Our Jack Woodfield looks back with anger at Gameweek 22 and analyses the pros and cons of early use of the second Wildcard in his Gameweek 23 preview.
With Gameweek 22 – aka the Red Wedding of this year’s FPL – now behind us, and the welcome distraction of the FA Cup driving Stoke and Arsenal fans further into premature new year’s alcoholism, here comes Gameweek 23, and hopefully unlike the Jim Carrey film this number 23 will have a more rewarding ending.
The 45 points average of GW22 suggests it wasn’t a total disaster for managers, but try telling that to the 121,000+ bosses who triple captained Harry Kane.
Transferred In – 467,622
Captained – 1,326,710
Triple Captained – 121,521#DGW22 Points – 3
— Fantasy Premier League (@OfficialFPL) January 5, 2018
However, much in the vein of when a relationship ends with someone you couldn’t really stand, the first few days are always the worst. Then, with hindsight, you can see clearly again, grateful for the experience and ready to move on.
Of course, scoring nine points on a TC is far worse than a break-up. But the point pertains that a wasted TC chip is not disastrous for your season; it’s a cliché for sure, but with 16 gameweeks left, there is ample opportunity to Tony Montana your way to the top.
And with GW23 approaching, there are some salient issues up for discussion, namely the use of the now-available second Wildcard.
Early wildcard, do you dare?
Activating your wildcard now, almost like any decision in FPL, is a risk, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t do it. If you quite literally have sleepless nights despairing over your team, or you’re riddled with out-of-form or injured players, then an early Wildcard may be mighty practical.
Of course, patience can be prudent, particularly as the double gameweeks begin to take shape.
I'll add this to my moment ⚡️ too…
It's the FPL Schedule with potential Blank & Double GWs highlighted.
— Ben Crellin (@BenCrellin) January 9, 2018
Reserving the second Wildcard to optimise double gameweek assets is an established strategy among FPL aficionados, with increased opportunities for points making the decision statistically advantageous.
Shrewd planning can of course compensate for early Wildcard use, but the flexibility to make sweeping changes in one fell swoop during the squeaky bum portion of the season has a significant benefit: it negates the severity of point hits which can accrue from more drastic week-to-week tinkering.
Moreover, resisting early activation spares you from being blighted by the January transfer window. Imagine bringing in X player this week only for them to be shipped across the continent the week after – it’s the stuff nightmares are made of.
But if you’ve already activated your Wildcard, and endured the above paragraphs nursing a chagrin akin to hearing the news Mike Dean will referee your team this weekend, fear not. You’ve chosen the blue pill, now it’s about maximising your squad.
The acute ownership increases of Marcos Alonso, Jesse Lingard and Nicolas Otamendi have already led to price increases since GW22, and staying abreast of potential rises is pivotal to augment your financial capabilities.
The aforementioned three players are staples in the majority of teams, with 24.4%, 15.6% and 33.5% ownership respectively (as of writing), so you’ll need some differentials, and a few names stand out.
Less than 3.2% of managers own Alexis Sanchez, who has three goals and an assist in his last four, and the Chilean has more points than the likes of Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard. Rumours of a January switch to Manchester City persist, but a move to the side 15 points adrift at the top of the Premier League likely wouldn’t harm his output. Otherwise, it’s evident that having started Arsenal’s last 14 league games, despite a reportedly fractious relationship with his team-mates, Sanchez will remain a fixture in Arsenal’s first XI as long as he’s situated there.
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) January 9, 2018
For differential defenders, look no further than John Stones and Luke Shaw.
Stones slotted in alongside Otamendi against Watford and having been subbed on 66 minutes, escaped with clean sheet points. He’ll likely return to partnering Otamendi full-time and with less than 3.6% ownership, he’s a £1.1m cheaper option than the Argentine.
John Stones' performance upon his return to Manchester City's first-team:
• 67 minutes played
• 74 passes attempted
• 71 passes completed
Back in the groove. pic.twitter.com/mZMT01GDbu
— Scouted Football (@ScoutedFtbl) January 2, 2018
Luke Shaw, meanwhile, has started Manchester United’s last three in the absence of the suspended Ashley Young, contributing towards two consecutive clean sheets, and at just £4.9m is a markdown route into United’s defence.
With a focus specifically on GW23, Shaw’s team-mate Phil Jones is re-establishing himself as a must-have option for a second time this season. Following those two clean sheets on the bounce, and three bonus points against Southampton, the visit of manager-less Stoke, who lost 5-0 in their last away outing at Chelsea, will provide another points opportunity.
However, there’s no escaping that GW23 is a nightmare on paper. With Liverpool and Man City tied up, and a resilient Everton defence likely content to sit deep at Spurs, that renders unpredictable afternoons for Mohamed Salah, Sergio Aguero, Harry Kane and co. Stay tuned for Holly’s weekly captaincy pick article for more guidance on managing the big guns this week.
For a budget differential, why not try Marc Albrighton? The Leicester winger has scored one and assisted three in his last four; he costs just £5.5m, and Claude Puel appears to have inspired Albrighton’s best form of the season in recent weeks.
Lastly, best of luck! Let us know what your GW23 transfer plans are in the comments section.
Follow Jack for more FPL insight… Follow @JWoodfield365
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