Man City 1-2 Leeds
- Goals: Ferran Torres (£6.9m) | Stuart Dallas x2 (£5.1m)
- Assists: Bernardo Silva (£7.4m) | Patrick Bamford (£6.6m), Ezgjan Alioski (£4.3m)
- Red cards: Liam Cooper (£4.3m)
- Bonus points: Dallas x3, B Silva x2, Oleksandr Zinchenko x1 (£5.5m)
DALLAS SELLERS CLUB
Not for the first time this season, Stuart Dallas (£5.1m) highlighted how fixture-proof he can be with his big haul against Manchester City.
The out-of-position Fantasy Premier League defender was sold by 220,730+ managers for Gameweek 31, losing more owners than any other asset in his position.
Meanwhile, only Emiliano Martínez (£5.4m) was the only player to be found on more FPL benches for the latest round of action than Dallas.
Despite such lack of faith, the Northern Ireland international scored twice in a smash-and-grab win and soared to become this season’s top-scoring FPL defender (at time of writing).
His 17-point haul is sure to cause his remaining owners to reevaluate how and when they use Dallas, even with Liverpool and Manchester United up next.
That is because his record against the so-called ‘bigger’ clubs is nothing to be sniffed at.
Against Liverpool in Gameweek 1, Dallas registered an assist, he produced five points against Arsenal in Gameweek 9, the same score at Old Trafford United in Gameweek 14 before an unexpected six-point haul against Chelsea in Gameweek 28.
There are, of course, one-point match tallies in Gameweeks 4, 11 and 17 (against Manchester City, Chelsea and Spurs) on his copybook, as well as a minus-one in the Gameweek 24 defeat to Arsenal, but Dallas is becoming a player who always carries explosive potential, especially as he continues to operate as a central midfielder.
He now has four double-digit hauls this season, is the best-value defender of the campaign, as well as the top-scoring one and is just three points shy of John Lundstram‘s (£4.9m) famous 144 points across the 2019/20 season.
DIAS ANOTHER DAY
Meanwhile, Saturday’s lunchtime encounter was a frustrating one for owners of Manchester City assets at both ends of the pitch.
Kevin De Bruyne (£12.0m) and Riyad Mahrez (£8.2m) were all unused substitutes while Ilkay Gündogan (£6.0m) and Phil Foden (£6.0m) both emerged from the bench for one-point cameos.
Ferran Torres (£6.9m) and Bernardo Silva (£7.4m) got the only attacking returns of the afternoon.
However, it was not just the advanced positions that suffered from Pep Guardiola’s infamous game of roulette, with Rúben Dias (£6.2m) also benched.
While he remained among the substitutes all afternoon, avoiding any cameos, the centre-back’s first Premier League benching since Gameweek 24 perhaps sends a warning about what to expect of Manchester City line-ups between now and the end of the season.
They have an important Champions League quarter-final second-leg against Borussia Dortmund midweek as well as an FA Cup semi-final and EFL Cup final to contend with.
The fact that Dias missed out against Leeds despite a new injury to Aymeric Laporte (£6.0m) highlights the strength in depth at Manchester City even in defence.
Nathan Aké (£5.4m) is now back to full fitness and made his first league appearance since Gameweek 15 on Saturday afternoon.
Sergio Aguero (£10.3m) is also on the sidelines with Laporte, having picked up an issue that stopped him from training earlier this week.
“Aguero has a big problem. The last three, four days could not train. Laporte yesterday didn’t feel good. Some problems in the hips. The doctors said they are not ready.” – Pep Guardiola
It was also interesting to see what Guardiola did when Manchester City were chasing a 1-0 lead against 10 men for the majority of the second-half.
Just short of the hour-mark, Gündogan came on for Aké, Fernandinho (£5.4m) dropped backwards into defence, Oleksandr Zinchenko (£5.5m) reverted to left-back from central midfield and Benjamin Mendy (£5.9m) pushed forward into a left-winger role.
