FPL 2022/23: Is it time to hit the Wildcard or Free Hit button amid blank GW8?

Rahul Madhavan
By Rahul Madhavan
10 Min Read
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The Premier League is back in action after gameweek 7 was postponed due to the demise of Her Majesty The Queen, Elizabeth II. FPL managers certainly had their time to tinker around with their team after the games were approaching thick and fast in the past month. However, the Fantasy Premier League managers are set to face another curveball as six teams are blanking this week, including Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Brighton & Hove Albion.

Due to their impressive recent run, United and Brighton assets were given importance, along with players like Mohamed Salah, Trent Alexander Arnold, and Reece James, who are also highly owned. With a blank game week in prospect, it is no wonder that several managers are looking to hit the wildcard or the free hit button this week.

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The wildcard seems to be the go-to option as there is a fixture swing for several teams. It is also an opportunity to move away from the Liverpool and Arsenal assets. Jurgen Klopp’s men are struggling to gain momentum while the Gunners’ fixture is not looking kind. Meanwhile, the likes of West Ham, Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, and Aston Villa boast some excellent fixtures.

The free hit is also a considerable option if you want to keep hold of Liverpool, Chelsea or United assets for the next game weeks. There are certain fixtures one could target in GW 8 and move up the rank as a result. So, here is a guide on the options, the fixtures and the teams to target if you are planning to use either of the chip.

Free hit (Fixtures to target)

Newcastle United vs Bournemouth

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AFC Bournemouth have struggled at the start of the campaign and already sacked Scott Parker. The transition to the Premier League is not turning out well, although a comeback victory against Nottingham Forest would have boosted their confidence. However, they are still favorites to go down as they are conceding a lot of chances and struggling in front of the goal.

The statistics also back this. They have the third worst xGA this and the least xG in the Premier League. So, Newcastle United – who are starting to hit their stride after the takeover could potentially put in a statement performance at St. James’ Park.

They have been solid defensively, conceding only six goals despite playing both Manchester City and Liverpool. Kieran Trippier (5.3m) and Nick Pope (5.1m) are must-haves if you decide to hit the free hit button. Upfront, new singing Alexander Isak (7.0m) has shown promise of his potential and may haul big against the Cherries in front of the home crowd.

Tottenham Hotspur vs Leicester City

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Although Spurs lost to Sporting CP in the midweek UEFA Champions League game, Antonio Conte’s side have started the season in a solid fashion. They are level on points with Manchester City and the team has certainly gelled together under the Italian. Leicester City, meanwhile, are stranded at the bottom of the table with no wins to their name.

They conceded five against Brighton last week and with Wesley Fofana’s departure, the Foxes look vulnerable at the back. The likes of Son (11.7m), Kane (11.4m), Kulusevski or Richarlison could have a field day. Moreover, the opponents have targeted Leicester’s right side, so Son could be an excellent punt despite the South Korean struggling to find his feat this season.

In defense, Perisic (5.5m) has settled in quickly and his performances have made him Spurs’ first choice left wing back. Again, he could exploit Leicester’s back line with his quality crosses and set pieces. Kulusevski (8.1m) has not started for the last three games and should get the nod this week. The Swedish international has been a creative threat and may prove to be a brilliant differential.

The Team: Formation (3-4-3)

Starting XI: Pope; Trippier, Perisic, Cancelo; Martinelli, Son, Bowen, Kulusevski; Haaland, Mitrovic, Isak.

Subs: Ward, Andreas Periera, Emerson Palmieri, White.

Wildcard

The wildcard seems to be the popular option this week considering Liverpool, Chelsea, and Manchester United are blanking. As said above, it provides an opportunity to move from the highly owned Liverpool and Arsenal assets. Naturally, the question of what the options are and who are the teams to target pops up.

First up, tripling up on Manchester City assets seems to be the way to go. Joao Cancelo (7.1m) is, of course, the best option in terms of defense and with Kyle Walker’s injury, the Portuguese is set to get an extended run at right back. He has been pivotal when played from the right side and has hauled big. Ruben Dias and John Stones are also admirable options, but with Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake returning, there could be rotation for the center half spots.

In midfield, Kevin De Bruyne (12.2m) is picking up excellent positions and is a tailor-made replacement for the struggling Mohamed Salah while Erling Haaland upfront is unquestionably a must own in this game. Bernardo Silva (7.0m) and Phil Foden (8.0m) are decent cheap alternatives to De Bruyne as well.

Newcastle United and West Ham United are two teams whose fixtures are looking excellent to pounce upon. The former’s defense has been outstanding and Nick Pope – being a bonus point magnet is the perfect choice in goal. Kieran Trippier, meanwhile, is on set-pieces and his dead ball ability is very well known. Priced at just 5.3 million, the defender is also a must have if you are wildcarding. Their next five fixtures include Bournemouth, Fulham, Brentford, Manchester United, and Everton, so doubling up on their defense is a solid possibility.

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West Ham, meanwhile, arguably have the best fixture lineup till the world cup. They have played Manchester City and Chelsea, and will face Everton, Wolves, Fulham, Southampton, Liverpool, Bournemouth in their next six games. After a difficult start, Moyes’ men are also improving both in defense and attack. Last season’s FPL mainstay – Jarrod Bowen could be a great differential. Despite not scoring this campaign, he is on penalty duties and is taking up excellent positions in and around the box. With Bowen’s quality, it is only a matter of time before he hits form.

Summer arrival, Lucas Paqueta is underpriced (6.0m) and could slot in your team as a cheap option. The Brazilian is a magnificent player and has the ability to score and provide assists if West Ham gain momentum. Additionally, Emerson, like Paqueta, is underpriced (4.0m) and might be a valuable enabler in your squad.

It is also time to jump on Aleksander Mitrovic (6.9m) if you haven’t already. He is in the form of his life and is also turning out to be fixture proof. Fulham’s attacking numbers have been formidable and Mitrovic is at the heart of it. James Maddison (7.9m) and Wilfried Zaha (7.2m) are other picks that may turn out to be a huge difference maker in the upcoming weeks. Both have provided the spark for their teams in an otherwise disappointing season so far and have solid fixtures after game week 9.

Wildcard team 1 (formation: 3-4-3): Pope; James, Cancelo, Trippier; Zaha, Maddison, De Bruyne, Bowen; Haaland, Mitrovic, Isak.

Subs: Iversen, Andreas Pereira, Neco Williams, Emerson.

Wildcard team 2 (formation: 4-3-3): Pope; James, Perisic, Cancelo, Trippier; Martinelli, De Bruyne, Bailey; Haaland, Mitrovic, Kane.

Subs: Iversen, Colback, Patterson, Andreas Periera.

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