Man City 3-0 Arsenal
- Goals: Raheem Sterling (£11.7m), Kevin De Bruyne (£10.6m), Phil Foden (£5.1m)
- Assists: De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez (£8.5m), Sergio Aguero (£11.8m)
- Bonus Points: De Bruyne x3, Sterling x2, Bernd Leno x1 (£5.0m), Benjamin Mendy x1 (£5.5m)
Kevin De Bruyne (£10.6m) pulled the strings for Manchester City as they ran out 3-0 victors over a poor Arsenal side on Wednesday evening.
It was the perfect start to Double Gameweek 30+ for over half of the top 10,000 FPL managers who captained the Belgian, while over one million worldwide made the same decision.
De Bruyne was awarded the assist for Raheem Sterling‘s (£11.7m) first-half goal before dispatching a second-half penalty won by Riyad Mahrez (£8.5m).
It could have been an even bigger score for De Bruyne, who played Mahrez in for a well-saved effort during the first half before Sterling chipped over from close-range shortly after receiving a perfect pass from the Belgian.
From a captaincy perspective, the midfield maestro’s big haul is best viewed in the context of Sergio Aguero‘s (£11.8m) evening though. The Argentinian was the second-most-captained player among the top 10k for this round but found himself on the Manchester City bench at first.
With Gabriel Jesus (£9.6m) starting in his place, Aguero managed just 12 minutes of game-time, handing a serious advantage to De Bruyne backers at this half-way stage of Double Gameweek 30+.
However, there remains some hope of big things to come for Aguero owners as Manchester City prepare to host Burnley on Monday night.
Nearly 80 minutes for Jesus surely guarantees a start for Aguero in their second Double Gameweek 30+ match and he showed plenty of threat during his short spell against Arsenal.
During the 12 minutes he was on the pitch, Aguero hit the post, gaining an assist for Phil Foden‘s (£5.1m) goal in the process, and struck the side-netting too.
Furthermore, while De Bruyne did take Manchester City’s last penalty before lockdown (against Real Madrid), the one he took on Wednesday night was awarded when Aguero was on the bench, so there is still a chance the Argentinian may have something to say about spot-kicks on Monday.
However, the fact that Aguero was benched for this game will already be worrying some of his owners about long-term prospects in their squad, especially as Pep Guardiola admitted once again that each line-up has to, right now, be chosen with the next one in mind.
“We have one eye on the next game, yeah. So we select this (team) having an eye on the next one and then it’s five days, three days, three days, four days.” – Pep Guardiola
The same could arguably be said of Sterling, whose chances of starting against Burnley may have taken a hit following his 90-minute outing on Wednesday.
It was, of course, a positive night for the Englishman, who scored his first goal of 2020 after a poor start to the year pre-lockdown. That said, he is still not yet back to his explosive and ruthless best in quite the same way as De Bruyne, although this is perhaps excusable given the long lay-off.
Either way, it is no secret that Guardiola has plenty of other options to use on the flanks of his front three instead of Sterling.
Included in that number is Mahrez who, unlike his English colleague, had his minutes managed against Arsenal, taken off in the 65th minute. That substitution, after a relatively positive display, suggests the Algerian could be in with a chance of another start on Monday night.
Mahrez found plenty of space on the right-hand side, especially in the first half, and could have got a goal of his own were it not for an impressive performance from Bernd Leno (£5.0m).
The former Leicester man should have had another chance to find the back of the net but was bundled over by David Luiz (£5.7m) in the 49th minute. It was this foul that led to De Bruyne’s penalty, which Mahrez claimed the assist for, at least.
Also waiting in the wings for Guardiola’s side are Bernardo Silva (£7.7m) and Leroy Sané (£9.3m), with neither option exposed to too much game-time against Arsenal. The Portuguese international came on for Mahrez in the 65th minute, while Sané remained an unused substitute. Fantasy managers will be keen to see which of them is used when Burnley visit the Etihad Stadium, so we can start to get an idea of what Guardiola’s rotation policy is going to be when it comes to the wide areas of the front three.
It may take another Manchester City outing to tell us the full story about their defensive set-up for the remainder of the season too, as there are plenty of options at the back for Guardiola.
The 3.4% of managers invested in Aymeric Laporte (£6.3m) will be satisfied at the half-way point of Double Gameweek 30+. He was named in the starting line-up for the meeting with Arsenal and his removal on 69 minutes ensured a banked clean sheet.
Furthermore, it looks as if Guardiola may have brought Laporte off intending to start him again when Burnley come to the Etihad on Monday night.
