Manchester City win again to move within two victories of securing the Premier League title, while Stoke City assets do little to further their Gameweek 31 causes.
Gameweek 33’s home match with Man United could be the entirely fitting fixture that wins City the league – a fact that will definitely trouble United fans and might well leave Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers uneasy as well.
Following a Gameweek 31 blank, Pep Guardiola’s side must see off Everton at Goodison Park if they are to take the Premier League crown with a win in the Manchester derby, so nothing is done and dusted just yet.
But it’s an entirely plausible scenario that raises the prospect of a likely double Gameweek 34 – involving Spurs away and then a visit from Brighton – in which Guardiola can rotate to his heart’s content with the team’s Champions League duties in mind.
This all casts doubt on the merits of investment in City players for our Wildcards in Gameweeks 32 or 33.
For now, however, they’re still two wins from any of that, with the latest victory secured by a double from David Silva.
The midfielder opened the scoring in the first half when set up by the returning Raheem Sterling before clinching the points just after the break from a Gabriel Jesus assist.
That’s three goals and an assist from the last three Gameweeks for Silva, who was signed by 84,000+ heading into the match. He’s now produced six of his eight goals and three of his four double-digit tallies in away fixtures this season.
Sterling returned from injury for a first start since Gameweek 27 to produce a fifth haul (two goals, four assists) from his last seven starts.
More than a million managers, including 339,000+ for Gameweek 30, had sold him since he was sidelined, however.
The other returner, Jesus, started in place of Sergio Aguero, who is expected to be out for two weeks with a knee injury. Both the Argentinian and Sterling remain among the top five most sold ahead of Gameweek 31.
The Brazilian striker completed a rare 90 minutes – only his third of the season – at Stoke and now has eight goals and five assists from just 13 starts during the campaign.
Guardiola’s changes meant that Bernardo Silva was unfortunate to drop to the bench despite delivering two goals and an assist in three of the last four Gameweeks, a run that had prompted 60,000 managers to buy him for the Stoke clash.
City’s third straight clean sheet also involved different defensive personnel, with Vincent Kompany replacing Aymeric Laporte as Nicolas Otamendi’s centre-half partner – a pairing that seems to be Guardiola’s preferred choice at the heart of his defence.
Even with a six-match blip from Gameweek 22 during which they kept just one clean sheet, the backline has now moved to 15 shut-outs for the season, taking them level at the top with United.
That’s elevated the stock of Ederson (5.6), who is now just seven points behind David De Gea (5.9) in FPL’s goalkeeper standings. The Brazilian even brought in a bonus point last night despite making just one save thanks to his pass completion.
Elsewhere, two bonus points went to Otamendi – his first since Gameweek 21 – to move him to 18 for the season, just one behind Cesar Azpilicueta as the top-ranked defender for that metric.
The Argentine has lost over 162,000 in ownership across the last six Gameweeks and has responded by keeping four clean sheets and scoring 29 points.
Potters’ poor audition
Expecting too much from Stoke assets against the all-but champions was always going to be optimistic, but few did themselves any favours last night ahead of their Gameweek 31 home match with Everton.
Xherdan Shaqiri, with 13.7% ownership, is by far their most popular player in FPL and he was easily the pick of an unimpressive bunch.
Mame Diouf’s shoulder injury has left a striker spot up for grabs, and it was Jese who was handed the chance to shine against City.
He promptly fluffed his lines, which could open the door for Peter Crouch to start the Everton encounter, although coach Paul Lambert has also used Eric Choupo-Moting in the lone striker role.
At the back, club captain Ryan Shawcross was left on the bench for the third match running, with Kurt Zouma and Bruno Martins Indi employed at centre-back.
Behind them, goalkeeper Jack Butland earned yet another save point – he’s now produced at least one of those in 12 of his last 13 starts –and has a league-leading 107 stops for the season.
The Potters have kept just five clean sheets this campaign, but four have come against relegation rivals and three of them at home.
That could tempt Free Hit Chip investment in their backline against an Everton side that has scored just three times in their last six away days.