Gameweek 3 has proved to be a very popular week for wildcards, with many managers activating their chip in light of the volatile price changes. With the hat trick of Pukki and another goal for Martial, there are plenty of players to discuss in this weeks article.
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In this GW3 FPL Guest Q&A article, we are joined by FPL Prince and LetsTalkSoccer who will be sharing their thoughts on the most popular questions ahead of GW3. This week we will be discussing whether managers should play an early wildcard, top wildcard picks, Pukki, Ceballos and captaincy picks.
“When should a manager play their wildcard? What should be considered?”
A manager should play their wildcard when its right for them. If within there team they have a reasonable amount of players that aren’t performing or are injured then it can be considered. The key is not to panic! One bad week does not mean you have a bad team.
For me personally, I’ll probably try to hold off for a few more weeks. It’s also worth looking at fixture swings for teams! GW5 seems a good time for example when a few teams fixtures change for the better (Norwich, Arsenal..etc)
A very controversial issue and heated debate across social media.
As FPL managers, we spend hours, days, weeks putting together the “perfect” 15-man squad for GW1. We rely on some of the tried and true points producers – like Wilson, Jimenez, Vardy, Maddison and Fraser – just to name a few. They didn’t really deliver all that well in GW1.
OK, “be patient” we’re told. GW2 came and went. Still nothing to speak of from these guys. Now, we start getting nervous. And, all the while, new, unexpected, inexpensive players emerge with large hauls. All of a sudden, players like Pukki, Lundstrum, McGinn, Ceballos and Cantwell are on our radars.
We’ve received a lot of messages and comments from managers who have either already activated their Wildcards or are seriously considering it. Our thoughts on the topic: If you’re unhappy with your team – whatever the reason – change it up if you have the ability.
Yes, we’re just two games into the season. Some managers, despite their best efforts, put together a team that they had high hopes for, but just didn’t deliver. At least not yet. But, before invoking the valuable Wildcard chip, perform a quick audit of your team:
- How many Free Transfers do I have?
- How many players, really, do I need (or want) to replace?
- What players do I want?
- Are the players I want to bring in likely to deliver more points than the players they’re replacing? If you’re replacing more than 1 player, look at it holistically: Will the 2 (or 3, 4, 5) new players likely deliver more points than the 2 (or 3, 4, 5) players that I’m dropping?
- How comfortable do I feel about taking a hit? And how big a hit can I tolerate? Maybe a hit is a happy medium, as opposed to burning the WC.
All things we think, are worth processing before playing that chip. Because once it’s played, it’s played. No turning back.
So long as a manager has done his due diligence, we support his decision and wish him nothing but green arrows.
The early wildcard is a strategy that we have used in the past to great effect. Equally, we have held onto the chip, used free transfers and had success also.
The important thing to do is to drown out the ‘noise’, analyse your side and determine whether a wildcard is right for your side. Every manager is in a different position and while a wildcard makes sense for some, it doesn’t for others.
We posted a video recently discussing in detail the thoughts on an early wildcard and how to know if you need to play one:
“Which players should be considered for a wildcard team ahead of gameweek 3?”
KDB, Sterling, Laporte, Pukki, Ceballos, Mane, Pope, Kane, Son and Martial.
Do we go for the players of the moment? The ones on great form? Or the ones that didn’t haul last week – maybe even blanked – but I know can deliver points. There are a couple players that are on excellent form AND we know can have great success in the league. Players like…
- De Bruyne
We feel strongly that these players deserve strong consideration for your Wildcard team. Additionally, despite a recent blank or two, we feel the same about…
All of the above are the easy ones. The other part of the squad, for one reason or another, is where the tough decisions need to be made. This is where the points chasing begins. We ask ourselves, “Pukki has netted 4 goals in his first two games. Is he the real deal or just caught lightning in a bottle?” And it’s not just him. We do a similar drill with Barnes. And Lundstrum. And Ceballos. And so on.
While the results of good form make the headlines – goals scored, assists made, clean sheets kept – it’s the stats behind them that help tell us if their form is sustainable or just a case of being in the right place at the right time. Using underlying stats, and similar metrics, as our lens, we like the following players for a Wildcard team.
- Pukki: 1.46 xG (3rd in League). Yes, Chelsea is next and Man City are two games after that, but he’s already scored against Liverpool, so the Championship’s leading goal scorer last season knows he can score goals at this level. Nothing more dangerous than a striker with the kind of confidence he must have.
