Looking at the Season Ticker, everything looks primed for Fantasy Premier League managers to pile in on Manchester City assets.
However, is the Citizens’ form enough to spend so much of your FPL budget on – especially if that also means transferring out one of the in-form options already in your side?
We asked the Scout Network members for their views on Pep Guardiola’s side. Should we buy City players? If we are going to invest, should we be looking at the defensive or attacking options? Or are there still better alternatives elsewhere even with the fixtures as good as they are?
I’ve played FPL for a very long time. In every season, I have studied the Season Ticker carefully and jumped on premium assets ahead of key fixture swings. At the beginning of this campaign, I remember making a note of the Manchester City fixtures for the next seven weeks, with the exception of the Manchester derby, as a period of set-and-forget Kevin De Bruyne (£11.6m) captain and a need for at least the City double-up, if not the triple-up.
However, City have had their injury issues so far this season. They have also looked a long way short of the side that we as FPL managers have known and loved over the last few years. In order to own De Bruyne, I would need to sell in form players such as Son Heung-min (£9.5m) or Bruno Fernandes (£10.8m) – and this is something I’m not prepared to do.
In Gameweek 10, Manchester City have Burnley, who we have seen in recent games against Spurs and Brighton can sit deep and be resilient when they need to. For me, this is a good opportunity to watch City’s attacking options, particularly when Guardiola looks finally set to have a full complement of attacking options available to him in the shape of Sergio Aguero (£10.3m), Raheem Sterling (£11.5m), Forren Torres (£6.9m) and Gabriel Jesus (£9.3m), as well as a strong squad including both Phil Foden (£6.5m) and Riyad Mahrez (£8.2). It is a good moment to wait for a change of form before heavily investing in premium City options, in my opinion.
I do, however, see a lot of value in investing in Man City’s defensive options – especially Joao Cancelo (£5.5m) – as they have only conceded more than one goal on two occasions this season. Whilst they have only kept two clean sheets in eight games, Cancelo has returned in all bar one of the five matches he has played for City this season through a mix of assists, clean sheets and bonus points. The Portuguese full-back looks to be a great option especially for Gameweek 10, as Burnley hadn’t scored in the four Gameweeks before Monday night’s narrow win.Sam FPLFamily
We could be at a pivotal moment in the Fantasy season right now. Looking ahead from Gameweek 10 to 16 – the point when the first Wildcard must be played – we see both Liverpool and Man City sitting on top of the Season Ticker.
Our decisions regarding their assets ahead of this spell look crucial. Salah’s seemingly inevitable return to action for the trip to Brighton on Saturday adds complication, but that shouldn’t distract us from the fact that we need to cover City.
Admittedly, the urgency will be questioned given their form and recent loss to Spurs. But even ignoring the short-term fixtures (BUR FUL mun WBA), the data suggests they are more than capable of waking from their Fantasy slumber.
City’s defence has allowed a chance every 12 minutes, a statistic unmatched by any other rearguard. Then, in attack, only Liverpool have created chances more frequently (5.4 mins vs City’s 6.1).
The issue has been the quality of those chances, but I fully expect that to change over this forthcoming run of opponents. One target – Kevin De Bruyne – screams out as the hub and catalyst for City’s potential to improve in front of goal.
Meanwhile, at the back, Pep Guardiola’s side will come up against five of the bottom seven sides for big chances created over the next six Gameweeks. That screams at investment, with Joao Cancelo my preferred target.
Since breaking into Pep’s starting line-up in Gameweek 5, the Portuguese has created a chance for a team-mate every 30 minutes, bettering even De Bruyne (32 mins).Mark Sutherns – FPL BlackBox
Above: Ted Talks FPL’s graphic on the chance breakdown for Manchester City assets
With the fixture swing in full flight, I’m definitely targeting City players regardless of their stagnant form. With the excellent match-ups on offer, this is the time when the Citizens’ tour bus is going to get into gear.
City offer an exciting array of talent for us FPL managers to pick from. De Bruyne is the standout pick for me. He dominated the stats against Spurs in Gameweek 9 and was unlucky not to return anything from that game. He is central to everything that City create. Being assured of starts (barring injury), there’s no doubt in my mind that he will be one of the highest points-scorers from now until the end of the calendar year.
Sterling is an intriguing option. Only 4.6% owned, his popularity has dropped along with City’s form – but this could come back with a bang if the left-wing starts motoring. With Aguero and Jesus fit again, Pep has his team back to full strength, which may be more of an issue for Foden given that he has been benched four games in a row and is fighting for his place in the side. He could offer a lot of value at £6.5m if he can get a run going but right now, for me, it’s too risky.
