There has been a lot of talk recently in the community regarding Man City’s assets, and whether or not we should be bringing them in for their upcoming run of fixtures.
It’s a question with many caveats to it: on the one hand, City’s attackers are known for being efficient operators in the final third; on the other, they’ve really not been at the races so far this season.
In this article, we’ll delve into the underlying stats to see whether City assets are really viable, and whether it’s worth tearing up your teams to squeeze them in.
Team Statistics: 2020/21 so far
So far this season, it’s been clear to see that City haven’t been at their brilliant best, and this is something that the stats show quite clearly so far.
So far, no City player has scored more than 2 goals in the league (Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden have 2 each). Now, with them having played 8 games, that’s pretty shocking for a side that should be challenging for titles each year.
They do have 24 goals in all competitions this season, across 13 games. However, 14 of those have been scored in 5 games in cup competitions, which means that they have scored only 10 times in their 8 league games, at an average of 1.2 goals per game.
They also haven’t scored more than 2 goals in a game since their opening fixture in GW2, a 3-1 win over Wolves at Molineux.
Their xG stats don’t make for much better reading either, with the Cityzens not having produced higher than 2 xG in the league this season; the closest they have come was, once again, in GW2, where they managed a 1.9 xG (with a penalty included).
It also seems that City do perhaps lack that little bit of a clinical nature in their shooting: of their average of 11.4 shots per game, only 5.4 of those shots have been on target, while they have also hit the woodwork 4 times this season.
In terms of creating big chances, City have had a total of 15 big chances, which ranks them 10th in the league, but they have missed 11 of these.
In terms of their defence, things are looking much more favourable.
They’ve conceded 11 goals from their 8 games so far in the Premier League, and the majority of those came in one game, the 5-2 loss to Leicester at the Etihad.
In their next 11 games in all competitions, they’ve only conceded 6 goals and kept 6 clean sheets.
They also rank 3rd best for xGA (9.42) in the PL with only Burnley and Chelsea having better however, they have played 1 game less than these sides.
Individual Statistics 2020/21
Let’s start with Raheem Sterling, one of the three players to hold the mantle of top scorer at City so far this season.
The England international had started all 7 of Man City’s league games until he was benched against Tottenham on Saturday night.
So far this season, Sterling has the highest non-penalty xG of the whole City squad (1.8), and he is one of just 5 players in the blue half of Manchester who has an xG of more than 1. He also has 1 assist, which matches his xA total.
It is worth noting, however, that Sterling has not made an attacking return, in terms of FPL, since City’s 1-0 win over Arsenal in GW5, meaning he has blanked for the last 4 consecutive gameweeks. Despite this, he is still the top FPL points-scorer for City this season, with 34 points accrued.
Somewhat surprisingly, Kyle Walker comes in in second, mainly owing to his goal against his former club Sheffield United. Walker has played in all 8 of City’s league games, meaning that he should be a near certainty to start almost every game, especially given his main competition, Joao Cancelo, is playing on the other side of defence.
However, the stats really don’t make good reading for Walker, with him averaging 0.4 key passes per game, and being yet to register an assist this season. This suggests that attacking returns will once again be more of the exception than the rule this season for him.
Sergio Aguero is also set to make his return to City’s starting lineup in the coming weeks. The Argentine was left on the bench for the defeat at Tottenham, having only played 3 games in all competitions so far this season on his return from injury problems.
Despite being limited last season, Aguero still hit 16 goals in 24 appearances, at a rate of one goal every 91 minutes, which is impressive for anyone.
The only question would be regarding whether he can do it in an underperforming City side this season, or whether Aguero himself proves to be the missing piece of the Guardiola jigsaw. Either way, you’d expect him to hit the ground running, with Burnley and Fulham next up for City.
Finally, let’s talk about Kevin De Bruyne. It’s been a disappointing opening to the season for the Belgian, with just two assists, in terms of attacking returns, since GW2.
De Bruyne is City’s leading creator at the moment, however, with 3 assists and 4 big chances created, and an average of 3.4 key passes per game. This is enough to convince me that the chances are being created, and perhaps the problems are with the chances being converted.
With the return of Aguero imminent, one would imagine that more of those key passes will turn into assists for KDB, who equaled Thierry Henry’s record 20 assists last season.
City’s Upcoming Fixtures
Now, before we dive into City’s next few games, it’s worth noting that City haven’t played too many games that could be considered “more difficult” for a team of their calibre.
And since that Leicester game in GW3, the Sky Blues haven’t netted more than once in any league game, which includes games against the likes of Leeds, West Ham and Sheffield United.
But this upcoming fixture run is the real reason why most of the community want to get City’s assets in. Between GW10 and GW22, the Cityzens face just 2 of the traditional “top 6”, with trips to Man Utd (GW12) and Chelsea (GW17).
They also face Burnley and West Brom twice in that run, with fixtures against Fulham, Newcastle and Sheffield United increasing the allure of Man City’s best players.
If ever there was a run of fixtures that could kick-start a season, it’s this one. And we all know that City don’t stay on a bad run of form for long, don’t we?
From all this, and despite the slow start, I can say that City assets are well worth jumping on for that fixture run alone.
However, I’d also say any returns within the first week or two is a complete bonus, as in order to get fully going in the final third, I do think they need Aguero at full fitness to be converting these chances.
We have to look at them historically and based on what we know, we have to assume that City will fire in attack eventually – they always do.
A team with that kind of quality in it is bound to get going sooner or later and to be honest, when they do, it’ll likely hurt your rank if you don’t own the main assets.
Their slow start is concerning, but the likes of KDB, Sterling and Aguero should all fire once they get Aguero back in at full fitness.
Ruben Dias might be the best value option at City at present, given that he’s now started 9 out of the last 11 games in all competitions and has started and completed 90 minutes in all of the Premier League games since GW4.