The key Fantasy Premier League (FPL) talking points from two of Sunday’s Gameweek 3 matches are discussed here.
Sheffield United v Manchester City and Burnley v Aston Villa are the games in question.
After impressing last week against Newcastle United, Phil Foden (£7.6) was surprisingly benched for Manchester City’s trip to Sheffield United. However, it wasn’t Pep (or Juanma Lillo) roulette.
Instead, Foden wasn’t well enough to play the full game:
“Phil had some problems with his stomach, he wasn’t feeling in the best condition. We have such a good squad and could see he wasn’t feeling very well and we were able to use that squad. It would have been easy for Phil to play but it was never in question because he wasn’t feeling well.” – Juanma Lillo on Phil Foden
Foden was introduced immediately after the Blades’ equaliser on 86 minutes and instantly claimed the assist for Rodri’s (£5.6m) winner, returning four points for his owners.
Meanwhile, Manuel Akanji (£5.1m) did not travel, adding to Pep Guardiola’s defensive issues following John Stones’ (£5.4m) muscle injury.
“Manuel [Akanji] wasn’t feeling very well. I’m not a doctor so I can’t give you an exact reason why [he isn’t in the Man City squad].” – Juanma Lillo on Manuel Akanji
Man City dominated most of the game at Bramall Lane, with Erling Haaland’s (£14.0m) second-half goal putting them ahead after his missed penalty before the break.
It was the Norwegian’s first spot-kick miss in the Premier League after netting each of his first seven.
Jayden Bogle (£4.5m) set up a nervy finish, before Rodri earned three points for the champions, maintaining their 100% win rate to start the season.
As for Julian Alvarez (£6.6m), he started for the third successive Gameweek, took most set-pieces and went close a number of times, racking up eight shots in total.
He also created four chances and would have earned the assist if Haaland had converted his penalty.
Above: Julian Alvarez’s xG shot map v Sheffield United on Sunday
Elsewhere, Jack Grealish (£7.5m) had a lot of the ball but most of Man City’s threat came from Bernardo Silva (£6.4m) and Kyle Walker (£5.1m) on the right.
Walker was particularly advanced. Indeed, his 28 passes received in the final third was only beaten by one defender – Pervis Estupinan (£5.3m) – in Gameweek 3.
CASH ‘OUT OF POSITION’
Matty Cash (£4.5m) scored two goals at Turf Moor, which coincided with him playing out-of-position on the right wing instead of Leon Bailey (£5.5m).
He had six shots, a match-leading total, in a performance that was probably his best under Unai Emery so far.
The positional switch was an inspired move by the Spaniard, with Cash much higher and closer to Moussa Diaby (£6.6m) than usual.
Above: Aston Villa’s average position map v Burnley on Sunday, featuring Matty Cash (no. 2)
Discussing his versatility, Emery said:
“Matty Cash is versatile and before he played as a winger. He played with us in a back four, sometimes we used him in pre-season more higher as a winger and as a full-back, he scored against Brentford. He helped us a lot today defensively and offensively. He used his moments to remember the moment he played more in Nottingham Forest as a winger and his two goals were good examples for us. We know he can play there and be versatile. In the end, he played at left-back as Lucas Digne had a small problem, and he played as well there.” – Unai Emery, when asked why he played Matty Cash over Leon Bailey
Villa’s defence, which was a back three in possession, was made up of Ezri Konsa (£4.5m), Diego Carlos (£4.5m), Pau Torres (£4.5m) and Lucas Digne (£4.5m).
However, it was reserve shot-stopper Robin Olsen (4.0m) in goal. He came in for Emiliano Martinez (£5.0m), who missed Gameweek 3 through injury having felt discomfort in his right calf earlier in the week.
“A few days he is going to be ready again. I don’t know exactly for Thursday, I don’t know exactly for Sunday. It’s very important to give other players chances and opportunities today like with Robin Olsen.” – Unai Emery
GOALS FLOWING AT VILLA
After being hammered by Newcastle in Gameweek 1, Aston Villa have bounced back with 4-0 and 3-1 wins over Everton and Burnley.
It means the goals continue to flow in their games, with eight scored and six conceded in their first three matches.
At Turf Moor, there was a little period at the start of the second half when Burnley made it interesting, but Villa’s quality shone through in the end, with Diaby electric.
The Frenchman has now scored in both of his away matches and also earned the assist for Cash’s second on Sunday.
“Moussa Diaby’s adaptation is going fast, but he needs this adaptation and each match for him he needs to know his team-mates, and his team-mates know him better as well. Then, in our structure, where is his best position? He’s a player who is being versatile with us and we want to use him in the season across different positions. He is very important for the team, and his capacity to assist and score goals. He is adding to us his qualities, being stronger with him.” – Unai Emery on Moussa Diaby
Meanwhile, Ollie Watkins (£8.0m) has three assists in three appearances so far this season, but he’s yet to score and has only found the net once in his last 10 Premier League matches.
That’s despite racking up 4.81 expected goals (xG) in that period.
Still, the opener was made by the striker and despite some tricky upcoming fixtures, it’s worth noting how good Villa looked on the break v Burnley, with Watkins and Diaby’s direct running causing real problems.
That suggests they’ll pose a threat at Liverpool in Gameweek 4, who will be without the suspended Virgil van Dijk (£6.0m).
NEWLY-PROMOTED SIDES STRUGGLE
The three newly-promoted teams are still yet to win a single Premier League point this season.
After missing Gameweek 2, Burnley were back in action on Sunday, but poor starts are hurting them, having conceded after just four minutes in Gameweek 1 and eight minutes v Aston Villa.
They saw a fair bit of the ball at Turf Moor, with 57% possession, but lacked quality in the final-third, creating just 0.73 xG.
However, they did at least score their first goal since returning to the top-flight, with Lyle Foster (£5.0m) holding off his marker and finding the net.
At the back, budget defender Jordan Beyer (£4.0m) was absent, with Vincent Kompany hoping to have him back from injury after the international break.
As for Sheffield United, it has been a tough start for the Blades, but all of their losses were by just a single goal and there were positives to take from Sunday’s defeat.
They generally defended well and didn’t make it easy for Man City, with substitute Bogle scoring late on.
William Osula (£4.5m) and Benie Traore (£5.5m) were paired together up front again, although new signing Cameron Archer (£4.5m) was presented on the pitch prior to kick-off and said upon his arrival playing regular football was one of the key factors behind his move.