Liverpool 3-1 Manchester City
Goals: Fabinho (£5.5m), Mohamed Salah (£12.3m), Sadio Mané (£12.0m) | Bernardo Silva (£7.9m)
Assists: Andrew Robertson (£7.0m), Jordan Henderson (£5.4m)
Bonus Points: B Silva x3, Fabinho x2, Salah x1
Liverpool attacking assets went a long way to justifying a double-up in the coming weeks as they punished Manchester City on Sunday afternoon.
Despite losing 137,239 owners ahead of Gameweek 12, it was Mohamed Salah (£12.3m) who arguably looked the most dangerous at Anfield.
He added Liverpool’s second in the first half with a well-placed header following an Andrew Robertson (£7.0m) cross.
“The second goal we scored, I don’t think I ever saw a goal like this. Probably not. A right full-back with a 60-yard pass to the left full-back; two more touches and a cross over 40 yards, 50, and a header. That’s pretty special. It was a good moment to score a goal like this.” – Jurgen Klopp
Now with two goals in as many home matches, perhaps we should not be too surprised that Salah found the net in such a big fixture.
As we reported in the Members-only section of our most recent Captain Sensible article, the Egyptian went into Gameweek 12 joint-top of the league for shots on target in the previous four rounds, despite registering only 238 minutes in during that time. That suggests that when he gets back to playing week-in, week-out, he can offer serious goal threat once again.
Sadio Mané (£12.0m) also kept up the pressure on Salah owners though as he added his 11th attacking return of the campaign, and his sixth in the last five matches.
“The third goal very, very good as well, a sensational cross and Sadio in the right position.” – Jurgen Klopp
It means that only Jamie Vardy (£9.5m) has scored more Fantasy points after 12 Gameweeks than Mané, the Senegalese international just nine off the current leader’s total (92).
Crucially, he remains ahead of Salah despite the Egyptian managing one more point than him against Manchester City.
The gap currently stands at 11 points and is widened further when we look at points per start for the two players.
Salah has averaged 6.5 points per game in matches that he has started this season while Mané’s figure here is 7.5 points per game.
It is also worth mentioning that Mané has somewhat shirked off one of his detrimental factors from last season. Just five of his 25 attacking returns came away from home in 2018/19.
Fast-forward to Gameweek 12 of 2019/20 and, of his 11 goal involvements so far, five of them have come on the road and six at Anfield – a much more even spread.
Also troubling Salah owners currently is an ongoing issue with his ankle, injured against Leicester in Gameweek 8. While it is not hurt badly enough for him to miss matches, Klopp has been managing the knock. That’s probably why Salah has not completed 90 minutes the Premier League since that Leicester match.
Against Manchester City, there was a moment in the first half where it looked like Salah might have to come off as the ankle in question was rolled by a tackle. However, he was able to continue until the 86th minute when he was replaced by Joe Gomez (£5.1m). That substitution did seem largely tactical in nature though as Manchester City were staging a late surge.
“After they scored for 3-1 they had momentum and we had heavy legs. We tried to change it a little bit; we actually changed at half-time to 4-4-1-1, and changed back late in the game to 4-5-1.” – Jurgen Klopp
Meanwhile, the international break should help Salah get some much-needed rest for the ankle.
Fantasy managers have been debating the merits of Salah vs Mané ever since the start of last season but, with both players showing statistical form and passing the eye test in recent weeks, the prospect of owning both of them is potentially a viable strategy in the upcoming weeks with some appealing home fixtures (Brighton, Everton and Watford) before their blank in Gameweek 18.
However, (dare we say this?) it could be argued that Liverpool’s attacking display was greatly helped by a dreadful defensive outing from Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola’s men came to Anfield without first-choice goalkeeper Ederson (£6.1m), who was injured in the Champions League and are, of course, still short one Aymeric Laporte (£6.3m).
However, the Citizens’ manager made the bizarre decision not to use Benjamin Mendy (£5.9m) at left-back and left Joao Cancelo (£5.3m) on the bench.
“Mendy after two seasons injured, when he plays a game… yesterday he couldn’t train. He’s not injured now, he goes with the national team.” – Pep Guardiola
Angeliño (£4.7m) did offer some threat going forward but he was left very exposed to Salah for most of the game and allowed the Egyptian far too much space to work in.
Guardiola’s team opted to try and defend by holding possession in the Liverpool half but whenever they lost the ball, Liverpool punished them. That’s why they found themselves 2-0 down after 13 minutes despite looking the so-called better team up until that point.