Finally, the defenders. Cancelo and Ruben Dias (5.5m) are the only consistent starters and are priced around the £5.5m mark. The former is probably the most exciting attacking option; he’s no stranger to whipping a cross into the City forwards. The only concern with Cancelo is that when the Gameweeks start coming thick and fast, he may be at risk of rotation with the likes of Oleksandr Zinchenko (£5.5m) waiting in the wings. Dias is probably the more nailed of the two but his only attacking threat is from set pieces. He had a big chance against Spurs and probably should have done better, heading straight at Hugo Lloris (£5.5m). I’ll be doubling up with De Bruyne and Cancelo for the coming weeks – there could be an argument to triple up but I want to wait and see how they get on.Ted Talks FPL
Above: El Statto’s graph to show players ownership vs points earned – more graphs can be found here
I, like many, got caught in the “sell Son because the fixtures turn” trap and brought in De Bruyne for him ahead of last weekend’s clash. Something isn’t quite right at City at the moment but I’m not too sure what it is. They are obviously missing a fit Aguero to lead the line up front and after rushing him back last time, I think Pep will ease him in more gradually this time around, so I expect it might be another game or two yet before he starts.
Their fixtures are now pretty good for the next five (Burnley/Fulham/Man Utd/WBA/Southampton), so I expect ownership of their players to increase regardless of their form.
For me, De Bruyne is still the obvious pick from City, although he is performing better away from home so far (24 out of 29 points from away games). They have many other great midfield options who on their day are all capable of a big return, but with City, you have to expect rotation, so it’s hard to know just who will play each week and that is why for me De Bruyne is the safe option.
The defence you would expect to keep some clean sheets in the upcoming games and they seem to have now got into a more settled back four with Kyle Walker (£6.1m) and Cancelo at full-back and Dias and Laporte in central defence. Cancelo is the stand-out option having provided returns in 60% of his games so far. He is the one most likely to provide some attacking returns, too, as he is frequently getting into advanced positions.El Statto
From a fixture perspective, the case to forgo City assets is very weak. In their next three home games, they play Burnley, Fulham and WBA.
It would be surprising if City do not pick up nine points from those three matches and we should expect City to score more than once in those fixtures.
Unless you do without one other top asset in the form of Mohamed Salah (£12.2m) and/or Bruno Fernandes (£10.5m), it would be difficult to triple up on City players. Given the uncertainty around COVID-19, it would also make sense to focus on just two City assets and work towards having a team of 15 players who are all likely starters.
Cancelo averages a goal every 24.7 games but as a full-back, is always likely to contribute assists from running down the flanks. All things considered, there is very little to separate Cancelo and Dias and they currently both priced at £5.5m. For us, Dias slightly tips the scale as he is more likely to take advantage of set pieces. Also, Dias is always going to be more nailed on than Cancelo, who is, after all, a natural right-back playing on his unfavoured side.
De Bruyne is the most obvious City asset to have as an attacking threat. His stats need no introduction; he was involved in 46 goals in FPL last season and is behind most of City’s set pieces, including penalties. De Bruyne has only missed four Premier League games under the Guardiola regime in which he was not injured. This season, he has played every game when he is fit. He is also the acting club captain and a natural leader on the pitch – making him near-undroppable.
Since Gameweek 5, Foden has struggled for Premier League minutes. The dilemma for FPL managers is whether to spend £6.5m on a player who is never going to be nailed-on in the next few matches but who is always likely to come into the game and get minutes. Among those around Foden’s price range are several starters who have the potential to be more explosive. Liverpool’s Diogo Jota (£6.5m) is one of them and his form and likelihood to play trumps Foden.
Aguero has returned to fitness, making it to the bench in Gameweek 9 against Spurs. The Argentine forward has only played 119 minutes of Premier League football to date and has not made any goal contributions. The most likely way forward for Aguero in the next few games is for Guardiola to utilise him sparingly, not rushing him into action. There is a danger that Aguero won’t get significant game-time over the next two Premier League games but perhaps a return to the starting XI is more likely against Manchester United away in Gameweek 12. At his price point, it makes next-to-no sense to gamble on Aguero just now – a thought echoed by most of FPL given that his ownership is a mere 1.3%.FF Titan
There is good value in low-owned Manchester City defensive assets with misfiring Burnley up next. Personally, I don’t need to go there just yet. For anyone on a Wildcard or in need of a replacement, Cancelo or Dias offer cheap routes and are starting regularly. Dias is the least at risk of rotation of the two and has impressed, seemingly cementing his place alongside Laporte.
