Scout Notes

Budget midfielder Gundogan a goal threat in new role as De Bruyne stars as a striker

Chelsea 1-3 Manchester City

  • Goals: Callum Hudson-Odoi (£5.7m) | Ilkay Gundogan (£5.4m), Phil Foden (£6.2m), Kevin De Bruyne (£11.6m)
  • Assists: Kai Havertz (£8.2m) | Foden, De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling (£11.4m)
  • Bonus: Foden x3, De Bruyne x2, Gundogan, Foden x1

Manchester City chose an opportune time to deliver what was arguably their best Premier League performance of the season.

One of 12 top-flight clubs in action in Blank Gameweek 18 and then among a dozen teams who enjoy two fixtures in Double Gameweek 19, City are high on the Fantasy Premier League watchlist in early January.

And if their clash with Chelsea on Sunday was an audition of sorts, then Pep Guardiola’s troops passed it with flying colours.


Pepped Up

Manchester City’s defensive aptitude hasn’t been in doubt for some time.

Callum Hudson-Odoi‘s (£5.7m) late, late consolation goal for Chelsea on Sunday was the first time that an opposition player had scored against the Citizens since Gameweek 9 and ruined what would have been a sixth clean sheet in seven.

What has been called into question is their attacking prowess and the lack of value for money being provided by their FPL forwards and midfielders.

From Gameweeks 4 to 15, City scored one goal or fewer in nine of their 12 matches.

Even plum home fixtures against Fulham and Newcastle United returned only 2-0 wins; these were games in which City would have traditionally run riot and matches in which Fantasy managers would expect hauls from.

At Stamford Bridge, we saw the City of old return.

First-half goals from Ilkay Gundogan (£5.4m), Phil Foden (£6.2m) and Kevin De Bruyne (£11.6m) saw City sail into an unassailable 3-0 lead, while there were other chances beyond those strikes: De Bruyne spurned a one-on-one opportunity after a quarter of an hour, Gundogan flicked an effort wide from six yards just before the break and Rodri (£5.4m) wasted a De Bruyne assist with a 53rd-minute header.

Guardiola agreed that this display was more reminiscent of City of yesteryear:

We had a plan, we tried to play in a certain way that we did in the past and it worked. The players were incredible, fantastic in all departments.

We are a team that has to play in one certain rhythm. A lot of passes and, in the right moment, attack. We won Premier Leagues in that way, and we miss a little bit for many reasons this tempo, and today we got it. The way we won the League titles, it was because we were like today.

The question now, of course, is whether the “tempo” is here to stay and whether it can be as effective against teams who won’t employ Chelsea’s high, aggressive press.

Brighton, a more possession-based team who are not renowned for their backs-to-the-wall approach, might just well be the ideal Gameweek 18 opponents – Graham Potter’s troops lost by an aggregate score of 9-0 in their two league meetings with City last season.

Belgian Waffle

With City unable to call upon Gabriel Jesus (£9.1m) and Ferran Torres (£6.9m), and with Sergio Aguero‘s (£10.3m) game-time being carefully handled, Guardiola turned to De Bruyne to lead the line in west London.

We have seen the Belgian playing in a more advanced position anyway this season but this was a step beyond a number 10 role, with De Bruyne veering between ‘false nine’ and outright centre-forward.

Explaining his tactical decision after full-time, Guardiola said:

Kevin can play in many positions. We wanted more solid players in the midfield and Bernardo is more solid in those areas.

[De Bruyne] is so good, with his energy to run in behind. He did it really well. He can play there, as a winger, attacking midfielder. There is no doubt about this.

De Bruyne himself said of Sunday’s role:

A little bit bizarre in the beginning. I’ve done it a couple of times in my career. Obviously, there are lot of strikers, forward players who are out. The coach asked me to do this job, so I tried to do it the best as possible.

We have different players, so we play a little bit different this year and we adjust to the personnel we have. The team is finding the rhythm in the last month so we’re playing better and the difference today when we have the chance we took them.

In Formation, Entertainment

It should be pointed out, of course, that the deployment of De Bruyne as a striker may just have been a needs-must, one-off experiment.

Jesus ought to be back from self-isolation by Gameweek 18, with Torres likely available for Double Gameweek 19. Aguero may also be closer to a start himself by the time next Wednesday’s clash with Brighton comes around.

So long as the attacking swagger is here to stay, then starting positions might be less of a concern for Fantasy managers.

Indeed, De Bruyne had three fewer big chances in the whole of 2019/20 than he has managed in Gameweeks 2-17 of the current campaign, yet still found the net on 13 occasions, with five of his goals coming from outside the box.

What is worth keeping an eye on is Gundogan’s role within Guardiola’s team.

