Man City 2-1 Bournemouth
- Goals: David Silva (£7.3m), Gabriel Jesus (£9.8m) | David Brooks (£6.1m)
- Assists: Silva | Callum Wilson (£7.4m)
- Bonus Points: D Silva x3, Jesus x2, Brooks x1
Manchester City assets largely let the Fantasy Premier League community down on Wednesday evening as they limped to a 2-1 win over Bournemouth.
There had been plenty of interest in their attacking options for a meeting with one of the division’s worst defences since the restart, but Pep Guardiola’s rotation policy had the last laugh.
Raheem Sterling (£11.8m) and Kevin De Bruyne (£10.8m) were at the heart of that, coming into Gameweek 36+ on 20% and 11.5% respective backing for the captaincy among the top 10,000 Fantasy managers, and both inside the five highest for effective ownership at that level too.
However, with Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal on the horizon, which, to be fair to him, Guardiola has been talking up as a game he will factor into Premier League selections, there was a glut of key men named on the bench against Bournemouth.
“(The FA Cup semi-final is factored into the selection) a little bit but some of the players are going to play on Saturday. Every game since lockdown I rotate five or six players.” – Pep Guardiola
Sterling backers will perhaps be the most frustrated as he came on to play on the right-hand side of the front-three at half-time, shifted to a centre-forward role in the 77th minute but barely had a sniff all afternoon and scored just one point. That was his first appearance at the Etihad Stadium since the restart to feature a blank.
However, there was a potential silver lining for De Bruyne owners as he remained on the bench, kept fresh for the FA Cup encounter, allowing anyone who captained or selected him to get points for their vice and/or first substitute. That is sure to cause some interesting roughs and smooths in Gameweek 36+. Make sure you let us know about them ahead of the next Scoutcast.
To be honest, De Bruyne’s absence from the pitch on Wednesday evening was one of many reasons why Manchester City were ultimately outplayed on the own turf for the first time in a long while.
Across the 90 minutes, Bournemouth bested their illustrious hosts for shots, shots in the box and big chances, thanks to some predictably shoddy defending from a centre-back pairing of John Stones (£5.3m) and Nicolas Otamendi (£4.8m). In fact, the Cherries even broke the Premier League record for most goal attempts registered at the Etihad Stadium, and fewest conceded there, during Guardiola’s time in the Premier League.
“It was a really difficult game, they played really well. We could not control it. Their high pressing was good. It was a difficult game.” – Pep Guardiola
It was these carefully timed forays into home territory that really stunted the attacking potential of Manchester City’s midfield and front-three, which featured Phil Foden (£5.5m) once more, making his fourth successive start at the Etihad Stadium.
But, unfortunately for the Englishman’s 6.4% ownership, he was a largely peripheral figure with David Silva (£7.3m) and Gabriel Jesus (£9.8m) the only two Manchester City options to offer much for their backers.
The two players nearly combined for an opening goal in the third minute when Jesus was played through on the right by an excellent Ederson (£6.0m) throw forward. The Brazilian dispatched a great ball across the box that fell just beyond Silva.
The Spaniard reminded Fantasy managers of what he could deliver in the Gameweek 38+ meeting with Norwich in the fifth minute when he curled a clinical free-kick under Aaron Ramsdale‘s (£4.4m) crossbar. While he may have to compete with De Bruyne for such responsibilities against the Canaries, it will, of course, be his last Premier League game at the Etihad on that occasion, which may allow Silva to pull rank.
The fact that Manchester City’s diminutive number 21 has now scored in every home match since the Premier League restart is, on its own, arguably good enough justification to include Silva in a Gameweek 38+ squad.
Less involved around the penalty box than he would have liked, thanks to Bournemouth’s plucky determination of field-position, Silva was about his business again in the 38th minute. He slid Jesus into the box, who stepped to the right of Steve Cook (£5.0m) and coolly buried his effort into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
Sterling’s introduction for Bernardo Silva (£7.6m) at half-time was a cause for renewed hope after a subdued first period… but it was not to be.
Between then and full-time, there were no more than three moments when Manchester City might have added to their lead, but none of them involved Sterling in any real sense.
In the 71st minute, Silva played Jesus in, who was brought down by Cook and won a penalty. However, the video assist referee revealed that the Brazilian’s trailing leg had landed on the Bournemouth defender, overturning the decision and robbing Fantasy managers of a chance to see who would take the spot-kick in De Bruyne’s absence.
Shortly after that, Jesus fired an effort back across goal following a Foden through-pass, the ball sailing past the post. That was the striker’s last involvement before Riyad Mahrez (£8.6m) took to the field in his place, shifting Sterling into a central role for the front-three.
After that tactical switch, Foden was the only Manchester player who went close, showing some nice feet at close-range by the near post before Ramsdale did enough to smother a point-blank shot.
Littered between those sparing chances for the home team, were the reason why they struggled to get any rhythm going forward: Bournemouth’s constant desire to create problems of their own.
Josh King (£6.1m) was the man asking questions in the first half, helped in his efforts by Dominic Solanke‘s (£5.1m) spirited pressing of Manchester City’s centre-back pairing.
After the former Liverpool man had won a 33rd-minute free-kick on the edge of the box, Junior Stanislas (£5.8m) nearly found the back of the net, his effort hitting the post, then Ederson’s head, and the woodwork once more.
But Eric Garcia (£4.5m) coming on to replace right-back Kyle Walker (£5.6m) at half time, and in the introduction of Callum Wilson (£7.4m) and David Brooks (£6.1m) played the biggest part in Bournemouth’s second-half onslaught, potentially even earning some Fantasy attention for the two players.
It was Brooks who fed King at the back post when he found the net but was adjudged to be offside and the Welshman was the man to get the Cherries’ deserved goal in the 88th minute.
Wilson sprung through on the right-hand side, squaring to a completely unmarked Brooks in a central location, who was left to provide a routine finish under virtually no pressure.
A minute later, Wilson almost got the equaliser as a loose ball squirted in his direction and he struck it wide on the turn.
With Southampton (home) and Everton (away), their final two matches of the season, and Premier League survival on the line, there could be worse punts to take a risk on than Bournemouth assets, especially considering the recent performances.
As we’ve already discussed, the Cherries probably could have, and should have, come away from the Etihad Stadium with a point, so with their win over Leicester and two goals at Old Trafford, there’s every chance they could get at least some attacking returns in the last two Gameweeks.
Manchester City XI (4-3-3): Ederson; Mendy (Zinchenko 77′), Otamendi, Stones, Walker (Garcia 46′); Fernandinho, Gündogan (Rodri 68′), D Silva; Foden, Jesus (Mahrez 77′), B Silva (Sterling 46′).
Bournemouth XI (4-5-1): Ramsdale; Rico, L Kelly, S Cook, Stacey; J King (H Wilson 77′), Billing (Surridge 90′), Lerma, Gosling (L Cook 70′), Stanislas (Brooks 69′); Solanke (C Wilson 69′).
FPL Lessons Learned From Gameweek 36+
- Chelsea 1-0 Norwich City
- Burnley 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Manchester City 2-1 Bournemouth
- Newcastle United 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur
- Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool
- Everton 1-1 Aston Villa
- Leicester City 2-0 Sheffield United
- Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester United
- Southampton 1-1 Brighton and Hove Albion
- West Ham United 3-1 Watford
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