Fantasy football tips: ‘I’ve done it – I’ve played my wildcard in gameweek seven’


Alistair Bruce-Ball

I’ve done it. I pushed the button at the start of the week and played the wildcard.

Probably not the most sensible thing to do before a round of Champions League fixtures and with an international break on the way but the prices for the prized assets were already climbing and there was too much dead wood in my squad to make the adjustments I wanted week by week.

I’m sure there are plenty of you out there who’ve done the same thing, or might well go for it before gameweek eight, so hopefully this will give you some food for thought.

First things first. I’ve gone for three Chelsea players, as a lot of managers will do, given their tempting run of fixtures.

Romelu Lukaku comes in for Cristiano Ronaldo – Mohamed Salah gets the nod ahead of Ronaldo for me and I’ve not got room for three big-hitters in my squad – and, as discussed here last week, I’ve gone for two defenders in Antonio Rudiger and Marcos Alonso.

Yes, there’s a risk of rotation and they won’t all start every Premier League fixture but I hope I’ve now got enough strength in depth in the squad for when the inevitable happens.

Statman Dave argued in this week’s Fantasy 606 podcast that the double-defender strategy, be it Chelsea or possibly Manchester City with Ruben Dias and Joao Cancelo, is too risky and was advising our listeners against going down that path.

I’m ignoring that advice from my good friend and great rival but I’ve also brought Cancelo into my wildcard squad and am wondering whether Dave’s right that all the money spent on premium defenders is going to leave me too lightweight in midfield. More on that in a bit.

Trent Alexander-Arnold is already in my very expensive defence and his owners have a decision to make this week as Jurgen Klopp suggested he was doubtful for the game against Manchester City. I am tempted to hold on to him because you will only want to buy him back as soon as he’s fit unless it’s going to be a long-term problem. He will also have that international break to recover before Liverpool are in action again in gameweek eight.

Alongside Salah in my midfield I’ve brought in Leeds’ Raphinha, who has just been too good to ignore any longer, and Bukayo Saka, who was suddenly looking vibrant again for Arsenal in the north London derby.

Like Chelsea, the Gunners are heading into a run of more favourable fixtures and that’s why I’ve also decided to go for Aaron Ramsdale between the sticks in place of Brighton’s Robert Sanchez.

There are lots of different options for you with Arsenal though, and all at very reasonable prices – be that Kieran Tierney, Ben White or Takehiro Tomiyasu in defence, or Martin Odegaard or Emile Smith Rowe in midfield, who both come in slightly cheaper than Saka.

Ismaila Sarr keeps his place in my team for Watford’s trip to Leeds after producing 24 points against Norwich and Newcastle, and Andros Townsend comes in after a very productive start to the season with Everton. He’s slightly cheaper than his team-mate Demarai Gray and hopefully will continue to take penalties in the absence of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison.

I’m obviously sticking with Michail Antonio up front – he’ll start every week – alongside Lukaku, and I’ve brought in Wolves striker Hwang Hee-chan, who really impressed me when I saw him live against Brentford recently. He will most likely be on my bench most weeks, but Wolves are in the middle of a nice run of fixtures and hopefully he can provide some points if called upon.

Michail Antonio celebrates scoring against Leeds
Michail Antonio’s last-minute winner against Leeds in West Ham’s last match kept him top of the Premier League scoring charts with five goals in give games

If I do decide to beef up my midfield then the initial plan was to ditch Cancelo to go for a much cheaper option at the back and start with just the three defenders most weeks, namely Alexander-Arnold, Alonso and Rudiger. Tino Livramento, Shane Duffy or Brandon Williams would be the candidates to come in for Cancelo as they have all been starting regularly this season.

If Alexander-Arnold is going to be out for a while then maybe he will be the one to go in a similar strategy. Diogo Jota is the man I’ve got my eye on to improve the midfield with Liverpool scoring goals for fun at the moment and I might even use the extra funds to upgrade Hwang to Southampton’s Adam Armstrong in attack.

Let me know what you think or tell me what you’re doing with your wildcard by emailing fantasy606@bbc.co.uk

Alistair Bruce-Ball presents the Fantasy 606 podcast alongside former Premier League winner Chris Sutton and Statman Dave. The latest episode previewing gameweek seven is available on the BBC Sounds app.

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