Liverpool assets did exactly what we thought they would do against Huddersfield, and it made for a hugely satisfying start to Gameweek 36.
The Reds swept Huddersfield aside comfortably with a big 5-0 win, which featured double-figure hauls for many of our favourite Fantasy options.
We’ve taken a look at what the result means for them in the closing Gameweeks of the campaign.
Liverpool 5-0 Huddersfield Town
Goals: Naby Keita (£7.1m), Sadio Mané x2 (£10.1m), Mohamed Salah x2 (£13.2m)
Assists: Salah, Andrew Robertson x2 (£6.8m), Trent Alexander-Arnold (£5.6m), Jordan Henderson (£5.3m)
Mohamed Salah (£13.2m) was a huge difference maker for many Fantasy managers on Friday night as he recorded a 19-point Gameweek score against Huddersfield Town. The Egyptian now has attacking returns in each of his last five matches, although his double-figure haul on Friday night was the first since Gameweek 23.
It is certainly likely that his big score in Gameweek 36 was due to the opposition. After all, the Terriers ranked bottom of the league for shots conceded in the box in the four away matches prior to this one. That made for some rather inflated statistics for Salah and company.
In the four home matches prior to the 5-0 win over Huddersfield, the Egyptian was averaging 4.75 shots per game, 2.75 in the box and 1.75 on target. On Friday night, Salah registered eight goal attempts, five of which were in the box and three were on target.
However, Salah’s recent resurgence is not entirely based on the quality of opposition he has faced. Gameweek 36 was the fourth consecutive league match that Jordan Henderson (£5.3m) was deployed in a more advanced role in central midfield. We had already noticed that the support of the England international was having a positive effect on Salah’s attacking potential in the last three matches, so it was pleasing to see the Egyptian steal the show against Huddersfield.
Furthermore, Henderson’s own Fantasy potential continues to be of note, as he got himself another assist. That means the central midfielder has four attacking returns to his name in the four matches since moving to a new role. With Fantasy managers looking for differential options in the closing Gameweeks of the season, a Liverpool attacker that can offer points potential at just £5.3m looks like a great opportunity for some.
He may not have hit the same heights as Salah but Sadio Mané (£10.1m) was still able to reward more than half of the top 10k with 13 points for their captaincy. It was certainly a smart decision to put the armband on him given that he was top of the league for big chances and expected goals (xG) in the four home matches prior to this one. Furthermore, he had 10 goals in his previous 10 home league matches. Mané was admittedly another player who hugely benefitted from the poor showing from Huddersfield’s defence. In the last four home matches before Gameweek 36, the Senegalese international registered an average of 3.5 shots per game, 2.75 in the box and 1.5 on target. Against Huddersfield, he had four shots, four in the box and two on target, certainly an improvement although not as big a jump as Salah’s.
“Sadio always had ability, but his mindset was more a creator, a door-opener than someone who runs through the door himself. I’m not sure somebody has jumped that high since Air Jordan!” – Jurgen Klopp
Ultimately, Mané was unfortunate not to come away with more goals on Friday night. He struck the post with a header in the second half which could have completed his hat-trick. Missing this big chance was one of the factors in him not getting any bonus points despite scoring twice.
Furthermore, Mané somewhat suffered from a slightly selfish attitude of Salah and Daniel Sturridge (£5.6m). There were a number of moments in the match when either of his forward colleagues could have played him in but opted instead to take on a speculative shot on goal. Some Fantasy managers were bemoaning the fact that Roberto Firmino (£9.3m) was not on the pitch, typically more willing to set up his colleagues when in attacking positions. Although, ironically, the last time he missed a league match at Anfield, Liverpool recorded a 5-0 win, back in Gameweek 28.
The Brazilian had looked all set to be involved in Gameweek 36 having not been mentioned by Jurgen Klopp in his press conference on Thursday. However, since that media commitment, Firmino picked up a slight muscle problem that was considered serious enough to keep him out of the Huddersfield match. Klopp insisted he would probably be ready for the Barcelona match so it doesn’t sound too serious.
“Actually, yesterday after training he mentioned a little muscle issue. We assess it obviously. It’s not a big thing but was enough to leave him out today, that’s all. He might be ready for Wednesday, it’s rather likely.” – Jurgen Klopp
Thankfully, Liverpool’s defence also followed the script for the evening as they kept their 20th clean sheet of the season in the match where they were most likely to record one. Crucially, there were also attacking returns that Fantasy managers had hoped for as Andrew Robertson (£6.8m) got his 11th and 12th assist of the season to become the first ever defender in FPL history to score more than 200 points in one campaign. Meanwhile, Trent Alexander-Arnold (£5.6m) also got an assist.
There was some good news for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (£6.4m) who made his first appearance since a serious injury last season. He is still in the early stages on the road back to full fitness, so is certainly not a legitimate Fantasy option yet, but could be next season. Obviously, central midfield is a bit of a rotation minefield under Klopp, but there were encouraging signs from Oxlade-Chamberlain, who nearly scored just minutes after coming on as a substitute.
“We tried to be careful with him after such a long time. Now he’s ready, and that’s really cool. It would have been goal of the season if he could have scored.” – Jurgen Klopp
“He worked so hard to get back to where he is now & when he came on he looked as if he had never been away. He has been sharp in training and I wish that chance went in for him, but we are all delighted to have him back because he’s an important player.” – Jordan Henderson
Huddersfield’s ability to boost Fantasy assets they face is now starting to become a worrying trend for the Terriers, who are now mathematically rooted to the foot of the Premier League table for the rest of the campaign. How obliging they are could bode well for Manchester United and Southampton assets in Gameweek 37 and 38.
However, backing those sides’ defences could cause some disappointment, as Karlan Grant (£5.0m) continues to prove a nuisance. He was the one who knocked out Watford’s clean sheet in stoppage time in Double Gameweek 35, and he came close to busted Liverpool’s on Friday night. The 5-0 scoreline was certainly a fair reflection of the game but Huddersfield did ask one or two questions of the Reds’ defence in the first half. With his pace and drive on the ball, Grant came close to an unlikely goal but was just short of a final touch on the ball.
Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Alisson; Robertson, van Dijk, Lovren, Alexander-Arnold (Gomez 88′); Keita, Wijnaldum (Shaqiri 73′), Henderson; Mané, Sturridge (Oxlade-Chamberlain 73′), Salah.
Huddersfield Town XI (4-1-4-1): Lössl; Durm, Kongolo, Schindler, T Smith; Stanković (Pritchard 81′); Grant, J Bacuna, Hogg, Mbenza (Kachunga 87′); Mounié (Löwe 65′).