Manchester City 2-5 Leicester City
- Goals: Riyad Mahrez (£8.4m), Nathan Ake (£5.5m) | Jamie Vardy (£10.0m) x3, James Maddison (£7.0m), Youri Tielemans (£6.4m)
- Assists: Mahrez | Timothy Castagne (£5.6m), Nampalys Mendy (£4.5m), Maddison
- Bonus: Vardy x3, Mahrez x2, Maddison x1
Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers thinks that Jamie Vardy (£10.0m) “will be fine” after Sunday’s hat-trick hero walked gingerly from the field of play in the closing stages of a remarkable match at the Etihad.
Vardy took his 2020/21 goals tally to five in the Foxes’ 5-2 win over a shellshocked Manchester City but appeared to be in some discomfort towards the end of the match, eventually being replaced with five minutes to go.
Both player and manager confirmed that the issue was Vardy’s hip, rather than his groin as originally reported, that was causing him discomfort but Rodgers revealed that it was an ongoing issue and something that hasn’t stopped him from playing in the past:
Vardy was even more bullish when interviewed after full-time, telling the broadcast media:
I’ve just got a slight issue with my hip, I think it’s a bit of growth in one of the bones, it just clicks every so often and just gives me a bit of pain. It’s no issue. I’ll be absolutely fine.
Rodgers was also optimistic about two other Leicester players who were withdrawn because of injury issues.
Jonny Evans (£5.5m), who was only just back from suspension and a thigh injury, hobbled off in the final 10 minutes, while Dennis Praet (£5.5m) looked in some discomfort when being replaced midway through the second half.
Jonny [Evans] felt his calf tighten up, first game for such a long time. We’re hoping that’s all it is. Dennis [Praet], we’ll have to wait and see. A sort of twist of his knee, so hopefully that won’t be too serious. Hopefully, those three [including Vardy] will be OK.
Given that Leicester limped over the finish line at the end of 2019/20 with four wins from their final 17 Premier League matches, there were understandable reservations about their Fantasy assets at the start of this campaign.
They have put those concerns to bed in the first few weeks of 2020/21, however, winning all three of their games to date and racking up 12 goals in the process.
Sunday’s win over Manchester City continued the renaissance and there were eye-catching displays all over the park.
Vardy was typically sharp off the ball and clinical on the rare occasions he was on it: only Ederson (£6.0m) of the 22 starting players had fewer touches than the Leicester man, while the 33-year-old striker had only three shots on goal – and converted them all.
Two of his goals came from the penalty spot after he himself had been fouled, while his second strike was a superb flick from a Timothy Castagne (£5.6m) cross.
Considering that only four of his 23 goals in his Golden Boot-winning year came from 12 yards, he could easily trump that total in 2020/21 should penalties continue to be dished out as freely as emojis from the FFS Twitter account.
CASTAGNE DELIVERS AGAIN
Castagne has now registered attacking returns in all three Gameweeks so far and is the leading points scorer among FPL defenders by some margin, having averaged nine points per match since his move from Atalanta.
Leicester may have changed to a back five and sat a bit deeper in this match but the Belgian right-back was still given license to get forward, bombing on to the byline to supply Vardy’s second goal.
It should be said that he has created only three chances all season but both he and James Justin (£4.7m) have really caught the eye, not just for their assist potential: diagonal runs towards the six-yard box brought them goals in Gameweeks 1 and 2.
Elsewhere, Youri Tielemans (£6.4m) was excellent – it’s easy to forget that he struggled for form last season and how much of an asset his slick passing was to Leicester’s front players when Rodgers first took charge at the end of 2018/19. If he has rediscovered that form, then that can again only benefit Vardy.
The Belgian “assisted the assister” for Leicester’s second goal and it was from his through-pass that substitute James Maddison (£7.0m) won the Foxes’ third penalty, a spot-kick that Tielemans converted with Vardy off the field.
Maddison had earlier curled in a superb effort from distance to put Leicester 4-2 up.
Missing out on the points was Harvey Barnes (£7.0m) but he too caught the eye, supplying the key passes that led to Leicester’s first two penalties and looking a real threat around the hosts’ box.
A home match against West Ham is up next for the Foxes and, as strange as it sounds, this might be the toughest test for Vardy, Barnes et al to date: so far Leicester have faced the division’s worst defence in West Brom, a Burnley team missing both first-choice centre-halves and then a Manchester City outfit that played into their hands on Sunday.
The Hammers have looked uncharacteristically solid since moving to a back three in Gameweek 2, allowing Arsenal and Wolves few clear-cut opportunities in their last two games.
WHAT NOW FOR MAN CITY ASSETS?
Manchester City haven’t become a bad team overnight; in fact, this was very reminiscent of their form in 2019/20.
The Citizens may never have conceded five goals under Guardiola before but games against Norwich City, Wolves and Lyon last season were similar to this one, with their defence as capable of shooting themselves in the foot as they are racking up a string of clean sheets (they kept a league-high 17 of those in the season just gone).
Their Gameweek 4 match against Leeds could just as easily end 5-0 to City as it could 3-2 to the Whites, and that’s why our interest remains so keen in their attacking assets.
Given the ongoing injury crisis, the likes of Raheem Sterling (£11.5m) and Kevin De Bruyne (£11.6m) also face little threat of rotation at present.
With Gabriel Jesus (£9.5m) and Sergio Aguero (£10.4m) out for a month, Sterling started this game as the central striker in Guardiola’s 4-2-3-1, with De Bruyne supporting him in the number 10 role.
Time will tell if the lack of an orthodox striker blunts City’s attack but Sterling was peripheral and they created little of quality from open play, with their two goals – a Riyad Mahrez (£8.4m) howitzer and a Nathan Ake (£5.5m) header – both coming from corners.
Phil Foden (£6.6m) was borderline anonymous, eventually being substituted just after the hour-mark, while the sight of 17-year-old Liam Delap (£4.5m) being thrown on early in the second half hinted at how desperate Guardiola was.
The City boss said after full-time:
We played really good in the first 30 minutes. We scored early on but I think they defended so deep, so it was not easy. In this situation, it happened many times, we have to control the counter-attack. The problem was that we put extra pressure on ourselves to score the second or third one when they just didn’t want to play.
They just wanted to defend and play on the counter-attack and in that position, we have to be more calm. We started to think we are playing bad. We told them at half-time they were playing good, try to be patient and the rest will be in our hands, but we were not strong enough to be stable and patient.
Manchester City XI (4-2-3-1): Ederson; Walker, Garcia, Ake, Mendy; Rodri, Fernandinho (Delap 51′); Mahrez, De Bruyne, Foden (Torres 64′); Sterling.
Leicester City XI (5-4-1): Schmeichel; Castagne, Amartey, Evans (Fuchs 80′), Soyuncu, Justin; Praet (Maddison 69′), Tielemans, Mendy, Barnes; Vardy (Iheanacho 89′).
Lessons Learned from FPL Gameweek 3
- Brighton and Hove Albion 2-3 Manchester United
- Crystal Palace 1-2 Everton
- West Bromwich Albion 3-3 Chelsea
- Burnley 0-1 Southampton
- Sheffield United 0-1 Leeds United
- Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Newcastle United
- Manchester City 2-5 Leicester City
- West Ham United 4-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Fulham 0-3 Aston Villa
- Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal