Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Liverpool
- Goal: Roberto Firmino (£9.3m)
- Assist: Mohamed Salah (£12.3m)
- Bonus: Firmino x3, Alisson (£6.0m) x2, Joe Gomez (£5.2m) x1
Liverpool’s relentless march to their first Premier League title continued with a battling win at Spurs.
Luck has played a part in a few of the Reds’ many victories this season, and it was in evidence again in north London.
Roberto Firmino‘s (£9.3m) winning goal, from a Mohamed Salah (£12.3m) assist, involved a masterful combination of quick feet and precision finishing, even if it only came about because the visitors were wrongly awarded a throw-in.
But any claims that Jurgen Klopp’s side only won thanks to Tottenham Hotspur’s profligacy in front of goal would be to ignore the excellent opportunities Liverpool also spurned.
Firmino had already seen one fine chance blocked by debutant defender Japhet Tanganga (£4.0m), with the follow-up strike from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (£6.2m) hitting the post, before the Brazilian broke the deadlock.
And chances came and went for Virgil van Dijk (£6.4m) and Sadio Mane (£12.4m), while the latter forced Paulo Gazzaniga (£4.6m) into a fine save and substitute Divock Origi (£5.2m) also tested the keeper late on.
That being said, Tottenham did have two outstanding chances to rescue a point as Jose Mourinho’s men took the game to a tiring Liverpool after the break.
Son Heung-min (£9.8m), back from his three-match ban, blazed over when set up by Lucas Moura (£7.1m) and Giovani Lo Celso (£7.3m), who had replaced the ineffectual Christian Eriksen (£8.6m), somehow contrived to miss the target from two yards out following a superb Serge Aurier (£5.0m) cross.
A draw would probably have been the fairest result as Spurs out-shot the league leaders 14-13, although the Reds did have six attempts on target to their opponents’ four.
But none of that will bother the legions of Fantasy managers who have Liverpool defenders in their teams, with many of them now doubling up on a backline that has kept six clean sheets on the spin ahead of a long run of excellent fixtures to come.
A home match with Manchester United awaits next week before they’ll embark on a nine-match schedule of very attractive games, starting with a Double Gameweek 24 involving Wolves and West Ham, both away.
Small wonder that three of the six most-owned defenders in Fantasy Premier League (FPL) – van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m) and Andrew Robertson (£7.0m) – are from Liverpool, although it was the fourth member (and cheapest) of the backline, the 2.9%-owned Joe Gomez (£5.2m), who earned a bonus point at the new White Hart Lane.
Further up the pitch, Mane blanked for only the second time since Gameweek 9, while Salah kept his 25.2% ownership relatively happy with a second successive return, although managed only one shot – an off-target one, at that – all match.
Instead, it was left to Firmino to shine, with the Brazilian scoring his seventh away league goal of the season (more than Mane and Salah combined) – a stat worth bearing in mind considering that the Reds are on the road twice in Double Gameweek 24.
His display prompted much praise from Klopp:
When I went to him and wanted to give him a hug after the game, he wanted to stop and talk first. He said, ‘I know I should have scored more goals’. It was absolutely not what I wanted to say! Yes, a super player, super. I don’t say this for the first time and will hopefully not say it for the last time. Pretty impressive.
While Liverpool remain in the best of places, Spurs’ performance was good enough to suggest their current league form – just one win and a draw from their last five matches – could be about to take a turn for the better.
Mourinho attempted to stifle Liverpool’s attacking threat by playing three centre-halves and Tangana’s performance as one of them – and later at left-back when Danny Rose (£5.3m) was subbed off – was impressive enough to suggest he could be a real bargain if given more pitch-time over the rest of the season.
The coach was certainly happy to praise the 20-year-old after the match, saying:
I’m really proud of the kid and I know that everyone in the club is happy, because he showed composure, very good personality and playing Salah and Mane is not the same thing as the players you play in the Under-19s, and the kid was very, very good. A game for him to remember, of course, the result to forget.
Tangana’s time might be now, or it might be later. How to offset the loss of Harry Kane (£10.9m) will be of more immediate concern to Mourinho.
He was quick to dismiss Talksport’s post-match suggestion that he might delve into the transfer market to find a replacement for his star striker, which should elevate the Fantasy prospects of Son as an out-of-position striker.
Spurs’ upcoming fixtures are a mixed bag, with good matches against Norwich, Aston Villa and Burnley balanced out by visits from Wolves and both Manchester clubs and a trip to Chelsea.
Even so, there would seem to be enough potential in those games for Son’s 6.4% ownership to rise in the near future.
Investment in Dele Alli (£8.7m) is not so clear-cut. The midfielder missed one good chance on Saturday and has now blanked in all but one of his last six starts – a run that has persuaded enough managers to make him the third-most sold player heading into Gameweek 23.
As an alternative, the continuing rehabilitation of Erik Lamela (£5.7m), who came on for a third straight cameo, could add a different brand of attacking threat to the midfield.
The Argentinian started the season with two goals and as many assists from the first five Gameweeks and could well be due a start now after a ten-game lay-off.
That move would definitely be a risky one, however, so if it’s sure-fire investments you’re after, Liverpool remains the best place to look.
Tottenham Hotspur XI (3-5-2): Gazzaniga; Tanganga, Davinson Sanchez, Alderweireld; Aurier, Winks, Eriksen (Lo Celso 69′), Alli, Rose (Lamela 69′); Lucas Moura, Son.
Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Oxlade-Chamberlain (Lallana 60′), Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah (Shaqiri 90′), Firmino, Mane (Origi 80′).
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