We round up the key Fantasy talking points from Tuesday night’s Carabao Cup ties in our latest Scout Notes article.
Manchester City 3-1 Southampton
- Goals: Nicolas Otamendi (£5.5m), Sergio Aguero (£12.1m) x2 | Jack Stephens (£4.3m)
- Assists: Bernardo Silva (£7.9m), Kyle Walker (£5.9m), Riyad Mahrez (£8.5m) | James Ward-Prowse (£5.8m)
Sergio Aguero (£12.1m) scored twice as Manchester City swept past Southampton and into the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup.
Seeing the words ‘Sergio’ and ‘Aguero’ pretty much anywhere in a League Cup report is never likely to delight Fantasy managers, but these days he’s not even the biggest gamble in the ever-vexing game that is Pep Roulette.
Just under two million Fantasy Premier League (FPL) teams currently involve the Argentinian. That equates to 26.2%, well down on City’s main men this season, Kevin De Bruyne (£10.2m and 39.2%) and the 38.9%-owned Raheem Sterling (£12.1m).
The Belgian watched the tie from the bench, while Sterling wasn’t even in the squad last night. As a result, both look like shoo-ins for Gameweek 11 inclusion, also at home to Southampton.
Then again, Pep Guardiola moves in mysterious ways, his rotations to perform, so nothing can ever be entirely taken for granted.
And Aguero’s shrinking ownership – he’s currently the second-most sold player this week, with close to 200,000 getting rid – should not necessarily assume the worst.
The striker played the full 90 minutes against the Saints and did the same in the Champions League demolition of Atalanta last Tuesday.
But a mere 14 minutes of Premier League action over the last two Gameweeks gives him plenty of scope for inclusion at the weekend, particularly as his rival for the forward slot, Gabriel Jesus (£9.5m), also played 87 minutes last night.
That makes it 267 minutes of pitch-time in the last ten days for the Brazilian, so if something’s got to give, it might be Jesus. Alternatively, Guardiola could field them both again in Gameweek 11. We’ll find out for sure at 2pm on Saturday, by which time most managers will have handed the captain’s armband to either De Bruyne or Sterling, you suspect.
The City boss made nine changes to the team that beat Aston Villa in Gameweek 10, with only Jesus and Bernardo Silva (£7.9m) surviving.
The Portugal international set up the opening goal when he received a short corner and dinked it into the area for Nicolas Otamendi (£5.5m) to head home.
That exposed the defensive shortcomings of a Southampton side with five members of their 9-0 drubbing by Leicester City involved, but little could be done about City’s second, a sweeping move which Aguero finished when he volleyed in a Kyle Walker (£5.9m) cross.
The tie was essentially over not long after the break, Aguero reacting quickest to Riyad Mahrez‘s (£8.5m) shot being charged down, and a Jack Stephens (£4.3m) header from James Ward-Prowse‘s (£5.8m) corner was the very definition of a consolation goal.
But such was the severity of last Friday’s mauling by Leicester that a 3-1 defeat had elements of positivity about it for the Saints, even if it took them 65 minutes to fashion a shot on goal.
They sat deep and sucked up the pressure for long periods, a tactic almost certain to be used again at the weekend and which could be seen as further evidence that Guardiola might field both of his strikers for a second time.
Guardiola gives little away about his selections, and his post-match comments about the pair were suitably cryptic.
The City boss said:
It was also a good opportunity to play Sergio and Gabriel Jesus together, playing closer to the goal. Gabriel is an incredible fighter defensively.
You could interpret that as an endorsement of Jesus’ qualities for away games against tougher opponents, and yet he’s now started the last two matches, at home, against Villa and Southampton.
Second-guessing Pep’s plans remains the stuff of madness. What is sure for now is that De Bruyne is regarded as the key asset by Fantasy managers as he’s the only player in the top five for transfers-in who didn’t beat the Saints 9-0 last Friday.
