Manchester City was just knocked out of the Champions League -- in stunning fashion -- by Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur. So, why is my Premier League fantasy team stacked with Man City players this week? Well, its because goals weren't the problem on Wednesday. Man City scored four times. They've also scored 86 goals in 33 Premier League games this season (an average of 2.61 per game). That's nine more than Liverpool, and 20 more than any other team.
Man City is also one of eight teams with an extra game in Matchweek 35, which extends from Saturday, April 20 through Wednesday, April 24. Neither opponent is easy. There's another matchup with Tottenham at the Etihad, followed by the Manchester derby at Old Trafford. That said, the bookmakers have made Man City pretty heavy favorites in both games nonetheless.
Sergio Aguero had a goal and an assist against Tottenham on Wednesday, and is tied for the Premier League lead with 19 goals on the season (alongside Mohamed Salah). He'll be my Tier 1 forward and captain.
Raheem Sterling scored two goals on Wednesday (and had a third ruled out for offside in stoppage time, thanks to VAR). He also scored twice against Crystal Palace last weekend. His Premier League tally is up to 17 on the season, and he'll be my Tier 1 midfielder.
Kevin De Bruyne had three assists on Wednesday, plus two assists (and six chances created) against Palace last week. He'll be my Tier 2 midfielder.
Now, there's always a significant risk of rotation with Man City, as long as Pep Guardiola is their manager. However, that risk is lessened by the fact the team is now out of Europe, and focused solely on the Premier League. Yes, there's the FA Cup final, but that isn't until May 18. Fatigue won't be nearly as much of a factor. That risk is also lessened by the fact Man City are playing two "big six" clubs this week and, of course, by the fact they're in an epic title chase with Liverpool , currently sitting two points behind, but with a game in hand.
Could Man City suffer a major letdown, after the gut-punch of going out on away goals to Tottenham on Wednesday? It's definitely possible. But, this could also galvanize them in their quest for a second-consecutive championship. I'm banking on the latter, given just how good Man City have been the past two years.
I haven't forgotten about Liverpool, who did manage to advance to the Champions League semifinals, winning 4-1 at Porto on Wednesday -- 6-1 on aggregate. The problem is that Liverpool only plays one Premier League game this week. However, that game is against 18th place Cardiff City, the most lopsided game of the week, according to the oddsmakers. Plus, Liverpool beat Cardiff 4-1 earlier this season.
There are only three Tier 2 forwards whose teams play twice this week, and Troy Deeney is suspended. That leaves Glenn Murray, who has scored one goal since the beginning of February, and Charlie Austin, who hasn't scored since Dec. 16. No thanks!
Roberto Firmino, on the other hand, scored on Wednesday -- despite only coming on at halftime. He also had a goal and an assist in the first leg against Porto. Domestically, he's been overshadowed by Salah and Sadio Mane (18 goals), but Firmino is now up to 12 goals and six assists on the season -- including three goals and two assists in five starts since the beginning of March. He'll be my Tier 2 forward.
I'm also taking Alisson as my goalkeeper. With eight teams playing twice this week, it's tempting to pick one of the keepers with two bites at the apple -- but that can come back to bite you. Just look at what happened with Mathew Ryan last week. Brighton was one of two teams playing twice, and had two relatively easy matchups on paper, hosting both Bournemouth and Cardiff. They ended up losing 5-0 and 2-0, respectively, and Ryan finished with minus-26.0 points. Ouch!
You've got some big names available in terms of keepers who will play twice this week. However, Man City and Tottenham just played out a 4-3 match on Wednesday, which doesn't inspire confidence in either Ederson or Hugo Lloris. David de Gea committed a howler in Manchester United's 3-0 loss to Barcelona on Tuesday, and faces Man City in the second of his two games.
Arsenal's schedule is easier -- Palace at home, Wolves away -- but they didn't have a clean sheet away all season until Monday's 1-0 victory over Watford, a game in which they played against 10 men from the 11th minute on. Do you trust Bernd Leno, and the defenders in front of him? I certainly don't.
Alisson has a league-leading 18 clean sheets, and Cardiff have scored only 30 goals -- the second-fewest in the league. I'd be happy with a single clean sheet this week. A save or two would be icing on the cake.
Granit Xhaka, Arsenal (Tier 3 midfielder): Xhaka is 11th in the league in passes completed, averaging 66.3 per game, so he has a high floor. He provides a bit of scoring threat, too, with four goals on the season. Xhaka is a little risky, due to a recent injury, but he played the full 90 minutes against Watford on Monday. Having the extra game makes him too good to pass up.
Toby Alderweireld, Tottenham (Tier 1 defender): He has the second-highest average of players whose teams play twice in this tier, and Nicolas Otamendi (the one ahead of him) has started less than half of Man City's league games (14-of-33). Alderweireld is seventh in the league in passes completed, and he's also tied for 16th in clearances, averaging 5.1 per game.
Kyle Walker, Manchester City (Tier 2 defender): He also has the second-highest average of players whose teams play twice in this tier, and Laurent Koscielny (the one ahead of him) has only started 11 games this season due to injury. Walker's attacking numbers have been disappointing as he only has one goal, one assist and 16 chances created in 28 appearances this season. Still, he's eighth in the league in passes completed, and has been solid of late, scoring 9.1-plus points in nine of his past 10 games.