We continue to analyse the key Fantasy Premier League (FPL) talking points from Gameweek 25 in our latest Scout Notes piece.
Here, we focus on Manchester City’s win at Bournemouth.
The numbers and graphics you see in this article are taken from our Premium Members Area, where you can access Opta player and team data from every single Premier League fixture.
HAALAND ON TARGET
Man City arrived at the Vitality Stadium with just one win in their previous six away games across all competitions, but responded in perfect fashion, securing a 4-1 win.
In a clinical display, Julian Alvarez (£6.0m), Phil Foden (£8.0m) and Erling Haaland (£12.2m) all scored one and assisted one.
Without a ‘double’, the latter was captained by just 4.32% of the top 10k. However, he is the only player to return among the seven most popular armband picks so far.
Above: Gameweek 25 captaincy stats (top 10k) via LiveFPL
LEWIS’ ADVANCED ROLE
Pep Guardiola chose to make three changes to his starting XI against Bournemouth following a third consecutive away game in eight days, with Rico Lewis (£3.9m), Foden and Alvarez replacing Kyle Walker (£4.8m), Bernardo Silva (£6.8m) and Riyad Mahrez (£7.8m).
That meant Kevin De Bruyne (£12.3m) had to settle for a place on the bench, having missed the RB Leipzig game through illness.
“It’s tough because we have played a lot of games away this month. No recovery, every three days games and big travels a lot of pressure and demands physicality.” – Pep Guardiola
In possession, it was a 3-4-3 formation, with Lewis initially transitioning between right-back and central midfield roles. However, the youngster was later pushed even further forward, which both the player and manager discussed in detail after the win.
“When I put Rico no. 8 or no. 10, I know he can do it. The fourth goal, he moved perfectly in the pockets, he attacked the byline to make the cross — I’m pretty sure in the future he will play many games in that no. 8 position.” – Pep Guardiola on Rico Lewis
“I got my rhythm quickly and did as well as I could. Pep [Guardiola] just tells me to play my normal game but asks me to go inside alongside Rodri, to give us more control of the midfield. I love playing in this role. I have played as a midfielder before and then been a full-back so I love it. I get more of the ball in advanced positions and you feel more important to the team. I have played there all the way through the Academy, so it’s comfortable but with these players around you it’s 10 times easier. It’s about winning the ball back on the transition. It’s nice that he wants to play me and trusts me, it’s up to me to perform.” – Rico Lewis
Above: Rico Lewis’ touch heatmap v Bournemouth
Foden marked his 200th appearance for Man City with a goal and assist, his first attacking returns since the World Cup.
The 22-year-old was an unused substitute against Leipzig in the UEFA Champions League last week, with Guardiola revealing in his pre-match press conference that he had been struggling on and off since the World Cup with an ankle injury.
However, when included in the first XI, Foden’s willingness to make dangerous runs in behind makes Man City far less predictable. At the Vitality Stadium, he created seven chances and also had the most touches in the opposition box with 11.
“No one from managers, staff or players and even fans can doubt Phil [Foden]. Still we cannot forget he is a young lad and a young player and there are periods where you have injuries and the ankle is not comfortable, but always he is there his work ethic how he helps and tries to do it. Sometimes you are not brilliant like he normally is, but I’m sure this goal will help him and next Tuesday there will be another opportunity, and everyone is going to help us as we have a lot of games. Everyone will be important. You cannot do it with 11 players. If you have one game a week it’s not necessary to use a lot of players but this is not the case. We are lucky that we are still in three competitions now in February with many important games coming and every game we will play the best way to win it.” – Pep Guardiola
CLEAN SHEET FRUSTRATION
With the match wrapped up, City took their foot off the gas and were punished in the 83rd minute, as Jefferson Lerma (£4.7m) wiped out Ederson (£5.4m) and co’s clean sheet. Apart from Nathan Ake (£5.1m) that is, who departed prior to his side conceding.
It’s been a particularly frustrating period for owners of Man City’s defence since the World Cup, with just two clean sheets kept in 11 Premier League games. That’s despite facing just 20 shots on target, the joint fewest in the division.
Their 104.9 minutes per expected goal conceded (xGC) in that time is another Premier League best, yet it’s little consolation to those who have pursued with Ederson in goal.
In an attempt to counter the visitors’ tactical approach, Gary O’Neil lined Bournemouth up with a five-man defence, as he chose to replace the injured Marcus Tavernier (£4.7m) with an additional centre-half in Chris Mepham (£4.3m).
Explaining his decision, O’Neil said:
“We had a few injury issues this week. They generally put five on the top line. 3-2-5, mainly for a long time with a full-back inside. So I felt five on five would have been a better match up for us. I thought when we were in structure, when we were pressing and going after things, I thought we were very well-organised and very good. I didn’t think that was ever the issue. It wasn’t a shape issue or anything that we could have done better structurally. We made a couple of mistakes and played against a good side.” – Gary O’Neil
Bournemouth allowed 20 shots on their goal, which carried a combined xG value of 2.52, similar defensive figures to what Nottingham Forest had posted against Man City the week before.
Still, the defeat saw the Cherries slip back into the Premier League relegation zone ahead of next weekend’s visit to Arsenal, a match which will surely see Bukayo Saka (£8.5m) and Martin Odegaard (£7.0m) backed heavily with the armband.