A second hat-trick in as many home matches has thrown Sergio Aguero (£11.5m) to the forefront of Fantasy Premier League once again.
The Manchester City forward has already been snapped up by 135,000+ managers despite his next league match not taking place for another 16 days.
Whether he should feature in our long-term plans is the focus of this latest Scout Notes article.
Manchester City 6-0 Chelsea
Goals: Raheem Sterling x2 (£11.3m), Sergio Aguero x3 (£11.5m), Ilkay Gündogan (£5.4m)
Assists: Oleksandr Zinchenko x2 (£4.7m), Sterling
Aguero’s Fantasy potential for the coming months was fully demonstrated on Sunday afternoon, and the truly ominous thing is that he could have easily scored more than a 17-point haul. He took all the headlines for the hat-trick, but he also missed a first-half sitter at the back post and hit the cross-bar with a header in the second half.
Statistically, Aguero was the dominant force against Chelsea, top of the charts for total shots and efforts in the box in the match, and was also afforded four chances considered to be big by Opta.
“He said to me that he saw Kepa coming quick to close the space and he wanted [to be] more precise, close to the post and then he missed it. I told him ‘don’t do it again!’ but after his reaction was a little bit better.” – Pep Guardiola
Two 17-point hauls in three matches for the Argentinian have set off alarm bells for those not in possession of him. No player has more shots on target in their last four matches than Aguero and only Fernando Llorente (£5.7m) has registered more goal attempts in the penalty box. The case for Aguero is now strong, without a doubt.
The fact that Manchester City have no fixture in Blank Gameweek 27 gives Fantasy managers some time before having to make a call on him. In the last four matches, he has proved without a shadow of a doubt that he is no longer under threat of rotation from Gabriel Jesus (£10.0m). It took some time to dispel this fear for some, an understandable worry considering that Aguero’s Brazilian colleague has nine goals in eight games. At any other club, Jesus would be starting more regularly. However, Aguero has now started eight of the last nine Premier League matches to cast off any doubts over his place in the side, especially with Manchester City neck-and-neck with Liverpool in the title race.
The fact that he is not completing matches regularly is obviously not a concern either. Three of the last four occasions that Aguero has been substituted have been after finding the net and putting his side in a winning position.
So with West Ham (home), Bournemouth (away), and Watford (home) the next three for Manchester City after the blank, it looks as if Aguero will be an important player to own for that run of matches. For that reason, benching him for Gameweek 27 may be a popular tactic for his 31% ownership. Long-term he looks like he could continue to be an important option with the possibility of another Triple Captain opportunity if Manchester City progress far enough in the FA Cup, although the fixture schedule could prove too much for Guardiola not to rest him from time to time if they go deep into the Champions League, which returns this week.
Raheem Sterling (£11.3m) overtook Leroy Sané (£9.5m) in the Manchester City midfield pecking order with his third double-figure haul in five outings. He has now started 10 of the last 12 Premier League games for Manchester City, while his direct competition Riyad Mahrez (£8.2m) has just three starts in that run. Meanwhile, his German colleague was benched for the second time in three matches, having strayed offside a frustrating number of times against Everton.
Sterling could not quite compete with Aguero for goal threat, as has often been the case in recent weeks, but was slightly more creative, playing two key passes. The Englishman continues to show that he is an option who clinically makes the most of his passes and shots. Only Chris Wood (£6.2m) overperformed more than Sterling in Gameweek 26 according to expected goals (xG data). In their last four matches, 34 players had more shots on target than him and 17 have created more chances, but since Gameweek 23, Sterling has averaged eight points per game. He will, therefore, continue to be the go-to man in midfield for Manchester City once Gameweek 27 is out of the way.
No other option in that position can compete with him whether it comes to the regularity of starts of points potential. Ilkay Gündogan (£5.4m) and Bernardo Silva (£7.5m) proved their importance to Guardiola by being selected in midfield for all three of the games across Gameweeks 25 and 26 but combined for just one attacking return, the former’s goal against Chelsea. Bernardo can consider himself a little unlucky not to have picked up two assists in Gameweek 26, his pass for Aguero deflected away from him to Sterling for the first goal, and it was his cross that was spurned by the Argentinian so shockingly at the back post. However, the Portuguese international has often been more of a facilitator for assist-makers than a true creator this season.
Kevin de Bruyne (£9.7m) and David Silva (£8.5m) still don’t offer the same level of assurances when it comes to team selection this season. Each of them was dropped for one of the last three matches, the Belgian, still not at 100% after injury, against Everton and Silva for the Chelsea match, who was always going to play less often in 2018/19 according to Guardiola.
“There are many [considerations]. Of course, we could play other players but it’s three games a week. They are a strong, strong team in terms of quality and physicality, especially in the middle. Nico[las Otamendi] could have played, he was outstanding in the last two games, David as well as always. Today I decide for this line-up.” – Pep Guardiola
In defence, Double Gameweek 25 star Aymeric Laporte (£5.9m) kept his place in the team once again but was back in more familiar surroundings. Guardiola selected him at centre-back, after two outings on the left, while John Stones (£5.2m) played alongside him, with Oleksandr Zinchenko (£4.7m) and Kyle Walker (£6.4m) on the flanks.
On the receiving end of their worst Premier League defeat since a 7-0 thrashing by Nottingham Forest in 1991, Chelsea were truly dreadful at the back. So many of the goals conceded came from Blues’ errors or the defence making questionable decisions. Nobody picked up Sterling for his opening goal, Aguero’s second came after Ross Barkley (£5.1m) headed the ball back into the danger area and there was no marker for Gündogan when he picked up a loose ball from an Antonio Rüdiger (£6.0m) tackle on the edge of the box for his strike. Maurizio Sarri admitted at the end of the match that he did not understand why his side lost so heavily.
“We need to understand the reason (why it isn’t working). It is not easy. At the beginning we played better away than at home, now we are playing better at home rather than away. Something has changed, at the moment I am not able to see the reason, but I have to work for this. My target is to play my football, it is not to change to another football. At the moment we are playing another football.” – Maurizio Sarri
While the Italian has focussed on the motivation of his players recently, he did not lay the blame there this time around. He would have had a strong case to do so as once Chelsea were 1-0 down after four minutes most of their energy was instantly drained from them, especially in midfield and defence.
“No, I don’t think (it’s about motivation). My feeling during the week was really very good, yesterday during the meeting it was really very good, during the warm-up it was really very good, so, my feeling was that for this match the motivation was the right level. I think we started well, we conceded after four minutes in a stupid way. In that moment we had to only stay in the match, we weren’t able to because we made a lot of mistakes against the wrong opponents. We have to say also that they played really a fantastic football game.” – Maurizio Sarri
There was a spell towards the end of the first half where Chelsea strung together some decent attacking play. While it came to nothing, there was some positives to take from the performances of Gonzalo Higuaín (£9.5m) in this period. Aguero was actually the only player to register more goal attempts in the match than his compatriot. Furthermore, the player to create the most chances at the Etihad Stadium was Eden Hazard (£10.8m).
Manchester City XI (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko; Gündogan, Fernandinho (D Silva 75′), De Bruyne (Mahrez 68′); B Silva, Agüero (Jesus 65′), Sterling.
Chelsea XI (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rüdiger, David Luiz, Alonso (Emerson 73′); Kanté, Jorginho, Barkley (Kovačić 52′); Pedro (Loftus-Cheek 65′), Higuaín, Hazard.