Newcastle 3-4 Man City
- Goals: Emil Krafth (£4.2m), Joelinton (£5.7m), Joe Willock (£4.7m) | João Cancelo x1 (£5.8m), Ferran Torres x3 (£6.9m)
- Assists: Jonjo Shelvey (£5.3m) | Rodrigo (£5.3m), Ilkay Gündogan (£5.6m), Gabriel Jesus (£9.1m), João Cancelo x1 (£5.8m)
- Penalty misses: Willock
- Penalty saves: Scott Carson (£3.9m)
- Bonus points: Torres x3, Cancelo x2, Carson x1
Ferran Torres (£6.9m) is making a late-season claim as a Fantasy Premier League differential option.
The Manchester City midfielder has now started each of the last three league matches, has found the net in two of them and come away with four goals.
Scoring three times on Friday night, the Spaniard played on the right-hand side of a front-three at Newcastle having operated in more of a central-midfield role against Chelsea.
Torres was also afforded a license to swap with Gabriel Jesus‘ (£9.1m) centre-forward position, which led to his second and third goals and posed a threat from set-pieces, netting an impressive piece of skill in the first half.
“I may have to think of him as a striker. When Jesus and Aguero were out, he played as a striker and always he is there (near the goal). He scored against Leeds, he scored against Crystal Palace. It is so important. He can be a number nine.” – Pep Guardiola
His latest effort helps contribute to admirable figures during his Premier League minutes this season. Torres has now been involved in 41% of Manchester City’s league goals scored while he is on the pitch (11 of 27), the most of any colleague.
Kevin De Bruyne (£11.8m) previously topped that particular statistic (40%) while Phil Foden (£6.0m) was only one percentage point ahead of Torres (37%) before Blank Gameweek 36.
With Brighton (away) and Everton (home) the final two matches for Pep Guardiola’s men, Torres could be a shrewd differential considering that, over the last seven league matches, he has missed out on the starting XI only twice.
KNOW YOUR KRAFTH
Despite the absence of Callum Wilson (£6.5m), Newcastle yet again did enough to warrant monitoring their assets for investment in the final two Gameweeks of the campaign.
Steve Bruce’s men face Sheffield United (home) and Fulham (away) in Gameweeks 37 and 38 respectively
After a 4-2 win at Leicester in Triple Gameweek 35 brought the Magpies’ drastically improved form to light, the fact they were able to extend it against even a rotated Manchester City side is worth noting.
Just as we saw at the King Power Stadium, Newcastle primarily threatened on the counter-attack and, although they could have been even more devastating with Wilson in the side, his colleagues still did a good job of stretching Manchester City’s defence on Friday.
In finding the net three times, it was only the second Premier League away match in which Guardiola’s men had given up more than one goal this season, the last coming in the Gameweek 9 defeat at Spurs. Even with largely second-string personnel, that achievement is not to be sniffed at for Newcastle.
Meanwhile, we were able to get something of a fix on who will take Newcastle’s penalties in Wilson’s absence between now and the end of the season.
Joelinton (£5.7m) dispatched the first-half spot-kick he won before Joe Willock (£4.7m) insisted on taking one he was awarded in the second.
The Arsenal loanee did, admittedly, see his effort saved by Scott Carson (£3.9m) although he still managed to convert the rebound.
“I’m always a bit flexible with it. It’s a bit of a south American thing that once they’ve scored one, they don’t want to take another one, so I’m led to believe. It was his choice, yeah. It’s one of those things where Matt Ritchie has been the penalty taker before but I think he missed one the last time he took it. But hey, we’ve scored twice so it didn’t make a difference.” – Steve Bruce
And it is Willock who will perhaps command the biggest interest ahead of Gameweeks 37 and 38. In finding the net on Friday night, he is now joint-top among all midfielders for goals scored across their last six matches, his total of five level with Torres, Matheus Pereira (£5.4m) and Mason Greenwood (£7.2m).
After recent flirtations with 4-4-2 and 3-1-4-2, Manchester City were back in 4-3-3 on Friday night.
It was the first time Guardiola had deployed that formation since the Champions League semi-final first-leg against PSG.
In that time they have used 4-4-2 against Crystal Palace and in the semi-final second-leg, both times producing 2-0 wins. Whether Guardiola was seriously considering long-term usage for 3-1-4-2 remains to be seen, of course, considering suggestions he went for that system against Chelsea to cloak Thomas Tuchel’s understanding of how to play against the Citizens’ best team ahead of the Champions League final.
Meanwhile, Guardiola’s latest line-up still had plenty of clues to predicting future ones, as hopeful as that sounds.
João Cancelo (£5.8m) remains the Manchester City manager’s favourite defender, having started five of the last six matches in all competitions. Three of those were at left-back, one at right-back and another at right wing-back.
Kyle Walker (£6.1m) missed out on Gameweeks 34 and 35 but has still started four of City’s last six in all competitions at right-back now.
Centre-back is becoming an increasingly unpredictable area of Guardiola’s team. Even though Rúben Dias (£6.0m) has started four of the last six in all competitions, only two of those have come in the Premier League. In fact, three of the last five league matches have seen the previously nailed-on Portuguese international on the bench.
Meanwhile, in De Bruyne’s absence, Ilkay Gündogan (£5.6m) assumed set-piece responsibilities and was in decent form against Newcastle.
He provided the assist for Torres’ opening goal with his excellent delivery and went close to setting up another goal in the 49th minute when he flashed a free-kick across the far post.
Newcastle United XI: Dubravka; Ritchie (Lewis 83′), Dummett, Fernández (Gayle 87′), Krafth, Murphy; Almirón, Shelvey, Willock; Joelinton (S Longstaff 83′), Saint-Maximin.
Manchester City XI: Carson; Cancelo (B Mendy 74′), Ake, Garcia, Walker; Gündogan, Rodrigo, B Silva; Sterling, Jesus, Torres.
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