It seems an absurd statement to make, but after 151,952 players used their wildcard between gameweek one and two, with a total transfer set of 3,339,715, for the 2,231,364 managers in the game, we’ve decided to start this feature early this season.
There are a number of valid reasons to play the wildcard early this season. Fantasy premier league managers who’ve built their early season squads around the schedule of Chelsea may well find themselves look at a number of players without a fixture gameweek three. With Reading and Chelsea both set to miss out, the injuries to Aguero and Rooney causing panic buys, and the emergence of some very impressive new talent, we are turning our eyes to a the WC as we rebuild from the foundation up.
The summer Buying Guides remain valuable reading – two or three matches of statistics do not outweigh the data we’ve compiled there. Players like David Silva, Rafael Van der Vaart and Darren Bent may have been slow off the mark, but they have proved themselves capable at this level.
The only other rule is that we operate within the constraints of a £100m budget at the current prices (as of writing, 12 Aug.)
Injuries to Wayne Rooney – leg gash – and Sergio Aguero – knee – will keep the two mercurial forwards on the sidelines until the end of September, at best. They need to be sold to preserve their purchase price in your side and both run the risk of losing their place in their respective starting sides. Robin van Persie’s arrival at Old Trafford has given Sir Alex Ferguson the easiest of solutions and we expect United to continue to fire on all cylinders up front. Van Persie has a posh schedule over the next month and we’re putting up two at the price. That means we must look for discounts in the rest of the side but we’re comfortable with discount options at the back.
Those who’ve questioned Carlos Tevez heading into the season have been proved wrong, at least in the short term. He has two goals, an assist and three bonus points and will star in the absence of Kun Aguero. The only bump in the road for the Citizens is a gameweek five visit from Arsenal. But Manicni’s side showed against Liverpool that they are comfortable allowing their opposition to hold possession without losing any of their own cutting edge. It appears to be Balotelli ahead of Dzeko to pair the Argentinian in the attack and we’re avoid both.
We’ve used our last two expensive purchases on Hazard and Santi. The Chelsea play-maker is putting together an impressive run. There are two drawbacks to his ownership moving forward, Chelsea have played an extra match and have a blank GW3. Those are important considerations, and limit our Chelsea ownership to the Belgian forward. Cazorla has looked the greatest threat for Arsenal in the early days and is linking well with Arteta. The Arteta link in an important one, as the ex-Evertonian lies deep in the midfield, winning possession and then pulling the strings as he moves into the attacking half. Cazorla’s compatibility with Arteta will provide him the ball in advanced areas where he will be able to create and finish chances. If you’re not going to have Suarez or Adebayor in your side – and we’ve elected for RVP/Tevez/Ba in this side – you need a player like Cazorla or Hazard who will contribute both goals and assists.
Maloney and Noble continue to provide chances from set pieces and each is involved in the build up. Between the two, we expect to have one match-up play each week. Similarly to our ‘keeper selection and 4/5th defenders, the goal of owning low priced midfielders is to create flexibility with the hope that your bench is creating points – not simply providing relief from high prices.
We’ve taken three from Fulham to match our three from Swansea. Dembélé, Hughes and Schwarzer are a combination of discount and value. The defender was a summer selection last season, and his £4.5m price creates a solid buying opportunity. For an extra £0.5m you can have the more stable Hangeland, but we’re invested in RVP, so every quid must be accounted for. West Ham face a neutral to easy schedule and we’ve taken Demel as well. The choice between the £4m rated Hammer’s defenders was down to selection numbers and we’ve chosen the player with the least ownership. With the team we have, it is unlikely he ever sees the match, and will be frequently listed as 3rd sub, but we want to know there is the potential for a 6pt day.
Defenders are easy selections. You can not predict cleansheets just as you can not predict goals scorers – Cooper also can not, see also: Podolski, Captain Lukas – and you must simple make value-based decisions. If you had followed our summer Buying Guides you would have reaped the benefits of Swansea’s two clean sheets, goals from Angel Rangel, Assou-Ekotto and Rafael, while avoiding the pitfalls of Manchester City (four goals allowed in two games) Liverpool (five allowed in two). Swansea’s early season schedule presents nicely for clean sheets through GW 8, with only Everton in GW5 looking a serious threat to the Swans defenses. We’re selecting three from the back, which means we are not jumping up to purchase Michu at £6.9m. If you already own him – by all means keep him in your side! The rest of the defense represents one trusted player from Spurs – Norwich, Reading, QPR – and the discounted Demel.
Interestingly, if you empty your side and allow the Fantasy Premier League to auto complete you end up with this selection:
Not terribly much overlap and we can take comfort in knowing that much of our side will have their best days ahead of them, not already in the bank.