We round up the key Fantasy Premier League (FPL) talking points from Wednesday night’s huge top-of-the-table clash between Arsenal and Manchester City
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An entertaining top-of-the-table clash at the Emirates saw Kevin De Bruyne (£12.4m), Jack Grealish (£6.8m) and Erling Haaland (£12.2m) seal a 3-1 win that means Manchester City have leapfrogged Arsenal into first place.
Originally meant for Gameweek 12, this was the first league meeting in over a year between student Mikel Arteta and teacher Pep Guardiola. Yet the late joy for Haaland triple captainers ensured that Man City have won 11 consecutive Premier League matches against the Gunners – a mentality which could greatly affect the title race.
DE BRUYNE IS BACK
Without a goal since Gameweek 14, a lot of managers had either recently sold the Belgian for Bruno Fernandes (£9.9m) or have been planning an imminent switch to Mohamed Salah (£12.6m).
He gave the visitors a 1-0 lead after pouncing on an awful Takehiro Tomiyasu (£4.2m) back pass to lob the ball over Aaron Ramsdale (£4.9m). In the second half, after avoiding a yellow card for pushing the mischievous Arteta, his 82nd-minute minute cut-back was expertly finished by Haaland to seal the victory.
What could hold De Bruyne back in FPL – like all Man City players – is the return of the Champions League. Guardiola has recently shown that he’s not afraid to rotate his star midfielder, so having trips to newly-promoted Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth surround their RB Leipzig first leg is not ideal.
SAKA IS STILL ON PENALTIES
One of Gameweek 23’s most-bought players was Bukayo Saka. With a security of minutes alongside his penalty duties, many even sold Double Gameweek team-mate Gabriel Martinelli (£6.6m) to accommodate him.
Owners must have been relieved, then, when Eddie Nketiah (£6.8m) was fouled in the box shortly before half-time. January signing Jorginho (£5.8m) is a renowned penalty taker and was in the starting XI to replace the injured Thomas Partey (£4.7m) but Saka still took the kick, coolly ignoring Ederson’s (£5.4m) mind games to equalise.
Arsenal are top of our Season Ticker for every range of upcoming gameweeks from two to nine, so nailing down the right assets is imperative. Saka remaining on penalties will be a huge boost.
Arteta had picked an identical starting XI for each of their previous six league outings but made two changes this time. Replacing Partey was enforced but popular pick Ben White (£4.7m) was benched for Tomiyasu, to the dismay of many FPL managers.
He might be straight back in though, as the Japanese international’s severely under-hit pass caused the first goal and a huge Oleksandr Zinchenko (£5.1m) error was rescued by Ramsdale preventing a Haaland punishment. Then, another sloppy moment saw Haaland slip the ball to Ilkay Gundogan (£7.3m), preceding Grealish’s low right-footed finish.
The title is still in Arsenal’s hands, as they have a spare game over the new leaders, but the manner in which they’ve dropped eight points in their last three matches is disappointing.
Nine of the participants entered with at least 25% ownership inside the top 100k, so let’s round up the others. Riyad Mahrez (£7.8m) had no goal attempts and was replaced in the 61st minute by Manuel Akanji (£5.0m), who himself had started 14 of the 15 league games before this double. Naturally, Guardiola chose to bench him on both occasions.
The emergence of Rico Lewis (£3.9m) ultimately forced the departure of Joao Cancelo (£7.1m), yet the 18-year-old failed to play a single minute in either match. It feels like the Champions League return, combined with Pep’s rotations and the likely Blank Gameweek 28, is a recipe for disaster.
Goalkeeper Ederson was booked after 36 minutes for time wasting and could’ve seen red when he fouled Nketiah for the penalty just minutes later. Arsenal’s forward avoided total Double Gameweek failure by grabbing an assist but missed two big chances, both headers. He was also cautioned by the referee.
Lucky Gabriel (£5.2m) saw his own booking reversed after VAR ruled that Haaland was offside and therefore his foul would not bring a penalty, whilst Nathan Ake (£5.1m) – the only Man City change from Sunday afternoon – had a Rodri (£5.6m) header hit him on its way to the crossbar.
Martin Odegaard (£7.0m) mustered two goal attempts but neither was on target. This was more than Martinelli, who started again over Leandro Trossard (£6.7m) but had an expected goal involvement (xGI) of just 0.10.
Arsenal XI: Ramsdale; Tomiyasu (White ’82), Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Odegaard, Jorginho, Xhaka (Vieira ’82); Saka, Nketiah, Martinelli (Trossard ’76)
Manchester City XI: Ederson; Walker, Dias, Ake, Bernardo; Rodri, De Bruyne (Phillips ’88), Gundogan; Mahrez (Akanji ’61), Haaland, Grealish (Foden ’77)