Team Guide: The Champions

The champions of the last two seasons and perhaps the most well-equipped team in England and arguably across Europe, Manchester City, have come leaps and bounds in the past decade since their “Sheikh-over”.

The results of the same have been evident in the time that the Emiratis have overseen operations at the Etihad. Four PL titles (out of which the last two have been back-to-back), four league cups and an FA Cup.

Last season was a domestic dream for Pep’s boys as they swept home every honor, completing an unprecedented domestic quadruple in the process (League, Cup, League Cup, Community Shield) which led to the team being christened “The Fourmidables”.

City are odds-on favourites to win the coveted trophy thrice, which if they do, will make them only the second team after their other Manchester counterparts to win the league thrice in a row.

The team which consists of a squad adept in every department, we analyse City’s chances from a footballing and FPL perspective.

Expected Line-ups and formations

Out of possession: 

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When in possession, or 90% of the time:

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We all have been witness to “Pep-ball” over the years and have realized his fetish for the 4-3-3. The Catalan boss’ philosophy revolves around quick and effective distribution of play and swift counters, which were particularly devastating for oppositions during the inception of the formation.

The Spaniard has made no secret of these implementing the same system, with a slight tweak of evolving the game of playing from the back.

Here what you’ll typically see, is Sterling cutting inside and making a lot of inverted runs in between the full back and the CB on his side, looking for the low crosses of Bernado or most likely, De Bruyne, who will drift wide to the right to utilise his world class vision and low crosses/through balls.

Bernado will maintain width but will interchange with KDB at times and come inside acting as a CAM, which will allow De Bruyne to drift wide unmarked to work his magic.

Guardiola is also at times tempted to get his wing-backs running up and down the pitch in order to attack, which leaves a three-man defence behind converting into a 3-5-2.

This formation was used more towards the latter part of last season when the Citizens seemed hard-pressed for goals.

But the expected one is the classic, attacking 4-3-3 with the usual trio of Bernardo Silva, and FPL must-haves Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero which may lead to a cash crunch but eventually rewards as well.

Set-piece takers

Free-Kicks: Kevin De Bruyne, Sterling, David/Bernardo Silva

Penalties: Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, Sterling

Corners: De Bruyne, Sterling, Bernardo/David Silva

Opening 10 fixtures

West Ham (A), Tottenham (H), Bournemouth (A), Brighton (H), Norwich City (A), Watford (H), Everton (A), Wolves (H), Crystal Palace (A), Aston Villa (H).

A comparatively easy draw for the Champions but as we know nothing is predictable about the Premier League.

As for now we can breathe easy seeing other fixtures apart from the home game against Tottenham which proves to be a cracker on the back of last season’s epic Champions League quarter final second-leg clash at the Etihad.

As always City’s home fixtures are expected to be easy fodder for them and that they will steamroll past oppositions as custom has it. Their away fixtures though prove a sticky thorn with tricky visits to West Ham (their opening fixture), Bournemouth, Everton, and Watford.

Their fixtures at home though are what will lure perhaps the most number of FPL managers team sheets towards their picky choices which we will delve into in a moment.

FPL prospects

A team that has accumulated an aggregate of 198 points and scored 201 goals over the past two seasons is a team whose assets are considered to be essential and in contention for the spots in the various departments in the FPL squads of all managers.

In this squad full of assets we analyse the top prospects,

Raheem Sterling – £12m

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The first name on everyone’s lips concerning FPL. A cornerstone of City’s and FPL managers successes over the past few seasons, Sterling has been achieving newer, higher levels of consistency which have endeared him to the Fantasy faithful including the layman.

Coming off a season worth 234 points and 17 goals, meant Sterling was to be an upgrade and his price has been set at £12m from the £11m it was last season.

Despite being a costly proposition, Sterling is thought is considered among the top selections for GW1 along with Mo Salah and also considered by many for the armband come August 9.

Sergio Agüero – £12m

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Another player who has scripted history at Manchester City has been Sergio Agüero, the Argentinian hitman has been an indelible part of the Citizens contemporary history including that spine-tingling moment he scored in the final seconds to win City their first Prem title in 2012/13.

Since then he has plundered goals left, right, and centre and hence holds the position of FPL favourite, slightly behind Sterling, when it comes to selection.