“Laporte was back from a long injury and there are a lot of players we believe cannot play 90 minutes but 50, 60, 70 minutes is good. Maybe next game they play another one and we try to maintain everybody fit.” – Pep Guardiola
Laporte now looks an even surer starter after a particularly nasty injury sustained by centre-back partner Eric Garcia (£4.5m).
The youngster was making his first start at the heart of the Manchester City defence since Gameweek 21 and looked comfortable until the closing stages.
Ederson (£6.0m) charged out of his box to head away a long ball over the top, clattering into Garcia in the process. The centre-back was down receiving treatment for the best part of 10 minutes and is unlikely to be involved against Burnley.
“We are a little bit concerned. He responds quite well but we have to wait. He is conscious right now, which is good, but I think he’s going to need an extra test and maybe (go to hospital).” – Pep Guardiola
Garcia’s likely absence for Monday night reduces the total of recognised centre-backs available to three, with Laporte facing competition from Nicolas Otamendi (£4.9m) and John Stones (£5.3m) to start again – although Fernandinho (£5.1m) has frequently been deployed at the heart of the defence this season and Rodrigo (£5.5m) has also been known to play there.
Fantasy managers may also be keeping an eye on Kyle Walker (£5.6m), who made some exciting forward runs against Arsenal. His 90-minute outing could count against him for the Burnley game, with Joao Cancelo (£5.1m) available, but Walker has now played 90 minutes in five of the last six Premier League matches for Manchester City.
As for whether or not the Citizens can be trusted for further clean sheets moving forward may well depend on their upcoming opponents, rather than their own defensive solidity.
That is not to say they were uncomfortable against Arsenal, more that the Gunners could not produce much to trouble them.
They had just three shots in the match, none of which were on target. In fact, they went without an effort on goal between the 25th minute and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang‘s (£11.1m) feeble stoppage-time stab.
As an aside, the Gabonese international was one of just a few outfield Arsenal players to even turn up for Fantasy managers, although a 90-minute outing ahead of a 66-hour turnaround hardly inspires confidence of a start against Brighton. Nicolas Pépé (£9.3m) and Mesut Özil (£7.3m) were both heavily discussed as Double Gameweek 30+ options but the former was an unused substitute while the latter was omitted from the matchday squad entirely due to “tactical reasons” despite previously starting every Premier League match under Mikel Arteta.
Generally speaking, Arsenal were held back in their efforts on Wednesday by lots of things not going according to design. Their game-plan was dealt two killer blows inside the first 25 minutes when Granit Xhaka (£4.8m) and Pablo Mari (£5.1m) were both forced off with injuries.
The defensive midfielder had to be replaced inside five minutes for an ankle problem, making way for the less combative Dani Ceballos (£5.2m). Meanwhile, Mari’s injury meant David Luiz (£5.7m) came on for a horrific 25-minute spell in which he gifted Sterling an opening goal, gave away a second-half penalty and got sent off in the process.
“I don’t know (if the injuries were because of lockdown). If they were muscular injuries, maybe yes (it could be because of lockdown) but these ones, I don’t think so.” – Mikel Arteta
“It was not the team’s fault, it was my fault. I should have taken a different decision in the last few moments.” – David Luiz
Ultimately, the key player for Arsenal was, as Double Gameweek Bench Boosters had been hoping, goalkeeper Leno.
Despite conceding three times, the goalkeeper still managed to get himself one of the bonus points, having produced nine saves. With another Double Gameweek match to go, Leno already has five points to his name. With favourable fixtures on the horizon, it will be interesting to see if he can hold onto his ownership past Double Gameweek 30+.
Manchester City XI (4-3-3): Ederson; Mendy, Laporte (Fernandinho 70′), Garcia, Walker; De Bruyne (Rodrigo 70′), Gundogan, D Silva (Foden 65′); Sterling, Jesus (Aguero 80′), Mahrez (B Silva 65′).
Arsenal XI (4-3-2-1): Leno; Tierney, Mari (D Luiz 24′), Mustafi, Bellerín; Xhaka (Ceballos 8′), Guendouzi (Maitland-Niles 67′), Willock (Nelson 67′); Aubameyang, Saka; Nketiah (Lacazette 67′).
Double Gameweek 30+ FPL Lessons Learned
- Aston Villa 0-0 Sheffield United
- Manchester City 3-0 Arsenal
- Norwich City 0-3 Southampton
- Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Manchester United
- Watford 1-1 Leicester City
- Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1 Arsenal
- West Ham United 0-2 Wolves
- Bournemouth 0-2 Crystal Palace
- Newcastle United 3-0 Sheffield United
- Aston Villa 1-2 Chelsea
- Everton 0-0 Liverpool
- Manchester City 5-0 Burnley
Nominated for ‘Best in Fantasy Football – Editorial’ at the Football Content Awards 2020
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