WITH MAN CITY SCORING FOR WHAT CAN ONLY BE DEFINED AS FUN, IT SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE TO GO WITHOUT THEIR COVER. I DELVE INTO AN ANALYSIS OF THE TOP 4 MAN CITY MIDFIELDERS.
Man City have scored 22 goals already, in only 7 games. With Sergio Aguero out with a broken rib, it has brought Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling to the forefront as midfield alternatives, with Gabriel Jesus up front. City’s fixture list looks especially kind for the next few. They face STK (H), BUR (H), WBA (A), ARS (H), LEI (A) in their next 5. It looks essential to have at least one, if not two routes into their attack. In this article, I will attempt to compare the 4 midfield men and solve the City conundrum for the time being.
SECURITY OF GAME TIME
The biggest doubt surrounding Man City options ever since the start of the season has not been their ability to score freely, but their game time. This season started with only de Bruyne thought to be the nailed on option, with the others rotating as required. However, David Silva too, has started every game, and appears to be nailed on. Questions have still stuck around the game time of the wingers – Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling. Sane has started 3 games so far. He started against Everton in GW2, after which a poor performance led to him being dropped. He has since then started both of the last two games.
Sterling looks more secure than Sane in that regard, having started every game after he scored the late equalizer against Everton. The only game Sterling has missed was in GW4, where he was serving a suspension. However, with Aguero out, it seems all 4 could feasibly start together. They started with Aguero up front against Crystal Palace in a 4-1-4-1, following which Pep Guardiola retained the quadrumvirate against Chelsea with Jesus replacing Aguero. Summer signing Bernardo Silva has remained out of favor with Guardiola thus far, so it looks like all 4 are good for starts till Aguero’s return.
AVERAGE POSITIONS OF THE GAMES ALL 4 HAVE STARTED TOGETHER
vs CRY (H) – de Bruyne #17, Silva #21, Sane #19, Sterling #7
vs CHE (A) – de Bruyne #17, Silva #21, Sane #19, Sterling #7
CONCLUSIONS : KEVIN DE BRUYNE
de Bruyne is perhaps weighed down the most by the number at the top of that chart – the £10.0m tag. Being a couple of price brackets above the rest of the pack, to even be considered, he should have something that blows the rest out of the water. Simply put, he doesn’t. His points per 90 are comfortably the lowest; despite scoring a stunner against Chelsea, his shooting stats aren’t the best either. The Belgian takes a vast majority of his shots from outside the box. Even though he gets most on target, they don’t test the keeper much.
His creation stats are marginally better than Silva’s, but he pales in both actual and expected assists. The average position maps show that he plays as deep as Silva, and considerably deeper than Sterling or Sane. He hasn’t done considerably well with the bonus points either. The price tag really puts him below the rest of the pack as an option. With the tag of a nailed on City midfielder which boosted his ownership at the start of the season no longer only restricted to him, he just isn’t worth it.
Silva may have the most points as of now, but that is perhaps down to having played the most minutes. Minutes per 90, he is considerably below Sterling and Sane in that regard. He doesn’t have a goal yet; thus, it comes as no surprise his shooting stats are the worst in most regards. Silva is also the deepest amongst the lot usually, based on the average position maps. He does, however, have the great chance creation stats, almost neck and neck with de Bruyne. With 6 assists, he has the most in the league so far. That makes his goal involvement % the highest, but again that could be down to having played the most minutes so far.
But there is always a few downsides with relying solely on assists. For a midfielder, they yield 2 less points than each goal. To put that into perspective, Silva has to assist 5 just to match 3 goals from another midfielder points wise. Furthermore, if you’re relying on someone who thrives only on assists – there’s always someone who’ll score more points, since the assist has to be scored by another player, if you catch my drift. The Spaniard does have, though, by far the highest ownership of the lot – making him the safe play, or the boring one, depending upon your philosophical bend.
The eye catching stat about Sane is the 10.47 points per 90. But perhaps that’s a false representation, no doubt inflated by the 16 point haul he got against Liverpool in 33 minutes. Don’t expect 10.5 points every game from Sane, but that’s still a good representation of the destruction he can cause. His stats are fairly decent all around the board – his shooting stats rank only worse than Sterling, while his creation stats also aren’t the worst. In fact, he has the highest expected assists of the lot. A con for him is game time is perhaps the most at risk, with Silva and de Bruyne having started every game so far, and Sterling every one he was eligible for since GW2.
Against Palace, he was the most furthest forward on an average – even further than Aguero. Against Chelsea though, he was the deepest – even deeper than Silva and de Bruyne on that occasion. One theory as to why is perhaps that game had Fabian Delph at left-back, instead of Mendy/Danilo against Palace. Delph perhaps needs more defensive support, and hence Sane has to drop deeper to help him in that area. Delph’s high average position backs that up too. That seems to have limited Sane’s license to roam, but against Shakhtar Delph was deeper, while Sane was again the furthest forward of all City players, and perhaps it was just the big game that required more defensive duty. The German’s explosive potential is perhaps the best too, as his big hauls against Liverpool and Palace show.
Sterling has a big advantage over the pack in his price tag – he is one bracket lower than Silva and Sane too, at £7.9m. Despite missing the bloodbath against Liverpool due to suspension, his points per 90 is still phenomenal – 8.12. His shooting stats are also the best of the lot, averaging over a goal per 90, with the highest shots, on target and in the box. He does, though, have the worst creation stats – in almost all regards. Even still, his goals are a big plus. He is City’s second top scorer after Aguero so far, with 5 goals, even outscoring Gabriel Jesus. Playing further forward than Silva and de Bruyne is again an advantage. His ownership is the lowest of the lot, which again, on the basis of your perception, is a boon as a differential or a bane as a risky pick against the flow.
I’m tempted to go with Sterling as my favored choice. The £0.4m/£0.6m extra he offers over Sane/Silva can help you clinch that vital upgrade elsewhere. Not just that, his shooting stats are off the charts, leading me to believe there’s more goals in him. He was also a regular fixture in the side with Aguero in the side, so he could also be a nifty long term option. At 5.8%, he’s also a great differential. Sane and Silva are also worth considering, though. Sane is perhaps a more risky, but more explosive differential if you have the extra money. Silva is the safe choice, with the highest ownership. I wouldn’t consider de Bruyne for any reason, though.
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