Liverpool and Chelsea were involved in a Super Cup slog in Istanbul on Wednesday evening, with the match going to extra-time and penalties.
This was not an ideal outcome for either club or indeed Fantasy managers, only a few days before Gameweek 2.
Chelsea aren’t in action until Sunday afternoon but Liverpool head to Southampton less than 72 hours after the final ball was kicked in Turkey.
With this being August, fatigue and subsequent rotation might not be the issue it would be in, say, December, when fixture congestion really kicks in.
Still, it is worth noting the minutes played by each Fantasy asset last night as a gauge of how fresh they might be this weekend:
120 – Salah, van Dijk, Gomez, Matip, Henderson, Fabinho, Adrian, Pedro, Kante, Emerson, Azpilicueta, Zouma, Kepa, Jorginho
103 – Mane
101 – Kovacic
90 – Robertson
85 – Christensen
75 – Firmino
74 – Pulisic, Giroud
64 – Milner
56 – Wijnaldum
46 – Abraham, Mount
45 – Oxlade-Chamberlain
35 – Tomori
30 – Alexander-Arnold
19 – Barkley
17 – Origi
Mohamed Salah (£12.5m) is perhaps the stand-out name of the 14 players to have started and finished the match, although it is also worth noting the 103-minute run-out from Sadio Mane (£11.5m) on his first start since returning from the Africa Cup of Nations.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.0m), Ross Barkley (£6.0m), Mason Mount (£6.0m) and Roberto Firmino (£9.5m) were all handed breathers of sorts and came on as substitutes, which could be positive news for Gameweek 2 – although the situation is not quite so straightforward with the mid-price Chelsea midfielders, as we will discuss.
Our Scout Notes article below looks at the wider lessons learned from Wednesday night’s game.
Liverpool 2-2 Chelsea (5-4 penalties)
- Goals: Sadio Mane (£11.5m) x2 | Olivier Giroud (£7.0m), Jorginho (£5.0m)
- Assists: Roberto Firmino (£9.5m) | Christian Pulisic (£7.5m), Tammy Abraham (£7.0m)
While Liverpool’s backline are still giving us cause for concern, the Reds’ first-choice front three are clicking into gear.
Gameweek 1 saw Salah steal the show but it was his two teammates alongside him who shone on Wednesday night.
Firmino had started on the bench in Turkey, with Mane leading the line and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (£6.5m) deployed on the left flank.
It was no surprise to see Oxlade-Chamberlain, playing in an alien position and showing signs of rust, hooked at the interval and replaced by Firmino, with Mane reverting to his usual left-wing position.
The move immediately paid dividends, with Firmino teeing up Mane for Liverpool’s equaliser and then repeating the trick in extra-time to put the Reds 2-1 up.
Mane had looked sharp in his cameo against Norwich last Friday and it is fairly bemusing to see over 90,000 Fantasy Premier League managers already losing faith in the Senegalese winger simply because he didn’t – as predicted – start in Gameweek 1.
The former Southampton man, who will be up against his old club in Gameweek 2, registered more goal attempts (seven) than anyone on show last night, all of which came from inside the Chelsea box.
The Senegal international looked better for being shifted back wide in the second half and for the introduction of Firmino, who was pivotal in the Reds’ comeback.
The Brazilian’s intelligent work both on and off the ball is looking more and more vital to Liverpool’s attacking play and his absence was noted in the first 45 minutes, with the Reds’ midfield and forward lines disconnected.
Speaking after the match, Jurgen Klopp said:
Bobby Firmino is pretty vital, but Sadio Mane can play that position as well. Divock Origi played in that position really well. They are all different, they all have different strengths, but I think for tonight when the opponent kind of learns from the game and gets used to what you do, then it’s important that you can make a change and it was a big change because Bobby is different to all other players in the world, probably, in that position and it helped us a lot.
For him, it was really, really intense. It was not the plan that he plays tonight around 80 minutes, now he had to play it. You saw it was hard for him, he had pretty much no pre-season and played after one week. That was the problem for us a little bit, it’s our third competitive game where we had to throw in everything to be on top of it after the pre-season we had.
Firmino may be a superb link-up player in the centre-forward role but whether he is a value-for-money Fantasy asset at £9.5m is another question.
It should be said that no player on show at Anfield registered more shots than Firmino in Gameweek 1 and he was inches away from scoring in that game but, in general, his game seems to be more about bringing the best out of Salah and Mane.
The two Liverpool wingers racked up 13 shots between them last night, with Firmino registering only one attempt on goal.
Salah failed to find the back of the net but was again lively and drew two fine low saves from Kepa Arrizabalaga (£5.5m) at either end of normal time.
The two-hour run-out will be a concern to owners and prospective captainers in Gameweek 2, particularly as Divock Origi (£5.5m) is a relatively rested option having only featured for 17 minutes last night.
The same could be said of Firmino and Mane after their exertions (75 and 103 minutes respectively) but if this game did anything, it served as a reminder to Klopp that his first-choice front three are a cut above anything in reserve.
Liverpool’s defence still fails to convince and they are now nine games (factoring in competitive and friendly matches) without a clean sheet, with their high line last night looking penetrable.
Owners of Alexander-Arnold were perhaps the main winners from the Super Cup, with the England right-back rested for all bar half an hour and Joe Gomez (£5.5m) having a torrid evening in his stead.
Joel Matip (£5.4m) partnered Virgil van Dijk (£6.5m) at centre-half and arguably looked more at ease than Gomez had done against Norwich, although the Cameroon international’s distribution was often found wanting.
Andrew Robertson (£7.0m) didn’t get much chance to exhibit his attacking credentials, meanwhile, creating only one chance.
