Sheffield Utd 0-1 Manchester City
- Goals: Sergio Aguero (£11.9m)
- Assists: Kevin de Bruyne (£10.7m)
- Penalty misses: Gabriel Jesus (£9.5m)
- Penalty saves: Dean Henderson (£4.9m)
- Bonus Points: Henderson x3, Nicolas Otamendi x3 (£5.0m), de Bruyne x1
Sergio Aguero (£11.9m) continued to pester Fantasy Premier League managers not in possession of him by extending his scoring run at Sheffield United.
His ever-increasing ownership, now at 19.5%, were initially left frustrated to see Pep Guardiola name him on the bench but, such is the Argentinian’s form right now, he didn’t let that get in the way of further attacking returns.
All Aguero needed was 23 minutes on the pitch at Bramall Lane to find the net, latching onto the end of a trademark Kevin de Bruyne (£10.7m) cross.
“He is on fire right now. Strikers need momentum and I feel he has it. Three goals before, two goals the other day and he scored today.” – Pep Guardiola
It means Aguero has now scored in each of his last four Premier League matches, his total of seven since Gameweek 20 the most of any top-flight forward at the time of writing.
Even though Aguero finished his latest game with just four points to his name, courtesy of a yellow card, there are still plenty of encouragements for his owners moving forward.
These are mainly connected with Gabriel Jesus (£9.5m) who had an evening to forget at Bramall Lane.
It was the Brazilian who came in for Aguero, joined in the front-three by Raheem Sterling (£11.7m) and Riyad Mahrez (£8.5m), but for the first hour or so, Manchester City were decidedly flat in attack.
Pep Guardiola had tried to match Sheffield United’s system, to some extent, playing Fernandinho (£5.2m), Nicolas Otamendi (£5.0m) and the returning Aymeric Laporte (£6.3m) in a back-three. However, this decision, reportedly taken to protect Laporte, did not bring the best out in Manchester City.
“Yeah (Laporte is okay). He could not play 90 minutes, especially here. That’s why we play with five at the back to protect him. He is an important player for us and we missed him a lot.” – Pep Guardiola
Sheffield United, who have defended admirably this season, were equal to most of what was thrown at them initially.
They did concede a penalty when Mahrez was brought down in the box after 35 minutes, but Dean Henderson (£4.9m) stepped up to save Jesus’ effort.
It is this miss that summed up his night, to the point that Pep Guardiola even admitted after the game that he may have to review the penalty situation at Manchester City.
“I have to reflect on (the penalty situation). I always give confidence to the players to take it but maybe I have to take the decision which guy is going to take it – not for Gabriel today because Sergio and Raheem have missed too but we are not safe. In the knockout stages, it’s so important because these kind of details make the difference most of the time. We have to reflect on it. I have to make the decision [on] the guy who will take the penalty. Ederson is the best. Believe me, he’s the best taker we have in penalties. Eddy has no blood in his veins, he’s so calm so he could do it.” – Pep Guardiola
Crucially, Manchester City took on a new lease of life once Aguero took to the pitch. With the team having previously playing quite static prior to the change, there was considerably better and more insightful movement afterwards.
While Aguero’s goals will have gone a long way to re-establishing himself as the in-form centre-forward, his owners may be boosted even more by Tuesday’s performance from Jesus.
As for de Bruyne, he continues to tick over with points, despite the decreased interest in his services for the Double Gameweek.
The Belgian was sold by over 200,000 managers in the fallout of Gameweek 23, only Marcus Rashford (£9.1m), Jamie Vardy (£10.0m), Tammy Abraham (£7.8m) and Richarlison (£8.1m) moved on by more.
In the end, de Bruyne ended up with a seven-point score, adjusted down from nine when he was initially awarded maximum bonus at full-time, which probably suited all parties given the context of the Double Gameweek.
Those who held onto the Belgian will certainly be content with another return, while those who sold him for Mohamed Salah (£12.4m) or Sadio Mané (£12.4m) may already be confident their new Liverpool midfielder can eclipse seven points across two matches.
Either way, a trip to Spurs in Gameweek 25 will hardly put off investment in Manchester City players, be it Aguero or de Bruyne, considering their defensive record since Mourinho’s arrival. After that, Manchester City host West Ham in Gameweek 26 so the short-term fixtures are still positive for de Bruyne and his colleagues.
Meanwhile, those in possession of Mahrez continue to experience nothing but bad luck. He was arguably the best player on the pitch for Manchester City against Sheffield United but left Bramall Lane with no Fantasy returns.
It was the Algerian who was fouled for the first-half penalty and he would have earned an assist had Jesus been able to put it away.
Finally, even though Laporte was back and Manchester City kept a much-needed clean sheet, there were still a few opportunities for Sheffield United.
John Fleck (£5.0m), who has been in fine form recently, was nearly played in during the first-half while Oli McBurnie (£5.7m) spurned a chance in the second period.
Also, Fantasy managers should take note of the fact that John Lundstram (£5.1m), as some suspected, did drop out of the team.
He was replaced by Muhamed Bešić (£4.4m) but came on for the final 12 minutes.
Whether this leaves Lundstram in a dangerous position of losing his place regularly remains to be seen. He has played a lot of football this season and it has taken some time for the competition to catch up with him. At the very least, it’s a situation for Fantasy managers to monitor.
Sheffield United XI (3-5-2): D Henderson; O’Connell, Egan, Basham (Robinson 78′); Stevens, Fleck, Norwood, Bešić (Lundstram 78′), Baldock; Sharp (Mousset 59′), McBurnie.
Manchester City XI (3-4-3): Ederson; Laporte (Garcia 78′), Otamendi, Fernandinho; Zinchenko, Rodri, De Bruyne, Walker; Sterling (B Silva 90+2′), Jesus (Aguero 67′), Mahrez.
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