Wolves 1-3 Man City
- Goals: Raúl Jiménez (£8.5m) | Kevin De Bruyne (£11.6m), Phil Foden (£6.5m), Gabriel Jesus (£9.5m)
- Assists: Daniel Podence (£5.5m) | Raheem Sterling (£11.5m), De Bruyne
- Bonus points: De Bruyne x3, Foden x2, Jesus x1
Kevin De Bruyne‘s (£11.6m) new role at Manchester City looks set to have a massive impact on Fantasy Premier League managers this season.
Having spent much of 2019/20 in a central midfield trio, the Belgian was deployed as an out-and-out number 10 in Monday night’s 3-1 win over Wolves, something that heavily influenced his 13-point haul.
De Bruyne registered a goal and assist at Molineux, spending the evening causing unending problems for a defence that has been the Premier League’s best since Gameweek 25 of last season.
In that time, Wolves had ranked best for shots in the box conceded, big chances conceded, shots on target conceded, expected goals conceded (xGC) and clean sheets. But De Bruyne’s more attacking role helped Manchester City dismantle Nuno Espirito Santo’s men with relative ease.
The Belgian’s number 10 duties were facilitated by the addition of Nathan Aké (£5.5m) to Pep Guardiola’s squad. That meant, despite Aymeric Laporte (£6.0m) missing the game, that Fernandinho (£5.5m) was free to return to midfield, where he formed a defensive patrol alongside Rodrigo (£5.5m).
“Fernandinho will be really important. He’s 35 years old and he cannot play every three days. Last year he struggled a lot to be fit for most of the season but he played really well with Rodri [against Wolves]. They were both good with and without the ball.” – Pep Guardiola
They were an effective pair in terms of protecting Manchester City’s back-four from Wolves’ attackers for most of the game, allowing De Bruyne to focus only what was in front of him. As already mentioned, the result was a man-of-the-match performance from the premium midfielder, as he tormented Wolves all night long, scored a fifth penalty in all competitions since February, and threw himself into the captaincy conversation for a Gameweek 3 visit to the Etihad Stadium for Leicester City.
“Not just today but since we came back, every training session I feel (De Bruyne) is incredibly committed. Right now, he is an incredibly important player for us. He always was but with the situation, we are in now he is so important. He played really well, shot an incredible penalty, he was strong and he did it perfectly. The amount of assists, how he runs. He played really well, like the whole team.” – Pep Guardiola
The question is, will Guardiola continue to use De Bruyne as a number 10? It is always impossible to second-guess the Manchester City boss, of course, but considering how effective his 4-2-3-1 formation was at Molineux, it would make a lot of sense to deploy it against Leicester too.
In many respects, Guardiola will be restricted in how much he can tweak his team selection for Gameweek 3 considering the number of absent players right now. Bernardo Silva (£7.5m) is out until the international break, while Ilkay Gundögan (£5.5m) has tested positive for coronavirus.
“Joao (Cancelo), Bernardo (Silva), Oleks(andr Zinchenko) and Sergio (Aguero) will be longer probably after the international break. That is the situation today but it will maybe change a little bit.” – Pep Guardiola
Those absences should leave Guardiola with no option but to roll with Fernandinho, Rodrigo and De Bruyne in midfield against Leicester. Meanwhile, the City manager has done his Fantasy counterparts a favour in terms of peace of mind, by revealing on Monday night that the Thursday-evening EFL Cup match would mostly feature younger and academy players instead of key first-teamers.
Meanwhile, Aguero’s ongoing absence boosts the FPL credentials of Gabriel Jesus (£9.5m), who got his first goal of the season in Monday night’s win.
While Raheem Sterling (£11.5m) and Phil Foden (£6.5m) still have to compete with Riyad Mahrez (£8.5m) and new signing Ferran Torres (£7.0m) for starting berths on the flanks of attacking midfield, there is a lot more certainty of starts for Jesus until Aguero returns.
The Brazilian made the most of his first outing of the campaign at Wolves, acting as a tireless member of the attack and going close to finding the net before his stoppage-time goal.
In the 42nd minute, he provided an excellent cushion header for De Bruyne to ghost past Willy Boly (£5.5m) and get one-on-one with Rui Patrício (£5.5m). The Wolves goalkeeper produced a fantastic save to deny the Belgian, who would have earned an assist for Jesus.
In the 52nd minute, De Bruyne played an outside-of-the-boot pass to Jesus, who came back across Conor Coady (£5.0m) and saw his left-foot shot saved by Patrício again.
Then, late in the game, the striker surged forward on the counter-attack and fired a powerful shot from distance that Patrício did well to tip around the post. It looked as if it would be a night of bad luck for Jesus owners in terms of attacking returns, until De Bruyne rolled the ball to him on the edge of the box, allowing him to blast home a deserved goal.
