MAN CITY 1-1 WEST BROM
- Goals: Ilkay Gündogan (£5.4m)
- Own goals: Ruben Dias (£5.6m)
- Assists: Raheem Sterling (£11.4m) | Semi Ajayi (£4.8m)
- Bonus points: Gündogan x3, Kevin De Bruyne x2 (£11.9m), Sterling x2
DE BLANK OR NOT DE BLANK?
Owners of Kevin De Bruyne (£11.9m) were left frustrated by Manchester City’s 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday night.
The Belgian struggled to find the space to operate at his best level in Gameweek 13 as Slaven Bilić’s men executed the perfect away-day game plan at the Etihad Stadium.
With a trip to Southampton awaiting Manchester City on Saturday, the opening day of Gameweek 14, there are already mutterings of considering De Bruyne’s position in our squads – although it is worth assessing some of the mitigating circumstances for his midweek blank.
West Bromwich Albion were a massive contributing factor holding a compact 4-1-4-1 shape with incredible discipline and organisation for the entire game.
De Bruyne’s recent double-figure hauls at the Etihad Stadium were produced in games when he had the space to stretch his legs, drive the ball forward centrally to either pick out a pass or have a shot from range.
Against the Baggies, the gaps were so small that De Bruyne had very little opportunity to find his colleagues, who suffered from the same problem.
On multiple occasions, the Belgian was forced to either drop deeper to find this space or push out wide to the right flank – in either case, this only served to isolate him from Gabriel Jesus (£9.3m), Raheem Sterling (£11.4m) and Phil Foden (£6.4m) even more.
Average positions from the Etihad Stadium in Gameweek 13
Unable to play through the lines, Pep Guardiola’s men were largely restricted to hopeful balls into the box; meat and drink for West Bromwich Albion’s tall centre-backs to clear against City’s diminutive attackers.
Will the Citizens meet such a stubborn wall of resistance in every game this season? Absolutely not, especially not when three of their next four matches are on the road (Southampton, Everton and Chelsea).
JOHNSTONE’S PAIN TROPHY
Another important reason why De Bruyne backers were left wanting was West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Sam Johnstone (£4.5m) who produced some truly incredible saves during the closing stages.
When De Bruyne dropped deeper later in the game, he played two trademark whipped balls into the box, putting chances on a plate for Sterling and Ilkay Gündogan (£5.4m) from close range. These late key passes appear to have played a big part in De Bruyne securing two bonus points.
However, in both of these events, Johnstone was up to the challenge with sprawling stops that few Premier League goalkeepers would be capable of replicating.
A few minutes before those big chances, De Bruyne was handed a direct free-kick in his favourite area of the pitch, just on the edge of the penalty box.
The Belgian’s effort was destined for the bottom right-hand corner but Johnstone pushed it round the post spectacularly.
“The free-kick was a good save. It came through a lot of bodies. The headers were both close and luckily I managed to get a leg to them and keep them out of the net.” – Sam Johnstone
Johnstone already led the Premier League for saves before Gameweek 13 and, at the time of writing, he has extended his lead over Illan Meslier (£4.6m) to 10.
At the Etihad Stadium, the former Manchester United custodian made six stops, taking his tally of save points on the road to eight for the season.
It was another performance that might ask questions of how Fantasy managers select their captains moving forward. After all, selecting De Bruyne at home to the division’s worst defence should have resulted in a double-figure haul, right?
But while West Bromwich Albion have conceded five goals against the likes of Everton and Crystal Palace, their encounters with the bigger clubs, against the prime captain candidates have often been tight.
They raced into a 3-0 lead and eventually drew 3-3 with Chelsea back in Gameweek 3, Gameweek 8 saw them narrowly lose 1-0 to Spurs while the Baggies lost by a single goal to Manchester United at Old Trafford in Gameweek 9.
Across those three matches, Johnstone accrued 17 saves, an average of 5.7 per game, in line with the six registered against Manchester City on Tuesday night.
The goalkeeper’s next meeting with a big-club captaincy candidate is in Gameweek 15 when West Bromwich Albion travel to Anfield…
Manchester City XI (4-2-3-1): Ederson; B Mendy (Walker 75′), Aké, Dias, Cancelo; Rodri, Gündogan; Foden (Aguero 76′), De Bruyne, Sterling; Jesus.
West Bromwich Albion XI (4-1-4-1): Johnstone; Gibbs, O’Shea, Ajayi, Furlong; Sawyers; Diangana, Gallagher, Livermore (Krovinović 80′), M Phillips (Peltier 87′); Grant (Austin 70′).
Lessons learned from FPL Gameweek 13
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