It was a largely underwhelming conclusion for those with attacking assets in Double Gameweek 25 as Manchester City laboured to victory over Everton.
The defending champions were not their usual scintillating best at Goodison Park, with benchings and blanks for many of the midfield and forward players involved in the match.
Only those invested in the Manchester City defence will be pleased with Wednesday night’s events, especially owners of Aymeric Laporte (£5.9m).
Everton 0-2 Man City
Goals: Aymeric Laporte (£5.9m), Gabriel Jesus (£10.0m)
Assists: David Silva (£8.5m)
Double Gameweek 25 proved to be a complete anti-climax for those in possession of Leroy Sané (£9.8m). After missing out on Sunday’s 3-1 win over Arsenal altogether, the German international started at Goodison Park but was substituted in the 59th minute having offered little.
After 11 starts in 12 Premier League matches prior to Double Gameweek 25 as well as two goals and two assists between Gameweeks 21 and 24, Sané equalled his worst score across two top-flight games this season. He has not combined for one point between consecutive Gameweeks since the third and fourth matches of 2018/19. That feat happened to come when he was the most popular Manchester City option among the top 10,000 FPL managers, captained by 370,000+ overall and Triple Captained by 26,000+.
Manchester City did spend much of the opening hour of the match probing down the left, hoping to expose Jonjoe Kenny (£4.2m), who had come in for Seamus Coleman (£5.2m) at right-back. However, despite no player registering more penalty box touches than him, Sané was offside on a number of occasions and was the natural player to be replaced when Pep Guardiola wanted to introduce Raheem Sterling (£11.3m) in the second half.
A little over half an hour on the Goodison Park pitch for the Englishman was not enough time for him to truly make a mark on proceedings. Sterling shot just once, playing no key passes on the night. However, there was some encouragement to take for his owners as his short involvement in the match should mean he is in the frame to start when Chelsea visit the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Sergio Aguero (£11.4m) could not follow up his Sunday afternoon hat-trick as he was limited to just two efforts on goal in the game. Only one of those was in the penalty box and neither were on target. He was unlucky not to find the net in the first half when David Silva (£8.5m) fizzed a ball across Everton’s six-yard box, but Aguero’s pressurised touch turned it onto the bar. Despite proving a much better player at home compared to away this season, the Argentinian’s blank on Merseyside was his first on the road since returning from injury in Gameweek 18. Since then he has assisted at Leicester and Huddersfield, scoring at Southampton and Newcastle.
Aguero looks likely to start against Chelsea as he was substituted in the 78th minute, replaced by Gabriel Jesus (£10.0m). He has now started seven of the last eight Premier League matches, while his Brazilian colleague has featured from the beginning just once in that time. When Manchester City’s Blank Gameweek 27 is out of the way, Aguero may make a strong case for inclusion in our squads if he has reclaimed a regular starting spot. Jesus still reminded Guardiola of his credentials though, netting a stoppage-time goal from his own rebound.
“Many decisions could be better, that is my job. I analyse these decisions but it is important because Sergio scored three goals in the last game and I know how important the feeling is for the strikers to score. But before that Gabriel scores seven, eight, nine goals in a short time so I’ve got an incredible two strikers. Sometimes you see the spaces where the players should go. They play, I don’t play, but in general, I am so satisfied. In the last three months, it’s been game, game, game. Now in three, four days we have another against Chelsea. But I don’t know how far we will get, how far we arrive, maybe we will die on the road, or we are there. Game by game and we will prepare.” – Pep Guardiola
David Silva’s performance was also worth noting, as he was joint-top for penalty box touches on Wednesday night. Having started the last three in a row, he has assisted in two of those. However, on a night characterised less by intricate play in the box and more by hopeful crosses, David Silva only played one key pass on this occasion.
“We were not lucky because football is like this but to score in the last minute of the first half helps us and in the second half they pushed more and it was more difficult to make our game. Some people were tired but we did it.” – Pep Guardiola
Despite Aguero’s Arsenal hat-trick, the top scorer for Double Gameweek 25 was actually his defensive colleague Laporte. The Frenchman, deployed at left-back again, seemed to have an uncanny knowledge of the fact that Fantasy managers were turning to him this week. He had managed just one attacking return between Gameweeks 1 and 24 but recorded a goal and an assist across two matches in Double Gameweek 25. Laporte could have even netted a second had he been on target earlier in the first half when Jordan Pickford (£5.0m) was caught in no man’s land during a corner. Add into the equation a clean sheet and maximum bonus points at Goodison Park, and Laporte came away with 20 points.
After a run of eight Premier League matches without a clean sheet between Gameweeks 14 and 21, Manchester City now have three in their last five outings. That was also beneficial to Ederson (£5.6m), who scored eight points in the end.
However, some of the credit for Manchester City’s latest shutout does have to go to Everton who failed to create a single big chance on the night. There was much more effort and desire from the Toffees compared to their flat performance in the 3-1 defeat to Wolves at the weekend, but ultimately they caused little of trouble for the defending champions.
“Performance was completely different to our last game. Good attitude, strong answer, everything we needed. We should show this tonight, and in every game. It has to be our image as a team. Nothing to compare with our last game.” – Marco Silva
Marco Silva turned heads with a surprising team selection, opting to switch from 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3, which involved dropping Richarlison (£6.8m) and Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.4m) to the bench. This was just the fourth Premier League game this season that Richarlison has not started. Only once before this game was it by Silva’s choice too, the other two enforced following a Gameweek 3 sending off. In his initial absence, Everton fielded a front three of Bernard (£5.9m) and Theo Walcott (£6.0m) flanking Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£5.3m), with Cenk Tosun (£6.5m) also among the substitutes.
“I felt it was the best XI to start the match. We had a different profile of players in the middle zone.” – Marco Silva
There was a return in the midfield trio for Idrissa Gueye (£4.8m), who had recently been the subject of transfer speculation about a move to Paris Saint Germain. He was one of Everton’s key performers against Manchester City as they largely frustrated their play.
“Gueye’s performance showed to me, to all, how he is a fantastic professional. He did well despite not training the last few days. In general, the players gave me a good answer.” – Marco Silva
Wednesday’s defeat was the latest in a long line of matches characterised by Everton’s weaknesses to set pieces. After struggling to defend them against Wolves on Saturday, Manchester City’s best opportunities also came from such situations. As already mentioned, Laporte could have easily scored twice at Goodison Park. That could be good news for anyone still holding Jose Holebas (£4.8m) ahead of Everton’s trip to Watford in Gameweek 26.
“Big frustration to concede 47 minutes first half, 97 minutes second half. I don’t want to talk more about set-pieces. What I tell, I will tell to the players. I understand why you ask, but there is something inside the mind of our players. We have to work more.” – Marco Silva
Everton XI (4-3-3): Pickford; Digne, Zouma, Keane, Kenny; Davies, Gueye, A Gomes (Sigurdsson 63′); Bernard (Richarlison 72′), Calvert-Lewin, Walcott (Tosun 78′).
Man City XI (4-3-3): Ederson; Laporte, Otamendi, Stones, Walker; D Silva (De Bruyne 88′), Fernandinho, Gündogan; Sané (Sterling 59′), Aguero (Jesus 78′), B Silva.