MAN CITY 2-1 WEST HAM
- Goals: Ruben Dias (£6.1m), John Stones (£5.2m) | Michail Antonio (£6.5m)
- Assists: Kevin De Bruyne (£11.8m), Riyad Mahrez (£8.1m)| Jesse Lingard (£5.9m)
- Bonus: De Bruyne x3, Dias x2, Stones x2
CENTRES OF ATTENTION
Dias converts from De Bruyne’s superb cross
What is it about Manchester City centre-backs and Double Gameweeks?
Aymeric Laporte (£6.0m) was the hero back in the 2018/19 campaign, while John Stones (£5.2m) and Ruben Dias (£6.1m) recorded 27 and 18-point hauls respectively earlier this season in Double Gameweek 19.
The latter pair were at it again in the first of City’s Double Gameweek 26 fixtures, with both on the scoresheet as Pep Guardiola’s side overcame West Ham in a hard-fought victory.
Two bonus points for each of the two central defenders puts both on 10 points heading into a second Double Gameweek 26 fixture at home to Wolves on Tuesday.
And, just as we saw earlier in the campaign, Dias and Stones’ scores are currently acting as green-arrow fuel compared to those in possession of João Cancelo (£6.1m).
He was left on the bench for the duration on Saturday, the first time that happened in the Premier League since a Gameweek 21 win over Sheffield United.
RUBEN RUBEN RUBEN RUBEN
Another angle of Dias’ goal at the Etihad on Saturday
Despite a couple of misplaced passes and a surprisingly poor free-kick in the opening 30 minutes, Kevin De Bruyne (£11.8m) was undeterred.
On the half-hour mark the Belgian sent in a left-footed missile, deep from the right-hand side, which hit its target in the shape of Dias’ head.
The centre-back powered the ball home, with Stones on his shoulder having made a similar run once De Bruyne got on the ball. That was Dias’ first goal for the Citizens since signing last summer.
Meanwhile, De Bruyne’s assist was his 14th of the campaign from 21 league appearances. He already appears well on the way back to his best, the fact he has a goal and four assists across his last six starts boding well for Double Gameweek 27.
Whether or not De Bruyne offers more potential for that round than Raheem Sterling (£11.6m) or Phil Foden (£6.1m) is hard to say at this stage.
Both players missed out on Saturday’s starting line-up indicating they now stand a better chance of starting both matches in Double Gameweek 27. Of the two, only Sterling remained on the bench, Foden appearing for the last 25 minutes against West Ham.
The same can probably be said about Cancelo, whose credentials for a Double Gameweek 27 captaincy have taken a small boost within the Fantasy Premier League community following Saturday’s action.
Antonio brings West Ham level from close range
Only five minutes after hitting the base of Ederson‘s (£6.1m) post, Michail Antonio (£6.5m) wiped out Man City’s clean sheet just before half time. That was the first time Pep Guardiola’s men had conceded a Premier League goal at home since Gameweek 13.
Sergio Aguero (£10.3m), who was anonymous in a 60-minute showing, lost possession in his own half after a poor throw-in from Kyle Walker (£6.1m).
The Hammers shifted the ball to the right, with Vladimir Coufal (£4.7m) galloping into acres of spaces.
His cross saw Jesse Lingard (£5.9m) attempt an effort on goal which was going wide but Antonio was at the far post to convert his seventh goal of the season.
The Manchester United loanee has now put up five attacking returns since joining West Ham, producing 7.8 points per game.
Meanwhile, Antonio’s close-range finish was the first time City have conceded at home since Gameweek 13, Dias was netted an own goal.
“That’s my seventh goal of the season now and all I’m trying to do is go out there and do something for the boys. I’m gutted that I hit the post with the first opportunity I hadbut it was good to get the goal and I’ll keep pushing and we’ll see where we finish in the end. There’s definitely a lot of things to take from the game. There were stages where we had a lot of possession and had them chasing the ball a bit, which they’re probably not used to.” – Michail Antonio
On the performance of West Ham and his own team, Guardiola said after full time:
“Every person who saw the game – it was really tough, difficult, the opponent is incredibly difficult. They had the quality, could play. With [Jesse] Lingard, with [Pablo] Fornals and [Michail] Antonio is always so difficult to control. After 10, 15 minutes we say, ‘okay, today we are not going to paint something beautiful – today is the day to take the three points’. The second half we were much better than the first half, when we struggled. Learn from this, it is reality. When you play a lot of games, runs unbeaten and after a Champions League game with just two days, it’s normal that these kind of things happen.” – Pep Guardiola
STICKS N’ STONES
After West Ham half cleared a City corner nearing the 70-minute mark, De Bruyne found Riyad Mahrez (£8.1m) in a wide position just outside the box.
