Man City 2-0 Aston Villa
- Goals: Bernardo Silva (£7.4m), Ilkay Gündogan (£5.5m)
- Assists: Rodrigo (£5.4m), Gabriel Jesus (£9.1m)
- Bonus points: Rodrigo x3, Gündogan x2, João Cancelo x1 (£5.8m), Ruben Dias x1 (£5.8m), B Silva x1
Pep Guardiola and owners of Kevin De Bruyne (£11.9m) alike will be sweating on his fitness after the player was forced off in Manchester City’s 2-0 win over Aston Villa.
There were already concerns about the Belgian’s condition going into Wednesday night considering he was given a rest during the final 20 minutes of the 4-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace.
De Bruyne was able to start for the 13th straight Premier League game but he lasted just 58 minutes in the second match of Double Gameweek 19.
And Guardiola only heaped further concern on De Bruyne’s owners by confirming post-match that the injury could be muscular.
“Kevin De Bruyne put his hand on his leg, so I have the feeling it will be something muscular. These things happen with this amount of games.” – Pep Guardiola
It is, of course, too soon for either Guardiola or Fantasy managers to know the full extent of De Bruyne’s injury and the player is likely to have a scan on Thursday to assess the damage.
It is worth saying that there is slightly longer than usual for De Bruyne to recover considering that Manchester City’s next Premier League match does not take place until next Tuesday.
There is also an FA Cup match against Cheltenham Town on Saturday which will allow Guardiola a chance to rest De Bruyne.
Crucially, it means we will have at least two pre-match press conferences for the manager to update us on the Belgian although not many in the Fantasy community will enjoy being at Guardiola’s mercy in a media briefing…
HAPPINESS IS A WARM GÜN
Ilkay Gündogan (£5.5m) extended his impressive run of form for Manchester City on Wednesday evening.
His fifth goal of the season, and second of Double Gameweek 19, helped the German international to a third double-digit haul since Gameweek 13, more than any colleague across the same period.
In total, Gündogan has racked up 54 points in his last seven matches (7.7 per game) and, with West Bromwich Albion (away) and Sheffield United (home) up next, interest in his signature is sure to increase.
His new advanced role has been well-documented of late but what helped him get on the scoresheet against Aston Villa was his place in the penalty pecking order.
With a flagging De Bruyne removed from proceedings after 58 minutes, it fell to Gündogan to dispatch a 90th-minute spot-kick after Gabriel Jesus (£9.1m) had forced a handball out of Matty Cash (£5.0m).
And if the Belgian is set to miss a few games, then Gündogan’s stock can only increase further, especially if he has a stronger claim to penalties than Jesus and Riyad Mahrez (£8.1m), who he shared the pitch with during stoppage time against Aston Villa.
Raheem Sterling (£11.4m) had gone off by the time Gündogan put Manchester City 2-0 up but his troubles from the spot this season have been well-documented.
For the second time in three Premier League matches, Bernardo Silva (£7.4m) was selected to occupy the false-nine role for Manchester City.
With Jesus consigned to the bench for the second time during that run, Guardiola’s preference for a more fluid front-three comprised of midfielders is becoming clear.
Judging by his pre-match comments, it sounds as if that outset may continue until either Jesus or Sergio Aguero (£10.3m) can start finding the net again – when given an opportunity, that is.
“Strikers have to score goals. The way we want to play does not depend on strikers, centre-backs, full-backs. We have a special way to play, sometimes we need strikers, sometimes we don’t.” – Pep Guardiola
Silva is already reaping the rewards of his false-nine role as he scored his first Premier League goal of the season against Aston Villa.
But he went close on other occasions including a well-saved header at the back post in the third minute.
“Bernardo Silva, I said many times, is one of the most intelligent players I have ever seen. He can do everything in every position and he has the quality to score goals too. It’s really good for him and us. A fantastic goal.” – Pep Guardiola
The João Cancelo (£5.8m) rollercoaster still had plenty of dips and loop-the-loops in the second match of Double Gameweek 19.
Fresh from a one-point cameo against Crystal Palace, the full-back returned to the side on Wednesday evening, playing in the left-back role initially and securing a clean sheet and one bonus.
That made for an eight-point score for the Double Gameweek while John Stones (£5.1m) and Ruben Dias (£5.8m) enjoyed 27 and 17-point hauls.
But Cancelo certainly had chances to get close to his central-defensive counterparts as he struck the crossbar in the first half, which would have resulted in a De Bruyne assist had he found the back of the net.
And in the second half, the Portuguese international drove through the middle of the pitch and fired an arrow of a shot at the bottom corner before Emiliano Martínez (£5.1m) turned away a certain goal.
It is worth saying that Cancelo was more involved in the game during the first half when stationed on the left-hand side of Manchester City’s defence.
However, he was forced to staff the right-back berth after the 28th minute when Kyle Walker (£6.1m) was forced off with a knock and replaced by Oleksandr Zinchenko (£5.5m) – a switch that somewhat limited his involvement.
That said, Cancelo’s chances of starting games and avoiding further benchings could be boosted if Walker faces more time on the sidelines.
“I haven’t spoken to the doctor. If Kyle Walker asks to be out, it is because something happened. Hopefully just a kick.” – Pep Guardiola
Manchester City XI (4-3-3): Ederson; Cancelo, Dias, Stones, Walker (Zinchenko 28′); Gündogan, Rodri, De Bruyne (Jesus 59′); Foden, B Silva, Sterling (Mahrez 72′).
Aston Villa XI (4-2-3-1): Martínez; Targett (N Taylor 75′), Mings, Konsa, Cash; McGinn, D Luiz; Grealish, Barkley (Ramsey 68′), B Traoré (El Ghazi 68′); Watkins.
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