Double Gameweek 24 came to a conclusion on Wednesday evening as Manchester City extended their lead at the top of the Premier League table to ten points with a win over Everton.
Elsewhere on a generally underwhelming night for those with Fantasy interest, Burnley and Fulham played out a 1-1 draw at Turf Moor.
A throwaway line from Pep Guardiola in his pre-match interview on Wednesday evening set tongues wagging in the Fantasy Premier League world.
The City manager lamented a busy month ahead for his side before the clash with Everton, in doing so mentioning that games against Wolves and Southampton – City’s two outstanding fixtures following cup-related postponements – had been added to the calendar in March.
Those two matches could realistically only be added to Gameweeks 26 and 27 if we’re looking at City’s schedule before the March international break:
|Premier League fixtures||Other fixtures|
|February 21||Gameweek 25: Arsenal (a)|
|February 24||UCL, last 16: Monchengladbach (a)|
|February 27||Gameweek 26: West Ham United (h)|
|March 2/3*||Gameweek 26: Soton (h)/Wolves(h)?|
|March 6*||Gameweek 27: Manchester United (h)|
|March 9/10*||Gameweek 27: Soton (h)/Wolves(h)?|
|March 13*||Gameweek 28: Fulham (a)|
|March 16||UCL, last 16: Monchengladbach (h)|
|March 20||FA Cup, quarter-final: Everton (a)|
*Exact March dates are yet to be finalised by the various broadcasters
ARE YOU ILKAY?
Missing his first Premier League game since Gameweek 12, Ilkay Gundogan (£6.1m) sat out City’s win at Goodison Park.
Guardiola had forewarned us that the German would miss out on the trip to Merseyside and he had more to say on the in-form midfielder ahead of kick-off, suggesting that a return to action in Double Gameweek 25 wasn’t yet assured:
Elsewhere on the fitness front, Kevin De Bruyne (£11.8m) marked his return from injury as a late substitute.
We await news on Joao Cancelo‘s (£6.1m) condition, with the Portuguese defender taking a heavy kick to his knee in second-half injury time and limping through to the game’s conclusion.
As for Everton, the Toffees could have Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.7m) back for the Merseyside derby this weekend:
De Bruyne’s return gives Guardiola another option in the centre of midfield, where Gundogan and Bernardo Silva (£7.4m) have started every Premier League match that they have been available for from Gameweek 14 onwards.
It was Phil Foden (£6.1m) who ostensibly filled in for Gundogan as the left-sided ‘number eight’ on Merseyside, with the youngster opening the scoring with a deflected 31st-minute effort and generally posing more of a threat than the shot-less Raheem Sterling (£11.6m) further up the flank.
Bernardo meanwhile made it six attacking returns in his last seven starts, first claiming the assist for Riyad Mahrez’s (£8.1m) superb strike and then taking advantage of some suspect goalkeeping from Jordan Pickford (£4.8m) to round off the scoring himself.
Bernardo has started 12 league matches in a row now and his and Gundogan’s run in the team pre-dated De Bruyne’s injury by some time.
It’ll be interesting to see how Guardiola incorporates the Belgian back into his side, then. Given the form of Bernardo and Gundogan in their respective central midfield positions and Gabriel Jesus‘ (£9.2m) lack of it up front, it’ll be the Brazilian who will be watching more nervously over his shoulder – both Bernardo and De Bruyne have operated as the spearhead of the City attack over the last few months.
Rotation will beckon for most City players during the upcoming period of fixture congestion, it has to be said, with Guardiola telling reporters:
If you see the schedule that we have… we have a game every three or four days, everybody is going to play. Against Arsenal, we are going to play new ones.
ALL ABOUT MEE
It’s now just one clean sheet in seven matches for Burnley without their skipper Ben Mee (£5.1m), who missed Wednesday’s draw with Fulham due to the concussion protocol.
The Clarets’ shut-out record stands at seven in 17 when Mee is fit and the good news for Sean Dyche’s side is that the first-choice stopper will be available for selection for the weekend’s clash with West Bromwich Albion, a fixture that offers Burnley a very good opportunity to add to their clean sheet tally.
Not that stand-in centre-back Kevin Long (£4.3m) was culpable for this clean sheet loss, with first-half substitute Robbie Brady (£5.0m) – on as a replacement for the crocked Johann Berg Gudmundsson (£5.4m) before having to leave the field himself – making a hash of a goalline clearance for Fulham’s opener.
On a disappointing evening for owners of Nick Pope (£5.6m) et al, the four Fantasy assets who emerged from the draw at Turf Moor with any sort of FPL return were all owned by 1.5% of Fantasy managers or fewer.
Ola Aina (£4.5m), the fortuitous scorer of the Cottagers’ goal and assister of one of Josh Maja‘s (£5.5m) strikes in the win over Everton, finished as Gameweek 24’s joint-top scorer on 20 points alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.3m) – two players owned by a combined 10 managers inside the top 10k.
Fulham were worthy of their point and their undefeated run against sides outside of the top four now stretches to ten games.
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