Our second set of Scout Notes from Gameweek 9 focuses on two matches contested on Saturday afternoon.
Sergio Aguero is now the leading goalscorer among Fantasy Premier League forwards after he scored his sixth of the season in Manchester City’s 5-0 win over Burnley, but the Argentinean forward once again had his minutes managed.
Raheem Sterling, meanwhile, watched the match from the bench as an unused substitute.
There were blanks for Ryan Fraser, Callum Wilson, Joshua King and Danny Ings as the defences won out in a stalemate on the south coast between Bournemouth and Southampton.
Manchester City 5-0 Burnley
- Goals: Sergio Aguero (£11.3m), Bernardo Silva (£7.6m), Fernandinho (£5.4m), Riyad Mahrez (£8.6m), Leroy Sane (£9.2m)
- Assists: David Silva (£8.5m) x2, Fernandinho, Benjamin Mendy (£6.3m)
It was a match of few surprises at the Etihad on Saturday afternoon, though Pep Guardiola’s midfield rotation policy left another set of Fantasy managers frustrated at missing out on the Manchester City goal bonanza.
There were several eminently predictable outcomes: Sergio Aguero (£11.3m) got his token goal and was withdrawn just after the hour mark, City’s defence recorded a clean sheet, Benjamin Mendy (£6.3m) registered an assist, the league champions racked up more big chances than any other Premier League side this weekend and Burnley conceded the most shots on target in Gameweek 9.
What wasn’t quite as anticipated was the omission of Raheem Sterling (£11.2m) from Guardiola’s starting XI for this routine victory over the Clarets.
Sterling had been transferred in by over 220,000 FPL managers ahead of Gameweek 9 (and was the most-bought City asset of this round), following a run of six successive league starts and a brace in England’s 3-2 win over Spain last Monday.
Those international exertions might have played a part in Guardiola’s thinking, of course, with Sterling racking up more minutes for his national team than any of the other options available to the City coach in midfield or attack yesterday. That the Citizens now have to travel to Ukraine for an infinitely trickier-looking Tuesday night encounter with Shakhtar Donetsk may have been at the front of Guardiola’s thoughts, too.
A couple of poor displays from Riyad Mahrez (£8.6m) and Leroy Sane (£9.2m) on the flanks might have softened the blow for Sterling’s owners regarding the frequency of his future involvement but the two wingers were among several star performers at Eastlands yesterday.
Mahrez especially was a strong contender for man of the match, scoring City’s fourth with a sublime curling shot and making four key passes – two of which were superbly crafted “big chances” spurned by Aguero early in the first half.
The Algerian international, who missed a penalty in the 0-0 draw with Liverpool a fortnight ago, was once again at the centre of City’s attacking play, trailing only Aguero for efforts on goal and shots in the box at the Etihad yesterday.
No player on show in Manchester created more chances than Mahrez, either.
Speaking of the Algerian midfielder, Guardiola said:
He [Mahrez] played so good at Anfield, that’s why I decided to play him again. It was not easy playing there with a lot of personality, football can happen but only takers can miss penalties.
He scored an incredible goal [vs. Burnley], but an aggressive approach with the ball to go to the full-backs, the movement between the full-backs, especially in the second half with Phil, [Foden] was so good. The second half Bernardo [Silva] moved better in that position and we made a good performance.
But we knew it. [Mahrez] is a talented player and a guy who likes to play with the ball and he doesn’t miss balls. In the box, he is a dangerous guy because he can go to the byline or score with his left or his right, he is a good signing for us.
Sane meanwhile had more penalty box touches than anyone in this rout of Burnley, scoring City’s fifth goal with one of his three attempts and terrorising Matthew Lowton (£4.8m) throughout – though was lucky to avoid a red card for a late kick out on the Burnley right-back.
Sane’s goal came from a low Mendy cross and this was the first match this season in which the two left-footed players had been paired together on the same flank.
Mendy delivered more crosses than anyone else at the Etihad yesterday and created three chances, but it’s stating the obvious to say his numbers are somewhat inferior playing in a back four with a natural wide-man in Sane ahead of him to the attacking KPIs he recorded when lined up in a 3-5-2 earlier this season. Mendy’s number of touches in the final third, touches in the opposition half, passes received in the final third, penalty box touches, goal attempts and crosses were down by 50% or more on the numbers he posted in the Gameweek 2 demolition of Huddersfield.
The numbers are all relative, of course, and despite the drop-off in underlying statistics Mendy still created more chances this weekend than all other FPL defenders bar Joe Bennett (£4.5m).
For the 51.7% of FPL managers who own Aguero, Saturday was Groundhog Day. The Argentinean forward was withdrawn after 65 minutes for the third Gameweek running having again only scored once.
There is nothing wrong with Aguero’s underlying statistics: the long-serving striker had more goal attempts, efforts in the box and big chances than any player on show at the Etihad and indeed all other FPL forwards on Saturday.