Part of the double pivot with Rodri for months in the more conservative 4-2-3-1, we have seen the German allowed a bit more attacking freedom of late.

Gundogan and the excellent Bernardo Silva (£7.4m) were the two number eights stationed either side of Rodri on Sunday, registering six shots in the box between them.

After the match on Sunday, Gundogan said of his more advanced role:

To be honest, in the last few games where I scored, I played more of a number eight than a number six. Before that, I played more of a holding midfielder role together with Rodri.

It is different and every position needs a little bit of adaptation. I think I am a player that can adapt quickly and well into a system and the manager knows I am quite flexible.

Also, me personally, even though I like to be included in rotating the ball, when I am playing as a number eight and more offensive position, I try to put myself in the spaces where I think something could happen or I feel like the space is not occupied by a player of ours or the opponent.

Both goals I scored in the last games were similar in the way they were from the right side and Raheem assisted me both goals and I tried to be in a space where I am free and able to get the ball and finish with one touch. It worked out quite well and as long as I am playing in that position I try to continue like that.

The Self-Isolating Six

The visitors were missing six of their squad because of positive COVID-19 tests.

The unavailability of Kyle Walker (£6.1m) and Jesus we were already aware of, while social media posts from Ederson (£6.0m) and Tommy Doyle (£4.4m) all but confirmed that they too were among those self-isolating.

Torres and Eric Garcia (£4.7m) have reportedly been added to that list, with the latter still struggling with injury, too.

Nathan Ake (£5.4m) was absent on Sunday because of “fitness issues”, while Aymeric Laporte (£6.0m) missed out because of a tight hamstring.

All of that meant a start for reserve goalkeeper Zack Steffen (£4.4m), who will drop to the bench once Ederson is fit again, and Foden, who featured in Guardiola’s XI for only the second time in 11 league matches.

Foden produced a superb display from the left flank, leading the way for chances created in Sunday’s game and having three shots in the box of his own.

The hard work starts now with players expected back from illness and Riyad Mahrez (£8.1m) waiting in the wings but Guardiola was enthused by the youngster’s display:

So proud. He never dropped one, nothing for his energy, how he helps. He can play up front in all four positions and again he has a sensational goal, he scored a fantastic goal. He is a guy, we rely on him incredibly, national team for England will be a top player because he’s so clever, so calm, he did a good performance today.

Got the Blues

While the wheels haven’t completely come off, the Chelsea bandwagon has been seriously derailed in recent weeks.

One clean sheet in seven, and four defeats in six, has seen FPL managers slowly drift away from previous high-achievers like Ben Chilwell (£6.1m) and completely desert the misfiring Timo Werner (£9.2m).

A bright start against City couldn’t be sustained and they had managed only one effort on target until second-half injury time, when substitute Hudson-Odoi popped up to ruin a clean sheet for Joao Cancelo (£5.7m) and Ruben Dias (£5.8m) – the former also seeing a projected bonus point go up in smoke.

A run-out in a central position couldn’t end an eight-match goal drought for Werner, while a hitherto solid backline – who were again missing the injured Reece James (£5.2m) – has now shipped seven goals in three matches.

Easier tests await, of course, starting with a Double Gameweek 19 home fixture against a Fulham side who have scored just two goals in their last five matches, which should provide encouragement for Fantasy managers still sitting on Chilwell.

Lampard cited youth and unavailability as mitigating excuses when interviewed after the match:

One month ago people were asking when I’m signing a new contract, and now people will be saying different things because in a tight, busy period we have lost four games of football in quick succession. The pressure remains constant in this job.

The reality is a lot of the players who have come in are new, are young, have been injured, haven’t played together. It was the first time I’ve been able to play Ziyech, Pulisic and Werner in the same team.

Without a doubt, we have the character to get out of it, because we went 16 games unbeaten. What we can control is what we do tonight and tomorrow and the next day and what we do against Morecambe and what we do against Fulham.


Chelsea XI (4-3-3): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Silva, Chilwell; Kante (Gilmour 64), Kovacic (Havertz 77), Mount; Pulisic, Werner, Ziyech (Hudson-Odoi 64).

Manchester City XI (4-3-3): Steffen; Cancelo, Dias, Stones, Zinchenko; Gundogan (Fernandinho 75), Rodri, Bernardo; Foden (Mahrez 86), De Bruyne (Aguero 86), Sterling.

Lessons learned from FPL Gameweek 17

Become a Member and get unrestricted access to our data and articles

Full-year memberships are now available for the price of £19.99. Monthly subscriptions also cost just £2.99. A FREE trial is now available during December.

