According to the bookies, Man City’s win over Bournemouth on Saturday was one of the most predictable outcomes in Premier League history.
Fans are constantly told ‘anyone can beat anyone is this league’ but such a sentiment is hard to endorse when watching Pep Guardiola’s side at home to a newly-promoted opponent.
Even Cherries boss Scott Parker was happy to write it off as ‘a fixture you don’t look for’ – more contractual obligation than competitive contest.
The hosts cruised to a 4-0 win at the Etihad despite spending long periods of the second half in second gear to preserve energy in the oppressive heat.
It was a quiet shift for Erling Haaland (£7.3m) who registered just eight touches before he was substituted in the 74th minute.
The Norwegian striker completed only two passes; one from kick-off and one that resulted in an assist.
And it’s this goal that is perhaps the most interesting from a Dream Team perspective, not because it earned Haaland two points but because of who scored it and how it came about.
Ilkay Gundogan (£3.9m) was the man who latched onto the lay-off to complete a neat one-two and open the scoring with a confident left-foot finish into the bottom corner.
It’s early days but from what little evidence we have seen it looks as if the German has reprised the Lampard-esque role he fulfilled so effectively the season before last.
In 2020/21, the 31-year-old scored 17 goals in all competitions (13 in the league) as he specialised in arriving late to meet cutbacks and well-timed runs beyond whomever was tasked with false nine duties.
He finished the campaign as City’s top scorer.
Last week against West Ham, it was noticeable that Gundogan maintained a high position up the pitch as Joao Cancelo (£6.6m) spent most of his time in midfield areas.
Against Bournemouth, the former Borussia Dortmund midfielder once again pushed close to Haaland as an attacking No8, which led to the game’s opening goal.
There has been much talk of how Haaland will adapt to Man City’s philosophy but not as much about how Guardiola will adjust his tactics to accommodate his new No9.
Early signs suggest he’s instructed Gundogan to once again embrace his most attacking instincts and dive-bomb the box as often as possible.
With Kevin De Bruyne (£7m) picking up where he left off in the other advanced midfield role, the defending champions have enjoyed a predictably strong start to the campaign.
While the Belgian superstar is currently the most-popular midfielder in Dream Team and Haaland is the most-selected asset overall, Gundogan features in just 2.4% of teams.
If he is to continue as a late-arriving No8 for a team who dominate the vast majority of their fixtures, then his ownership will surely rise rapidly.
Prior to 2020/21, Gundogan’s best goal tally for a single season was six but he’s scored 28 goals since his Guardiola-encouraged evolution and has become a much more viable Dream Team asset as a result.