Manchester City have now completed their pre-season friendly schedule ahead of the 2019/20 season, leaving plenty for Fantasy Premier League managers to chew over.
We will get one final look at Pep Guardiola’s team before the Gameweek 1 deadline when they face Liverpool in the Community Shield final next Sunday.
This presents a fantastic opportunity for Fantasy managers to put to rest any final questions they have about Manchester City assets.
This article highlights five key areas of their team that we should be keeping an eye on at Wembley next weekend.
Front and centre
The chances of Raheem Sterling (£12.0m) lining up as Manchester City’s centre-forward in Gameweek 1 strengthen with each passing pre-season friendly.
The England international was deployed as the striker in Guardiola’s 4-3-3 system in the win over Yokohama.
He scored in that final game of the tour and has now been involved in six pre-season goals this summer (four his own, two assists).
As has been reportedly already, with Sergio Aguero (£12.0m) and Gabriel Jesus (£9.5m) still on international leave following their involvement at the Copa America, Guardiola is clearly preparing Sterling to take their place in the Community Shield and possible beyond that.
We would expect him to start up front against Liverpool on Sunday but the key thing to look out for among Fantasy managers is how he gets on in that role.
It was discussed last week whether a shift to a centre-forward role is always beneficial to a wide-midfield player so an eye test against one of the best defences in the Premier League could prove a helpful test of Sterling’s credentials.
The implications of Sterling’s role as a centre-forward is also helpful for Fantasy managers in regards to other areas of the Manchester City team.
With the winger being pulled into a central role, it means there is much less competition for the flanks of Guardiola’s front-three.
The absence of Riyad Mahrez (£8.5m), following his successful African Cup of Nations campaign with Algeria, is also a benefit for predicting the team early on.
Leroy Sané (£9.5m) should be the chief beneficiary as he should have unrivalled access to the left flank of Guardiola’s attacking trio.
Despite the uncertainty over his future, the German international has been used extensively on the left-wing in pre-season and has been quite effective too.
After 239 minutes, two goals and one assist, Guardiola has Sané well-prepared for the new campaign and he looks likely to be an important part of the attack against Liverpool.
If he performs well at Wembley, then he could just book himself a place in the Gameweek 1 side.
There were media reports last week that Guardiola wanted to see Kevin de Bruyne (£9.5m) take up a deeper midfield role this season and Fantasy managers will have to keep an eye out for this in the Community Shield final.
In recent games played on tour this dropping deeper has not happened with too much regularity for the Belgian but that may be because of the quality of opposition.
Against Yokohama, de Bruyne was one of the best players on the pitch and emerged with a goal and assist to his name. That took his pre-season tally for goal involvement to four (one goal, three assists).
Despite those encouraging numbers, a match-up with Liverpool will prove a much more reliable event for seeing what de Bruyne’s positioning will be this season.
However, not only do we have to assess where he’s playing, Fantasy managers must also pay attention to whether or not a deeper role actually has any impact on his points potential.
For example, de Bruyne’s hand in set pieces won’t be affected by his positioning. But given his quality, there is still a possibility that de Bruyne could still hang back a bit more, and yet still create a decent number of chances.
Furthermore, the Belgian boasted a better minutes per shot than Sterling in 2018/19 and has historically been accurate from range.
Therefore, a deeper role could unlock other areas of de Bruyne’s Fantasy potential, which is why he should arguably the biggest focus of FPL managers during the Community Shield final.
Left-back… in the changing room?
Now that we’ve seen Manchester City play four times in pre-season, we have a better idea of who will start at left-back too.
The signing of Angeliño (£5.0m) this summer complicated the task of predicting who the first-choice was in this position but pre-season line-ups have made things slightly easier.
Oleksandr Zinchenko (£5.5m) has recorded more minutes in friendlies at left-back than any other Manchester City player.
His total of 209 is made up of two outings over 60 minutes, and it was the Ukrainian that started in the most recent match against Yokohama.
Admittedly, Angeliño’s pre-season involvement is not that far behind Zinchenko, so it’s hard to be completely certain which one will be favoured in Gameweek 1.
The new signing (or re-signing) has recorded 151 minutes from to starts at left-back this summer.
However, only one of those outings lasted longer than an hour, hence the discrepancy of 54 minutes between him and Zinchenko.
Danilo (£5.0m) has 195 minutes to his name over the summer, just nine shy of Zinchenko, but he has predominantly been used at right-back and is likely to be Kyle Walker‘s (£6.0m) understudy this season.
Also, at least for now, Benjamin Mendy (£6.0m) is out of the picture until September according to the most recent reports.
That is a handy development for Fantasy managers as they study the Community Shield for clues about the first-choice left-back.
Zinchenko remains the favourite to start that match, but Angeliño probably has an outside chance of being involved.
On Your Ederson
Finally, it has not gone unnoticed that Claudio Bravo (£5.0m) has started and played 90 minutes in every single match of Manchester City’s pre-season so far.
Obviously, we know that Ederson (£6.0m) is still the first-choice at the Eithad Stadium but there could be a slight chance of him missing out on a start to the campaign.
The Brazilian has been away this summer as part of his country’s Copa America although is still behind Alisson (£6.0m) in the pecking order.
Goalkeepers are typically easier to drop straight back in a team with minimal preparation than outfield players, and with Ederson, he will probably be fresher than his Liverpool counterpart.
However, we know that Guardiola is a methodical man who values things should as preparation during pre-season, so it’s worth considering an outside chance of the cheaper Bravo starting the Community Shield.
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