FPL review: Guardiola on Haaland’s injury and pens

We assess the key Fantasy Premier League (FPL) talking points from Manchester City’s win over Aston Villa in our latest Scout Notes piece.

The numbers you see in this article are taken from our Premium Members Area, where you can access Opta player and team data for every single Premier League fixture.

Man City set up a massive match with Arsenal on Wednesday, by beating Aston Villa 3-1 to move within three points of the leaders. If they win that game in north London, they will go top of the Premier League on goal difference.

However, today’s match left FPL managers with plenty to ponder, which we’ll dissect below.


Erling Haaland (£12.2m) came off at half-time on Sunday after receiving a kick and will now be checked on in the coming days.

In an eventful afternoon, the Norwegian supplied the assist for Ilkay Gundogan’s (£7.3m) goal but failed to step up to take a penalty shortly after (more on that later), much to the frustration of the 350,000+ FPL managers who Triple-Captained him.

Now, they face an anxious wait to see if he can add to his current four-point tally, although Pep Guardiola’s post-match comments did sound positive.

“Erling has a kick and we will see. We will assess him in the next few days to see how severe it is. At half-time I spoke with the doctors to see and they said maybe at 3-0 we don’t need to take a risk and I agreed with the doctors. If the score was more tight maybe I wouldn’t do it. I think he’s not injured but tomorrow we will see. Hopefully he can play there on Wednesday. If he’s not ready or it’s a risk he’s not going to play.” – Pep Guardiola on Erling Haaland

Ruben Dias (£5.9m) was also hooked at half-time after picking up a yellow card, rather than anything injury-related, with Guardiola not taking any chances.

“Ruben [was substituted] because it was a yellow card. Of course, he was disappointed but unfortunately he got a yellow card – I don’t know why but it is what it is. With [Ollie] Watkins and [Leon] Bailey they have good runners in behind so we decide to not take risks with the score at 3-0.” – Pep Guardiola on Ruben Dias


Riyad Mahrez (£7.8m) surprisingly stepped up to convert Man City’s penalty on Sunday, despite Haaland being on the pitch. Guardiola has since said there will be a discussion on Monday about it.

After Jack Grealish (£6.8m) was fouled, Mahrez, Rodri (£5.6m) and Haaland were all in discussion with club captain Gundogan, with the Algerian eventually chosen.

Rodri confirmed after the game that he wanted to take the penalty, but stepped back when told to do so by Gundogan. However, Guardiola suggested that he wanted Haaland to take it.

“Normally Erling [Haaland] is the first taker. I wanted that but Riyad [Mahrez] always tries to do it, Rodri was involved. I don’t know what happened. Tomorrow we will speak with them. I like when people want to take penalties but always there is one that is the main one and that is Erling.” – Pep Guardiola

“It was clear that the captain decides and I have to accept that decision. I just asked because I was filled with confidence in that moment.” – Rodri

As for Mahrez, his penalty goal capped off a wonderful display, having earlier taken the corner which Rodri nodded in. He should have added a second, too, but blasted over from close range after some good work from substitute Julian Alvarez (£6.0m).

As a result, Mahrez has now returned more points (58) than any other Man City player from Gameweek 17 onwards, courtesy of four goals, five assists and nine bonus points in eight appearances.

His output was at odds with Kevin De Bruyne (£12.4m), who despite showing moments of real quality, ended the first part of Double Gameweek 23 10 points down on Mahrez.


Man City’s formation flummoxed almost everyone upon announcement on Sunday.

In the end, they lined up with a back three of Kyle Walker (£4.8m), Dias and Aymeric Laporte (£5.7m), with Rodri and Bernardo Silva (£6.8m) just ahead of them in defensive midfield and dropping deeper when needed to track runners.

That meant Manuel Akanji (£5.0m), Nathan Ake (£5.1m) and Rico Lewis (£3.9m) were all benched, with the former two appearing in the second half.

The sight of Dias and Laporte in the starting XI for the first time since October raises further question marks about the above’s minutes, with many FPL managers asking if they are even worth the hassle, given their limited upside to date.

Above: Man City’s average positions v Aston Villa

After the match, Guardiola singled Walker out for special praise, saying that he has seen an improvement in his recent performances in training.

“The way we’ve been in the training sessions over the last week or 10 days – we’ve improved a lot. Everyone is so focused. Kyle [Walker] is back with the way he’s behaving. The same with many players.” – Pep Guardiola


We flagged up Ollie Watkins’ (£7.1m) record under Unai Emery last week, after his goal and assist against Leicester City in Double Gameweek 22.

At the Etihad, he continued that form with a second-half strike, taking his tally to four goals and three assists in eight appearances from Gameweek 15 onwards.

Once Villa’s match against Arsenal next weekend is out of the way, he could prove to be a useful asset, given that Villa have guaranteed fixtures in Gameweeks 25, 28 and 32.

Elsewhere, substitute Jhon Duran (£5.5m) hit the woodwork late on and looked a handful for the second match in a row, while Philippe Coutinho (£6.6m) also impressed from the bench and will be pushing for a start next week.

“Yes he has potential but he has to work as well, tactically, offensively and defensively. He has to adapt to his team-mates and our rhythm and as well every minute he is playing now on the pitch is very good for him, for the team but we have to be patient with him.” – Unai Emery on Jhon Duran

Tyrone Mings (£4.3m), meanwhile, was not included in Aston Villa’s matchday squad to face Man City due to a ‘small injury’, but Unai Emery said he was hopeful the centre-back will be available for selection soon.

“Hopefully he will be back. He had a small injury and didn’t train this week but hopefully for the next week he is going to get better and I am thinking maybe he will play on Saturday. If not, we have another centre-back like Calum Chambers and we have to believe in every player.” – Unai Emery on Tyrone Mings

Manchester City XI: Ederson; Walker, Dias (Akanji 45), Laporte; Rodri, Bernardo; Mahrez (Ake 85), De Bruyne, Gundogan, Grealish (Foden 69); Haaland (Alvarez 45)

Aston Villa XI: Martinez; Young (Coutinho 76), Konsa, Chambers, Digne (Duran 60); Ramsey (Cash 76(, Kamara, Douglas Luiz, Buendia (McGinn 60); Bailey (Moreno 60), Watkins

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