Liverpool kept their title bid ticking over with a late victory over Tottenham Hotspur but this was another win that left Fantasy managers with plenty to think about regarding the Reds’ players in Gameweek 33 and beyond.
Jurgen Klopp’s side made heavy work of a victory over Fulham in Gameweek 31 and this was another match in which they failed to truly convince, especially in a second half that Spurs had the better of.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side still
Our Scout Notes piece below looks at the main Fantasy talking points from Liverpool’s 37th home league match without defeat.
Liverpool 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
- Goals: Roberto Firmino (£9.2m), Toby Alderweireld (£6.0m) own-goal | Lucas Moura (£6.7m)
- Assists: Andrew Robertson (£6.8m), Mohamed Salah (£13.2m) | Christian Eriksen (£9.2m)
Mohamed Salah (£13.2m) outscored Sadio Mane (£10.0m) in Fantasy Premier League for the first time in nine Gameweeks on Sunday, recording only his third attacking return in that time in the process.
This was a performance like many others from the Egyptian, however.
Salah bossed the shot count once again but didn’t particularly look like scoring and his “assist” came courtesy of some poor handling from Hugo Lloris (£5.4m), rather than any commendable work of his own.
With the clock ticking down, Spurs’ goalkeeper dropped Salah’s innocuous back-post header onto the feet of Toby Alderweireld (£6.0m), who could only bundle the ball into his own goal.
The Egyptian winger, who didn’t feature for his country over the international break, had earlier registered a couple of customary wild swings off target and ought to have slipped in Mane on a second-half counter-attack, only to go it alone and see his drilled shot blocked by a backpedalling Alderweireld.
A cold analysis of the stats will reveal that Mane had half the penalty box touches as Salah and three fewer attempts on goal but this has become a recurring trend in Liverpool games and the Senegal international went closer to scoring than his pricier team-mate with two curling efforts that narrowly missed Lloris’s left-hand post.
The Reds had begun the game in swaggering fashion, largely dominating their opponents in the first half.
The improved Roberto Firmino (£9.2m) nodded in Andrew Robertson‘s (£6.8m) superb cross after a quarter of an hour to open the scoring and Liverpool were worthy of their lead at half-time.
The Reds’ two full-backs were a menace all afternoon and registered more touches in the opposition half than any other player on show.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (£5.5m), who had recovered from a back injury to start at right-back, was a threat from set plays and struck the upright with one inswinging cross in the first half, before setting up Salah for the headed chance that led to Liverpool’s winner late on.
Alexander-Arnold drew praise from his manager for his dead-ball deliveries:
Set-pieces were not bad today, the second ball off set-pieces is quite a tool for us this season. Trent brings the ball in and I think we had seven players in the box, which is an interesting number! Two players on the left wing for the cross and seven in the box, [that means there] are not a lot of players left for protection but that’s the risk you have to take.
The England right-back also struck a half-volley narrowly wide shortly after Firmino’s opener before forcing Lloris into his first save of the match with a curling, dipping effort on 76 minutes.
While Robertson couldn’t match his opposite full-back for attacking numbers (one key pass, no shots) he was a constant outlet down the left flank and walked away with all three bonus points: no FPL asset has more of those this season.
It seems odd to praise Liverpool defenders after a third league match without a clean sheet but Virgil van Dijk (£6.6m) was similarly impressive, barely giving Harry Kane (£12.5m) a sniff and demonstrating some excellent positional play (in the circumstances) when Spurs found themselves in a two-on-one situation with the Dutchman late on.
Van Dijk also had his customary headed attempt on goal from a set play but caused worry for Liverpool fans and his FPL owners alike when wincing through the final minutes of the game and being pictured with an ice pack on his ankle in the post-match interviews.
His manager provided a fitness update on van Dijk after full-time:
We have to see. I asked him and I think it was in the counter-attack situation when Sissoko hit him. I don’t know if he twisted it or it is a knock.
He was walking to the interviews with a big ice pack. I hope it’s nothing serious but I don’t know yet.
The player himself said, rather positively:
I hurt my ankle but hopefully, it’s not too bad. It hurts, but we will take a look at it. I’ll be fine for Friday.
Alisson (£5.9m) was less convincing and, although he faced only two shots on target all afternoon, caused moments of consternation in the Liverpool backline with his distribution and flapping at crosses.
Liverpool’s central midfield also found themselves losing control of the match after half-time as Spurs wrestled their way into the game.
Pochettino had initially sent his side out in a 5-3-2/3-5-2 but moved to a back four in the second half, with Jan Vertonghen (£5.9m) moving over to left-back and Danny Rose (£5.8m) pushed forward into midfield.
Dele Alli (£8.8m) and Christian Eriksen (£9.2m) also traded places after the interval, with Alli dropping deeper, and Spurs looked the better for it – concern perhaps for the former MK Dons midfielder’s owners going into the Lilywhites’ second Gameweek 32 match against Palace on Wednesday.
Alli could still well have scored even when in his more withdrawn role, however, curling narrowly over as Spurs hit their hosts on the break late on.
Even more anxious, perhaps, will be Son Heung-min‘s (£8.6m) owners.
Benched for the second league match in a row, the Korean saw his effective replacement, Lucas Moura (£6.7m), not only produce an impressive display in the Spurs attack but also score the visitors’ equaliser on 69 minutes.
While Kane struggled to get any change out of van Dijk, the Brazilian had more penalty box touches and shots on goal than any of his team-mates.
Son could still have left Anfield with an attacking return after coming on as a substitute, however, with Moussa Sissoko (£4.9m) wildly lashing over from the Korean’s pass in that aforementioned two-on-one situation with van Dijk.
The solace for Kane’s owners, at least, is that he won’t face a centre-half as good as van Dijk very often and certainly not on Wednesday night against Palace.
While he blanked on Sunday, the Spurs and England striker has registered a goal and/or assist in each of his last ten starts against
Kane still deserves credit for his quickly taken free-kick that led to the Lilywhites’ equaliser, while he also set Son and Sissoko away for that late chance with a first-time ball from deep.
Eriksen’s own recent performances have mirrored that of Salah’s: positive on the underlying stats front but less so on the eye.
That was again the case on Merseyside on Sunday.
The Dane was below his best but somehow recorded more key passes than any player on show at Anfield and went close to scoring when Robertson blocked his goalbound shot, before inadvertently teeing up Lucas for Spurs’ equaliser.
Below-par or otherwise, Eriksen has now recorded ten or more FPL assists in each of his last four seasons.
Speaking of his side’s display, Pochettino said:
We changed the shape after the first half when we conceded. Always you have a plan in your head and it doesn’t always work. The most important thing is when it doesn’t work have the capacity to always find a different way. I think the team has this capacity and flexibility to change, to change the shape and the positions on the pitch in the offensive and defensive situations. Always keeping the same philosophy. That is the most important thing, to have a different plan to play.
Of course in the second half, we changed the positions and the shape. We started to build better and for Liverpool, it was difficult to read the situation when we started to build from the back and how we started to break the pressure from them, the first defensive line and then we started to play forward and dominate the game and create chances.
In the second half, I thought we dominated and played much better than Liverpool. Overall, I think we were better than Liverpool.
Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson; Milner (Fabinho 77′), Henderson (Origi 77′), Wijnaldum; Salah (Lovren 90′), Firmino, Mane.
Tottenham Hotspur XI (5-3-2): Lloris; Trippier, Alderweireld, Sanchez (Son 69′), Vertonghen, Rose; Sissoko, Eriksen (Llorente 90+1)’, Alli; Lucas Moura (Davies 82′), Kane.