Liverpool’s star man is on the mark yet again to help offset some of the damage suffered by those without Sergio Aguero following his four-goal haul.
It wasn’t quite the 21 points produced by the Man City striker on Saturday, but Mohamed Salah’s goal, assist and two bonus in the Reds’ 2-0 win at Southampton was another good job well done by the prolific Egyptian.
Some 22.1% of Fantasy Premier League (FP) managers made him Gameweek 27’s most captained player and enjoyed a 13-point tally – the 12th double-figure performance of his stellar season – as a result.
Exactly half of FPL’s pre-Gameweek 27 top 100 managers were among those handing him the armband (Aguero was picked by 26), and Salah is now likely to receive similar backing for the foreseeable future.
Liverpool have three home matches, against West Ham, Newcastle and Watford, in the next four, with only Gameweek 30’s trip to Man United likely to dull his captaincy prospects.
Then again, Salah’s form is so irresistible – he’s produced attacking returns in 16 of his last 18 appearances – that even Old Trafford might not be able to tame him.
He set up Roberto Firmino’s opener at St Mary’s before the roles were reversed for the second goal, providing the 39% of managers on the Brazilian with 12 points as their man also took home maximum bonus.
A run of two goals in the previous six Gameweeks had persuaded 93,000+ to sell Firmino ahead of Saturday’s deadline, but he now has 12 goals for the season – his best ever league total – as he continues to do battle with Jamie Vardy for the mid-price forward slot. Surprisingly, however, Firmino still ranks fourth for sales so far ahead of Gameweek 28.
Liverpool defenders have been rather less prized assets this season, but today’s clean sheet made it two shut-outs from their last four matches, both of which have come away from home.
It was also the first clean sheet the Reds have kept with Virgil Van Dijk (5.5%) in the side.
The Dutchman will now be considered as the ideal replacement for Nicolas Otamendi, particularly if Man City’s FA Cup tie with Wigan goes to a replay, thus taking them out of the Gameweek 28 meeting with Arsenal. City will also miss Gameweek 31 should they progress past the Latics.
Liverpool have no such worries, their fourth round exit in the cup ensuring that Gameweek’s fixture against Watford will definitely go ahead.
In fact, the Reds’ lack of FA Cup duty should be a real boon for Fantasy managers, lessening the threat of rotation despite their upcoming Champions League commitments.
Gameweek 29’s visit from Newcastle might be the exception, however, coming as it does just three days before the second leg of their European tie against Porto, with the United match following that four days later.
The magnitude of the later two fixtures suggests that coach Jurgen Klopp will field his strongest possible sides in both, perhaps creating anxiety for that teamsheet against the Magpies.
Unholy times for Saints
Southampton’s 3-2 win at West Brom last week proved to be a blip and they’ve now won just twice in the league since Gameweek 13.
They did at least force Loris Karius into four saves today, helping the Liverpool stopper earn a bonus point, but both form and fixtures are stacked against them now.
The Saints will play just two of their next eight matches at home, and one of those is against Chelsea.
Four of their next five (STK new swa whu) involve relegation rivals and will likely decide their fate as the schedule turns rather spiteful from Gameweek 33.
All of that means their assets have little to no Fantasy appeal now.
James Ward-Prowse’s run of three goals and two assists from his previous four starts prompted more than 78,000 managers to draft him in this week.
The midfielder did at least put in a shift for his new owners, delivering three key passes and having two efforts on target – both team-leading figures on the day.
But his withdrawal on 70 minutes suggests his pitch-time could even be in doubt again, having played 90 mins in each of the last four matches.
Just to dimish the lure of their players further, Southampton will miss Gameweek 31 if either they, or their scheduled league opponents Swansea City, win in the FA Cup fifth round on Saturday.
The Saints travel to West Brom, while the Swans are also away, at Sheffield Wednesday.