Players to Watch for Your January Wildcard

9:29pm Dec 29 2017

An early look towards those eager to play their second FPL Wildcard in January

january wildcard planning

For many people, January 1st marks an apposite occasion to trot out that old adage ‘new year, new me’.

For many fantasy football managers, that saying is more like ‘new year, new team’.

Sometimes, all the planning in the world can’t stop you from scrambling to put out a full team during a busy December while counting down the days until the second wildcard becomes available.

For those more happy with their side, the second wildcard provides an interesting tactical opportunity for later in the season.

For many, the wildcard provides a chance to reinvigorate their team in the hope of propelling up their table. Here is a look at a few players who could provide that required differential on the back of a manic December.

West Ham Players

Certainly not how you might have envisaged this article transpiring a few weeks ago, but David Moyes seems to have turned fortunes around to an extent.

The new-look West Ham was epitomised by a defiant 1-0 win victory against Chelsea, with the BBC declaring the Hammers’ defence had greater resolve as part of a well-organised side.

Caution should be advised based on Moyes’ recent managerial record, but West Ham have a rather appealing fixture list – 2018 begins with a double gameweek for the Hammers, hosting West Brom before making the short trip to Tottenham.

Spurs are the only fixture to score above a two on the Fixture Difficulty Ranking, with no other four appearing until a journey to Liverpool in a late February.

Otherwise, it’s twos all around in a run of games that must have Moyes rubbing his hands in glee, and Slaven Bilic cursing his luck that he couldn’t last until this generous section of the season.

Manuel Lanzini has returned from injury showing no signs of decline, and the Argentine is likely to be the side’s creative hub and set-piece taker for the rest of the season.

Marko Arnautovic looks like he may have solved a striking crisis as shown by a belligerent and powerful display leading the line against Stoke. Yet the game treats them both as midfielders, with a price of £6.8 million making them interesting options as cheaper regulars.

In defence, Arthur Masuaku looks the pick of the bunch with a price of £4.4m million that is bound to rise quickly, having adopted more attacking roles in recent games that will likely elicit assists.

Mesut Ozil – Anyone?

mesut ozil - FPL January Wildcard

Mesut Ozil’s halcyon days of 2015/16 saw the German wizard conjure 19 assists and 6 goals. He may be less potent, having notched 5 assists and 3 goals by Gameweek 18, but those on the hunt for differentials must be bold.

He isn’t the kind of FPL player that you want to rely on, as he can go missing too often – but when he does show up, he usually brings big points with him.

His future may be in doubt, but he is playing to impress in a way that a sullen Alexis Sanchez isn’t. Arsenal are 11/8 as of December 21, 2017 to finish in the top four, and the form of Ozil will be crucial if the mistakes of last season are to be corrected.

With only 2.5% of managers selecting the enigmatic midfielder, swoop in now for £9.3m and hope that he strikes gold. If you’re lucky, Ozil might guide you to the top of your table, and Arsenal to fourth place.

No to Mo?

Few could have anticipated quite how effective the pacey attacker would be.

Don’t let those who have had Salah since the start of the season fool you; most managers were weighing up a Liverpool midfielder, and those who went for Sadio Mane were unlucky that he decided to accidentally kick Ederson in the head and lose all momentum from an impressive early start.

Throw in Coutinho’s absence at the start of the season, and Salah blossomed as the main man. Those seeking to wildcard early will either be thanking Salah for being the only player saving them from total oblivion, or those bemoaning never getting on board the Egyptian train.

We may only be halfway through the season, but there’s little point bringing in Salah now. Those looking to make up ground must hope that Salah hits a dry spell and subsequently throws 57.8% of FPL managers into a quandary.

Coutinho is £9.0 million to Salah’s £10.0 million, although his recent form may be ruined by Barcelona creeping in through the transfer window.

Mane has been in and out of the team, but he’s too good to linger on the bench much longer.

With Klopp keen to rotate, back Mane to muscle his way in to the side and jostle with Salah for the title of Liverpool’s main man.

The Liverpool Echo detail how Klopp has acknowledged that a costly miss in the Merseyside derby has been playing on the Senegalese international’s mind, but you can’t keep a good Mane down.