The winger danced his way into the area in a one-on-one battle with Ben Johnson (£3.9m), turning the young defender inside out before pulling the ball back for Stones.
As was the case with Dias, the England centre-back had remained in the box from a set-piece situation. Stones finished first time with aplomb, giving Darren Randolph (£4.3m) no chance.
“I try and chip in [with goals]. Some days it doesn’t come off for the forwards and today me and Ruben chipped in. It is part of us being a team. We are just glad to get three points and keep the run going.” – John Stones
On Stones and Dias both scoring, Guardiola commented:
“They are the best headers. The second one (Stones’ goal) was brilliant for the composure for Riyad, the right tempo, the right pass, the good finish.” – Pep Guardiola
Ireland international Randolph was standing in between the sticks for Lukasz Fabianski (£5.0m), who suffered an arm injury in training on Friday.
Third-choice West Ham stopper David Martin (£4.0m) was sent out to warm up when Randolph appeared to be struggling with a leg issue. The back-up keeper played the full 90 minutes but had to relinquish goal kicks due to the problem.
However, Moyes does expect Fabianski back in training early next week, as well as reckoning that Randolph will be fine. In his post-match press conference, the Irons chief said:
“Lukasz Fabianski was injured today. Unfortunately, somebody stood on his arm in training as he made a save. It was an accidental collision and I don’t think it’s too bad. Darren Randolph has been out in recent weeks with a bit of a thigh strain. He’s been back in training for a week or two but I think he felt the effects of his thigh again. Thankfully, we got him through to the end of the game. We were ready to make a change, but we found a way for him not to have to take the kicks. Hopefully he’ll get over it and we’ll also get Lukasz back.” – David Moyes
While West Ham have what looks like an extended break until their visit from Leeds on the Monday of Gameweek 27, the fixtures continue to come thick and fast for Man City.
Guardiola’s side will seek their 21st consecutive win and 28th game unbeaten against Wolves on Tuesday.
Despite such dazzling records, Fantasy Premier League bosses will be much more concerned with the midweek team sheet based on Guardiola’s latest ominous quotes.
“We must rest mentally and physically. If not, you cannot sustain it. It’s many games but the big teams have to do it. From tomorrow, we look towards Wolves – in past years we suffered against them.” – Pep Guardiola
Manchester City XI (4-3-3): Ederson; Zinchenko, Dias, Stones, Walker; Gundogan (Rodri 88′), Fernandinho, De Bruyne; Torres (Foden 64′), Aguero (Jesus 60′), Mahrez.
West Ham United XI (5-2-2-1): Randolph; Johnson (Benrahma 83′), Cresswell, Dawson, Diop, Coufal; Rice, Soucek; Fornals, Lingard; Antonio (Bowen 83′).
Elsewhere in Double Gameweek 26…
West Bromwich Albion recorded a much-needed second clean sheet of the campaign as they beat Brighton 1-0.
Crucially, it makes for back-to-back shutouts for the first time this season, good news for those who invested in either the out-of-position Ainsley Maitland-Niles (£4.6m) for Double Gameweek 26.
The Arsenal loanee was deployed on the right-hand flank of attacking midfield once again and enjoyed a decent chance to score in the first half.
Still, it was an interesting afternoon for Sam Johnstone (£4.5m) owners. They benefitted from the Baggies’ clean sheet and also secured a raft of extras, two for saves and two bonus (provisional).
However, his Double Gameweek 26 score could have already stood at close to 20 points had Brighton’s penalties gone a different way on Saturday.
Pascal Groß (£5.8m) and Danny Welbeck (£5.5m) both missed spot-kicks but each of them struck the woodwork, denying Johnstone the chance to earn a Fantasy reward in each instance.
Aston Villa demonstrated that they do not necessarily need Jack Grealish (£7.6m) to win Premier League matches as they beat Leeds 1-0.
Anwar El Ghazi (£5.3m) has been afforded more game-time in the England international’s absence and he took his chance on Saturday afternoon.
He latched onto the end of Ollie Watkins‘ (£6.5m) wayward shot in the first half, cutting the ball under an on-rushing Illan Meslier (£4.7m).
Leeds were unable to build on their 3-0 win over Southampton in Double Gameweek 26, their key assets faltering in their only match of the round.
With Patrick Bamford (£6.9m), Raphinha (£5.4m) and Stuart Dallas (£5.0m) all failing to register points, it was Emiliano Martínez (£5.3m) who emerged with another big haul thanks to a clean sheet, three saves and maximum bonus. A familiar story.
Meanwhile, Matt Targett (£4.9m) and Ahmed El Mohamady (£4.3m) also benefited from the shutout, although each was booked and lost a respective point.
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