Goals: Raheem Sterling (£12.5m) x 3, Sergio Aguero (£12.5m), Gabriel Jesus (£9.5m)
Assists: Riyad Mahrez (£8.5m) x 3, Kyle Walker (£6.5m), Kevin de Bruyne (£9.5m)
Bonus Points: Sterling x 3, Mahrez x 2, de Bruyne x 1
Manchester City midfielder Raheem Sterling (£12.0m) went a long way to proving he is worth the big bucks as a Fantasy asset by scoring a hat-trick in a 5-0 win over West Ham.
Those who opted against owning the England international, perhaps opting for the cheaper Kevin de Bruyne (£9.5m), Bernardo Silva (£8.0m) or forward asset Sergio Aguero (£12.0m) were left in the wake of his 20-point haul at the London Stadium.
Those alternative options, for various reasons, simply could not compete with Sterling.
“Since China and the Community Shield, Sterling has scored one goal minimum every game. On the first day, he played striker and for
me, striker will be an incredible position for him. He can play in three positions up front.” – Pep Guardiola
19% of Fantasy managers were left disappointed when it was confirmed that Aguero had been left on the bench. Given the Argentinian’s lack of any involvement in Manchester City’s pre-season campaign, this should not have come as too much of a surprise.
However, to his credit, Aguero did come on for the last 21 minutes and got on the score-sheet, albeit in perplexing circumstances. Despite Sterling being on two goals at the time, the centre-forward demanded he take City’s 86th-minute penalty. He actually saw his initial effort saved by Lukasz Fabianski (£5.0m), but the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) ordered it be retaken for encroachment by Declan Rice (£5.0m). Aguero made no mistakes with the second attempt.
Either way, the Manchester City striker conundrum will have to be assessed by Fantasy managers in the coming Gameweeks, as, on the basis of the opening game against West Ham, Gabriel Jesus (£9.5m) may have the edge over Aguero in terms of likelihood of starts.
It was a clinical performance from the Brazilian, who was sharp throughout and was unlucky to not have a brace on his first league start of the season. His clever finish from a Kyle Walker (£6.5m) cross capped a free-flowing City move to open the scoring. The right-back was awarded the assist despite a touch from Issa Diop (£4.5m) as this deflection did not change the intended destination of the pass.
Jesus thought he’d added a second goal after slotting home a Sterling square-ball but VAR ruled the goal out for an offside against the Englishman after consultation with referee Mike Dean.
One of the most eye-catching performances at the London Stadium came from de Bruyne, whose assist for Sterling came off the back of an incisive, dazzling run.
If the Belgian can remain fit for the duration of the 2019/20 campaign, he is arguably undroppable. And amidst a City team of considerable instability with regards to consistent starters, it could perhaps be de Bruyne who offers the strongest value at a price of £9.5m.
While his seven-point haul paled in significance to Sterling’s 20, that reliability of starts should go a long way this season.
Meanwhile, Guardiola’s decision to bench the 27% owned Bernardo Silva will give Fantasy managers another headache ahead of City’s Gameweek clash with Tottenham.
While the Portuguese international is supposedly one of the manager’s favourite players, it might be hard for him to drop those who played at West Ham, with attacking options such as Raheem Sterling (three goals), Jesus (one goal) and even Riyad Mahrez (three assists) excelling for the Citizens.
There will be a number of difficult decisions for managers who have backed these benched Gameweek 1 players such as Aguero or Bernardo Silva, but City’s outstanding performance against the Hammers is indicative of a team who will not only be rampant throughout the 2019/20 season but a team that managers simply must invest in the attack of.
This was both a clinical performance and a statement of intent from City and Guardiola, with a number of Fantasy assets both emerging into potential relevance alongside consolidating their already imperious credentials for the 2019/20 campaign.
City’s defensive quartet of Walker, John Stones (£5.5m) Aymeric Laporte (£6.5m) and Oleksandr Zinchenko (£5.5m) were firm at the back to resist a number of attacks from West Ham.
That will be of great encouragement to those invested in the City defence as they continued to demonstrate an improved ability to withstand pressure. West Ham started the game brightly, only to tail off in the face of superior attacking play and sheer determination from City, but it was important to see Guardiola’s men look well organised and disciplined even when asked to defend.
There really wasn’t much to be positive about for West Ham in this game, as was expected. Hammers manager Manuel Pellegrini is likely to be frustrated at such a despondent final scoreline after his side had started brightly, but defensive lapses against one of the league’s most clinical attacking sides is not a recipe for success. The East London side will look to bounce back from their 5-0 thrashing and get their season started in earnest when they travel to Brighton, who beat Watford 3-0 on Saturday, in Gameweek 2.
Club-record signing Sebastian Haller (£7.5m) had rare glimpses of promise as a target man in the Hammers attack but offered little to convince Fantasy managers to sign him up for some upcoming appealing fixtures.
Perhaps the biggest concern for the Hammers was the fact that Felipe Anderson (£7.0m) went off injured, with what look like a thigh problem in the 66th minute. Interestingly, Pellegrini did not provide any updates on the player in his post-match press conference.
However, he did confir that Jack Wilshere’s (£5.0m) removal from play was not injury-related and was focused on ensuring his fitness due to coming back from a long-term absence.
“Jack was OK, I made that change because he is coming back from a long injury. No problem.” – Manuel Pellegrini
West Ham United XI (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Cresswell, Diop, Balbuena, Fredericks; Rice, Wilshere (Snodgrass 56′); Antonio (Fornals 46′), Lanzini, Anderson (Chicharito 66′); Haller.
Unused substitutes: Ogbonna, C Sánchez, Zabaleta, Roberto
Manchester City XI (4-3-3): Ederson; Zinchenko, Laporte, Stones, Walker; D Silva (Foden 80′), Rodrigo,
Unused substitutes: Bravo, Otamendi, B Silva, Cancelo
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Lessons learned from Gameweek 1
- Liverpool 4-1 Norwich
- West Ham United 0-5 Manchester City
- Bournemouth 1-1 Sheffield United
- Burnley 3-0 Southampton
- Crystal Palace 0-0 Everton
- Watford 0-3 Brighton and Hove Albion
- Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Aston Villa
- Leicester City 0-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Newcastle United 0-1 Arsenal
- Manchester United 4-0 Chelsea