Man United 0-0 Man City
- Goals: None
- Assists: None
- Bonus points: Luke Shaw x3 (£4.8m), John Stones x2 (£4.8m), Kyle Walker x2 (£6.2m)
The occasion of a Manchester derby appeared to get underneath the skin of Ole Gunnar Solksjaer and Pep Guardiola’s men in Gameweek 12.
Bruno Fernandes (£10.9m) and Kevin De Bruyne (£11.8m) came into the encounter backed by 40.4% and 24.5% of Fantasy Premier League managers respectively but combined for a total of six points.
With neither side prepared to stretch themselves to get the win, Old Trafford played host to one of the dullest matches of the season so far.
That said, it was not the first time the Manchester derby has disappointed, considering that Gabriel Jesus (£9.3m) and Raheem Sterling (£11.4m), whose first touch was consistently poor on Saturday, both remain goalless against the Red Devils.
On the flip-side, Manchester United have still won just one of their six home league games this season, scoring three in the process, two of which have come from the penalty spot.
There could be hidden benefits from this result for Fantasy managers invested in the Manchester clubs though.
De Bruyne and Fernandes owners were unlikely to captain either of the premium midfielders for an unpredictable Manchester derby but more favourable midweek fixtures stood out enough to guard against mass sales.
That said, the quick turnaround between Manchester City’s Old Trafford visit and a Tuesday-night home meeting with West Bromwich Albion had caused some rotation concerns for De Bruyne.
Likewise, some managers had been put off captaining Fernandes for a plum away trip to Sheffield United for the same reason, although that game is on Thursday.
But considering that neither side exerted themselves too much at Old Trafford might convince both Solskjaer and Guardiola there is enough left in the tank to keep key players in the side in Gameweek 13.
Manchester City are increasingly becoming a source of reliable clean sheets, picking up a fourth from their last six on Saturday.
The fact that it came against a Manchester United side that had a point to prove makes it somewhat more impressive, although the main focus will be on the Citizens’ upcoming fixtures.
With their defensive credentials improving week-on-week, City’s meetings with West Brom (home), Southampton (away) and Newcastle (home) are particularly attractive between now and Gameweek 15.
As ever, the question is: how do we best invest in their back-line, short of forking out for perennial six-pointer Ederson (£6.0m)?
Ruben Dias (£5.6m) remains the key man in terms of outfield defenders, having started each of the last nine Premier League matches, lasting 90 minutes in eight of them.
However, John Stones (£4.8m) is slowly emerging as a viable cheap alternative having started and played 90 minutes in each of the last three.
Crucially, he has been present for all of Manchester City’s clean sheets in the last five and added two bonus points on Saturday.
Whether or not he can retain his starting berth depends largely on Guardiola’s whim, of course. The games are coming thick and fast over the next few weeks although it is notable that Aymeric Laporte (£6.0m) has been benched for three Premier League matches in a row now and Nathan Aké (£5.4m) has not started since Gameweek 5 through injury.
As ever, the full-back situation remains unpredictable. Following a Gameweek 10 rest, João Cancelo (£5.5m) has now started each of the last two and captured clean sheet points too.
His versatility is a complicated piece of the puzzle as he played a right-back with Benjamin Mendy (£5.9m) on the left against Fulham but switched back to the left, pushing the Frenchman to the bench at Old Trafford, so that Kyle Walker (£6.2m) could return to the side.
Paul Pogba (£7.7m) has now started and completed each of the last two league matches for Manchester United, potentially adding an extra complication to predicting the team.
Against Manchester City, he was deployed in a central midfield trio comprised of Fred (£5.3m) and Scott McTominay (£4.9m) but spent some time drifting into a left-wing role.
Meanwhile, Fernandes was officially stationed as a number 10 behind a front-two of Marcus Rashford (£9.4m) and Mason Greenwood (£7.1m), with Anthony Martial (£8.7m) making a second-half comeback from injury.
The Portuguese international spent some time advanced into the gaps between the strikers to become the centre-forward point of a 4-3-3 shape to press Manchester City as high up the pitch as possible.
That could be seen as one of the reasons why Guardiola’s men were unable to get things going from deep at Old Trafford. Fernandes is, after all, much better at pressing off the ball than he often gets credit for.
Whether such a role exists for Fernandes outside of the big games, remains to be seen, especially considering the shake-up of Martial’s 74th-minute introduction for Greenwood. At that point, Solskjaer reverted to a more familiar set-up with Fernandes at number 10, flanked by Rashford and Pogba while Martial led from the front.
Manchester United XI (4-3-1-2): de Gea; Shaw, Maguire, Lindelof, Wan-Bissaka; Pogba, Fred, McTominay; B Fernandes; Rashford, Greenwood (Martial 74′).
Manchester City XI (4-2-3-1): Ederson; Cancelo, Dias, Stones, Walker; Fernandinho, Rodri; Sterling, De Bruyne, Mahrez (Torres 66′); Jesus.
Lessons learned from FPL Gameweek 12
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