His high pricing doesn’t deter managers from slotting him into the squads, with the man from Rosario always practicing a high-assured returns policy when it comes to raking points in FPL.

He has aggregated the second most number of points (370) behind Sterling (463) and is therefore a must-have. The only question remains; how are you going to build the team around either or both of the aforementioned?

Bernardo Silva – £8m

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Still left thinking about the above question? Fret not, ’cause Bernardo Silva’s here with all the answers to your budget problems. Voted the club’s player of the year says a lot about the quality that the Portuguese attacker possesses, which was evidenced throughout last season.

Priced at £7m last season, Bernardo’s excellent performances for the Sky Blues have earned him a price rise.

De Bruyne’s injury last season provided a serendipitous chance for the winger who shone through and ended up becoming the lynchpin of the attack.

7 goals and 8 assists in the last league campaign suggest was good value last year, but if he’s to prove good value again, he’ll need to build on those numbers, but with the quality around him, there’s a very good chance he will.

Kevin De Bruyne – £9.5m

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Last season, it was De Bruyne’s loss that became Bernardo’s gain. His injury in mid-season ruled him out for a long time keeping him at bay from the pitch and from his lethal best.

The midfielder is an expert in moving the ball and playing forward and is among the world’s best at it, if not the best.

This trait of his, and his eye for the killer pass, has seen him be addressed as Guardiola’s fulcrum in his system. De Bruyne hasn’t disappointed in this regard, averaging 2.7 key passes and 2.5 long balls during his time at the Etihad.

Starting off at £10m last season, his injury and time off the pitch meant his value dropped to £9.6m, which has now been placed at a firm £9.5m ahead of the new season. Not a price that is too low for a person of his class and not a fee that will blow a hole in your FPL pocket.

His vulnerability to injury though is a concern, which has seen FPL managers take a bit of a backseat on him, but for the other 15.5% of FPL managers, they’re hoping he can keep those injuries at bay so he can work his magic and leave the other 85.5% of managers behind. 

After all it was the trust of such FPL managers which reaped them rewards in 2017/18 when the Belgian returned with a figure of 209 points after notching a brilliant 18 assists, 21 the year before that!

Aymeric Laporte – £6.5m

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Considering a defensive asset in a team that has plundered 201 goals over the past few seasons is perhaps advice that may fall on deaf ears, but Laporte has been a player who seems to have been destined to break the precedent set by his attacking peers in City’s ranks.

Laporte was an indomitable part of the defensive armoury that conceded just 23 goals and also chipped in with the odd goal. A bonus point magnet, Laporte is just the right man for managers with a taste for Bonus Point toffees.

Priced at £6.5m, he played 3056 minutes in the league last season and ended up with a cool 16 bonus points. Now that’s high for a centre-back, ain’t it?

Ederson – £6.0m

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Ok we know you’re exhausted but that is just how good this team is when the goalkeeper of your team is considered a top FPL asset prospect.

Ederson ended up with 169 points last season, seven behind compatriot Alisson (176), both of which providing excellent value for their prices.

The goalkeeper was the only player in the squad to play every minute in the league last year (and is expected to do so this year as well), conceded only 23 goals in the 3420 minutes he played. One every 149 minutes!! (yes, 149).

He also chipped in with an assist and is sure to make the cut across hundreds of FPL squads considering his game availability and his shot-stopping abilities which saw him keep 20 clean sheets last season, one behind Alisson again.

Due to his stellar performances he was named as goalkeeper for the “Premier League team of the Year”.

Quality in the side

Manchester City are a team for the ages, a team packed with star quality. A side that knows what it takes to win trophies, and lots of them.

In Pep Guardiola, they have a man who relishes challenges which they continue to have from Liverpool akin to last season’s breathtaking finish. They have a squad that is hungry for more and has a gluttony that gets satiated momentarily only for it to get back to its ravishing best.

Provided they sparkle again, they seem destined to win yet another title and smash more club records by going on to win it 3 times in a row should they accomplish it.

Which of them to choose? Well I can only do what I do best, give overall advice. It’s up to you to choose your squad at the end of the day, wise FPL manager.

Choose em’ wise and take care of the price.

keep-calm-and-thanks-for-reading-7

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