Join now to get the following:

  • Plot your transfer strategies using the fully interactive Season Ticker.
  • Get projections for every Premier League player provided by the Rate My Team statistical model.
  • Use Rate My Team throughout the season to guide your selections and transfers.
  • Get access to over 150+ exclusive members articles over the season.
  • Analyse our OPTA-powered statistic tables specifically tailored for Fantasy Football Managers.
  • Use our exclusive tool to build custom stats tables from over 100 OPTA player and team stats.
  • Enjoy our brand NEW Flat-Track Bully feature which introduces an opposition filter to your tables.
  • View heatmaps and expected goals data for every player.
  • Use our powerful comparison tool to analyse players head-to-head.

ALREADY A USER? CLICK HERE TO UPGRADE YOUR FREE ACCOUNT

NEW TO SCOUT? CLICK HERE TO START A MEMBERSHIP ACCOUNT

867 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Top Lad Dakes.
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 4 Years
    16 days, 8 hours ago

    KDB rejects current City new deal offer, “disappointed” by what they’ve offered so far.

    1. brianutd-why always we? 20
      • 9 Years
      16 days, 8 hours ago

      Going to Utd

      1. ‘Tis the Season
        • 2 Years
        16 days, 8 hours ago

        For the chance of not winning anything..sure

    2. Silecro
      • 3 Years
      16 days, 8 hours ago

      protest benching vs Brighton?

    3. g40steve
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      16 days, 8 hours ago

      He’s on £350k a week greedy git

    4. Hazz
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      16 days, 8 hours ago

      Let him speak.

    5. Firminoooo
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      16 days, 8 hours ago

      We can always squeeze him in.

  2. zon
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 6 Years
    16 days, 8 hours ago

    Look at that. Jammy Coufal CS off the bench

    1. doher.ty
        16 days, 6 hours ago

        I wish. Trent 2 pointer smh.

    2. JAYPEE
      • 2 Years
      16 days, 8 hours ago

      Rookie mistake... traded out Mitchell to Nathaniel Phillips Smh

      1. Rhodes your boat
        • 4 Years
        16 days, 8 hours ago

        Made sense at the time. Mitchell had barely played for 8 weeks!

    3. PlumaPiedra
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      16 days, 8 hours ago

      Why is everyone angry. Adams could've scored a hattrick tonight, maybe owners aren't lucky.

      1. BoomXhakaLaca1
        • 8 Years
        16 days, 8 hours ago

        To put it simply; people are never happy

      2. JohnnyRev7
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 10 Years
        16 days, 7 hours ago

        They're angry because they're 12 or under and mummy sends them to bed before the match starts.

    4. Granville
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • Has Moderation Rights
      • 11 Years
      16 days, 8 hours ago

      Che Adams EO is 9.77%. I don't think there are many who own him with Soucek on the bench.

      1. Duke Silver ☑
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        16 days, 8 hours ago

        You'd think he's 100% EO on here 😆

        1. doher.ty
            16 days, 6 hours ago

            100 EO with Soucek coming in for him

        2. pavlev
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 10 Years
          16 days, 8 hours ago

          lol this was my last chance for holding off the bench!

        3. Alisson WondHaaland
          • 4 Years
          16 days, 8 hours ago

          Soucek, Cresswell, Coufal, Mitchell. If you consider them all then there are a lot

        4. TheDragon
          • 2 Years
          16 days, 8 hours ago

          95% of FFS commenters appear to

        5. Bolivian Seaman
          • 10 Years
          16 days, 8 hours ago

          I don't own soucek, I own foden though - sweet 14 points

          1. Hazz
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 3 Years
            16 days, 8 hours ago

            After all this time?

            Always.

        6. Gnu
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 11 Years
          15 days, 11 hours ago

          *sunglasses emoji*

          Not enough to save my week though.

      2. I SPEAK ENGELS AND DRINK GI…
        • 1 Year
        16 days, 8 hours ago

        Bottomed

        SmithRowe worth a hit for Bissouma to field 10 next GW?

        1. BenDavies
          • 8 Years
          16 days, 8 hours ago

          no

        2. Steve The Spud
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          16 days, 8 hours ago

          Should start, possible CS, chance of attacking returns, better going forward

          I’d say it’s worth it

        3. BoomXhakaLaca1
          • 8 Years
          16 days, 8 hours ago

          Nope

      3. Shardlow
        • 3 Years
        16 days, 8 hours ago

        Telegraph fantasy - If money was no issue, who would you pick on a set and forget? (no subs in this game)
        A. Soucek
        B. Raphinha

        1. ivantys
            16 days, 8 hours ago

            B

          • Tony Moon
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 11 Years
            15 days, 3 hours ago

            A, easily.

