Manchester City (15).
The eye test backs it up as well, I’ve been quite impressed by what has been on display. And Coady will play every single game providing he’s fit. Towards the back end of last season, Coady was very lively inside the box while attacking set-pieces and if he can replicate that this season too, we can expect one or two attacking returns at least.
Midfield – Attacking output + Differential
Mohamed Salah (£12.5m)
Mohamed Salah is the best FPL asset and there are no two ways about it. He is simply irreplaceable. Just like Trent Alexander-Arnold, I see Salah as fixture-proof. But even considering that, Liverpool have fantastic fixtures coming up. Moreover, everything seems to stop at the Egyptian when Liverpool build up their play in the opposition half.
Mohamed Salah has had 16 Shots, two Big Chances Created, an expected Goals (xG) of 1.72 and an expected Assists (xA) of 1.43. Among midfielders, Salah tops the chart; overall, he’s only second to Michail Antonio (£7.9m) in these metrics. Salah can have a bad game and still score decent points, simply due to Liverpool’s over-reliance on him and Trent.
Heung-Min Son (£10.0m)
Now, Heung-Min Son is the player I was earlier referring to as my half-premium player. In my opinion, you need to be valued at £11.0m or higher to be classified as a premium player, simply because that £1.0m or more eliminates thousands of combinations for your overall squad. Hence, why I feel Son is priced slightly awkwardly where you can still build your team around him but including another premium will seriously damage your squad depth.
Moreover, the South Korea international is the best finisher in the league and thus returns like a premium. It is also worth noting that Heung-Min Son was only 14 points behind his teammate Harry Kane (£12.3m) last season. So, Son can save you upto £2.2m, scoring 85-90 percent of the points Harry Kane scores, if not more. With Spurs’ over-reliance on the Kane-Son duo, I don’t see Son’s points dropping any time soon.
After watching Leeds’ opening three fixtures, it was quite evident to me that Marcelo Bielsa was pushing his right-hand side higher up the pitch to facilitate Raphinha with as much time on the ball as possible. The Brazilian has the ability to create something out of nothing which is always a good asset to have.
From the first three fixtures, Raphinha has had 11 Shots, an xG of 1.01 and an xA of 0.70. Moreover, the most crucial underlying stat is the percentage of expected Goal Involvements (%xGI) which stands at 68%. Leeds have an easy run of fixtures coming up and the Brazilian is going to be the vital cog in unlocking low-block defences.
Saïd Benrahma (£6.2m)
West Ham United‘s forward line has been immaculate in front of goal. They have scored 10 goals averaging 3.33 goals per game. Apart from Antonio, Saïd Benrahma has been the standout player for the Hammers and for his price, he is one of the best assets out there.
For context, the Algerian already has two goals and two assists to his name as well as 26 FPL points. That’s nearly 9 points per game. However, I don’t expect it to continue as Benrahma has massively overperformed on his underlying numbers. But, for a mid-to-long-term investment, Benrahma is the best pick alongside the man following him in this list.
Adama Traoré (£6.0m)
While Benrahma is overperforming, the exact opposite is true for Adama Traoré. The Spain international is flourishing under new manager Bruno Lage after being predominantly played as a wingback by the previous manager. By shifting him higher up the pitch, Lage has created a beast who is tearing through defences and making a mockery of even the very best.
Traoré has had 12 Shots so far, two Big Chances, an xG of 1.30 and an xA of 0.70, but to everyone’s disappointment, he has zero attacking output. He was expected to have hauled 17.4 FPL points by now but has only amassed 6 points. The potential is there, and with Wolves’ run of fixtures and the level of opposition defence, his attacking output can easily surge upwards in the coming weeks.
Front Three – Too good to pass on!
Romelu Lukaku at £11.5m and Cristiano Ronaldo at £12.5m are very tempting options and most FPL managers will have at least one of them in their squads. But my question to the readers is – won’t it restrict your attacking options to only two forwards with a spare £4-5m forward just to make up the numbers?
I know you can swap a premium midfielder for a forward to include either of the two. But what I feel is, it limits your overall scoring opportunity and don’t forget, a midfielder scores an extra point for a goal and an additional point for a clean sheet, both extremely handy come the end of the season. This is why I earlier said that this team would not be everybody’s cup of tea.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£8.2m)
Under Rafael Benítez, Dominic Calvert-Lewin has become the focal point of the Everton attack. His attacking numbers are only second to Michail Antonio. He’s had 11 Shots, four Big Chances, an expected Goals (xG) of 2.98 and an xA of 0.49. He has amassed 23 points from the first three fixtures.
He is undoubtedly the second-best option up front at the moment and has a good fixture run until Gameweek 12. Moreover, based on the opening three fixtures, Everton are heavily reliant on him and Lucas Digne’s (£5.4) crossing ability. Priced at £8.2m, he’s too good an asset to pass up. And his penalty duties further extend his point-scoring ceiling.
Michail Antonio (£7.9m)
I’m not going to add too much to this. My verdict on Michail Antonio prior to the season was just like this. Buy him before he is priced out of a possible combination. And honestly, apart from Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City – none of whom he’ll face until Gameweek 11 – I don’t think there’s any defence apart from the above three that can contain him given his current form.
And just to put things into context for those who might have been living under a rock all this while, Antonio’s had 13 Shots (1st), nine Big Chances Involvement (1st), an xG of 3.39 (1st) and an expected Goal Involvement (xGI) of 5.31 (1st). I can’t stress it enough – he is someone worth holding onto for a long time provided he stays injury-free.
Patrick Bamford (£7.9m)
Patrick Bamford is the second-highest point-scorer among forwards. Although doubling up on Leeds United looks like a bold move, this is a calculated risk I’m willing to take if I use my Wildcard chip before Gameweek 4. Following Leeds’ tough start, Bamford has been on par with every underlying metric and if compared to last season’s numbers, they are almost identical.
He’s had seven Shots (all inside the box), two Big Chances, and has scored a goal at an xG of 1.0. His xA is 0.76, for which he has one assist to his name while he has amassed 14 points so far; his expected points (xPts) – 14.6. Considering Leeds’ fixtures after Gameweek 4, Bamford is a shrewd but an effective alternative to any £10.0m or higher priced forward during this period.