The two players that I will be considering over the next week are De Bruyne or Sterling as they both have a stellar history of high-ceiling FPL points returns, making them great captaincy options. Home games against both Burnley and Fulham scream 10+ points returns but, unfortunately for current owners, these historical double-digit hauls are somewhat absent from the 2020/21 season. In fact, they have only managed two 10+ FPL points returns between them in the 16 league games Man City have played so far.
Sterling has recovered from the calf injury that kept him out of the England squad and I’ll be looking for evidence that the rest has somehow helped his form take a turn for the better versus Olympiacos on Wednesday.
The real interest is in De Bruyne. Man City overall have created a chance every 6.1 minutes this season, which is well down from their league-leading 4.9 minutes per chance in 2019/20. These numbers are reflected across the board in De Bruyne’s creativity this season: fewer crosses, through-balls, chances created and, ultimately, assists.
I must depart with one of Harry Kane (£11.0m) or Son this week for a hit in order to fund a De Bruyne transfer but I’ll leave you with a positive note that is really making me think the hit could pay for itself over the next two Gameweeks and beyond. It’s still early in the season with a smaller amount of data but De Bruyne is registering 3.82 goal attempts per 90 minutes, an increase of around 25% compared to his personal best FPL points-scoring campaign in 2019/20. It might be time to take the plunge and hope the Belgian finds his shooting boots against weaker opposition.FPL Crypto
Manchester City’s form has been kind to the FPL managers who have decided to go without thus far. Those that invested in Foden (I’m in that camp) have been hit by rotation, Sterling owners have had to deal with a dip in form and injury concerns, whilst De Bruyne owners, in my opinion, haven’t had their share of good luck.
The City team hasn’t been at full strength but all of that is about to change, and so are their fixtures. This could give a serious advantage to players who have remained loyal to their assets thus far, especially the 17.7% of De-Bruyne owners. At £11.6m, one goal and three assists doesn’t look like much bang for your buck. However, as a non-owner, I hate watching City play and not owning De Bruyne. He is a nailed player and looks so dangerous, even when the rest of the team isn’t performing so well. Whilst I would love to say he’ll be in my team this week, unfortunately, I will have to wait a little longer.
I am reluctant to drop my Spurs assets, given they’ve been so fruitful for me. So, unless that changes, I will need to find a more difficult route to accommodate City assets. We all know how dangerous the De Bruyne/Aguero partnership can be, so I am hoping it takes a minute for the returning assets to get back into the swing of things, whilst I scrabble around trying to find ways to get them in.FPL Nymfria
What’s been happening in the Scout Network?
Cathal and Gabriel run a weekly FPL 6 Picks contest on the FPL Crypto YouTube channel. Subscribe here and watch out for the weekly video to launch the contest. It’s a fun FPL side-game and entry is free. Best of all, the Gameweek winner walks away with a cryptocurrency prize.
FF Titan were proud to be officially announced as a member of FFS International over the last international break of 2020. Over that fortnight, it was business as usual for fftitan.con: they recommended a Wildcard team, picked three “set-and-forget” goalkeepers, looked at all the pre-match statistics going into the weekend games, summed up the performances of top FPL players over the International Break and picked their top captain choices for Gameweek 9.
El Statto has been busy since the international break with two new articles. The first is a new weekly feature, called Back to the Future FPL, where he looks at the upcoming Gameweek matches and how the teams have faired in previous encounters to see if he can highlight any players who seem to favour this fixture.
The second article was the latest instalment in “The ABC Transfer Guide”, where he uses the form of the past six Gameweeks to highlight the players in each position who you should be considering for the upcoming fixtures.
During the international break, almost 8,000 FPL managers viewed Ted’s YouTube video on how the template is changing. After committing to a weekly video over the last 12 weeks, Ted is now closing in on 2,000 subscribers.
Ted has also begun working more closely with us here at Fantasy Football Scout and is to create 60-second Scout Notes videos to accompany the main articles. You can catch the two videos that Ted has made for Gameweek 9 on the Scout Notes articles for Tottenham v Man City and Liverpool v Leicester, as well as over on the FFS Instagram account.
Over the international break, Nymfria uploaded an update video which covered her journey so far, including the process that lead to a succesful -8 ahead of Gameweek 9. Nymfria was also joined by Rey Quraishi and the community in a live stream, as they took on the task of choosing this week’s Weekly Wildcard – Dream Team.
The current lockdown in England meant another quiz, with the FPL Wildcats joined by The Quiz Master himself – Geoff Holt – as Nymfria succesfully challanged FPL Today for his top spot. Nymfria also appeared with Joel Beya (Cheeky Sport) and the Always Cheating lads on a Gameweek 9 picks video for Give Me Sport.
Nymfria is also in the throws of a channel overhaul and has been busy creating new graphics and coming up with new ideas for her YouTube channel, which will hopefully be rolled out in the coming weeks.
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