Manchester City 2-1 Chelsea
- Goals: Kevin De Bruyne (£10.2m), Riyad Mahrez (£8.3m) | N’Golo Kante (£5.0m)
- Assists: Rodrigo (£5.4m) | Mateo Kovacic (£5.3m)
- Bonus: Mahrez x3 Kovacic x2 Kante x1
Fantasy and reality declined to intertwine as Manchester City came from behind to defeat Chelsea.
Goals from Kevin De Bruyne (£10.2m) and Riyad Mahrez (£8.3m) kept City’s title defence the right side of possible, but the match was close to disastrous for most Fantasy managers.
Of the ten players on show with significant Fantasy Premier League (FPL) ownership figures, only De Bruyne (39.8%) delivered, although VAR was at its fractional worst when deciding a late Raheem Sterling (£12.0m) goal was offside.
That denied 33.4% of managers a first return from the England winger since Gameweek 10, but the 20% with Sergio Aguero (£11.9m) in their teams had it even worse.
The striker blanked for the fourth time in his last five games and then limped off after 76 minutes.
Coach Pep Guardiola was less than optimistic with his initial assessment of the injury, saying:
It doesn’t look good for Aguero. It’s muscular. The doctor said we will see tomorrow. I’ve no idea how long he will be out.
Rodrigo (£5.4m) and David Silva (£7.6m) also had to be replaced on Saturday, although Guardiola was considerably less worried about the pair and said:
For Rodri and Silva it is more tiredness and cramps. Rodri was out for a month and games like today are so demanding, but with determination and suffering in certain moments, we did it.
Aguero has lost more than half a million managers over the last six Gameweeks and is already the second-most-sold player ahead of next weekend’s trip to Newcastle United.
The injury problem aside, things could – and really should – have been rather different for the Argentinian on Saturday. He was gifted a superb chance when Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga (£5.5m) passed the ball straight to him, but he could only hit the bar with the goal at his mercy.
It was the finish of a man way below his best; a man who scored eight goals in the first six Gameweeks of the season and has managed just the one since.
Small wonder that his ownership is on the wane, with Sterling’s similarly affected.
To call the midfielder ineffectual against Chelsea is almost too kind. He created no chances and his only shot of the game was then wiped off by VAR.
Yes, the offside decision was marginal. And yes, although it was technically the correct one, it was another example of VAR sucking the soul out of the game one measly millimetre at a time. But the goal, had it stood, would have been harsh on Chelsea and decidedly flattering for the otherwise anonymous Sterling.
He’s now blanked for three straight matches and with a triple header of Manchester United, Arsenal and Leicester City to come from Gameweeks 16 to 18, it’s no surprise that he’s currently the only player suffering more sales than Aguero.
City’s win was down to the industry of De Bruyne and the consistent threat of Mahrez.
The Belgian equalised when his shot deflected in off Kurt Zouma (£4.7m), a stroke of luck that turned a match that had been previously bossed by the visitors.
Mahrez’s winner capped a strong comeback by Guardiola’s men, the Algerian taking Rodrigo‘s (£5.4m) regulation pass out wide and weaving back inside before finding the bottom corner with his trusted left foot.
It was a goal enjoyed by only 3.5% of managers; a figure unlikely to shoot up any time soon unless the midfielder is given an extended run in the side. He’s started only six games this season and Saturday’s was his first since Gameweek 8, a fact almost certainly down to the one-match ban being served by Bernardo Silva (£7.9m).
Frank Lampard’s side allowed City just 46.74% of the ball – the lowest figure experienced by a Guardiola side in his 381 matches as a coach – and it was done thanks to a midfield three of Jorginho (£5.1m), N’Golo Kante (£5.0m) and Mateo Kovacic (£5.3m).
The selections meant a first match on the bench for the 32%-owned Mason Mount (£6.8m), but Lampard’s switch was more than justified when the latter pair combined for the opening goal.
Mount rightly caught the eye with his four goals and two assists from 12 straight starts this season, although his output had slowed to just one assist from the previous four Gameweeks heading into Saturday’s clash.
Kante, however, continues to surprise as an attacking force. He made consistent runs forward against City and was rewarded with a third goal of the campaign.
And before anyone shrugs and points out that Mount has 59 points to Kante’s 28, injuries have meant the Frenchman has only started five matches this season, and yet he’s scored in three of them.
Having played just 467 minutes so far – Mount has managed 1,054 – it seems inconceivable that Kante won’t now be given an extended run in the side if he can stay fit. His defensive attributes are world-renowned, but an attacking flair first unearthed by the much-maligned Maurizio Sarri could make him a bargain with one (or both) of Jorginho and Kovacic to hold the fort when he bursts forward.
Chelsea certainly have the fixtures to justify such a punt, with trips to Spurs and Arsenal the major tests to come over the next ten Gameweeks.
That should mean Tammy Abraham (£8.0m) keeps – or even extends – his game-leading 50.6% ownership in FPL despite a muted display at The Etihad which involved only two shots, neither of which were on target, and a mere two touches in the penalty area.
Similarly, Christian Pulisic (£7.4m) was lively enough to suggest his blank against City could well be the exception rather than the rule.
Of more concern to Fantasy managers will be the defensive shortcomings of both sides.
With Aymeric Laporte (£6.3m) still a way off a return from his knee injury, City’s defence continues to be a fragile beast, which is bad news for the 15.7% with Ederson (£6.0m) in their teams.
At least he played on Saturday. The 13% invested in Kyle Walker (£5.8m) saw their man benched, a move which didn’t stop City conceding for the third straight match.
Chelsea’s backline is considerably more generous, keeping just three clean sheets all season, although the 8.4%-owned Fikayo Tomori (£4.9m) was a post’s width away from a second goal of the campaign that would have offset his lack of consistent defensive returns.
Should Lampard decide that his new-look midfield three is the key to both control of possession and increased stability at the back, Mount could be the major casualty. Next weekend’s team sheet for the visit of West Ham United will tell us more.
Explaining his decision to bench Mount ahead of kick-off, Lampard said:
It’s nice problem to have. Mason has been so good for us. There will be areas of rotation.
What seems clear for now is that their display, albeit a losing one, at The Etihad and their fine fixtures to come mean Chelsea’s assets should remain attractive for a long while yet.
The same cannot be said for City’s stars.
The side has a brittle feel to it this season and although their game management against Chelsea was impressive enough, seeing out a match ticks few Fantasy boxes when clean sheet points are no longer at stake.
And the form and fitness of some of their key attacking personnel, when combined with the inevitable downside that is Pep Roulette, could make continued investment a costly affair.
Gameweek 13 – FPL Match Reports
- West Ham United 2-3 Tottenham Hotspur
- Arsenal 2-2 Southampton
- AFC Bournemouth 1-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Brighton & Hove Albion 0-2 Leicester City
- Crystal Palace 1-2 Liverpool
- Everton 0-2 Norwich City
- Watford 0-3 Burnley
- Manchester City 2-1 Chelsea
- Sheffield United 3-3 Manchester United
- Aston Villa 2-0 Newcastle United
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