Plenty of FPL bosses have been forced into taking costly points hits just to get a full team out on the pitch as the Premier League cancelled matches left, right and centre due to Covid-related issues.
Not long before the Gameweek 21 deadline, it was confirmed that there would be a mini double gameweeks, which led to Brentford, Everton and West Ham being given an additional game. Cue managers ripping up their transfer plans to accommodate Craig Dawson, Demarai Gray and Ivan Toney into their starting line-ups.
On the plus side, with so many fixtures needing to be rescheduled – the number stands at 19 and counting – there will be a few double and perhaps maybe even triple gameweeks for FPL managers to get excited about in the weeks and months to come.
FPL will take a backseat this weekend due to the FA Cup third round, but by the time managers are required 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 that need to be rescheduled can now be moved onto nights where Champions League games are being played.
According to FPL fixture guru Ben Crellin, as many as 18 clubs could have two matches – Covid permitting – to play, with the exceptions being Manchester City and West Ham. If Crellin is correct, those rescheduled fixtures will probably take place on Tuesday 18 January or Wednesday 19 January.
The Premier League are expected to announce new fixtures at some point this week to give clubs, supporters and broadcasters sufficient notice. It is worth holding off making transfers until those changes have been confirmed, but if a number of clubs do end up doubling up, it could be a great time to activate the second wildcard chip of the campaign.
The wildcard enables managers to make an unlimited number of permanent transfers to their squads. Once the button has been pushed, managers are able to tweak and tinker with their teams right up until the transfer deadline. FPL managers have also been given a bonus Free Hit chip to use this season, which is similar to the wildcard but is active for one gameweek only.
Premier League matches 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 vs Brighton
- Southampton vs Newcastle
- Watford vs Crystal Palace
- Wolves vs Watford
Playing the wildcard, or any chip for that matter, is always team dependent. However, if the constant chopping and changing over Christmas has left your team in a sub-optimal state, now could be a great time to pull the trigger.
Those planning on making mass changes to their FPL squads should be mindful of the clubs that have multiple games in hand before confirming any transfers. Tottenham, who are unbeaten in eight league matches under Antonio Conte, have at least two games in hand on their top-four rivals and three matches that need to be rescheduled – against Brighton, Burnley and Leicester. Spurs no longer have European football to contend with either, after being dumped out of the Europa Conference League.
In-form Arsenal also have three games that need to be crammed into the calendar, although they are tricky ones against Liverpool and Wolves at home and Chelsea away. Leicester have an extra two games to play and their assets will come under sharp focus whenever their match against Norwich gets re-arranged.
Another reason for playing the wildcard is that the top-scoring player in FPL, Mo Salah, will be unavailable for a number of games after joining up with the Egyptian squad for the Africa Cup of Nations. Salah’s form has been so ruthless that he has become an auto-pick captain for virtually the entire campaign and his upcoming absence will give FPL a welcome shake-up. Suddenly, the captaincy debate is open once more.
Salah’s unavailability also means that managers have up to £13m of transfer budget to use which can go a very long way indeed. Removing Salah while a wildcard is in play, enables managers to make changes to their team structure that would ordinarily be difficult to achieve without taking a hit. If the other premium midfielders do not appeal, for instance, you can effectively replace Salah with a player like Harry Kane, by funnelling funds from midfield into attack.
Liverpool‘s main man isn’t the only popular FPL player to head to Cameroon for the tournament. His club colleague Sadio Mane, Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha, Watford’s Ismaila Sarr and Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez are among the other African stars called up by their respective nations. Emmanuel Dennis is still available for selection, though, after staying at Watford despite initially being included in Nigeria’s squad.
This is also an exciting time to play the wildcard as the January transfer window is now open. While fewer big-money deals occur during the winter transfer market compared to its summer counterpart, there should be plenty of business conducted with newly-monied Newcastle eyeing up as many as six recruits this month and Tottenham expected to bolster their options to keep Conte happy.