Fantasy Premier League Gameweek 8: hints and captaincy tips as Arsenal face Man City – is it time to wildcard?

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With a slew of injuries and suspensions affecting FPL teams, is it time to wildcard? We look at the options, and run the rule over this week’s captaincy calls.

It’s Thursday, which means it’s about time for 3 Added Minutes’ weekly strategy guide to the coming week in Fantasy Premier League – and with a ton of injuries big and small hitting popular players this week (including quite a few in our own high-flying team) it’s as good a time as any to ask the question about whether it’s time to drop a premature wildcard or not, and what your team should look like if you do.

Bukayo Saka, Pervis Estupiñán, Eberechi Eze, Anthony Gordon, Sven Botman, Moussa Diaby, Cody Gakpo, Diogo Jota, Rodri… the list of players injured, suspended or at least potentially missing out this weekend is filled with high-ownership players, and plenty of teams will be left desperately scrabbling for news from Friday’s press conferences – and quite a few more will be contemplating hitting that wildcard button.

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An injured Bukayo Saka is led from the field during the game against Bournemouth last weekend.An injured Bukayo Saka is led from the field during the game against Bournemouth last weekend.
An injured Bukayo Saka is led from the field during the game against Bournemouth last weekend. | Getty Images

We’ll talk you through the process to decide whether or not you should in a moment, but before that let us serve you a quick reminder that there’s no Friday night match, so the deadline to make your decisions is 11:00 BST on Saturday, ahead of Tottenham Hotspur’s visit to Kenilworth Road at lunchtime.

Is it time to wildcard?

In an ideal world, it’s a good idea to save your first wildcard until as close to the end of December as possible. That maximises your ability to be reactive to likely changes in form or fitness as the season wears on, but then we do have an FPL injury crisis right now – so if your team is one of the many hard-hit by recent developments, it’s totally reasonable to use it a little earlier than anyone would have planned. If you’re new to the game and aren’t sure how wildcards work, by the way, then there’s a handy guide right here.

As for whether now is the time, here’s the process we’d use to decide. Firstly, you’ll need to plan your teams ahead for the next two or three gameweeks with the squad you have now. Check the fixtures out and see how your team will look – plenty of teams from which players are drawing multiple players have tough fixtures this weekend, which can increase the temptation to make big changes, but it’s fine to have one low-scoring gameweek if it keeps your team set up well going forward.

If your squad looks fine once most of the missing players are back in Gameweek 9 (and remember we’re heading into an international break), and you’ve made your usual number of transfers, you probably shouldn’t pull the trigger. Take the one-week hit and move on, and remember the majority of the absentees will be fine for their next domestic fixture.

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Of course, if you’ve been hit by injuries and you’re unhappy with the way your squad looks going forward, then it might well be time to blow your wildcard. A general rule of thumb we’d recommend is to look at whether you can get your squad to a place you’re happy over the course of the next three gameweeks without taking more than one -4 hit. If that’s the case, it’s safer to hold firm for now. If you’re still unhappy with your team after doing that bit of homework, go for it.

Before we get on to what your wildcarded team should look like, one quick word of advice – unless you have a team made up almost entirely of injured and suspended players, don’t use your free hit. It looks like that would make sense, but you’ll almost always get more mileage out of it by saving it for a big double gameweek in the second half of the season. Use it only if it would avert a full-blown crisis week.

So what should a wildcard team look like? We’d largely avoid players from Arsenal, Brentford, Chelsea, Manchester United and possibly Manchester City right now, or at least avoid over-reliance on them – you’ll surely still want Erling Haaland, for starters. And don’t even think about leaving Kieran Trippier at home, come to that.

Don’t just build a wildcard team for the next couple of weeks – you’ll still want to build one for the next few months at least. So while Brighton have two tough fixtures coming up, the likes of Kaoru Mitoma are still good calls for inclusion when their fixtures get so much softer from week 10 onwards. West Ham are in a similar boat – we like Alponse Areola and Jarrod Bowen a lot as options, and you shouldn’t count them out solely because of their next two games. FPL is a marathon, not a sprint.

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Jarrod Bowen is a perfectly good FPL signing despite West Ham facing a couple of tough games.Jarrod Bowen is a perfectly good FPL signing despite West Ham facing a couple of tough games.
Jarrod Bowen is a perfectly good FPL signing despite West Ham facing a couple of tough games. | Getty Images

As for teams you do want to target, we’d look at Newcastle United, Spurs and Liverpool in particular, with Aston Villa a great team to go for as well. Despite failing to register a goal or assist for the first time in 12 gameweeks against Spurs, we definitely don’t recommend playing without Mohamed Salah, either. Gakpo and Jota being unavailable all but guarantees minutes for Luis Díaz and Darwin Nuñéz, too.

Price changes and captaincy picks

If you aren’t wildcarding just yet, you’ll want to be aware that a few big players will be changing price soon – Son Heung-Min and Ollie Watkins are almost certainly going up by Saturday, while Tariq Lamptey, Alphonse Areola and Matt Turner aren’t too far behind.

At the other end of the price change table, John Stones and Calvin Bassey will probably drop by Friday, with Estupiñán, Raheem Sterling and Amari’I Bell among the players likely to follow. If you’re wildcarding out of these players, that could incentivise you to do that sooner rather than later – but if your wildcard decision will be based purely on injuries, it’s best to wait until the pressers.

As for the captaincy, with Haaland playing away to Arsenal it’s a perfectly sensible decision to take the armband away from him, especially given his (comparatively) mediocre form of late. Ollie Watkins, James Maddison and Son Heung-Min are all very appealing options, so if you have any of those three you should certainly consider making them your skipper. As always, it’s also hard to argue against Salah. He simply tends to score…

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3 Added Minutes FC

We’re far enough up the worldwide ladder that our above-average mark of 54 points this week actually saw us drop some places – but we’re still pretty content with how things are going so far. Yoane Wissa’s recent form is concerning, although he was rather unlucky not to win a penalty against Nottingham Forest, but the bigger worry is the massive number of injuries and suspensions we’re facing – five players who could miss out this week!

3 Added Minutes FC Gameweek 7 (54 points): Flekken (2); Trippier (12), Cash (6), Bell (3); Salah (1), Saka (9), Foden (2), Diaby (8), Gordon (5); Wissa (2), Haaland (captain, 4)3 Added Minutes FC Gameweek 7 (54 points): Flekken (2); Trippier (12), Cash (6), Bell (3); Salah (1), Saka (9), Foden (2), Diaby (8), Gordon (5); Wissa (2), Haaland (captain, 4)
3 Added Minutes FC Gameweek 7 (54 points): Flekken (2); Trippier (12), Cash (6), Bell (3); Salah (1), Saka (9), Foden (2), Diaby (8), Gordon (5); Wissa (2), Haaland (captain, 4) | Fantasy Premier League

Still, we’ve followed our own advice and realised that while things look distinctly dicey in GW8, our team still looks very handy for weeks 9 and 10 after the international break – so we’re not hitting our wildcard yet. What we likely will do is make at least one transfer to cover injuries. Saka can come out for Son as we have the money to make that trade, so assuming he misses out we’ll probably try that. There’s some chance we end up with only 10 players this week, but that looks unlikely as it stands – if the pressers tell us different, we’ll take a -4.

That’s all for this week – best of luck, and may all of your wildcards work out to perfection.

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