Manchester United 2-0 Manchester City
- Goals: Anthony Martial (£7.9m), Scott McTominay (£4.9m)
- Assists: Bruno Fernandes (£8.4m)
- Bonus: Victor Lindelof (£5.3m) x3, David de Gea (£5.4m) x2, Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£5.3m) x1
Manchester City’s first Double Gameweek 29 fixture was a dire watch for Fantasy managers who went all-in on Pep Guardiola’s side.
After an underwhelming set of scores from Arsenal’s key attackers on Saturday, this was another blow for anyone who lumped on assets with two fixtures this Gameweek.
Not one City player registered more than two points at Old Trafford, with Sergio Aguero (£11.9m) failing to even last 60 minutes, two Ederson (£6.0m) errors costing his side a clean sheet, and the likes of Riyad Mahrez (£8.4m), Benjamin Mendy (£5.5m) and Gabriel Jesus (£9.5m) reduced to second-half substitute’s appearances.
Kevin De Bruyne (£10.7m), by some distance the most-owned City asset in Fantasy Premier League, didn’t even make the bench, with the 2018/19 champions not prepared to take a risk on the Belgian’s shoulder injury.
There is still one more Double Gameweek 29 match to come for City, of course, and there could still be plenty of points to be salvaged from the wreck on Wednesday night at the Etihad.
Concern remains over who makes the starting XI against Arsenal and just how fully motivated the Citizens will be, however.
Guardiola’s comments on De Bruyne just before kick-off on Sunday not only cast the influential midfielder’s involvement in midweek in some doubt but confirmed what many of us were thinking: that the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup will now take precedent over the Premier League, given that the title race is effectively over and City are looking assured of a top-four place (whether that leads to European qualification or not):
He feels better but he doesn’t feel 100%. And we don’t take risks. We have three important games in the Premier League but of course, the position that we have, Madrid and Newcastle are the real important games for us.
The likes of De Bruyne, Aguero and Mahrez will continue to get Premier League minutes from now until mid-May but anticipating when those starts will come may now be even trickier.
To give two examples, the Gameweek 30 clash with Burnley comes three days before the rematch with Real Madrid, while the two legs of the Champions League quarter-finals (should Guardiola’s side make it that far) fall either side of a Gameweek 33 trip to Southampton.
Aguero’s participation on Wednesday night might also hinge on his fitness, as he was spotted with an ice pack on his thigh immediately after being withdrawn at Old Trafford – although this is not an uncommon practise for substituted players who are nursing even the most minor of knocks and there has been no word from the City camp on any injury so far.
The Argentine striker had little to work with in the Manchester derby, not registering a single legitimate shot on goal and having fewer touches of the ball than even Mahrez managed in a 30-minute cameo.
Aguero did have the ball in the net just after the break but was denied by an offside flag, with a quick VAR check confirming that the premium FPL forward had marginally strayed beyond the last man.
There were few players in light blue who actually made a positive impression, in all honesty.
Raheem Sterling (£11.7m) was pocketed by the excellent Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£5.3m), while Phil Foden (£5.1m) posed very little threat on a rare Premier League start and there was precious little creativity from the visitors’ central midfield sans De Bruyne.
Sterling did test David de Gea (£5.4m) with a low effort early on and went close to connecting with Mahrez’s cross on 74 minutes but City had only seven shots on goal all game, the joint-fourth-lowest total in Gameweek 29 so far.
There was encouragement at the back for owners of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.1m) and co, meanwhile.
With City deprived of Aymeric Laporte‘s (£6.3m) services, we were treated to one of Nicolas Otamendi‘s (£5.0m) more reckless displays, with the experienced stopper perhaps fortunate not to concede a penalty for a challenge on Fred (£5.3m).
Otamendi’s woes paled in comparison to Ederson’s horror show, however, with the Brazilian goalkeeper first letting Anthony Martial‘s (£7.9m) deadlock-breaking strike squirm through his grasp and then having to dash back to his line to prevent the Frenchman from adding a second when a routine pass back from Joao Cancelo (£5.2m) rolled under his feet.
Ederson then laid the ball on a plate for Scott McTominay (£4.9m) to seal the victory in stoppage time, with the Brazil international’s misplaced throw out presenting the United substitute with an empty net from 35 yards.
As one would expect, Guardiola backed his goalkeeper after full-time:
He saved one or two, he’s an exceptional goalkeeper. I don’t come to judge my players, mistakes are part of the game. He will recover.
It’s part of the game so next time he’s going to be better. He’s an extraordinary player. The way we needed the build-up, sometimes it happens.
This was another superb result for United in one of the so-called ‘bigger’ games, with the Red Devils having taken six points off their cross-city rivals in 2019/20 on top of victories over the likes of Chelsea (twice), Spurs and Leicester.
Jose Mourinho’s fatigued troops are next up for United in Gameweek 30 and there is little to fear in north London at present, despite the red blob on the Season Ticker.
It has often been in matches against the ‘also-rans’ that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have struggled this season and United have plenty of those after the international break, with six successive fixtures against bottom-half teams from Gameweeks 32-37 (FA Cup permitting).
In Bruno Fernandes (£8.4m), however, they now possess a player capable of unlocking most defences.
His superb, no-look assist from a free-kick for Martial’s goal was his fifth attacking return since his debut in Gameweek 25 (nobody has more in that time) and the bleak days of Andreas Pereira (£4.8m) playing in the number ten role are a dim memory.
He should also perhaps have had a penalty to take for that aforementioned foul by Otamendi on Fred, while a bit more vision and less selfishness from Dan James (£5.8m) in the 69th minute would have seen the Portuguese midfielder played in unmarked on the edge of the City box.
Martial is certainly prospering from his new teammate’s arrival, with his last two league goals owing much to the vision of Fernandes.
The Frenchman continues to impress and frustrate in equal measure, having failed to capitalise on two chances shortly before his opener, but he now has seven goals to his name in the last 11 Gameweeks – only Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£6.4m) has more in that time.
Those who aren’t using the Free Hit chip in Gameweek 31 and who don’t already own the likes of Martial and/or Fernandes are unlikely to make a move for the in-form pair now, given United’s upcoming blank, but the Portugal international is nevertheless the most-bought player of Gameweek 30 at present and the bandwagon will surely only gain further momentum after the international break.
Interest in United’s defence may also gather speed.
This was their fourth clean sheet in five league games (their eighth in ten matches in all competitions), with Victor Lindelof (£5.3m), de Gea and Wan-Bissaka all pocketing bonus points to supplement their shut-outs.
Brandon Williams (£4.1m) was recalled to the starting XI as McTominay made way, with the hosts reverting to a wing-back system for the visit of Guardiola’s side.
The ease with which they kept City out was particularly impressive and Solskjaer said after the match:
Look at the two goals we’ve conceded [over the last ten games] – one shouldn’t have been given against Club Brugge because the ball was rolling [from their goal-kick] and the last one was David [De Gea’s mistake], so we are getting there.
At times, we pressed and pushed them back and we tried to be aggressive with the wing-backs and three up front. So we ended up with three at the back, and, when we hit the press, I think we made them make mistakes and, of course, we’re happy with the result.
Manchester United XI (3-4-1-2): De Gea; Maguire, Lindelof, Shaw; Wan-Bissaka, Matic, Fred, Williams (Bailly 78′); Fernandes (Ighalo 88′); James, Martial (McTominay 78′).
Manchester City XI (4-3-3): Ederson; Cancelo, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Zinchenko (Mendy 77′); B Silva (Mahrez 59′), Rodri, Gundogan; Foden, Sterling, Aguero (Jesus 59′).
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