Lights, Camera, Action. The game we love is (somewhat) back. And I’m incredibly excited.
Yes, a lot is wrong with the world right now but Football and the Fantasy Premier League being back brings back a sense of normality, one we haven’t had for a while and one we can certainly use. I’ve really missed writing for you and I sincerely hope this article finds your family and you in good health.
If being back wasn’t enough, FPL has whet our appetites with a Double Gameweek for the Premier League’s top scorers in Manchester City. And with the matches set to come thick and fast this summer, who knows what our favourite roulette master Pep Guardiola is going to do?
But for all the uncertainty over their assets, a Double Gameweek which pits Manchester City against an Arsenal side they beat 3-0 earlier this season, we simply have to pay them some attention. The fixtures are not yet confirmed but there’s a chance their other Double Gameweek 39 opponents could be Burnley, who conceded four times the last time they faced the Citizens. Roll the dice we must.
Especially when we consider how dominant they have been from an attacking standpoint, this season, as you can see from the table below. Don’t forget that, Manchester City have played one fewer game than the majority of Premier League teams so far.
|Man City’s attack||Total||Rank||Notes|
|Shots||542||1||Chelsea second on 481|
|Shots in the box||367||1||Liverpool second on 321|
|Big chances||103||1||Liverpool second 89|
|xG||67.65||1||Liverpool second on 56.09|
Simply put, we are talking about the best attack in the league and, despite all the talk of rotation threat and going blind in terms of form, you’re not going to win the pot if you don’t play the chips. As I always say, in FPL, you have to put yourself in a position to get lucky.
Kevin De Bruyne
What is there to say about Kevin De Bruyne (£10.6m) that hasn’t been said already? With eight goals and 18 assists so far, only Mohamed Salah (£12.7m) has more FPL points than him this season and no player has created more chances or more big chances either. Not just that, only four more players in the league have more shots than De Bruyne although a lot of them do come from outside the box.
From Gameweeks 1 to 29 (excudes Fantasy assists)
For anyone wondering whether or not we can trust De Bruyne to start in this upcoming Double Gameweek 39, Ederson (£6.0m) is the only Manchester City player to have registered more minutes this season.
He is arguably the most nailed outfielder available, although Guardiola may still want to manage his game-time. Manchester City don’t have much left to play for in the Premier League but their hopes of trophies remain alive in the FA Cup and the Champions League.
The FA Cup quarter-finals are to be provisionally played on the weekend of June 27 and June 28, with the Champions League resuming once all domestic competitions have been completed. You could argue that, due to his importance, and the need to prioritise other tournaments, De Bruyne could become as rotation-prone as his other attacking colleagues.
However, it must be said that De Bruyne has a good record against Arsenal, who Manchester City meet first out of the traps. The last time the two sides met, he scored twice and registered an assist. His 45.7% ownership are likely to remember that and he is certainly going to be a strong captain option for Double Gameweek 39.
If you’ve ever read one of my articles before, you will know that Sergio Aguero (£11.8m) and I have a bit of a love affair going on. For me, he simply is the most explosive asset in the game, even today. A lot of my FPL success down through the years and in recent times has been because of him.
While most consider Gabriel Jesus (£9.6m) to be a problem, for me he’s the perfect Aguero-repellant for enough managers to make Sergio a big differential, who is currently owned by just 17.5%.
I consistently trust him with the armband (and the Triple Captain chip) and when he comes through, the jump is always huge. This game is about fun and there is no one more fun in this game than Sergio Aguero. We don’t know how many more seasons we will get out of him and that is one of the reasons I keep going back to him. For me, it’s personal.
Personal bias aside, there is a lot of merit in picking (and even captaining) Aguero when FPL returns. Despite playing only 1,394 minutes this season, he has scored 16 goals this season. He’s not likely to play more than 120 minutes in the Double Gameweek and is not nailed for the upcoming cramped schedule. But if you are deploying a chip in the coming Double Gameweek, this is why you should consider him:
From Gameweeks 1 to 29 (excudes Fantasy assists)
As you can see, Aguero tops the league for minutes per expected goal involvement this season. This means that, if and when he starts, a return is not very far away.
