Burnley 1-4 Manchester City
- Goals: Gabriel Jesus (£9.6m) x2, Rodri (£5.4m), Riyad Mahrez (£8.3m)| Robbie Brady (£5.5m)
- Assists: Bernardo Silva (£7.9m) x2, David Silva (£7.6m) x2 | Jeff Hendrick (£5.4m)
- Bonus: Jesus x3, Rodri x2, David Silva x1
Manchester City put four goals past Burnley on Tuesday evening but, in keeping with the season so far, there was still plenty of frustration to be dished out to Fantasy managers.
A late Robbie Brady (£5.5m) strike made it five league matches without a clean sheet for Pep Guardiola’s side, while well-owned premium midfield options Kevin De Bruyne (£10.3m) and Raheem Sterling (£11.9m) weren’t involved in any of their side’s four goals.
Indeed, City’s three goalscorers last night were all Fantasy Premier League differentials, with ownerships of less than 5%.
There was at least further reward for the FPL bosses who punted on cheaper alternatives David Silva (£7.6m) and Bernardo Silva (£7.9m), who both bagged a brace of assists.
While semi-frequent rotation in the wide areas puts a dent in Bernardo’s appeal (he has started just nine of City’s 15 league fixtures, although one of his absences was enforced through suspension), David Silva continues to shine in the mid-price midfield bracket.
He continues to be overlooked, too: he sits in just 8.0% of FPL squads and only 3.74% of the top 10k teams, despite being only two points behind Sterling and offering better value for money (based on points per million spent) than any other City asset.
Sterling (14) and De Bruyne (13) are the only outfielders in Guardiola’s side who have started more games than Silva (12) this season, with the veteran Spaniard’s most-recent benching at Liverpool owing much to an injury he carried into the game.
His underlying stats are significantly inferior to Sterling’s but then, of course, they should be given that he is over £4.0m cheaper.
While his second assist was of a fortuitous nature – a blocked shocked falling to Rodri (£5.4m), who hammered home a superb strike from distance – he had earlier teed up Gabriel Jesus (£9.6m) for the Brazilian’s first goal and created more chances than anyone else on show.
Jesus himself caught the eye, although let’s not forget that these were his first goals in 11 matches for club and country and that this victory over the Clarets came just days after the striker put in a poor showing at St. James’ Park.
Sergio Aguero (£11.8m) mightn’t be out for too much longer, either: we know from Guardiola’s recent comments that he will miss the Manchester derby but his availability beyond that is uncertain.
Still, credit where credit is due – Jesus’ first goal was a superb curling effort to break the deadlock and his second a tidy volley from close range from a teasing Bernardo cross.
His movement caused Burnley’s backline problems all game and he almost grabbed a third when firing narrowly off-target in the second half.
Guardiola said of the Brazil international:
We need Gabriel Jesus. The strikers are there to score goals. We need him. His effort and commitment is always there. He’s very important for us.
It is not easy to replace Sergio, but the team doesn’t have doubts about him.
Strikers score sometimes, sometimes not. We need the quality of player up front to make the difference.
I’m so glad for him. He is a fighter. I want him to try and be aggressive in this position. It is important to have the mentality. No doubts about the quality. I’m so optimistic about what he can do, he scored two exceptional goals.
As for Sterling and De Bruyne, the pair could easily have been among the attacking returns again following their goals in Gameweek 14.
Only an outstretched Nick Pope (£4.7m) boot prevented Sterling from tapping in the Belgian’s excellent low cross from point-blank range, although it should be said that that was about as good as it got for either player in Lancashire.
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what’s wrong with Sterling from an FPL perspective, as he wasn’t particularly wide – an accusation that has been levelled at him this season – at Turf Moor last night.
Nor have his underlying stats taken a dip from 2018/19 (on the contrary, in fact), for those that pay heed to the numbers.
Perhaps it’s the continued absence of the explosive Leroy Sane (£9.3m) that has prevented City from really opening teams up and thus provide space for Sterling to exploit, although the England winger did haul without his teammate on occasion last season and earlier in this campaign.
Whatever the reason, he doesn’t look quite the same threat we know he can be at present.
Goals have never been the main part of De Bruyne’s game and his “worldies” against Watford and Newcastle underscore the fact that he is a scorer of great goals, rather than someone who regularly gets on the scoresheet.
His own form has perhaps taken a slight dip since his return from injury but he still looks like he could grab an assist at any moment, such is his ubiquitousness in open play and at set-piece situations.
For those clinging on to the two premium City midfielders, there was at least some good news: the pair were substituted midway through the second half with perhaps one eye on the Manchester derby, while Sterling avoid picking up a fourth booking of the season that would have caused him to miss Saturday’s match.
It was Sterling’s replacement Riyad Mahrez (£8.3m), incidentally, who wrapped up the scoring with a fine solo goal.
Owners of City’s defensive assets would have been peeved at the concession of a late consolation as the hosts had offered little in the way of attacking threat before that, with Rodri dominating the midfield and the recalled Nicolas Otamendi (£5.0m) having a comfortable match at centre-half.
In Burnley’s mitigation, injury deprived them of a left-back, one of their first-choice central midfielders and one half of their first-choice strike duo, while it was asking a lot of Danny Drinkwater (£4.4m) to stem the City tide in his first league start since 2017/18.
Charlie Taylor (£4.2m) and Ashley Westwood (£5.4m) were both absent entirely from the match-day squad, while Ashley Barnes (£6.3m) was only fit enough for a half-hour cameo off the bench in the second half.
Sean Dyche said of his injured trio:
Chaz [Taylor] is a hamstring, maybe for the weekend, we’ll have to wait and see.
Westy’s groin, got a chance for the weekend by protecting him tonight.
Barnesy’s been more of an ongoing thing. He did great to get out there at the weekend but it looked like it affected him, so we had to protect him for tonight.
Easier tests await the Clarets’ assets in Gameweeks 17-19 (and beyond, depending on your view of Manchester United) but the medium-term outlook is not so appealing, with Dyche’s side second-bottom of our Season Ticker over the next ten Gameweeks.
For owners of Pope, the hope will be that he can compensate for any clean sheet losses with save points – and the England custodian indeed picked up one of those on Tuesday, making four stops.
Gameweek 15 – FPL Match Reports
- Crystal Palace 1-0 Bournemouth
- Burnley 1-4 Man City
- Chelsea 2-1 Aston Villa
- Leicester 2-0 Watford
- Man Utd 2-1 Spurs
- Southampton 2-1 Norwich
- Wolves 2-0 West Ham
- Liverpool 5-2 Everton
- Sheffield United 0-2 Newcastle
- Arsenal 1-2 Brighton
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