        2. BeWater
            16 days, 8 hours ago

            Really looking forward to watching Thiago tonight. Against Newcastle he pinged a ball out to TAA that was so sweet I nearly got up and applauded. He won about 4 headers in about 10 minutes as well!

            1. ZimZalabim
              • 4 Years
              16 days, 8 hours ago

              his style of jumping gives him so much air its quite impressive tbh and yeah that ball was sweet just different class when it comes to long passing to the rest of the midfield

          • balint84
            • 4 Years
            16 days, 8 hours ago

            Dgw
            A) Zouma to Dias
            B) Justin to Coufal
            C) Adams to Antonio

            1. BeWater
                16 days, 8 hours ago

                A

            2. Jon Walter's Hatty
              • 7 Years
              16 days, 8 hours ago

              Anyone taken the wc route to cover 18 and 19? 3 x City United Villa and a mix of the rest covers blank and double. Just a case of what chip to use in 19. May TC Kdb in this form and pre CL games

              1. Alisson WondHaaland
                • 4 Years
                16 days, 8 hours ago

                City have only had 1 good game recently, wouldnt call that good form. Id closely watch the GW18 fixture before deciding

                1. Jon Walter's Hatty
                  • 7 Years
                  16 days, 8 hours ago

                  Fair comment but like Arsenal im taking it as a corner turned for them.

              2. ivantys
                  16 days, 8 hours ago

                  3x villa vs spurs, everton and city?

                  1. Jon Walter's Hatty
                    • 7 Years
                    16 days, 8 hours ago

                    Put 7 past Liverpool. I may only go Martinez and Grealish but will see

                • Troll hunter
                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                  • 3 Years
                  16 days, 8 hours ago

                  I have. But having a lot of Spurs and MCI players (and some other "unlucky' players) when their matches were cancelled did serious damage.

                • J ⚒ Salah & Vinagre
                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                  • 6 Years
                  16 days, 8 hours ago

                  Ye I did it this week (17). Worked a great as scored 89 points. Set me up with 10 great players for 18 (2 x city def tierney KDB Bruno rashy saka Kane Watkins), and leaves me with 12 dgwers for 19. I roll my xfer this week meaning I get 15 dgwers on my bench boost for a -4 in 19.

                  Could easily emulate something similar with a WC 18.

                  1. Jon Walter's Hatty
                    • 7 Years
                    16 days, 8 hours ago

                    Good work

              3. Alisson WondHaaland
                • 4 Years
                16 days, 8 hours ago

                Best option for GW19?
                A) Soucek
                B) Harrison
                C) Gundogan

                1. BeWater
                    16 days, 8 hours ago

                    A

                  • BeWater
                      16 days, 8 hours ago

                      Or Raphinha.

                  • wilsonito
                    • 7 Years
                    16 days, 8 hours ago

                    Back in GW4 Watkins scored a hatty vs Liverpool while soucek blanked, so don’t think it was the wrong decision for those who started Adams

                  • Little Red Lacazette
                    • 4 Years
                    16 days, 7 hours ago

                    LIV cs wipeout!

                  • rick ding whoop
                    • 6 Years
                    16 days, 7 hours ago

                    Forster looking shakey. C'mon Salah(c)

                  • aborg
                    • 3 Years
                    16 days, 7 hours ago

                    Boris talking....does not look good.

                  • gooberman
                    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                    • 9 Years
                    16 days, 7 hours ago

                    No mention of sport then in the announcement. It was all about schools closing.

                    1. CRO KLOPP
                      • 3 Years
                      16 days, 7 hours ago

                      So,Boris played FH I knew it

                    2. aborg
                      • 3 Years
                      16 days, 7 hours ago

                      He will not mention anything about football on a televised announcement.

                  • BobB
                    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                    • 11 Years
                    16 days, 7 hours ago

                    Will the season have to be stopped again like March?

                    1. aborg
                      • 3 Years
                      16 days, 7 hours ago

                      There is a chance 🙁

                  • Woy_is_back
                    • 3 Years
                    16 days, 7 hours ago

                    Robbo lol

                  • jtaylor500
                    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                    • 1 Year
                    15 days, 15 hours ago

                    Is Gundogan a solid option going forward?

                    Already have Dias and KDB and had been looking to add Cancelo for next few GWs but Gundogan outperforming most budget/premium midfielders last 4 matches

                  • Mistaruthless
                    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                    15 days, 11 hours ago

                    Will gundogan play against Brighton

                    1. Gnu
                      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                      • 11 Years
                      15 days, 11 hours ago

                      What answer would you prefer?

                      Personally, at the price he's worth a punt but will he play, noone knows.

                  • Mistaruthless
                    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                    15 days, 11 hours ago

                    Will Steffen still be in for man city again until Emerson is back?