Raheem Sterling (£12.1m) made it four goals in two Premier League matches as Manchester City were held by Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday afternoon.
It was the performance of Kevin De Bruyne (£9.6m) that really caught the eye, though, and we lead on the Belgian’s impressive display against the Lilywhites in our Scout Notes article below.
We also round up the other Fantasy talking points at the Etihad and provide some Members’ analysis at the bottom of this piece.
Manchester City 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur
- Goals: Raheem Sterling (£12.1m), Sergio Aguero (£12.0m) | Erik Lamela (£6.0m), Lucas Moura (£7.5m)
- Assists: Kevin De Bruyne (£9.6m) x2 | Lamela, Tanguy Ndombele (£6.1m)
- Bonus Points: De Bruyne – 3, Lamela – 2, Ndombele – 1
After just two matches of the new season, De Bruyne already has as many Fantasy Premier League assists to his name as he did in an injury-ravaged 2018/19.
It is perhaps premature to say the Belgian is back to his scintillating best given that we are not yet out of August but few would argue that De Bruyne was the most influential player on show at the Etihad on Saturday, having looked in ominously good form in pre-season and in Gameweek 1.
The player himself said of his Gameweek 2 display:
I feel good and I’m becoming better. It’s still the beginning of the season so sometimes it’s heavy but I feel fine so everything will be OK this season.
Many Fantasy managers will still have reservations based on last season, given De Bruyne’s injury record: the former Chelsea and Wolfsburg midfielder had five separate spells on the sidelines with fitness issues of varying severity.
De Bruyne’s comments above even hint that he is still some way from feeling in top condition physically.
FPL bosses with longer memories will recall that the Belgium international made 36 and 37 Premier League appearances in 2016/17 and 2017/18, however, with all bar four of those coming from the start.
A fit and firing De Bruyne is a Fantasy force to be reckoned with, as Gameweek 2 underscored.
The Belgian playmaker was the supplier of Sterling and Sergio Aguero‘s (£12.0m) goals with two superb crosses from the right and would have claimed a hat-trick of assists had Ilkay Gundogan (£5.5m) not planted a side-footed effort narrowly wide on the stroke of half-time.
De Bruyne created three times as many opportunities as anyone else on show in Manchester and indeed registered more key passes than any other FPL asset in Gameweek 2 so far.
Assists are more likely than goals (that has been the case in each of his five previous seasons as a Premier League player) but De Bruyne is fond of a shot and more than capable of finding the back of the net himself.
Against Spurs, the Belgian whistled an effort narrowly wide of Hugo Lloris‘ (£5.5m) goal just after half-time, having earlier sliced an effort uncharacteristically high and wide when well positioned in the Spurs box.
One of the possible downsides to De Bruyne as a Fantasy asset (certainly compared to the likes of Sterling) is his more deep-lying position in central midfield.
It was notable on Saturday, however, just how advanced he was, often underlapping Bernardo Silva (£7.9m) on the right flank.
The superb Portugal international certainly wasn’t peripheral on Saturday – only Sterling had more shots and penalty box touches at Eastlands – but his limitations as a Fantasy asset were perhaps illustrated by the fact that he ‘assisted the assister’ for both of City’s goals.
Bernardo lobbed an effort against Lloris’s bar in the second half, unsurprisingly from a De Bruyne corner.
The Belgian’s continued availability and creativity could also be crucial to Sterling and Aguero this season.
The Argentinean striker was otherwise fairly quiet on his first start of 2019/20 and was indebted to De Bruyne’s teasing low ball from the right to double his goals tally for the new season.
Aguero was hooked for Gabriel Jesus (£9.5m) midway through the second half, prompting a heated exchange between player and manager.
Pep Guardiola downplayed talk of any row after the game, saying:
He believes that I was upset with him for the goal we conceded but that was a corner, it was a one vs one movement.
He thought I was upset with him, I am animated but I was a player, I know what it’s like. We talked after and during, I love him a lot as a player.
Sterling gave Kyle Walker-Peters (£5.0m) a torrid afternoon down the left flank, especially in the first half, and scored a rare headed goal when nipping in front of his marker after 19 minutes.
In truth, we didn’t learn much new about the England winger as he carried on where he left off in 2018/19, registering more penalty box touches than any other Premier League player in Gameweek 2.
Another season of 30+ attacking returns likely beckons if he stays fit, particularly if De Bruyne can avoid injury.
