FPL: Countdown to GW8 - To wildcard or not to wildcard?

We’ve had a weekend off from FPL and only have seven fixtures in Gameweek 8. We’re taking hits, using our chips and activating wildcards. But what’s the optimal play?

As always, it is team dependant but, for me – who can’t field 11 players without hits this week – now is the time to wildcard.

If the wildcard isn’t an option for you then this is a week where taking a 4-point hit or two to field 11 players is worth strong consideration. Meanwhile, lots of FPL managers are asking me if they should free hit and, whilst I could name 101 reasons not to this week, I will leave you with two words; double gameweeks!

State of Play

Regardless of whether or not you are using the wildcard, I’m going to flag a few players and teams that I am targeting, starting with the Newcastle defence.

Predicting clean sheets hasn’t been easy this season but Newcastle look like one of the league’s most reliable defences right now. They have kept six clean sheets in their last 10 matches at St. James’ Park and with home fixtures against Bournemouth, Brentford, Everton and Aston Villa coming up, I think this is a back line we have to invest in. I’m doubling up with Nick Pope (5.1) and Kieran Trippier (5.3), who clocked up a whopping six chances versus Crystal Palace last time out.

It’s worth noting that Manchester City will have a blank in GW12 (their fixture with Arsenal has been postponed) but until that point, we need to be going big on the Champions. Every wildcard draft has to include triple City for me, and there is no bigger or better way of doing it than owning Erling Haaland (12.0), Joao Cancelo (7.0) and new addition to my team, Kevin De Bruyne (12.2).

Man City trio Joao Cancelo, Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne should be in everyone’s FPL team

The Belgian is playing super advanced at the moment and I’m encouraged to see him off the shoulder of Haaland so often. When he adopts these positions he not only becomes the league’s best assist threat but a goal threat too. The last time he visited Molineux, he scored four goals! If, like me, you’re going without Mohamed Salah, De Bruyne is a good placeholder for the Egyptian King.

Fulham’s fixtures have turned green and this was always the week I planned to move on Aleksandar Mitrović (6.9). He’s proved himself to be fixture proof and after seeing what he’s done to some of the league’s big boys, I’m very excited to own him for this next wave of games. In GW11, Salah (12.9) and Haaland (12.0) play each other, so we might look to Mitrovic, who plays Bournemouth at home, for captaincy.

The only player on my wildcard without a fixture this week is Reece James (6.0). Under Graham Potter, I’m expecting James to be given licence to get forward and the heat maps from Chelsea’s midweek Champions League game indicate James is going to consistently get touches in and around the opposition box.

I also expect Chelsea to keep more clean sheets under Potter and they have a great run of winnable matches on the horizon. On his day, James has the highest ceiling of any defender in this game and at 6.0 I still think he’s exceptional value.

Sell Liverpool and Arsenal players?

Not only do Liverpool not have a fixture this weekend, but their next four Premier League fixtures are Brighton, Arsenal, Manchester City and West Ham. It’s a tricky run wedged in between Champions League matches.

Likewise, Arsenal don’t play in GW12 and have a tough run coming up. Sure, the likes of Salah (12.9), Gabriel Jesus (8.1), Trent Alexander-Arnold (7.5) and Oleksandr Zinchenko (5.1) can score big against anyone, but you have to play the percentages and, in my opinion, the likes of De Bruyne (12.2), Harry Kane (11.4), James (6.0) and Trippier (5.3) will outscore them.

Final Thoughts

Haaland (12.0) is, yet again, this week’s obvious captain option but if you’re looking to do things a little differently then consider Kane (11.2) vs. Leicester, which could be loads of fun.

Kane has an amazing record against the Foxes (19 goals and four assists in 18 appearances against them) and Leicester just don’t seem to know how to keep clean sheets at the moment, so I expect them to have a go in what should be an open, high-scoring game.

Don’t forget we have a Friday night (6.30 pm) deadline this week, so lock those teams in early!

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