That he emerged from the rout over the Clarets with another single-digit (below ten points) FPL return – his eighth in nine Gameweeks – was all the more frustrating, then, particularly given that he was once again the overwhelming captaincy choice this weekend.
His match was summed up when one of his four big chances – a rebound from a saved David Silva (£8.5m) header – ended up drifting out for a throw-in.
Fantasy owners could look at Aguero’s displays and underlying stats in one of two ways: that one big haul in nine Gameweeks and 65 minutes per appearance simply isn’t good enough for a premium forward, or that he is reliably ticking over ahead of an imminent repeat performance of the one he delivered in Gameweek 2 against Huddersfield. Cashing in on Aguero would certainly be a brave move given his sky-high ownership.
There will be those FPL bosses who immediately move Sterling on after his no-show yesterday – the England winger is already the third-most-sold midfielder of this round – but as David Silva and Bernardo Silva (£7.6m) have proven this season and again yesterday, it is perhaps advisable to just stick with one City midfielder for an extended period of time and accept that the occasional rest will happen.
Bernardo scored City’s second goal after a David Silva cut-back, with the diminutive Spaniard’s underlying creativity finally paying dividends for his owners with two assists (the other being for Aguero’s opener). No midfielder has created more chances than David Silva this season, but the long-serving City schemer hadn’t registered a league assist in 2018/19 before Saturday.
The two Silvas lined up in a midfield three with Fernandinho (£5.4m), who top-scored in this fixture with a goal and assist of his own.
Kevin De Bruyne (£9.7m) will soon be another name to contend with in those central midfield positions and the Belgian playmaker made his long-awaited comeback from injury with a 32-minute cameo.
Speaking of the influential De Bruyne’s return, Guardiola said:
Kevin is quick. There is no pain, he is so strong. He needs minutes that is why playing 30 minutes is important.
We will see about Shakhtar. We have three years together, so when we say something he knows straight away what to do.
He is a guy who will help us achieve. Our first target is the result, which we feel is a consequence of how we play. And since the beginning, we said that.
The City backline recorded their fifth straight clean sheet and sixth shutout of the season overall, with Ederson and Aymeric Laporte (both £5.7m) keeping up their ever-present record and maintaining their statuses as the safest – if not the most exciting – routes into the Sky Blues’ defence. Kyle Walker‘s (£6.6m) owners missed out on the clean sheet points, though, with the England defender missing from the match-day squad with a reported groin problem.
There will seldom be easier days for Ederson: the Brazilian wasn’t forced into a single save, with two Sam Vokes (£5.3m) headers from Johann Berg Gudmundsson (£6.0m) deliveries the closest the visitors came to troubling the City goal.
Steven Defour (£5.4m) made his Premier League return from injury in central midfield, meanwhile.
Joe Hart (£4.6m) at least compensated for his loss of clean sheet with another save point, with Burnley’s defence once again offering little protection to their goalkeeper in allowing 24 shots on goal – ten of which were on target.
The porous nature of the Clarets’ backline should at least offer plenty of encouragement for Eden Hazard (£11.4m) and co. when Chelsea visit Turf Moor next weekend.
As well as bemoaning the controversial nature of City’s second goal (the ball looking like it had rolled out for a goal kick before Silva’s pass) and several other refereeing decisions, Dyche highlighted the naivety of his side’s defending in stopping play in the build-up to that Bernardo strike:
I’ve seen it back. With the best view we can get of it the ball was out of play – forget about everything else. The biggest learning curve, I was saying to the players afterwards, you have to stay focused and then afterwards remonstrate.
The problem was we were that locked in that moment we didn’t let it go and then they scored from a really soft corner and the game’s gone then. We’re not getting back here at 3-0.
Manchester City XI (4-3-3): Ederson; Stones, Kompany, Laporte, Mendy; B Silva (De Bruyne 58′), Fernandinho, D Silva (Foden 75′); Mahrez, Aguero (Jesus 66′), Sane.
Burnley XI (4-4-1-1): Hart; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Lennon (Westwood 69′), Cork, Defour (Barnes 75′), Gudmundsson; Hendrick, Vokes (Wood 69′).
Bournemouth 0-0 Southampton
Ryan Fraser (£6.0m) once again shrugged off a fitness concern that curtailed his involvement over the international break to start for Bournemouth in the league – but there was to be no repeat of the 18-point heroics of Gameweek 5 at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Scottish winger indeed failed to test Alex McCarthy (£4.5m) in the Saints goal and only created one chance for his team-mates before being withdrawn on 77 minutes.
Fraser was far from alone in being below-par, with Bournemouth not really posing the threat they had exhibited in recent weeks when putting four past goals past both Leicester and Watford.
Eddie Howe said:
We didn’t get going. It is frustrating because we know we can play better than that. We have to look at ourselves and analyse that game and come back better. A draw is probably a fair result.