City were utterly dominant in this game, having a late winner chalked off after VAR intervention and allowing Spurs just three shots on goal – two of which found the back of the net – and five penalty box touches.
The fact that they didn’t register a clean sheet would have been a great source of frustration to Fantasy managers and indeed Guardiola, who said after full-time:
We played incredible. One of the best games we’ve played in our time together. We played good, but unfortunately we could not win.
The way we arrive, create chances and put Tottenham deeper when they wanted to press. Unfortunately, when they cross the line they score and then a set-piece. Nothing else.
We play Tottenham, one of the best teams in Europe. Today was fantastic in everything we have done, our pressing, closing spaces, controlling counter-attacks and creating chances.
Oleksandr Zinchenko (£5.5m) was part of the City backline that was breached but John Stones (£5.5m) missed out with a thigh problem.
A club statement said:
John Stones has suffered a rectus femoris strain and will miss today’s game at home to Tottenham Hotspur. The defender will be assessed and a prognosis is likely next week.
Owners of Spurs’ assets can probably just put this Gameweek 2 performance to one side and look forward to easier tests ahead, as Saturday’s display was almost non-existent from an attacking perspective.
Harry Kane (£11.0m) and Christian Eriksen (£8.9m) had little chance to impress, with Kane starved of service up top and Eriksen asked to play on the left of midfield in a 4-4-1-1.
The Dane spent much of his afternoon chasing shadows and perhaps showed his defensive naivety in that position given the time De Bruyne had to cross the ball from City’s right flank.
Erik Lamela (£6.0m) was the one bright spark as he curled in a strange equaliser from distance in the first half (Ederson‘s (£6.1m) positioning definitely up for debate) before assisting substitute Lucas Moura (£7.5m) for the visitors’ second leveller from a corner.
Even Lamela, providing support for Kane, was mostly tasked with pressing Rodri (£5.5m) in the centre of the hosts’ midfield and Mauricio Pochettino clearly set his stall out to sit deep.
The Spurs boss admitted his side were second-best, saying:
I think they were better. I think they dominated the game. It was clear the game. Of course, with the different circumstances of both teams, I am happy with the result. It was a very positive result for us here, one point. I’m happy because of the point but like I said after the game against Aston Villa we need to improve a lot.
An away match at City is unlike any other, of course, and we can expect Spurs to show a similar level of attacking ambition against Newcastle next Sunday as they exhibited in Gameweek 1 when racking up 31 shots against Aston Villa.
Who joins Kane in the attacking positions is another question and Pochettino’s wealth of options is one of the downsides of owning a Spurs midfielder at present.
Lucas and Lamela presented convincing cases at the Etihad but Son Heung-min (£9.5m) now returns from suspension and Giovani Lo Celso (£7.5m) registered his first Premier League minutes as a substitute at the weekend.
Eriksen could yet stay in north London, too, while Dele Alli (£8.4m) is another name to throw into the mix when he returns from a hamstring injury.
Further back, Tanguy Ndombele (£6.1m) registered his second attacking return of the season with the assist for Lamela’s goal, although that was his only key pass and he registered just two final-third touches as Spurs struggled for meaningful possession.
Jan Vertonghen (£5.4m) again failed to start but there was another run-out at right-back for Walker-Peters.
Serge Aurier (£5.0m) wasn’t among the substitutes on Saturday and, with Juan Foyth (£5.0m) sidelined with an ankle injury, Walker-Peters’ owners will be hoping that the shirt is his to lose heading into Gameweek 3.
Reflecting on Walker-Peters’ display, Pochettino said:
I think he still needs to improve. He’s still so young. It’s not easy. When you’re a back-up player, your excitement and motivation is massive when you have the possibility to play. It’s an amazing opportunity no? You are focused 200 per cent to show you can play, but when you start to feel the responsibility that you are first choice we’ll see how he’s going to behave.
Today I think was a massive test to play against one of the best offensive players like Sterling. I think one thing good, but other needs to improve on. He’s still so young but the experience will be massive for him.
Manchester City XI (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Zinchenko; Gundogan, Rodri (D. Silva 78‘), De Bruyne; Bernardo Silva (Mahrez 80′), Aguero (Gabriel Jesus 65′), Sterling.
Tottenham Hotspur XI (4-4-1-1): Lloris; Walker-Peters, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Rose; Sissoko, Winks (Lucas Moura 56′), Ndombele, Eriksen (Skipp 90‘); Lamela (Lo Celso 85‘); Kane.
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