Our team of Hall of Famers and guest writers are offering regular contributions throughout the 2023/24 Fantasy Premier League (FPL) campaign. Here, former champion Simon March reveals his current Gameweek 8 Wildcard team.
Tuesday night Wildcards are a bit like shotgun weddings; it wasn’t exactly what you had in mind but it’s pretty obvious that things will get worse for you if you don’t go through with it.
Injuries to Newcastle United’s Sven Botman (£4.7m), Brighton and Hove Albion’s Pervis Estupinan (£5.3m), and Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka (£8.6m), doubts over Raheem Sterling’s (£7.1m) starting spot for Chelsea (not to mention his poor FPL form), triple investment – Bruno Fernandes (£8.4m), Marcus Rashford (£8.8m) and Andre Onana (£4.9m) – in a Manchester United squad deeply mired in some form of inexplicable malaise and an injury to my bench-warmer/Double Gameweek ‘hero’, Luton Town’s Amari’i Bell (£4.0m), and it feels like my hand has very much been forced.
With all this going on, playing the Wildcard became more of a necessity than anything but, fortunately, it gives me an opportunity to load up on some assets that are coming into a good run of fixtures. If I’m lucky, I can gain a step on those managers who are looking to move on these assets more organically or via a later Wildcard.
As usual, I’m looking at building my Gameweek 8 Wildcard team around players who I think have the potential to score consistently, preferably ones with multiple routes to scoring and who offer good value for money or, at least, have an opportunity to outperform their price over a strong run of fixtures.
GAMEWEEK 8 WILDCARD: GOALKEEPERS
I remember 2013 FPL winner and four-time top 1,000k finisher Matthew Martyniak once saying that, when it came to goalkeepers, his strategy was to spend as little money as humanly possible. As somebody who also likes to bargain hunt when it comes to filling the space between the sticks, one huge positive of this season is that some of the cheapest keepers are also among the best performers.
In particular, West Ham United’s Alphonse Areola (£4.2m) is currently the third-highest scorer in the game with 32 points and has also made the third-highest number of saves, also 32. It’s worth mentioning that these points came during a fairly tough run of fixtures for West Ham United who, going forward, have a decent-looking schedule for the foreseeable future. At £4.2m and with the potential to be a set-and-forget option, Areola is currently too good value to overlook.
Nottingham Forest’s Matt Turner (£4.0m) provides the backup and, provided he keeps his place, he also has the opportunity to significantly overdeliver against his price given Nottingham Forest’s upcoming run of fixtures.
GAMEWEEK 8 WILDCARD: Defenders
Given how I am setting up elsewhere, I need a defence that offers value for money but, equally, offers me the opportunity to switch to a back four when needed. As always, I’m looking to invest in players with the potential to keep clean sheets but, also, with at least some prospect for attacking returns or bonus points.
With this in mind, Aston Villa’s Matty Cash (£4.9m), Newcastle’s Kieran Trippier (£6.8m), Spurs’ Destiny Udogie (£4.8m) and Chelsea’s Levi Colwill (£4.5m) form the basis of my team, with Luton’s Issa Kaboré (£4.0m) providing back-up. This group have kept 10 clean sheets between them so far this season, which is not exactly mind-blowing, but with nine assists and two goals thrown in, they should be a reliable enough source of points. Aside from perhaps Trippier, I’m not exactly breaking the bank on them, either.