Howe had named an unchanged side for this encounter with Southampton after that win over the Hornets before the international break, but with Junior Stanislas (£6.0m) and Jordon Ibe (£5.1m) waiting in the wings, the concern over Fraser and David Brooks‘ (£5.1m) security of starts going forward may have crept up a level or two following this stalemate on the south coast.
Brooks, who had scored two goals in as many matches coming into Gameweek 9, shanked his only effort wide in the first half and for the second time in three league fixtures was substituted before the clock had passed 60 minutes. Both he and Fraser only recorded one penalty box touch apiece.
Callum Wilson (£6.4m) posed little threat in attack, heading his only half-chance wide, and it was Joshua King (£6.4m) – in keeping with the underlying statistics we highlighted last weekend – who represented Bournemouth’s main outlet up front.
The Norwegian striker, who had himself been an injury doubt coming into this match, sliced the best of his three chances wide in the second half after a Wilson cut-back.
Nathan Ake (£5.0m) demonstrated his threat from set pieces by nodding a Fraser corner straight at McCarthy, but the fact that Bournemouth’s best chance of the match – an air-kick from Adam Smith (£4.5m) when well-placed in the first minute – didn’t even result in a shot on goal said much about the Cherries’ struggles on Saturday.
Wilson, who has a league-high seven assists to his name in 2018/19, at least demonstrated his knack of compensating for a lack of goals by creating both of his side’s big chances.
Bournemouth fared well in our international break assessment of defensive KPIs but they were indebted to several stops from Asmir Begovic (£4.5m) and some profligate finishing from Southampton.
Much like their hosts, two of Southampton’s best chances won’t actually have been recorded as shots: Charlie Austin (£5.5m) dribbled wide when one on one with Begovic, before substitute Stuart Armstrong (£5.1m) kicked air when seeing the whites of the Bosnian goalkeeper’s eyes.
Fellow replacement Manolo Gabbiadini (£5.6m) had perhaps the game’s best opportunity, nodding over in stoppage time with the Bournemouth goal unguarded.
This was the fourth league match in a row in which Southampton had failed to score and their ineffectiveness in front of goal – only Huddersfield Town have a worse conversion rate this season – was writ large here. Austin and Danny Ings (£5.6m) failed to muster a single shot from inside the Bournemouth box, with Ings’ only effort being from outside the Cherries’ area.
Ings dropped in price this week and his remaining owners will have been perturbed by his insistence on drifting wide and deep yesterday. The budget forward indeed didn’t touch the ball once in the Cherries’ box.
Hughes at least seemed pleased with his side’s ability to carve out chances, highlighting the roles that he wants wide-men Nathan Redmond (£5.3m) – who created Gabbiadini’s opportunity – and Mohamed Elyounoussi (£6.3m) to play going forward.
[The chances] come from people getting out in wide positions and getting good balls into the box.
We’ve talked about trying to get more service to our front men. It’s important if we get in good areas we shouldn’t ignore the actual ball into the box.
Clearly, we want to up our numbers in terms of crosses and good-quality balls into the box.
The clear-cut chances came from good deliveries from wide areas, so that’s something we’re going to build on and make sure we’ve always got in our game.
Those FPL managers who own Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (£4.5m) as a fifth midfielder at least have a budget asset on their hands who isn’t afraid of a shot: the Danish international had three sweetly struck efforts on goal, the best of which forced Begovic into a flying tip over.
Hughes reverted to a back four for this match, with Jack Stephens (£4.3m) partnering Wesley Hoedt (£4.4m) in a new-look central defence.
The Saints manager was pleased with his side’s defensive performance, highlighting the work the club had done over the international break in tightening up:
The pleasing part was the way the guys embraced what we talked about during the week.
We did a lot of work with the back four and I think probably some were a little bit surprised with the selection in terms of personnel, but it was a consequence of really the good work that had been done in the week and I felt confident that Wes, Ryan and Jack understood totally what we’re trying to do and I think that helped the rest of the guys, because they were able to press higher up the field.
We had good numbers and were always in connection with each other, and that’s what we were trying to achieve.
Hughes was hopeful that a knee injury picked up by midfielder Mario Lemina (£5.0m) isn’t too serious.
He got a bang on his ribs just before half-time and went up for a ball and hyperextended his knee as he came down.
He was able to carry on so that would suggest he’s just going to be sore for a couple of days we hope, but we will just have to wait and see how the next two days go. Hopefully, it will just settle down.
Bournemouth XI (4-4-2): Begovic; Francis, S Cook, Ake, Smith; Brooks (Stanislas 59′), Lerma, L Cook, Fraser (Ibe 76′); King (Gosling 85′), Wilson.
Southampton XI (4-4-2): McCarthy; Cedric, Hoedt, Stephens, Bertrand; Elyounoussi, Hojbjerg, Lemina (Armstrong 66′), Redmond; Austin (Long 79′), Ings (Gabbiadini 79′).
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