Manchester City 1-0 Brighton
- Goal: Phil Foden (£6.2m)
- Assist: Kevin De Bruyne (£11.8m)
- Bonus: 3x Foden, 2x Zinchenko, 1x Dias
Phil Foden (£6.2m) picked up his second maximum bonus-point haul in a row as City were made to battle to beat Brighton in Blank Gameweek 18.
The defence of City shone again as their attackers missed a glut of chances in their win.
With many Fantasy Premier League players lumping on their defence, this display will have given them a renewed sense of confidence ahead of the Double Gameweek.
With upcoming games against Crystal Palace and a COVID stricken Aston Villa, their defence looks set to carry on bringing in the points.
Curse of KDB
Kevin De Bruyne (£11.8m) looks likely to go down as the most frustrating player of the season.
Lining up as a false nine in a team scoring goals, FPL players captaining KDB were licking their lips at the thought of a monster haul.
But their was a sense of inevitability after a first half where De Bruyne had two good chances in the box saved by Robert Sanchez (£4.4m).
During the second half, De Bruyne started dropping deeper and deeper as City came under pressure from a spirited Brighton side.
Even when he earned a penalty in injury time, KDB owners must have thought their luck had turned.
However, the sight of substitute Raheem Sterling (£11.4m) stepping up and missing the spot kick quickly brought them back down to earth.
The City captain did finish the game with a clean sheet bonus and an assist for the Foden goal, but yet again owners will be ruing what could have easily been a double-digit haul.
This is by far from the first time De Bruyne and the City attack has failed to convince against a team in the lower reaches of the table.
Once known for their free-flowing attacking football, City have now failed to put more than two goals past West Brom, Newcastle, Brighton and Fulham.
In their last six gameweeks, they have been outscored by Arsenal and Aston Villa, and have scored the same amount of goals as Wolves and Everton.
Usually such a cool customer, Pep Guardiola cut a frustrated figure in the second half.
His post match interview even suggested more narrow wins could be on the horizon for City.
“We knew how tough it would be. Brighton had a good mentality to play. We had a really good first half and had chances. After we missed a really clear chance in the second half they were better. We need to win these sorts of games. It is a good lesson for us. Every game will be like this.”
City’s win over Chelsea now looks like an anomaly, rather than their other results, and questions still remain over City’s premium attacking assets.
If City’s premium attackers are coming under scrutiny, then Foden looks like a great solution.
The “Stockport Iniesta” began the game on the left side of City’s attack, where he cut inside to score a goal on his weaker right foot.
An all-action display saw the England international switch with KDB, Bernardo Silva (£7.4m) and Riyad Mahrez (£8.1m), to pop up on both wings and as a false-nine.
Pep was quick to praise the goalscorer’s versatility, and hinted he may be more assured of a place in the team going forward.
Phil Foden is 20-years-old, look at the starts. The amount of games, the assists compared to the bigger stars in football. Can play both sides, in the middle as a false nine. He is so clever in front of goal. That’s why he deserves to play
Speaking after the match, Foden spoke of wanting to add more goals to his game.
“I don’t score a lot of goals with my right, when I do score them it’s always nice. It was a good goal. I always like to be in the area. I want to score more goals and enjoy the moment.”
FPL players are going to take a lot more convincing before Foden is rotation proof, but if he can nail down a place in the team then City’s young attacking star will become a must-have.
Paying the Penalty
Raheem Sterling became the latest in a long line of penalty takers to miss a spot kick for Man City.
The substitute, who had only been brought on for the last 10 minutes, surprised many when he stepped up instead of their usual penalty taker, KDB.
And their surprise turned to horror when Sterling skied the penalty in injury time, depriving KDB of another assist and surely three bonus points.
Pep explained the change in taker was down to De Bruyne’s effort throughout the game.
“Kevin is the taker but he made an incredible effort – not just the action to press the keeper and create the penalty but for the rest of the actions before. He was struggling in the last 15 minutes because he was exhausted. I like the guys who take the responsibility for the penalty. It was Raz (Sterling) and next time it will be better.”
This will cause further confusion as to just who is going to take penalties for Man City.
Sterling and KDB have both missed spot kicks this season, and Ilkay Gundogan (£5.5m) spurned a key penalty against Spurs last season.
All this points to frontman Sergio Aguero (£10.3m) being given the responsibility when he returns from injury.
Big at the Back
Another clean sheet for City saw two of their defenders picking up bonus points in a solid display.
Ruben Dias (£5.8m) picked up one of them, and his influence on the back line cannot be understated.
Since arriving from Benfica in the summer for a club record of £65million, Dias has slotted seemlessly into the City defence, marshalling them and barking out orders.
City now have the best defensive record in the league, and before the game, Pep singled out Dias for praise.
“When you buy players always you have this quality but you never know what is going to happen. He is a guy that can play every three days. He recovers immediately and his ability is incredible, as is his understanding of the game. He wants to learn and all of us were impressed how he takes care of his body and mind, every day. We were surprised a lot. The day after [a game] – 8.30 in the morning in the gym. He makes his routine, he eats perfectly. He lives 24 hours for his profession. I can assure you that we signed one incredible player for the next five, six, seven years. That is not easy to find.”
The arrival of Dias has also seen the resurgence of John Stones (£5.0m), whose form was keeping Aymeric Laporte (£6.0m) out of the side even before his injury.
And another option appears to have emerged in their defence, in the shape of Oleksandr Zinchenko (£5.5m).
Retaining his place at left-back even with Benjamin Mendy (£5.9m) fit again, Zinchenko looked assured at both ends of the pitch, and bagged two bonus points.
Pep explained before the game how he sees Zinchenko in the same mould as Joao Cancelo (£5.8m), as a full-back who can move into central areas to support the midfield.
As Cancelo has shown this season, that style of play can attract huge bonus points, so it could be worth keeping an eye on Zinchenko for the next few games.
Graham Potter yet again tore up his previous team sheet and introduced a number of different players to his line-up.
Bernardo (£3.9m) showed a good range of passing from wing-back and Reda Khadra, not yet priced on the game, looked dangerous with his pace.
But a special mention is reserved for Percy Tau (£5.5m), the South African striker recalled from loan at Anderlecht.
The striker, classed as a midfielder on the game, looked dangerous with threatening runs in behind.
Yet again Brighton displayed a lack of cutting edge against City, but there are hopes the pacey South African striker could provide this.
With Neal Maupay (£6.1m) failing to show the form he hit last year, and injuries to Danny Welbeck (£5.5m) and Aaron Connolly (£5.5m), Tau could be due a long run in the side.
His out of position bonus also makes him an exciting proposition for FPL players.
“We’re excited of course. He’s only been with us for a few days but I think you can see his quality. You can see his ability and what he brings. We’re looking forward to getting to know him better and him getting to know us better.”
Man City XI: Ederson; Zinchenko, Stones, Dias, Cancelo; De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan, Mahrez (Jesus 67), Foden (Sterling 82); Bernardo Silva
Brighton XI: Sanchez; Burn, Webster, Dunk, Bernardo, Veltman; Propper (March 68), White, Mac Allister, Trossard (Khadra 86); Tau (Maupay 68)
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