nor / WAT / eve
Where were you in GW1 last season? Where you having to be peeled off the ceiling after Mendy took Arsenal apart and returned a double digit haul in exchange for 6.5m of your budget. Well if you were, or had to witness it, you will know the damage this attacking asset can be for City, especially with the bonus that he picks up clean sheets for one of the best teams in possession of all time. After an injury plagued season the French wingback saw his price fall to 6.0m to start the game this season and subsequently drop again to 5.9m during the course of the first 4 gameweeks.
Let us start with the positives; with a tricky away tie in the Ukraine in midweek, sandwiched by two very easy fixtures by Premier League standings (a decimated Norwich and then a struggling Watford at the Etihad), this fixture needs the most attention for a City team who have consistently failed in Europe. Zinchenko, Ukrainian himself, would realistically be pencilled in for this match at Left Back, and after playing both international games for his country (and scoring in both) he could see a small rest this weekend in place of a Mendy who has been training with the first team all week. Next up, we have the weighting of Norwich and Watford, these two games look fantastic on paper for Pep to try so small experiments, he already has to re-jig his backline with the enforced absence of Laporte, so with Otamendi returning to City early and Stones, Walker and Mendy all training at the club over the international break it could make sense for Pep to put them all in together on the weekend. The final positive about Mendy is the absence of Sane, Sane will be out for the season with his cruciate knee injury leaving Pep with the ability to allow Sterling to cut in from the left and Mendy to overlap without bumping into Sane who would, if playing from the left, naturally drift out wide. In recent games Zinchenko has been moving up to cover the midfield and allowing David Silva to drift out wide making a 5 or 6 across the front for City, but Pep may see Mendy as a good alternative to this and save David Silva’s legs for the games where he will be needed to sit in between the lines of the low or mid block and pick open a stubborn defence centrally.
So the negatives; Mendy is injury prone, Pep said he would need a month training with the team before he could be trusted, as far as we know he is a few weeks into this but a week in earnest. Norwich are capable of scoring as it is not in their nature to defend (especially as they do not have a fit defence this weekend) and so IF Mendy makes his shock return this weekend it could be to collect 2 points.
City’s 3 Spots
You are likely to want 3 City players in your team, with their phenomenal attacking outlay this makes sense. But squeezing Sterling, de Bruyne and Aguero in is hard, and beyond them its tricky to justify other players who have high prices and high chances rotation (such as Bilva, Dilva and Mahrez). Aguero himself will see significant rotation with Jesus who has returned to training over the last week or so, and with UCL and other midweek fixtures coming up its prime time for the 60/30 rotation for both City forwards. This could leave you with a 3rd spot available and the defence is a key place to look. Laporte, now injured, leaves us with Stones and Otamendi at 5.4m seemingly nailed on, however, both have their negatives. Otamendi will get sent off, and Stones doesn’t come forward, Fernandinho will play at center back and Kyle Walker can play at center back. They are still relatively safe choices for such a great defensive side but with elements of risk being there, a bench to cover you, and a good price available there is another risk with a much higher points ceiling.
History and Conclusions
Last season, Mendy completed 900 minutes of first team football, for convenience let us say that is 10 games. In that time Mendy picked up 4 clean sheets and 6 assists, alongside 6 bonus points. If he had played half a season for City that would’ve seen him pick up 118 points… and a full season… well we are looking at somewhere around 220 points. This points per match return is impressive and if you time it right you will return points, and his value will fly up until he inevitably gets injured again.
Either way, Mendy can still be an asset again, and with the emergence of Cantwell, Lundstram and Dendonker as viable cheap bench options the luxury of a high points ceiling player who has inconsistent minutes for a great team at a good price makes some sense for the first time in years.
An eye on Gameweek 5
2 players currently stand out for me. Pepe at Arsenal and Jiminez at Wolves. Both have fixtures where I expect them to return points, with Pepe especially posting fantastic underlying statistics and Jiminez coming up against a leaky Chelsea defence, followed by good fixtures albeit ones interrupted by the metronomic Thursday-Sunday Europa League burden.