It is worth noting that the stats for Jesus and Raheem Sterling (£11.7m) look very encouraging here, but they don’t quite possess the Aguero’s class and ruthlessness to deliver, in my opinion.
Furthermore, when filtered by the new ‘per 90’ filter in the Members area, Aguero averages a massive 0.99 goals per 90 minutes, by far the best rate amongst all outfielders. He started the season pretty quickly as well, scoring six goals in Manchester City’s first four games this season. Could he race out of the traps at a similar rate when the Premier League returns?
Facing Arsenal is also a personal boon for Aguero, having scored 11 goals in his last 15 games against them. Also, if Burnley are confirmed as the second Double Gameweek match for Manchester City, the Argentinian should have no problems there either, having netted nine goals in his last seven against the Clarets. A lot of people call me lucky when it comes to Aguero, but as I always repeat, this game is about putting yourself in a position to get lucky, and you can’t do that if you don’t own the man.
Despite scoring more than 225 points in each of his last two campaigns, Sterling has not been quite the same FPL asset in 2019/20.
He started the season with a bang and most of the Fantasy community considered him essential during pre-season and in the early Gameweeks, but since then, his appeal has tailed off significantly. Between Gameweeks 11 and 29, he only registered five attacking returns; not the recipe for a must-own asset by any stretch.
This mid-season reboot could change things though. This is a player that has produced 30+ attacking returns in the league in each of his previous two campaigns, so I wouldn’t expect Sterling to be off-form for much longer. Add to that the fact that he might get to play on his preferred right-side again with Leroy Sané (£9.3m) back in the mix, a player he loves to link up with. I don’t have all the data on this, but watching the goals Manchester City scored in the 2018/19 season, a huge bulk of Sterling’s goals were tap-ins assisted by his German counterpart on the other flank.
Another factor in favour of Sterling is that he is naturally very fit. Given his age and fitness, there is a chance that he could see a lot of game-time in the Double Gameweek. De Bruyne is the only outfield Manchester City asset to see more minutes than Sterling this season.
Of course, there is the caveat that there is more competition for his place than in many others. You’ve only got to look at Sané himself, as well as Bernardo Silva (£7.7m) and Riyad Mahrez (£8.5m). Each of these makes Sterling more prone to rotation, although that caveat does apply to almost every Manchester City outfielder.
Sterling’s versatility is to his credit though and I’m hoping that we get to see him on the right with Sané on the left in at least one of the two Double Gameweek games.
Despite having a relatively poor season, Sterling is still only behind Salah for total xGI score among outfield players in 2019/20 and has the second highest number of shots in the box tally amongst all midfielders.
Sterling was flying in August, scoring five times in Manchester City’s first three Premier League games. If he finds his form back, he is one of the most explosive Manchester City options out there. Owned by only 15.5% of Fantasy managers worldwide, right now, I’m strongly considering giving him the armband for the Double Gameweek. Sterling is the perfect option for upside-chasing.
There are still a few other options definitely worth considering. We saw above that Jesus’ statistics are usually very good when he plays. At 3.2% ownership, he could be a fantastic differential option, especially if he does get to face Burnley in Double Gameweek 39, a team he netted a brace against earlier in the campaign. Whether we can trust him to start is another matter, of course, and it’s hard to argue that, out of the two, he is a better finisher than Aguero.
Mahrez has had a much better season than I think many of us realised and is a well-priced explosive punt from the Manchester City midfield.
As you can see in the table above, he isn’t far away from De Bruyne for mins per xGI and has more attacking returns than Sterling despite playing nearly 650 fewer minutes, and for £3.3m cheaper too.