A repeat of that scoreline in Gameweek 11 looks increasingly unlikely, with Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl happy enough despite the latest loss.
The Saints boss said:
It was a defeat but a reaction and after a very, very difficult night on Friday to come here and play against one of the strongest sides on this planet, you can think about easier challenges to have.
In the second half, you could see that we got a little bit more self-confidence, we pressed a little bit higher, had a few good moments and also with the ball we had more calmness, and we showed that we could also play football.
They’ll have to play a lot more football to avoid another defeat on Saturday, but there was enough in last night’s performance to suggest the Leicester debacle has been partially exorcised, which is not the greatest of news for managers betting the house on big hauls from City players.
Man City XI: Bravo, Walker (Cancelo 65), Otamendi, Garcia, Jose Angelino (Stones 79), Bernardo Silva, Doyle, Foden, Mahrez, Aguero, Jesus (Bernabe 87).
Southampton XI: McCarthy, Valery, Stephens, Bednarek, Danso, Ward-Prowse, Romeu (Vokins 90+1), Hojbjerg, Armstrong, Long (Redmond 68), Boufal (Adams 69).
Burton Albion 1-3 Leicester City
- Goals: Kelechi Iheanacho (£5.7m), Youri Tielemans (£6.5m), James Maddison (£7.3m)
- Assists: Tielemans, Dennis Praet (£5.3m), Demarai Gray (£5.2m)
Leicester City booked their place in the last eight with a win that was only truly sealed in the final few minutes of an entertaining tie.
Only Jonny Evans (£5.1m) and Youri Tielemans (£6.5m) kept their places from the side that humiliated Southampton, but the Foxes remained slick and dangerous despite the overhaul and should have put the game to bed long before Demarai Gray (£5.2m) set up substitute James Maddison (£7.3m) to make it 3-1 in the last minute of regular time.
They certainly started well enough, Tielemans’ ball across goal handing Kelechi Iheanacho (£5.7m) a tap-in after just seven minutes, with the in-form midfielder then doubling the advantage not long afterwards from a Dennis Praet (£5.3m) pass.
That made it three goals and two assists from the last three matches in all competitions for Tielemans. Small wonder, then, that he is one of four Leicester players in the top five for purchases this week.
The other three, Jamie Vardy (£9.3m), Ben Chilwell (£5.5m) and Ayoze Perez (£6.1m), played no part in last night’s tie, and only Vardy made the squad.
For the 6.3% of managers with Tielemans in their sides, the fact that he played the full 90 minutes at Burton should be of little concern. The Belgium international is clearly a go-to guy for manager Brendan Rodgers as he’s played all but nine minutes of every single league and cup match this season.
Maddison has been used more sparingly, with last night’s seven-minute cameo allowing him to make it back-to-back goals – and four in the last five matches in all competitions – for the 15%-owned asset.
The form of both midfielders bodes well for Gameweek 11’s trip to Crystal Palace, as it does for Harvey Barnes (£5.9m), who was given a 24-minute run-out against Burton, although he couldn’t add to his run of five assists from his last four matches.
Despite missing some good chances to seal the victory long before Maddison’s clincher, the Foxes are clearly in a very good place at the moment, as assistant manager Chris Davies stressed post-match.
You saw the strength of the squad tonight and the performance was good. We’ve not done it just to give them a bit of game-time, we’ve done it because we trust them. There’s a lot of belief at the moment and the confidence is really high.
Palace will provide a far sterner test than either Burton or Southampton this weekend, but Leicester’s schedule is still attractive up to Gameweek 18’s trip to Manchester City and investment in their key players is currently looking like a very wise long-term strategy.
Leicester City XI: Ward, Justin, Morgan, Evans, Fuchs, Choudhury (Ndidi 88′), Praet (Maddison 83′), Tielemans, Gray, Albrighton, Iheanacho (Barnes 66′).
