FPL Man City Guide: Best Players, Set Piece Takers and Fixture Analysis

Whilst Manchester City are the Premier League champions, doing so by an impressive 12 points, the performance of their FPL assets could look similar to last season (to a slightly lesser extent).

The points on the most part will be shared around and as such the assets don’t provide brilliant value for managers (Riyad Mahrez excluded).

After all when a team wins the league the last thing you expect is their goalkeeper to have the most points. This is exactly what Ederson achieved.

However, as is shown every single year in Fantasy Premier League, premium goalkeepers aren’t the way to go.

The fixture analysis below will highlight why Man City assets aren’t as appealing as the likes of Liverpool but how their 3-2-5 system suits them much better, and why Mahrez can flourish in it amongst other factors.

The signing of either Jack Grealish or Harry Kane would completely change everything. However, until the pen touches the dotted line all planning and analysis should be done without that consideration in mind.

It is worth bearing in mind on paper Man City are the best team in the league, and as such the majority of attacking assets have very high ceilings when starting.

Man City Best Players FPL

The best players to pick for Manchester City in the 2021/22 Fantasy Premier League season are:

  1. Riyad Mahrez (£9.0m)
  2. Kevin De Bruyne (£12.0m)
  3. Ruben Dias (£6.0m)
  4. Ferran Torres (£7.0m)

(Side note: Raheem Sterling is very over-priced, by £1.0m at least)

Here is the analysis as to why you should consider these Man City players for your FPL team.

Riyad Mahrez

Mahrez is the standout option and by some way too.

Whilst “Pep Roulette” is always a problem managers encounter, Mahrez is likely to face less of this than most with the RW spot being on of the weaker points in the squad in terms of depth.

Based on performances from an attacking perspective, Bernado Silva isn’t anywhere close to the level of Mahrez.

Mahrez also provides somewhat of a safety net, he’s had a full preseason to prepare and has appeared sharp in early fixtures. Secondly he’s very likely to be on penalties, almost a get out of jail card or a “guaranteed” source of points across the season.

Kevin De Bruyne

De Bruyne is arguably the best attacking midfielder on the planet but also the second most expensive player in the game. It’s a difficult one because as good as he is, there’s questions as to whether his output is worth the £12.0m.

The discussion below regarding the system will shed some light on this but there are better places to allocate your money.

That being said should you pick him, given the below it’s a highly justifiable decision. (Minutes per xGI = 129.3)

Ruben Dias

Few would argue Dias is Man City’s best defender. Consequently, he is the most nailed.

The champions will definitely keep a good amount of clean sheets across the entirety of the season. However, given their fixtures at the start and his £6.0m price tag there’s better options across the board.

The options include upgrading to Trent Alexander-Arnold, staying at the £6.0m price with Ben Chilwell or down to a £4.5m like Joel Veltman.

Ferran Torres

Torres has real potential to be a gem this season. He’s got brilliant movement, good finishing and suits the vacated No. 9 role well given other attributes (better technician than Gabriel Jesus).

If he can get a good start to the season and cement a place, he could be the value pick of the season.

The system

Formation: 4-3-3

Whilst the formation is 4-3-3 on paper it is rarely that in practice. The system changes on and off the ball frequently for numerous reasons discussed below.

Off the ball

Starting firstly with when Man City are off the ball. There’s a reason Ederson kept 19 clean sheets and acquired the golden glove and that’s because of their versatility.

Against the “lesser teams” they remain in a 4-3-3 off the ball which allows them to press higher up the pitch with a greater intensity. By definition their ball retention will be higher up the pitch, causing a maintenance of pressure and surplus of chances.

It’s effective to do because the “lesser teams” naturally set up to have less attacking outlets and in combination with this, the low block system they implement is fatiguing and this only contributes to that. It’s why you often see teams score so many goals late on.

When City play the “bigger sides” they revert to going 4-4-2 off the ball.

It’s more effective and less energy is expended as you’re unlikely to win the ball high up the field against teams with better players technically. Especially those who commit players to progress the play through passing in their system.

It’s far harder to break down a 4-4-2 due to tighter spaces between players, especially because it’s hard to stretch the system in central areas of the pitch. This more pragmatic approach works well in the big games (City went 4-2-3-1 against Chelsea in the semi final of the FA Cup and lost as a result).

On the ball

A 3-2-5 system with the usage of inverted full-backs. The system is genius because it accommodates primarily for Joao Cancelo’s defensive weaknesses and amplifies his attacking abilities. This system has been detailed previously and you can read about it in the Liverpool article linked above, but it benefits Mahrez very nicely.

The highly intelligent movements of all players in the front five is very difficult for defences to cope with, especially with a traditional four back. It creates huge gaps in the half space for De Bruyne and Foden to operate in.

It allows Mahrez to operate in a inside forward channel. De Bruyne’s weight of pass is exceptional and can naturally deliver the ball constantly to Mahrez’s left foot on the half turn. It’s a niche point but something far more important than most realise.

It allows him more time to make a decision and at this level that is everything.

527 passes in the final third of which 88% were successful show how dangerous he can be in this exact scenario.

Furthermore, it’s difficult to counter a side with three at the back and two sitting in the midfield. Central areas become very crowded and width is a necessity to get out quickly to bypass this problem.

However, the time it takes to move the ball back into central areas (amplified by the comparative lack of quality) allows City to get back into their shape should they face this problem.

Fixtures

Man City by no means have a favourable start facing Tottenham, Arsenal, Leicester, Chelsea and Liverpool in the first seven.

Don’t let this deter you too much because as discussed previously they are the champions for a reason.

Secondly Spurs are untested under a new manager and haven’t recruited a new centre-back. Toby Alderweireld has left and they didn’t boast the best defensive record last year for their opening fixture.

Leicester are another side which ended the season poorly. Arsenal are up for debate with Partey’s improvement alongside Ben White needing to settle quickly will be paramount to their success.

One thing that is great about their fixtures is that Norwich (who we can see prior in Gameweek 1) will present a captaincy opportunity for either Mahrez or De Bruyne in Gameweek 2.

Manchester City Set Piece Takers

Team Penalty Takers Free Kick Takers
Manchester City Mahrez, De Bruyne, Rodri De Bruyne, Mahrez, Foden, Bernado Silva, Zinchenko

The players are listed in order of preference in regards to the decisions on the field.

Penalty Taker

Mahrez took the pressure penalty against Borussia Dortmund to help progress City in the Champions League and therefore could be their designated penalty taker heading into the 2021/22 season.

Interestingly De Bruyne hasn’t taken a penalty since December 2020, which he scored against Fulham.

Free Kicks

The free kicks are slightly more complicated.

Direct free kicks which can be classified as goal scoring opportunities will be taken by De Bruyne (first preference) and Mahrez (second preference). They will have the monopoly ownerships on these. It’s worth noting Mahrez has scored a direct free kick already in pre-season.

Indirect free kicks will vary slightly depending on angles and the strategy implemented from the particular set piece. De Bruyne being arguably the best set piece taker in the world will have a lot of them, with the rest being shared between the players listed above.

Corner Kicks

The corner kicks are a very similar story to the indirect free kicks, De Bruyne will have a large majority.

Articles predominantly consist of FPL theories resultant of the eye test and tactical analysis.