- Lundstram: The best of both worlds…An attacker that’s classified as a defender in FPL. xG = 0.53 and xA = 1.15. Shots per game = 1.5. While clean sheets might be hard to come by over the next few fixtures, he could well earn some attacking returns.
- Pieters: Tackles per game = 6.5 (second in the PL). Lead all players in tackles in the game against Arsenal. Already has 2 assists.
- Martial: xG = 0.88 (2nd on team). Played in the most advanced position of all players in the Wolves-Man United game. Part of rising Manchester United attack. Gets a point for clean sheets and extra point for goals scored.
- Ceballos: Plays just beneath Lacazette and Aubameyang. Having them up top could mean he will see a lot of assists this season. Had the third most shots last game. Despite playing Liverpool next match, the Reds have shown they’re not quite a locked down yet as they were last season.
- Cantwell: xA = 0.85 (1st on the team). Key passes per game = 4.0. He and Buendia had the second-highest positions on the team last game. If Pukki retains his form, Cantwell could serve up a lot of big chances.
- McGinn: Shots per game = 4.0. 2nd on the team for xG (0.43). Took the most shots of all players last game. Plays a very forward position on the pitch. 6 of the next 7 fixtures are quite favorable.
- Trossard: Shots per game = 4.0, and led all players in shots taken in last week’s match. He played the most advance position on the pitch last game.
- Mount: 2nd most advanced position in Chelsea’s last game. Shots per game = 3.5. Key passes = 2.5. In the top 4 spots for both xG and xA in his team. 11 of next 13 fixtures are favorable.
Not only are these players strong candidates for points, they are also quite inexpensive for the most part, which allows Wildcarding managers the ability to acquire the players from the first two lists.
Although an early wildcard has its benefit, one thing that we don’t have is significant data with only 2 gameweeks played. Therefore, we think there isn’t a ‘must-have’ player that all managers should include in their wildcard teams.
However, we will highlight some players that have stood out over the opening 2 gameweeks including those with historical data to support their selection.
Salah/Mane – Both have been a hot topic this week after Mane came back into the team with a goal and assist coupled with a Salah blank. We think it’s too early to say which player will score the most points, but the £1.0m saved owning Mane should seriously be considered for managers. The balance might be better owning the Senegalese and we could see Mane being far behind Salah.
Sterling/KDB – The past 2 gameweeks have proved that both are the best FPL options in City’s midfield. Sterling already with 4 goals and De Bruyne with 3 assists, an argument could be made to own both. With their brilliant upcoming fixtures, managers should try and squeeze them into their sides, one for sure.
Man United assets – While they didn’t blow us away against Wolves, it is clear that the kindly priced players are serious FPL options. The defence seem to have tighten up in comparison to last season, with Wan-Bisakka and Maguire appealing at £5.5m, especially the former. Meanwhile up top, Martial (£7.6m) classified as a midfielder playing forward should be in everyones thoughts with 2 goals in 2 games.
“After his hat trick, should Pukki be on all manager’s radar for GW3?”
Quite simply yes…he looks a great finisher. With Norwich’s attacking style of play, it makes the answer easy. Will probably wait another week or two myself though as they have very tricky fixtures!
Definitely on their radar. But maybe not in their squads.
It’s hard to ignore the man. He’s come on the Premier League scene with a bang. First, he scores against the champs of Europe, Liverpool…AT LIVERPOOL. Then, he one-ups himself by bagging three against Newcastle.
The demand for him is high. He’s already at almost 20% ownership at time of this article. He’s been transferred in 792K times just this round. And a total of 968K times. Pukki is the most-transferred in player for this round and for the season thus far. As a result, his FPL price has already increased twice. There’s mass hysteria over getting him before another price jump. While this hysteria, in fact, is the catalyst for the price increases in the first place!
He’s second in FPL points earned (24), just behind Sterling (26). And he’s tied with Sterling for most goals scored this season. The Norwich man is third for expected goals (1.60 xG). Which all makes perfect sense when you realize he was the top goal scorer in the Championship last season.
The only holdback – seemingly – is his upcoming fixtures. Norwich play at home against Chelsea this weekend, away at West Ham in GW4 and then home to Man City in GW5. After that, however, it’s pretty smooth sailing. There’s a fair amount of debate whether he’ll blank against Chelsea and/or City.
Chelsea aren’t as solid at the back currently as they’ve been in the past, and Lamps is still tinkering with his Starting XI. While City seems to be a much more staunch defense, Pukki did score against Liverpool at Anfield, so maybe Man City at home won’t be all that bothersome to him!