That particular reshuffle saw Raheem Sterling (£11.3m) tucked into a more central role alongside Gabriel Jesus (£9.2m), not that it was a fruitful one.
Making just his second start from a possible seven, Sterling largely saw his supply lines cut off at the Etihad Stadium, crowded by a deep Leeds block and missing the quality delivery of De Bruyne.
“(I want him to deliver) himself. Sterling is an important player for us, always has been. Everything we achieved in these last years, impossible to think without him. In the last games, Bernardo and Phil were outstanding, they play.” – Pep Guardiola
Still, how much Fantasy managers can read into this surprise defeat remains to be seen when we consider Manchester City have performed against Leeds this season.
Marcelo Bielsa’s men caused the Citizens problems in their 1-1 draw back in Gameweek 4 and have now set some interesting records by beating them on Saturday.
This was Manchester City’s first home defeat against a newly-promoted side in 42 Premier League games since losing 2-0 to Reading in February 2007.
Meanwhile, of the 77 teams Guardiola has faced in his managerial career, Leeds are one of just two sides he has failed to beat, Middlesbrough the other.
Raphinha (£5.6m) certainly asked plenty of questions in the opening exchanges, getting behind Mendy twice and nearly setting Bamford up for a tap-in were it not for a crucial John Stones (£5.2m) intervention.
The Brazilian came close to adding his seventh goal of the season during the closing stages but his incredible breakaway run was expertly stopped by an Ederson (£6.1m) save.
Raphinha’s 13.6% ownership will have an eye on Bielsa’s next press conference as he was withdrawn with an unspecified knock during stoppage time at the Etihad Stadium.
“I haven’t asked (about Raphinha), but I don’t have the feeling it is serious. Rodrigo had a problem in the last session. Not in condition to participate.” – Marcelo Bielsa
Manchester City XI (4-3-3): Ederson; B Mendy (Foden 74′), Aké (Gundogan 59′), Stones, Cancelo; Zinchenko, Fernandinho, B Silva; Sterling, Jesus, Torres.
Leeds United XI (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Alioski, Llorente, Cooper, Ayling; K Phillips; Costa, Roberts (Koch 63′), Dallas, Raphinha (Shackleton 90+6′); Bamford (Struijk 45+3′).
Elsewhere in Gameweek 31…
Ollie Watkins (£6.5m) struck again as Aston Villa caused problems for Liverpool at Anfield in Gameweek 31.
The gifted former Brentford and Exeter City man added his third attacking return in four matches, his 12th Premier League goal of the season and a fourth against Liverpool this campaign.
In doing so, he became the first player to score that many against the Reds in a single season since Andrey Arshavin in 2008/09.
Meanwhile, Mohamed Salah (£12.5m) continued his revival with a second goal in as many league matches, a solid return for those who captained him in Gameweek 31.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.4m) is also back on the radar in a big way after he added his second goal of the season in stoppage time.
He has now produced eight points or more in four of his last six Premier League appearances.
Differentials Kai Havertz (£8.2m) and Christian Pulisic (£8.2m) were the star players for Chelsea as they beat Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
The German international produced a goal and assist in an electric first-half display while Pulisic registered a brace.
Both players have shown decent form over recent weeks, Havertz now with a goal and three assists since Gameweek 27 while Pulisic has three goals in his last two appearances.
Kurt Zouma (£5.3m) was one of only a few Chelsea defenders as their back-line let down investors for a second match running.
In a game where Crystal Palace offered next to nothing, Edouard Mendy (£5.2m) and the Blues’ back-three conceded the hosts’ first shot on target in the second half, dispatched by Christian Benteke (£5.5m).
Zouma managed to offset the loss of clean sheet with his fifth goal of the season, supplying Mason Mount (£7.2m) with his sixth assist of the campaign while substitute Reece James (£5.0m) added his fourth attacking return of 2020/21 by setting up Pulisic’s second.