Adrian (£4.5m) made his full debut in goal and saved the crucial spot-kick in the penalty shootout, having also denied Tammy Abraham (£7.0m) in extra-time.
It was the Liverpool shotstopper who felled Abraham for Jorginho‘s (£5.0m) penalty, however, although replays showed contact was minimal.
Klopp said of the former West Ham custodian:
He played an incredible game, he had sensational saves. Both goalies had that, but maybe from Adrian it’s a bit more surprising because without pretty much any preparation. I don’t know when he played the last game for West Ham, to be honest, so it’s a while ago. Being ready like he was ready tonight is incredible.
He’s not only on the pitch a great person, he showed me already that he’s a proper personality in the dressing room as well. He was maybe louder than I was at half-time. I was not loud because I wanted to give some information but he was really on his toes and that was good. It’s important and it helps us. He deserves that.
Of course in penalty shootouts, it’s always lucky, but the performance over the 120 minutes was incredible. Making the save for the penalty is the icing on the cake and is wonderful.
Chelsea weren’t as bad as the scoreline suggested at Old Trafford on Sunday and this was a further encouraging display in Istanbul, with Frank Lampard’s outfit going toe to toe with the European champions.
Olivier Giroud (£7.0m) had poked the Blues in front to give them a deserved first-half lead and Chelsea continued to create chances throughout the game.
Lampard said of his team’s display:
I respect Liverpool and they had chances in the game but it was clear to me that we were the stronger team. We had some bad luck at times and maybe some bad finishing which we need to be more clinical with but my overall feeling from the game is one of pride in the team performance.
I don’t like losing, I’m a terrible loser and we all are at Chelsea. We wanted to win this game but we were unfortunate so I’m happy with the players. If that’s a sign of what we can do this season – and we will get better – then it’s a really good sign.
Lampard made a formation tweak last night, switching from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3.
In came the fit-again N’Golo Kante (£5.0m) alongside Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic (£5.5m), with Pedro (£7.0m) and Christian Pulisic (£7.5m) flanking Giroud in a three-man attack.
While owners of Barkley and Mount would perhaps have been encouraged to see their mid-price midfield assets handed breathers, the performances of the players on the pitch will have given them further concern regarding security of starts.
Pedro had registered five key passes and four shots at Old Trafford on Sunday despite having a so-so game but the Spanish winger was much improved overall here, again carving out five chances and having four attempts on goal.
The former Barcelona player was a handful and struck the bar with one of his efforts, while no starting player in Istanbul had a better passing accuracy rate.
Pulisic also impressed on his full competitive debut, providing the assist for Giroud’s goal and giving Gomez the runaround on the left flank.
The USA international also saw a well-taken goal chalked off for offside.
Lampard said of the former Borussia Dortmund winger:
Yeah I was pleased and there is a lot more to come. The expectancy is right, he is a big signing for us but you have to remember his age. He’s 20 and come into the league, into this game, against Liverpool, one of the most intense teams in football. It took a bit of time early in the game to get his feeling.
But once he did, you could see his confidence in carrying the ball and to create. I am really happy with him. There is lots, lots more to come, again all the good signs for what he can be for the club.
Perhaps the best player on the park was Kante and it was no surprise that Chelsea were more solid at the back than they had been at Old Trafford, a game that the Frenchman had only been on the bench for.
The former Leicester midfielder was as impressive on the ball as he was off it, registering four key passes and eight dribbles and providing a driving force from the centre of the park.
While his Fantasy appeal may be limited, his capacity to improve the fortunes of the more-fancied FPL options around him can’t be understated.
It was somewhat ironic that he was largely reprising his much-criticised role under Maurizio Sarri last night, playing on the right of a central midfield three.
Lampard said of Kante after full-time:
He is an amazing player and character, he just wants to play. He is humble in his life but on the pitch he is a machine. Of course, he will be hugely important.
This is a player who hasn’t trained much, had a swollen ankle on Tuesday evening and he wanted to play today and managed 120 minutes.
You saw what he brings to the team. There will be more as he hasn’t trained much. I am delighted to work with him, I respect him so much as a player and now it is really nice to work with him. He will be really big for us.
Emerson Palmieri (£5.5m) again caught the eye from an attacking perspective at left-back and there seems little doubt now that Marcos Alonso (£6.5m) will play second-fiddle to the Italian defender.
It was interesting to note that Jorginho converted the extra-time penalty that Abraham won, although Barkley and Willian (£7.0m) were off the field when the spot-kick was taken.
On the injury front, Andreas Christensen (£5.0m) walked gingerly off the field and James Milner (£5.5m) was seen with an ice pack on his knee but as yet there have been no updates on either player.
Milner’s situation is particularly worth monitoring, given that Salah is next in line in the Liverpool spot-kick running order.
Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Adrian, Gomez, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson (Alexander-Arnold 90′), Milner (Wijnaldum 64′), Fabinho, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Firmino 46′), Salah, Mane (Origi 103′).
Chelsea XI (4-3-3): Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Zouma, Christensen (Tomori 85′), Emerson Palmieri, Jorginho, Kante, Kovacic (Barkley 101′), Pulisic (Mount 74′), Giroud (Abraham 74′), Pedro.
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Lessons learned from Gameweek 1
- Liverpool 4-1 Norwich
- West Ham United 0-5 Manchester City
- Bournemouth 1-1 Sheffield United
- Burnley 3-0 Southampton
- Crystal Palace 0-0 Everton
- Watford 0-3 Brighton and Hove Albion
- Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Aston Villa
- Leicester City 0-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Newcastle United 0-1 Arsenal
- Manchester United 4-0 Chelsea