For all the firepower on show at Anfield on Sunday afternoon, it was a budget striker owned by some 686 Fantasy managers worldwide who decided the fate of the 232nd Merseyside derby.
Divock Origi‘s remarkable last-gasp winner will live long in the memory but for the Fantasy bosses who owned midfield and forward assets from the red and blue halves of Merseyside, this was a day to forget.
Jurgen Klopp’s backline continues to deliver for those of us invested in them, with the Reds here recording their ninth clean sheet of the campaign – no other Premier League has as many this season.
Everton were seconds away from their fifth shut-out in eight top-flight matches before Origi’s late, late intervention but at least demonstrated just how far they’ve come as a defensive unit by getting within a whisker of leaving Anfield with a goalless draw.
We dissect the final fixture of Gameweek 14 by rounding up the goals, assists, injury news, Fantasy talking points and manager quotes from Liverpool’s stoppage-time win over their neighbours.
Liverpool 1-0 Everton
- Goal: Divock Origi (£5.0m)
- Assist: Virgil van Dijk (£6.0m)
Mohamed Salah (£13.0m) blanked for only the second time at Anfield this season but his meagre three-point return in Fantasy Premier League was as much attributable to the poor finishing of colleagues as it was his own inability to breach a stubborn Everton defence.
Salah twice laid on glorious chances for Liverpool team-mates in the first half of yesterday’s Merseyside derby, only for Sadio Mane (£9.9m) and then Xherdan Shaqiri (£7.0m) to spurn the opportunities the Egyptian midfielder had provided.
No player on show at Anfield supplied more key passes than Salah on Sunday.
Assists, of course, are not Salah’s bread and butter.
On a weekend when Raheem Sterling (£11.5m) turned in another irresistible attacking display for Manchester City and became the first player this season to pass the 100-point mark in FPL, Salah was once again struggling to justify his top-dollar price.
The Egyptian’s only shot of the match came just after half-time, a curling effort that crept past Jordan Pickford‘s (£5.0m) right-hand upright. The only other sight on goal Salah had in a 74-minute showing came in the first half, when the talismanic midfielder got his feet in a muddle when in a promising position.
While Everton did well to shackle the Egypt international in his increasingly familiar centre-forward role, it would be wrong to suggest the visiting defence – or the home one, for that matter – was an impermeable force.
As well as that aforementioned chance provided by Salah, Mane wasted another gilt-edged opportunity after the break when being fed by Roberto Firmino (£9.2m) and was to curl wide shortly after when being teed up again by his Egyptian colleague. Mane was also inches away from latching onto two low crosses from the flank in the second half.
Just as he had been in the defeat at PSG in midweek, Mane was perhaps Liverpool’s brightest spark in attack and continues to present himself as a viable – if not as reliable – cut-price alternative to Salah in the Reds’ midfield.
Consistency of returns is what the Senegalese winger is lacking: this was the eighth occasion in 13 Premier League appearances that Mane has blanked.
Shaqiri was less effective than he has been in recent weeks on the right flank in a 4-2-3-1, not troubling the goalkeeper other than his “big chance” mentioned above or indeed creating a single opportunity for a team-mate.
Firmino, still somehow owned by over a million FPL managers, reverted to lacklustre type after his 12-point haul in Gameweek 13, blanking for the eighth time in nine games.
While the Brazilian forward managed three attempts on goal (more than Salah) against Everton, he is far from passing the eye test as a supporting striker in this system and looks a shadow of the player that racked up 15 goals and eight assists in 2017/18.
A rest possibly beckons for one of Liverpool’s front three (or four, as it is now) in midweek, with Mane perhaps most at risk after being the only member of the attacking quartet not be substituted in this match at Anfield and indeed suffering a cut to his foot during the game.
While paying tribute to the former Southampton midfielder, Klopp said:
It was such an intense game and if you look at these three I think Sadio had tonight the standout performance. He had the chances and didn’t use them, but he was pretty much not to defend in one-on-one situations very often.
He got better minute by minute and if you see now he is sitting in the dressing room and has a cut on his foot, so 20 minutes before the end of the game, I don’t know how it happened [but it’s a] very painful thing and he stayed in.
He didn’t tell me but otherwise maybe we would have changed differently, probably not. That’s all. We will see how we line up in the next [games]. We only have to think about Burnley, not Bournemouth or Naples or [Manchester] United or Wolves.
A start for Divock Origi (£5.0m) or Daniel Sturridge (£5.8m) wouldn’t seem out of the question at Turf Moor on Wednesday, nor would a change back to a 4-3-3 given that Jordan Henderson (£5.3m) will return from suspension and Naby Keita (£7.2m) would seem overdue a start in the middle of the park.
Origi’s goal at Anfield arrived in bizarre circumstances, the youngster tapping in after Virgil van Dijk’s (£6.0m) wayward shot had ballooned up into the air and onto the crossbar via a flap from Pickford: that “assist” was the Dutch centre-back’s first attacking FPL return since December 2016.
Andrew Robertson (£6.5m) was a constant threat down the left flank and played one glorious ball across Pickford’s goalmouth that Mane couldn’t quite reach, though Trent Alexander-Arnold (£5.2m) was wasteful with his own final delivery: ten of the right-back’s 12 crosses failed to find a Liverpool shirt.
Alexander-Arnold at least continued to play a prominent role at set pieces, which adds another string to his bow as a cut-price Liverpool defensive option.
Liverpool’s backline kept perhaps their most fortunate clean sheet since the Gameweek 8 draw with Manchester City, with Yerry Mina and the otherwise excellent Andre Gomes (both £5.4m) wasting glorious headed chances in the first quarter of the match.
It was an unfortunate day at the office for Lucas Digne (£4.9m) and his owners, too, with the French dead-ball specialist supplying the delivery for Mina’s chance and being seconds away from a nine-point FPL return (Digne was topping the bonus points until the 96th minute) before Origi’s winner.
Disheartened they may be, but Digne’s owners look to have an excellent Fantasy prospect on their hands – particularly with back-to-back home matches against Newcastle United (who have conceded more attempts from set plays than any other team) and Watford to come this week.
Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.4m) and Richarlison (£7.0m) also drew a blank, though the Icelandic midfielder produced a superb through-ball that Theo Walcott (£6.3m) wasted just before the break and came within inches of tapping home the rebound when Gomes’ 20th-minute header was somehow kept out by a combination of Alisson (£5.7m) and Joe Gomez (£5.1m).
Everton’s “out of position” Brazilian midfielder, again leading the line for the Toffees in a 4-2-3-1, didn’t get much change out of van Dijk and had only one scuffed half-chance to show for his afternoon’s work.
Richarlison’s worth as a mid-price FPL asset isn’t defined by these types of matches, of course, but his owners will be expecting a marked improvement in the forthcoming double-header at Goodison.
Reflecting on the defeat, Marco Silva said:
I know the main thing in football is the result – but I am proud of our players and how we performed.
I think it is clear, we did not deserve that result and it was a lucky, lucky, lucky day for Liverpool.
We did everything I promised we would and what we have been doing since the first day [I was here] – and especially in the past two or three months as we’ve grown as a team.
Liverpool XI (4-2-3-1): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Fabinho; Shaqiri (Keita 70′), Firmino (Origi 83′), Mane; Salah (Sturridge 75′).
Everton XI (4-2-3-1): Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne; Gomes, Gueye; Walcott (Lookman 62′), Sigurdsson (Zouma 90′), Bernard; Richarlison.
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