Pep Guardiola does not believe that Sergio Aguero (£11.8m) picked up an injury in Manchester City’s 2-0 win at Fulham.
The Argentinian was taken off just before the hour-mark for precautionary reasons ahead of further Double Gameweek 32 action midweek.
Obviously, Fantasy managers cannot make any decisions about Aguero ahead of that Cardiff game, and there is no fixture for him in Blank Gameweek 33 either.
However, given that he is in red hot form, it is certainly important to analyse his current situation and how well he played in a 10-point haul at Craven Cottage.
Fulham 0-2 Manchester City
Goals: Bernardo Silva (£7.5m), Sergio Aguero (£11.8m)
Assists: Aguero, B Silva
Aguero will need to be assessed ahead of Manchester City’s next Double Gameweek 32 but Guardiola insists that he is not injured. The forward asked to be replaced in the 56th minute of Saturday’s visit to Fulham, mainly as a precaution. Gabriel Jesus (£9.9m) was the man to come on for him, and would most likely be the one to capitalise if Aguero is not declared fit for the Cardiff game.
“Tomorrow we have the real assessment, he says he felt something but not injured. For precaution he decided not to continue, hopefully, it’s nothing serious.” – Pep Guardiola
Those in possession of Aguero, and the clutch of managers who captained or Triple Captained him, need not be too disheartened by this development. He is already 10 points to the good in Double Gameweek 32 and it must be said that he does still stand a chance of starting against Cardiff.
Coming off so early will have helped ease any fitness concerns and Aguero remains the clear favourite striker in Premier League matches for Manchester City. Jesus struggled to make much of an impact when he came on at Fulham, touching the ball just once inside the penalty box and mustering not a single shot on goal. Considering that he was playing against one of the worst defences in Premier League history, one might have expected more from him, especially in terms of shots.
By contrast, Aguero was a constant menace to Fulham, both on and off the ball. It was his pressing, as well as Bernardo Silva‘s (£7.5m) that sapped Fulham of any confidence in possession at the back, so it is no surprise that Manchester City were handed so many opportunities from defensive errors. Both of Aguero’s attacking returns came from such situations.
So at this stage, if he were to be cleared for the Cardiff game, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see him start ahead of Jesus once again. Just as he did against Fulham, he could conceivably help put Manchester City into a comfortable lead and then be substituted somewhere between the 60th and 70th minute to keep him fresh for involvement in the FA Cup and Champions League.
Statistically, Aguero was a little below his usual level but we have to remember his performance was curtailed by coming off in the 56th minute. Even still, four players in the match managed better figures when it came to minutes per chance.
One of those was Raheem Sterling (£11.6m) who was quite unlucky not to come away with any attacking returns. He had more shots than any other player at Craven Cottage, registered the most inside the penalty box too and was joint top for chances created. However, despite his domination of the shot count, Sterling managed just one on target. Ironically, for all we discovered about recent improvements to his game since a move to the left-wing, the England international was most dangerous in the final 30 minutes when he was shifted back to the right flank. Whether he gets another start against Cardiff on Wednesday is hard to assess. There is still more competition for his place than there is for Aguero, especially as Riyad Mahrez (£8.2m) and Leroy Sané (£9.3m) combined for a total of two minutes at Fulham.
As already mentioned, Bernardo Silva was comfortably one of the best players on the pitch, awarded the man of the match award by the Manchester Evening News. The Portuguese international was also joint-top for chances created and managed more shots in the match than Aguero. Crucially, Bernardo was excellent off the ball too, putting pressure on Fulham at the back for both of Manchester City’s goals. Whether he starts against Cardiff is, as you can imagine, hard to call but he has now started the last three in a row and was in the line-up for both matches in the last Double Gameweek.
David Silva (£8.5m) disappointed those who signed him for Double Gameweek 32. He blanked for the first time since Gameweek 28, although he was below other key Manchester City assets for key passes and shots inside the box on the day. There will be hope that he will play a significant part against Cardiff, considering he was used for a greater percentage of Premier League minutes between Gameweek 23 and 30 than both Sterling and Bernardo Silva.
Manchester City’s defensive line-up was mostly as expected with the three most nailed-on options in Ederson (£5.6m), Kyle Walker (£6.4m) and Aymeric Laporte (£5.9m) both starting. Nicolas Otamendi (£6.0m) overcame the ankle problem that kept him off international duty with Argentina and continued to post superior attacking statistics than Laporte – although none three of his shots inside Fulham’s box were anything more than poor off-target efforts from corners.
Whether that pair will both start against Cardiff remains to be seen. Vincent Kompany (£5.2m) and John Stones (£5.2m) both shrugged off their yellow flags to earn places on the Manchester City bench at Fulham and will therefore technically be available for Wednesday evening’s match. With an FA Cup semi-final next Saturday evening, Guardiola may prefer to rest Laporte and Otamendi against Cardiff to have them fully fresh for Brighton, although as usual, we can but speculate on his rotation policy.
Fernandinho (£5.3m) returned to the midfield in the final 15 minutes of the match, which is good news for further defensive returns. Ironically, they didn’t really miss him particularly in the majority of this match but that may have been because Fulham caused very few problems. Testament to his quality was the fact that he played such a short period in the match but the local press still gave him a 7/10 in their match ratings.
Manchester City’s clean sheet potential was helped in this particular match by the absence of Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.4m), midfielder Ryan Babel (£5.5m) left to lead a one-man attack. Having played in every Premier League match so far this season, Mitrovic missed out on the first match of Double Gameweek 32 with a stomach problem. The Serbian international is now a doubt for the trip to Watford on Tuesday night.
“He has been struggling for a few weeks with an ongoing issue, he played for Serbia in a tough game with Portugal and came back and he didn’t have a chance today. Whether we can get him right for Tuesday will be on a day to day basis. We’ll try get some treatment into him but I coudn’t make a call for Tuesday. He has something wrong with his stomach.” – Scott Parker
“I wouldn’t change the way we set up or wanted the lads to play, but if there was one thing I was pleased with is the bravery in what they did today because it’s quite easy in a football match against a world-class team like Man City are to go and hide, play from back to front really quick and not pass the ball. I know ultimately we lost the came and errors cost us, but I was pleased with certain parts. ” – Scott Parker
Fulham XI (5-4-1): Rico; Bryan, Chambers, Le Marchand, Fosu-Mensah, Christie; Sessegnon, Cairney (Schürrle 70′), Zambo-Anguissa, Ayité (Kebano 64′); Babel (McDonald 88′).
Manchester City XI (4-3-3): Ederson; Zinchenko, Laporte, Otamendi, Walker; D Silva, Gündogan, de Bruyne (Fernandinho 75′); Sterling (Mahrez 88′), Aguero (Jesus 57′), B Silva.