Fernandinho (£5.2m) and John Stones (£5.3m) were named at centre-back and, with both players largely known for their ability on the ball rather than defensive capabilities, were left very exposed to the Liverpool counter.
Again, we probably shouldn’t be too surprised to see Manchester City’s defence suffer on the road once again. In the Members-only section of last week’s Captain Sensible article, we reported that in the four previous away matches to this one, the reigning champions had the seventh-worst expected goals conceded (xGC) in the league, recorded against relatively goal-shy opposition in Crystal Palace, Everton, Norwich and Bournemouth. With that in mind, it seemed inevitable that Liverpool attackers would enjoy a profitable outing against them.
The question now to ask is whether Salah and Mané will have the same joy away to Crystal Palace in Gameweek 13? Perhaps not. Only Leicester (three), Newcastle (four) and Sheffield United (four) have conceded fewer goals at home this season than the Eagles (five).
The greater interest for the trip to Selhurst Park may well be in Liverpool’s defensive assets rather than their attacking ones, with the Eagles joint-bottom of the league for goals at home this season (four).
Despite greater interest in Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.2m) this season, it is Robertson who goes into Gameweek 13 in the better form.
He provided the assist for Salah’s goal against Manchester City and now has three of his last four outings. In that time, his colleague on the right-hand side of defence has just one.
From Gameweek 7 onwards Robertson has averaged 5.3 points per game while Alexander-Arnold has managed just 3.5 points per game in that time.
It seems to be the lack of clean sheets that is causing the main problem for the right-back as Liverpool still have just two this season and none at Anfield.
Despite standing up particularly well to Manchester City on Sunday afternoon, Bernardo Silva (£7.9m) pounced on a deflected cross to deny a first home shut-out of the campaign. Relegation-threatened Norwich and Southampton are the only two sides without one so far.
That leaves a tough decision awaiting Fantasy managers going for a triple-up on Liverpool options. Gameweek 13 looks a better prospect for the defence given Palace’s home record, while subsequent home matches seem more likely to favour the attackers.
As for Manchester City’s forward players, there is certainly mounting pressure on the large number of managers in possession of them.
Kevin de Bruyne (£10.2m) remains the most popular, still sat in 40.1% of teams but he has just one attacking return since Gameweek 8.
Arguably, the Belgian was unlucky not to come away from Anfield with something as his delivery from corners, free-kicks and open play was still excellent – his colleagues just couldn’t get on the end of them.
Sergio Aguero (£12.0m) was particularly out-of-character on Sunday afternoon as he failed to make a connection with a number of well-placed balls into the box.
That said, he has never scored at Anfield in the entirety of his professional career and has now gone 782 minutes without a goal there. It’s a truly staggering statistic for a player with such strong goal-scoring pedigree but perhaps shows the power of Anfield.
It was a mixed afternoon for Raheem Sterling (£12.0m) owners. He was arguably Manchester City’s most dangerous player and was perhaps unfortunate not to get something against his former employers.
With many Fantasy managers considering the Liverpool attacking double-up, Sterling could be the fall-guy. Had he picked up a fifth yellow card of the season at Anfield, then many would have been further pushed into that move.
As things stand, it could be worth giving him, and indeed de Bruyne, at least one more week. Chelsea come to the Etihad Stadium in Gameweek 13, still without a clean sheet on the road this season. They have been breached a total of 12 times on the road, only Aston Villa (13), Watford (13) and Newcastle (14) shipping more in such matches thus far.
Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Alisson; Robertson, van Dijk, Lovren, Alexander-Arnold; Wijnaldum, Fabinho, J Henderson (Milner 61′); Mané, Firmino (Oxlade-Chamberlain 79′), Salah (Gomez 87′).
Manchester City XI (4-2-3-1): Bravo; Angeliño, Fernandinho, Stones, Walker; Gündogan, Rodri; Sterling, de Bruyne, B Silva; Aguero (Gabriel 71′).
GAMEWEEK 12 – FPL MATCH REPORTS
- Norwich City 0-2 Watford
- Chelsea 2-0 Crystal Palace
- Burnley 3-0 West Ham United
- Newcastle United 2-1 Bournemouth
- Southampton 1-2 Everton
- Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Everton
- Leicester City 2-0 Arsenal
- Manchester United 3-1 Brighton and Hove Albion
- Wolves 2-1 Aston Villa
- Liverpool 3-1 Manchester City
Nominated for ‘Best in Fantasy Football – Editorial’ at the Football Content Awards 2020
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