Everton 2-0 Watford
- Goals: Mason Holgate (£4.4m), Richarlison (£7.9m)
- Assists: Theo Walcott (£6.2m), Cenk Tosun (£5.7m)
Everton bounced back from their VAR-inspired woes of the weekend with a solid victory over fellow Premier League strugglers Watford.
The win was just reward for a much-improved second-half display from the home side, but it came at the cost of another injury to centre-half Yerry Mina (£5.4m), who managed only 41 minutes before a knee issue required Michael Keane (£5.5m) to take his place.
Another change, at half-time, was the key to the victory, however.
Manager Marco Silva had opted to start out-of-sorts striker Moise Kean (£6.5m) wide on the right against the Hornets. It didn’t work, and Theo Walcott (£6.2m) replaced him after the interval, a move which Silva saw as a turning point.
The Everton boss said:
Theo had a big impact again, the change we made had a big impact on our second half. Theo was always a really important player for me, he knows that. He is in a good moment and will help us in the next games as well.
Walcott remains a major Fantasy troll to many, so Everton’s second goalscorer on the night, Richarlison (£7.9m), is likely to catch more eyes.
The 6.5%-owned midfielder has been used as a striker in recent league outings and has now produced attacking returns (a goal and two assists) in three straight matches in all competitions, with last night’s goal set up by substitute Cenk Tosun (£5.7m).
He was one of six players to keep their places from Saturday’s bruising 3-2 loss at Brighton, with another, Mason Holgate (£4.4m), possibly in line for another start in Gameweek 11 should Mina’s injury not clear up in time.
The former England U21 international provided an assist at the weekend and opened the scoring against Watford when he turned in Walcott’s cross for his first Everton goal.
But anyone tempted by his lowly price tag and newly-found taste for attacking output should only be in it for the short term.
Spurs will bring a poor away record with them to Goodison Park at the weekend, and the next two fixtures, at Southampton and home to Norwich, look favourable. But then it gets much, much worse, with a five-match run involving Leicester, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal.
That should usher in further sales of the side’s most popular player, the 19.4%-owned Lucas Digne (£5.9m), who played the full 90 minutes last night and was unlucky when a trademark free-kick hit the woodwork.
Alex Iwobi (£5.8m), again preferred to Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.5m) in the number 10 role, also hit the frame of the goal as Everton hit their stride after the break. They were helped to a large degree by the central midfield partnership of Andre Gomes (£5.3m) and Fabian Delph (£5.4m), who were starting together for only the second time this season.
That partnership brings a work-rate and durability to the Toffees that will be needed in abundance once that tough run kicks in from Gameweek 14.
As for Watford, manager Quique Sanchez Flores made eight changes from the team that drew 0-0 with Bournemouth in Gameweek 10.
They failed to make it three clean sheets from their last four outings in all competitions last night, and their continued toothlessness up front – they managed just the one shot on target – means there is little Fantasy excitement to be had in their ranks at present.
Flores’ midfield options weren’t helped by an injury to Domingos Quina (£4.4m) that forced him off after 39 minutes at Goodison.
Everton XI: Pickford, Holgate, Mina (Keane 41′), Coleman, Digne, Andre Gomes, Delph, Kean (Walcott 45′), Iwobi, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin (Tosun 80′).
Watford XI: Gomes, Cathcart, Prodl (Kabasele 65′), Mariappa, Femenia, Hughes, Quina (Doucoure 39′), Chalobah, Foulquier, Gray, Pereyra (Deulofeu 67′).
Lessons learned from Gameweek 10
- Southampton 0-9 Leicester City
- Manchester City 3-0 Aston Villa
- Brighton and Hove Albion 3-2 Everton
- Watford 0-0 Bournemouth
- West Ham United 1-1 Sheffield United
- Burnley 2-4 Chelsea
- Newcastle United 1-1 Wolves
- Arsenal 2-2 Crystal Palace
- Liverpool 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
- Norwich City 1-3 Manchester United
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