The Manchester City midfield saga took another interesting turn as Everton were defeated 3-1 on Saturday lunch-time.
With the Christmas period looming large, Fantasy Premier League managers will be keeping a keen eye on Pep Guardiola’s rotation policy to identify the best options.
We’ve had a look at the so-called ‘Roulette’ in this latest Scout Notes article and all the other Fantasy talking points.
Manchester City 3-1 Everton
Goals: Gabriel Jesus x2 (£10.1m), Raheem Sterling (£11.6m) | Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£5.3m)
Assists: Leroy Sané x2 (£9.6m), Fernandinho (£5.4m) | Lucas Digne (£4.9m)
Raheem Sterling (£11.6m) gave his owners a rollercoaster of an afternoon as Manchester City ran out 3-1 winners over Everton. He was benched for the second time in the last three Gameweeks, but surprisingly made his first substitute’s appearance of the season in the 66th minute. That may have been of concern initially, with fears of a one-point cameo, but Sterling scored with his first touch, taking his goal tally for the season to nine and securing a six-point haul for Gameweek 17.
“It’s important for Raheem to score goals, but these young players can improve, that’s the only way they can move forward. For them, if it’s enough then it will not be enough.” – Pep Guardiola
Despite bailing his owners out, the fact that he missed out on the starting line-up again could begin to count against his appeal. With the festive fixtures coming at an increasing pace, and with reinforcements now present on the City bench, it seems highly unlikely that Sterling will play every match. Given that security of starts is a golden rule for many Fantasy managers over Christmas, some might eventually consider looking elsewhere. That said, he should start the Gameweek 18 visit of Crystal Palace to the Etihad Stadium given the 66 minutes of rest he was afforded against Everton, so his popularity should remain at a high level for now.
“Everyone deserves to play, everyone wants to play. I miss Raheem but everyone has to play. I try to move the squad so everyone is involved. If we win something this season it will be because of everyone’s efforts.” – Pep Guardiola
Leroy Sané (£9.6m) could be the one to turn to when looking for reliable Manchester City options as he strung together his fifth consecutive Premier League start. In that time, Sterling has been benched twice, which means the German has outscored him by 42 points to 33. In fact, Sané has attacking returns in all but one of his starts this season, demonstrating a remarkable consistency. Considering that he is exactly £2m cheaper than his English colleague, he does offer greater spending elsewhere. If he does get rested at all in the coming weeks, owning him over Sterling could potentially allow superior replacements coming off the bench too.
Given that he missed the opening portion of the campaign and has little competition for his place, Sané may play more minutes than Sterling over Christmas. The fact that he was withdrawn just after the hour-mark, with two assists under his belt, bodes well for his owners as it appears Guardiola was managing his minutes for the next league match.
“Today Leroy in the second half was more tired, the last game was so tough and he played incredible. I want to give confidence to Leroy after his two goals and a good performance, but I felt from the beginning he was a little bit more tired, but that’s normal, we’re demanding a lot from these guys.” – Pep Guardiola
Prior to the match, Guardiola bemoaned his lack of options in the squad. However, anyone would be hard-pressed to agree with his sentiments after Gameweek 17. Not only did he have sufficient personnel to name Sterling among the substitutes, Sergio Aguero (£11.2m) and Kevin de Bruyne (£9.7m) were also alongside him. The latter came on in the closing stages to present another FPL option during the festive period.
“We need everyone. Danilo and Sergio Aguero are coming back for other games – next Tuesday, there is another one. We need all the players. Sterling deserved to play because of Hoffenheim. But of course, we can improve and do better.” – Pep Guardiola
Aguero did not make it onto the pitch but should be involved again very soon. However, continuing on the theme of busy schedules and heavy rotation, the Argentinian will almost certainly share minutes with Gabriel Jesus (£10.1m) over Christmas. Aguero was the clear favourite earlier in the campaign but it was a man of the match performance from Jesus against Everton to stake his claim for a place in the side. He scored twice, adding to his two assists in City’s last five Premier League matches.
“Gabriel Jesus is so important. Strikers need to score goals. The difference today was that he scored as he was in better positions. It’s so good for him and our team. His performance was so valuable. He settled so well from the beginning – but it is much better his family is here and strikers need to score goals. He scored two nice goals that will be important for him.” – Pep Guardiola
“My confidence is back because my family is here with me. They help me a lot. It is easy for me because they are everything. I need my family in this moment.” – Gabriel Jesus
Interestingly, it was another outing in which Manchester City did not look particularly comfortable at the back. Dominic Calvert-Lewin‘s (£5.3m) second-half goal ensured that the defending champions are without a clean sheet in the Premier League since Gameweek 13. Five successive matches without a shut-out seriously call into question the value of investing in the Manchester City defence, especially with Christmas looming large. Premium goalkeeper Ederson (£5.8m) has struggled to justify his lofty price-tag of late while Aymeric Laporte (£6.1m) remains the only real nailed-on defender.
In the first-half especially, Everton were able to regularly hold possession in the final third with composure. It was remiscent of Bournemouth’s period of pressure at the Etihad in Gameweek 14 which led to their equaliser. When the Cherries pulled that off it was the first time that City had been troubled at home, but they are looking more vulnerable now with Everton now repeating the feat to a greater extent.
Lucas Digne (£4.9m) in particular caused Kyle Walker (£6.5m) problems in the first 45 minutes showing that he can be creative against even City. Most of the Frenchman’s owners had benched him, for obvious reasons, but his performance at the Etihad continues to prove the value he can offer. It was him who provided the assist for Calvert-Lewin’s goal and he could have had another if Richarlison (£7.1m) had his shooting boots early-on. Digne made a run around the back playing a great ball to the back post, where an approaching unmarked Richarlison blazed high and wide. The former Watford man really should have at least hit the target.
“Until they scored the first goal, the game was within what we expected and planned. They did not shoot once. The biggest chance until that moment was Richarlison’s chance, a big, big chance. After that, it changed. We knew they had the quality to command the match. We had to be almost perfect in our defensive organisation.” – Marco Silva
Richarlison could easily have left the match with two goals to his name had he been more accurate. He was deployed on the right of attacking midfield at the Etihad Stadium, Calvert-Lewin selected to lead the line, although the Brazilian was moved to the left after half-time. Subsequent to missing that first-half chance, Richarlison fired a great second-half chance over too when Everton hit their hosts on the counter-attack. While his spurned opportunities may have frustrated his owners, the fact that he was able to get in the right positions to take them on, even against Manchester City, bodes well for further attacking returns.
Theo Walcott (£6.2m) was the man who was left out to allow Calvert-Lewin into the side. Marco Silva went with a 3-4-3 formation for the first 55 minutes although he may be unlikely to use it too often in the future. Yerry Mina (£5.4m) seemed especially uncomfortable in his role, giving the ball away on several occasions as he attempted to play out from the back. City’s first goal originated from one of these mistakes.
Everton reverted to a 4-4-2 in the 56th minute, using Ademola Lookman (£5.1m) at right-back in Seamus Coleman‘s (£5.2m) place, putting Walcott on the right wing and pushing Richarlison up front alongside Calvert-Lewin.
Manchester City XI (4-3-3): Ederson; Delph, Otamendi, Laporte, Walker; Güdogan, Fernandinho, B Silva; Sané (Sterling 66′), Jesus, Mahrez.
Everton XI (3-4-3): Pickford; Mina, Keane, Zouma; Digne, Gomes, Sigurdsson (Davies 80′), Coleman (Walcott 56′); Bernard (Lookman 56′), Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison.
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