Fantasy Premier League leaders have had a lot to contend with over the last few weeks, with postponed matches adding an extra layer of chaos to the traditionally crowded festive football program.
Lots of FPL bosses have been forced to take expensive points just to get a full team out on the field as Premier League canceled matches left, right and center due to Covid related issues.
Not long before the Gameweek 21 deadline, it was confirmed that there would be a mini-double game week, leading to Brentford, Everton and West Ham getting an extra match. Cue managers tear up their transfer plans to make room for Craig Dawson, Demarai Gray and Ivan Toney in their starting lineup.
On the plus side, with so many matches to rearrange – the number stands at 19 and counts – There will be a couple of double and maybe even triple playing weeks for FPL managers to get excited about in the coming weeks and months.
FPL sits in the back seat this weekend due to FA Cup third round, but when the managers have to submit their next teamsheets, it is very likely that there will be a bumper double gameweek to prepare for in Gameweek 22. Uefa has also confirmed that Premier League matches to be rescheduled can now be moved to evenings where Champions League matches are played.
According to FPL luminaire guru Ben Crellin, as many as 18 clubs could have two matches – if Covid allows it – to play, with exceptions Manchester By and West ham. If Crellin is right, the rescheduled matches are likely to take place on Tuesday, January 18th or Wednesday, January 19th.
The Premier League is expected to announce new matches at some point this week to give clubs, supporters and broadcasters adequate notice. It’s worth delaying making transfers until these changes have been confirmed, but if a number of clubs end up doubling up, this may be a good time to activate the campaign’s second wildcard chip.
The wildcard allows managers to make an unlimited number of permanent transfers to their team. Once the button has been pressed, managers are able to fine-tune and tinker with their team right up until the transfer deadline. FPL leaders have also been given one bonus Free Hit chip to use this season, which is similar to the wildcard but is only active for one game week.
Premier League matches need to be rescheduled
- Arsenal vs Liverpool
- Arsenal vs Wolves
- Aston Villa vs Burnley
- Brentford vs Man Utd
- Brighton vs. Chelsea
- Brighton vs Spurs
- Burnley vs. Everton
- Burnley vs. Spurs
- Burnley vs. Watford
- Chelsea vs. Arsenal
- Everton vs. Newcastle
- Leeds vs. Aston Villa
- Leicester vs Norwich
- Leicester vs Spurs
- Liverpool vs. Leeds
- Man Utd against Brighton
- Southampton v Newcastle
- Watford vs Crystal Palace
- Wolves vs Watford
Playing wildcards, or any chip for that matter, is always team dependent. But if the constant chopping and change over Christmas has left your team in a suboptimal state, now may be a good time to hit the trigger.
Those planning to make mass changes to their FPL team should be aware of those clubs that have multiple matches in hand before confirming any transfers. Tottenham, who are unbeaten in eight league games under Antonio Conte, have at least two games in hand on their top-four rivals and three games to be rearranged – against Brighton, Burnley and Leicester. Spurs no longer have European football to fight with either, after being dumped out of the Europa Conference League.
Inform Arsenal also has three games to cram into the calendar, though they are tough against Liverpool and Wolves at home and Chelsea away. Leicester have two extra matches to play and their assets will come under sharp focus every time their match against Norwich is rearranged.
Another reason to play the wildcard is that the top-scoring player in the FPL, Mo Salah, will be unavailable in a series of matches after joining the Egyptian team for Africa Cup of Nations. Salah’s form has been so ruthless that he has become the auto-pick captain for pretty much the entire campaign, and his upcoming absence will give the FPL a welcome shake-up. Suddenly, the captain’s debate is open again.
Salah’s unavailability also means managers have up to £ 13m in transfer budget to spend, which can actually go a long way. Removing Salah while a wildcard is in play allows managers to make changes to their team structure that would normally be difficult to achieve without being hit. If the other first-class midfielders do not appeal, for example, you can effectively replace Salah with a player like Harry Kane, by transferring funds from the midfield to the attack.
Liverpool‘s principal is not the only popular FPL player to go to Cameroon for the tournament. His club colleagues Sadio Mane, Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha, Watford’s Ismaila Sarr and Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez are among the others African stars called of their respective nations. Emmanuel Dennis is still available for selection, however, after staying at Watford despite being originally included in Nigeria’s squad.
This is also an exciting time to play wildcards like January transfer window is now open. Although there are fewer big money deals during the winter transfer market compared to its summer counterpart, there should be plenty of deals with newly paid money Newcastle are looking at as many as six recruits this month, and Tottenham expected to strengthen their chances of keeping Conte happy.