I quite like the price and explosiveness of this punt in case you can’t afford Sterling or if you want a differential (9.7% ownership) capable of double-digit hauls – Mahrez has five of these this season. I do personally think his minutes will be managed more though as Sané’s return to fitness gives Pep the option of playing Sterling on his preferred right-side.
I’m not so keen on David Silva (£7.3m) or Bernardo Silva as they don’t feel quite as explosive for this Double Gameweek, although Sané as an extreme left-field (quite literally) explosive punt should you fancy it, sounds really exciting.
MAN CITY’S DEFENCE
Before we start looking at the players, let us quickly look at Man City’s defensive credentials across 2019/20 so far.
|Man City’s defence||Total||Rank|
|Shots conceded in the box||149||1|
|Big Chances Conceded||43||3|
Manchester City’s defensive numbers have been pretty good this season and will probably only get better with the return of their best defender, Aymeric Laporte (£6.3m) who is a bit of a Double Gameweek specialist.
He and Ederson are certainly the stand-out options compared to the rest of the Citizens’ backline. We can expect the goalkeeper to play 180 minutes in a Double Gameweek, although we can’t be quite as confident about Laporte who has not played competitive football for a while.
I do think the potential for five substitutions in a match could influence the thinking here. We have seen in the Bundesliga that if an attacker does not look sharp, managers are freely bringing them off and shaking up their offences. As a result, the number of clean sheets has shrunk.
I would also worry about full-backs like Benjamin Mendy (£5.5m) being subbed before 60 minutes if we did have more substitutions on offer to Guardiola. Because of this, the opposition scoring a goal is not the only thing I would worry about for my defender banking a clean sheet in a Double Gameweek.
Ederson is the only one I would really consider from that City defence and pick up defenders from the likes of Sheffield United for the Double Gameweek. That could change if Pep says positive things about Laporte in the next 3 weeks.
If you are building a more long-term team, the likes of Sterling, De Bruyne, Laporte (fitness dependant) and Ederson are the key Manchester City assets I would consider. If you are putting together more of a short-term team for the Double Gameweek, I would consider packing it with short term explosive options.
As for my plan, I am currently set on De Bruyne, Sterling and Aguero for the Double Gameweek. That said, Ederson, Mahrez, Sané and Laporte are still on my radar.
These are early days and a lot will depend on information we will get in the future. At the time of writing, I don’t know if we will get unlimited transfers for the upcoming Double Gameweek. I currently have no players from the four Double Gameweek teams and a Free Hit, Wildcard and Bench Boost in hand. I will most certainly attack the Double Gameweek going in blind (Free Hit) and then Wildcard early once I’ve identified form players.
I could even look at an early Bench Boost if we have no further Double Gameweeks so that I can target particular fixtures for my bench.
If we get unlimited transfers before the restart of FPL, I will pick players for the Double Gameweek and Wildcard soon after. I’m sitting at an Overall Rank of 1,026 and looking to attack the first few Gameweeks with a more long-term Wildcard later because I personally don’t know if and when we might have to stop the games again.
I’ve also done a short thread on Sheffield United defenders which you can see here:
[THREAD]— Lateriser12 (@lateriser12) May 31, 2020
A deeper look at the Sheffield United defence. Stats courtesy @FFScout .
With #FPL about to resume and a DGW to start with, the Sheffield United defence that has kept 10 clean sheets this season (Only Liverpool and Burnley have kept more) warrants our attention.
I hope you enjoyed that slightly long piece and personally it’s been great diving in and thinking about FPL so as to forget what is happening in the world albeit for a short period of time. My suggestion to you is whatever is thrown at us in the last few Gameweeks, go on, have some fun with your team and simply enjoy it.
I also found out this week that Fantasy Football Scout are nominated for The Football Content awards. It’s been a privilege to be a part of this team this year and if you’ve enjoyed reading what David, Neale, Paul, the other Pro-Pundits and I have put out this year and if we’ve made a positive contribution to your FPL season, feel free to vote using the link below!
Nominated for ‘Best in Fantasy Football – Editorial’ at the Football Content Awards 2020
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