Brighton 0-5 Manchester City
- Goals: Raheem Sterling (£11.8m) x3, Gabriel Jesus (£9.7m), Bernardo Silva (£7.6m)
- Assists: Jesus x2, Riyad Mahrez (£8.6m), Rodrigo (£5.3m)
- Bonus: Sterling x3, Jesus x2, B Silva x1
A bumper 21-point haul from Raheem Sterling (£11.8m) was the cornerstone of Manchester City’s 5-0 thrashing of Brighton.
The 17.3%-owned midfielder hit a hat-trick as Pep Guardiola’s squad rotation looked out for the many, not the few, for a Fantasy change.
All four of City’s most popular midfielders, including Kevin De Bruyne (£10.8m and 52.4%), started, with the 50,000+ managers who’d drafted in Phil Foden (£5.5m) the main losers of Gameweek 35+’s pleasingly dull instalment of Pep Roulette.
In terms of major alterations, the Poundshop Pep that is Brighton boss Graham Potter was the man to blink, although his five changes really didn’t help one bit.
The stats tell that tale with a sparse elegance – City had 26 attempts to Brighton’s three, with eight of those on target to the home side’s zero.
Five of the shots found the back of the net, starting with a lovely finish from Sterling, who curled home Gabriel Jesus‘s (£9.7m) pass from the edge of the area.
The Brazilian striker then hit the bar before scoring when he helped on Rodrigo‘s (£5.3m) flick from a De Bruyne corner.
That goal summed up the Belgian’s day – he was consistently the man who assisted the assister, while his one goal attempt involved a knuckle-ball free-kick that hit the outside of the post.
Two nil to the good before the interval, City doubled that advantage alarmingly quickly after it.
Sterling’s second, on 53 minutes, involved a close-range header from Riyad Mahrez‘s (£8.6m) cross, and three minutes later, Bernardo Silva (£7.6m) got in on the act by following up his own shot, which Brighton keeper Mat Ryan (£4.7m) should have dealt with far better.
It would be nice to report that Sterling saved his best until last, but that would be to ignore the major comedic value of the hat-trick goal.
The winger was released by substitute David Silva‘s (£7.3m) pass over the top. He flicked the ball over one defender, lost his balance in the ensuing tussle and, as he hit the turf, the ball bounced off his unsuspecting head, through Ryan’s legs and in off the post via a doomed last-ditch Dan Burn (£4.5m) clearance attempt.
It was messy and, in Fantasy terms at least, magnificent, helping Sterling to his highest haul of the campaign.
The goal also emphasised just how hot is his form at present – he’s produced three double-digit returns from the last four Gameweeks, of which he’s only started three. And in his six appearances since football resumed, Sterling has six goals, three assists, three clean sheet points and eight bonus.
Mahrez has featured in all seven City fixtures since the restart, starting six of them and producing three goals and as many assists. That might prompt alarm bells among his 10.4% ownership in the run-up to Wednesday’s Gameweek 36+ home match against Bournemouth.
And if it doesn’t, Guardiola’s post-match comments really should:
We played one team against Newcastle, today another one. A new four or five or six players will play against Bournemouth.
One of the men who might survive is Sterling. He was certainly on the receiving end of some major Pep praise, and possibly a hint as to his future selection prospects.
He is a huge competitor, self-confident, aggressive. He loves to score goals. We have wingers who score goals. This is so important. All the credit is for him, not just for the three goals, but they are important for what we have ahead of us.
City have been either brilliant or indifferent post-lockdown, winning four times by an aggregate score of 18-0, but also losing twice away from home.
Their desire to win, and win convincingly, is clearly being influenced by the fact that their best chance of winning the Champions League – possibly for quite a while – will come when that competition returns in August.
The need to find and maintain form is therefore driving this team to ruthless heights at present, and Bournemouth look ill-equipped to cope.
Jesus, with two goals and two assists from his last two starts, could be a decent differential pick as he’s owned by just 5% at present, although he is in the top five for Gameweek 36+ transfers-in, albeit a long way behind leader Sterling in that particular race.
Foden, meanwhile, has been used a lot more at home than away, and his cameo at Brighton suggests much heavier involvement to come in midweek, which could bring in good returns for his bargain basement price.
Brighton were uniformly awful against City, and Potter’s summation of the match is best left brief:
City were too good tonight. We were well beaten by the better team.
The in-form Leandro Trossard (£5.8m), who’d scored in consecutive Gameweeks before yesterday’s debacle, was the team’s brightest spark, although that was in relative terms only.
His two attempts led the way for the Seagulls, but seeing as two City defenders – Benjamin Mendy (£5.5m) and Eric Garcia (£4.5m) – and defensive midfielder Rodrigo also matched that total, it was little to write home about.
Overall, Potter’s side are more muggle than magic at present, unsurprising seeing as they’re all-but guaranteed Premier League football next season.
And their final three fixtures – home to Newcastle in between trips to Southampton and Burnley – will surely involve fewer goals than yesterday’s game, but could still all end in the same result.
The team’s most-owned asset in Fantasy Premier League (FPL) is back-up keeper David Button (£3.9m) – an apt summary of their Fantasy appeal as the season winds down.
Brighton and Hove Albion XI (4-3-2-1): Ryan; Bernardo, Webster, Dunk, Montoya (Lamptey 59); Bissouma, Mooy, Pröpper (Stephens 59); Trossard (Jahanbakhsh 70), Groß (Burn 78); Connolly (Maupay 59).
Manchester City XI (4-3-3): Ederson; Mendy (Zinchenko 64), Garcia (Stones 72), Laporte, Walker; Rodrigo (Fernandinho 72), De Bruyne (D Silva 64), B Silva; Sterling, Jesus (Foden 64), Mahrez.
FPL LESSONS LEARNED FROM GAMEWEEK 35+
- Norwich City 0-4 West Ham United
- Watford 2-1 Newcastle United
- Liverpool 1-1 Burnley
- Sheffield United 3-0 Chelsea
- Brighton and Hove Albion 0-5 Manchester City
- Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-0 Everton
- Aston Villa 2-0 Crystal Palace
- Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Arsenal
- Bournemouth 4-1 Leicester City
- Manchester United 2-2 Southampton
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