Pukki has already had 3 price rises since gameweek 1 after his 4 goals in 2 games. His underlying stats have been impressive, registering 10 shots and 3 key passes in this period, including the match against Liverpool.
While Pukki looks a great forward option, the fixtures aren’t in his favour in the coming weeks. Norwich face Chelsea (home), West Ham (away), Man City (home) and Burnley (away), all tricky fixtures. However, some may argue that Chelsea are looking leaky in defence while West Ham haven’t built a reputation for keeping clean sheets. The other factor to consider is that Pukki has already scored against one of the ‘top 6’ in the shape of Liverpool.
Now priced at £6.8m, we think that Pukki should be on the radar of all managers after the previous 2 gameweeks. However, those debating buying him this week should be wary of these upcoming fixtures. For those who love stats, he has an xG of 1.46, so don’t be buying in expecting hat tricks every week!
At £5.6m, is Ceballos the best budget midfielder and a must-buy?
I really really liked the look of Ceballos. £5.6m for an attacking Arsenal player on set pieces seems too good to be true. One word of warning though is Emery! He loves to rotate and that could be a problem. Arsenal have two tricky fixtures coming up so it could be worth watching for another game or two first
“Must-buy” is a bit strong. We believe there might be one or two must-buys (or “essentials”) in the game right now (Sterling and Salah). So we’d say, no, he’s not a must-buy. We’d want to see more games from him first.
But, he certainly is an intriguing option, especially when you consider how far up the pitch he plays and the two players he can feed those big chances: Aubameyang and Lacazette. Having those two on the receiving end ups the ante a bit.
And, while he’s very appealing and tempting, there are a few other options at – or below – his price, including Cantwell and Norwood. And let’s not forget about Dendoncker. We think having any of the three in a squad would not only be a good move points potential-wise, but also from an economic standpoint.
The downside to Ceballos is the schedule. Arsenal play away at Liverpool this weekend and then home to Spurs. But, for the money, a strong case can be made for having him in your Starting XI.
Ceballos certainly announced himself on the big stage last weekend with a man-of-the-match performance and 2 assists. After a price rise to £5.6m, he has caught the eye of managers including ourselves, however the upcoming fixtures are putting a holt to any transfer plans.
Arsenal face Liverpool away and Spurs home in the next 2 gameweeks, very tough fixtures. We don’t think that Arsenal have necessarily been impressive over the opening matches, winning by a single goal in both.
Their long-term fixtures are great after gameweek 4, so that is when we will be looking closer at Ceballos. Being a new player to the league, the data is small to make any decisions on therefore these 2 tough fixtures are best to hold and monitor his performances.
He registered 3 shots and 4 key passes against Burnley, with an xG of 0.07 and xA of 0.25. From stats alone, he ‘over performed’ especially in assists, so this time will be important to monitor those underlying stats.
A wait and see in our eyes, but at £5.6m could be amazing FPL value if he cements his position with the likes of Ozil and Pepe competing for those attacking spots.
Best captaincy picks?
1. Kane 2. Sterling 3. Salah/Mane in that order!
Looking purely at the matchups this week, Kane (home to Newcastle) jumps off the page at us. But, let’s take a deeper look at him, as well as some other potential options…
Sterling’s record against Bournemouth is very enticing. And Salah, Mane and Firmino against Arsenal can’t be ignored. So, while Kane seems the obvious choice on paper, the data might tell a slightly different story.
We were originally 100% set on Kane, but after doing this research, Sterling and Salah (whom we own in addition to Kane) are now in contention for the armband.
Whereas last weekend had only a few stand out options, this week has plenty of picks to choose from. The stand out option in our eyes is Harry Kane against Newcastle in the 4:30 kick off on Sunday. Pukki highlighted last gameweek the trouble Newcastle are in, scoring a hat trick in a 3-1 victory.
Kane struggled against Man City but looked sharp in gameweek 1 taking 8 shots and scoring a brace. At home we fancy both Spurs and Kane to have a great week, and if you own him we would recommend putting the armband on him.
Outside of Kane, Man City play Bournemouth away from home in another fixture you fancy Sterling to thrive. The Cherries have conceded a goal in each of their games so far, but it is the City attack that looks so good. Sterling has averaged 5 shots per 90 and an expected goal per 90 of 1.23 over his opening 2 fixtures.
Equally City have looked menacing going forward, taking 30 shots against Spurs, 10 of which of target. We think Sterling looks a great option for captain this gameweek, and expect him to be one of the highest picks by managers.
As a bit of a differential pick, we think Martial could be good value in his home fixture against Crystal Palace.
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