With Leicester, Leeds, Arsenal and West Ham the next four matches for Manchester City, an attacking double-up would certainly have its merits. As already mentioned, Jesus looks the most nailed-on option outside of De Bruyne for anyone looking for such a set-up.
As much as Manchester City kept Wolves at bay for most of the game, the home side did force their way into proceedings during the last half an hour, a spell which helped fine-tune how best to invest in their assets moving forward.
Nuno’s men face an excellent run of upcoming games, putting them against West Ham (away), Fulham (home), Leeds (away), Newcastle (home) and Crystal Palace (home) between now and Gameweek 7.
Perhaps the safest bet has to be Raúl Jiménez (£8.5m), whose headed goal against Manchester City means he has two in as many appearances at the start of this season.
But with his price still causing a few issues for the big spenders in midfield, Fantasy managers are considering Daniel Podence (£5.5m) for their teams, and with good reason.
Like Jiménez, Wolves’ number 10 has two attacking returns in two. In his case, they are both assists but Podence’s first goal of the season does not look a long way off.
In the 53rd minute, makeshift wing-back Adama Traoré (£6.5m) got the better of Benjamin Mendy (£6.0m), squaring the ball early to an unmarked Podence hovering in the middle of the box. His shot on the turn was off-target, but this passage of play was indicative of the positions Podence has been drifting into from the flanks of Wolves’ front-three.
Pedro Neto (£5.5m) found some joy behind Mendy a few minutes later, cutting back to Podence in the box. While he let the ball run for Ruben Neves (£5.5m) with a dummy, it was another promising position taken up by Wolves’ number 10.
Then in the 59th minute, Podence was put through one-on-one with Ederson (£6.0m) and came close to finding the net with a lob that landed on the roof of the net.
And nobody will forget the way Podence helped put Wolves back in the game. It was him who produced the exceptional cross for Jiménez’s header… just seconds after nutmegging De Bruyne (?!).
Podence’s ability is there for all to see and we are likely to see investment in the £5.5m man over the next few days based on form, price and fixtures.
However, it is worth just keeping our readers informed of the caveats that come with transferring the former Olympiacos man for Gameweek 3.
It seems fair to say that Podence’s chances of further starts are, to some extent, reliant on the shape Nuno chooses each week. So far, he has operated in a 3-4-3 formation, which accommodates two wingers, while a switch to 3-5-2 could put Podence in competition with Neto and Traoré for the right wing-back slot.
While Wolves are without a recognised like-for-like replacement for Matt Doherty (£6.0m) in that position, a new signing at right wing-back could also put Traoré back into contention for a place in the front-three.
Meanwhile, Vitinha (£5.0m) offers competition on the flanks of attacking midfield, and Wolves are expected to unveil the signing of Nelson Semedo very soon.
For the short-term, Podence has probably earned a start in at least the next match based on merit, although it is interesting to note that, despite two strong performances, Nuno wants him to improve moving forward.
“I think (Podence) is improving. It’s about the complicity with his teammates. He has more knowledge and the talent of Daniel is huge. He is very talented, has quality and is a fighter. He did well. He must improve like everybody. He must be more clinical in the box and that will be beneficial for us. We are going to work. Every day is a day to improve. Of course, the more games, the more complicity, the better we can be.” – Nuno Espirito Santo
Meanwhile, options in the Wolves defence took an interesting turn in Gameweek 2. After it appeared Ruben Vinagre (£4.4m) had lost his place from the start of the campaign, Marçal (£5.0m) was forced off with an unspecified injury eight minutes into the Manchester City match.
Nuno could not reveal the extent of the problem post-match, but anyone still holding Vinagre should pay close attention to his Gameweek 3 press conference later in the week for updates.
“We must assess (Marçal’s injury). It was just at the beginning of the match. He felt something and now we are going to assess. Let’s see. He said that he felt something and was not able to continue, so we immediately made a substitution so things didn’t get worse.” – Nuno Espirito Santo
Wolverhampton Wanderers XI (3-4-3): Patrício; Saïss, Coady, Boly; Marçal (Vinagre 8′), Neves, Moutinho (Dendoncker 78′), Traoré; Neto (F Silva 78′), Jiménez, Podence.
Manchester City XI (4-2-3-1): Ederson; B Mendy, Aké, Stones, Walker; Rodrigo, Fernandinho; Sterling (Torres 82′), De Bruyne, Foden; Jesus.
FPL Lessons Learned from Gameweek 2
- Everton 5-2 West Bromwich Albion
- Leeds United 4-3 Fulham
- Manchester United 1-3 Crystal Palace
- Arsenal 2-1 West Ham United
- Southampton 2-5 Tottenham Hotspur
- Newcastle United 0-3 Brighton and Hove Albion
- Chelsea 0-2 Liverpool
- Leicester City 4-2 Burnley
- Aston Villa 1-0 Sheffield United
- Wolves 1-3 Manchester City