Wolves 1-2 Liverpool
Goals: Raúl Jiménez (£7.5m) | Jordan Henderson (£5.4m), Roberto Firmino (£9.5m)
Assists: Adama Traoré (£5.7m) | Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.6m), Henderson
Bonus Points: J Henderson x3, Jiménez x2, Firmino x1
Liverpool’s trip to Wolves on Thursday, January 23, 2020, will almost certainly go down in Fantasy Premier League folklore for all the wrong reasons.
It was the night that Sadio Mané (£12.5m), backed by 270,144 for the Triple Captaincy, went off injured just 32 minutes into the first match of Double Gameweek 24.
No Fantasy asset was backed by more for the enhanced armband but that did not stop him from coming off with a potential hamstring problem and just one point to his name.
Naturally, Mané’s owners and captaincy backers will now be sweating on his fitness between now and next week’s trip to West Ham, which concludes the Double Gameweek.
The word from the Liverpool bench at half-time was that Mané notified the physios that he may have a “hamstring injury”. The indication is the issue is not too serious as he was able to walk off the pitch and get to the Liverpool changing room unaided. While his substitution was considered “precautionary” at first, Jurgen Klopp confirmed at full-time that his player had suffered a “muscle tweak” and suggested that he “probably” wouldn’t be available to prepare Liverpool’s next three games.
🗣 | Klopp: "Sunday is Shrewsbury, Wednesday: West Ham, Saturday: Southampton. That's tough. We have to find different solutions for the games. Let's work on that – and that's probably without Sadio (Mane). Let's work on that and we will see."#FPL #FantasyPL #FFScout #DGW24 #lfc pic.twitter.com/PAVTGoVbc4— Fantasy Football Scout (@FFScout) January 23, 2020
Thankfully, we may get further updates on Mané in the aftermath of Sunday’s FA Cup meeting with Shrewsbury as well as in the pre-match press conference ahead of next Wednesday’s trip to West Ham.
Even though his backers will be understandably upset by his curtailed outing at Molineux, there was, to some extent, a silver lining in the fact that Mohamed Salah (£12.4m), handed the Triple Captain chip by 220,121 Fantasy managers, also blanked and did not receive any clean sheet bonus.
In truth, the Egyptian really should have scored at Molineux wasting some chances and drawing excellent saves from Rui Patrício (£5.1m) at others. Arguably, Salah was also a bit selfish, taking on some shots when he should really have passed to a colleague.
As is often the case with Double Gameweeks, it was the unexpected man who finished the first match as top-scorer. Jordan Henderson (£5.4m) scored the opening goal and assisted the winner, bagged by Roberto Firmino (£9.5m), who extended his lead at the top of the goal charts for Liverpool players in away fixtures.
Meanwhile, Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.6m) got himself an assist to prove the highest-scoring Liverpool defender on the night as the clean sheet was lost and Andrew Robertson (£7.0m) was booked.
However, it was Wolves that asked the first question of the evening as Adama Traoré (£5.7m) won the ball in the middle of the park and sprayed it out to Jonny (£5.4m).
The left-back pushed into some space vacated by Alexander-Arnold and Traoré joined him to double-up on Gomez. Jonny was then able to get beyond the centre-back and play a ball into the box, which was cut out by Henderson.
Less than a minute later, Wolves were awarded a free-kick on the left-hand side which Joao Moutinho (£5.4m) fizzed across the face of the goal, although, inexplicably nobody was able to get a touch on it. Had they done so, the ball surely would have ended up back in the net. In the end, it was a combination of Alexander-Arnold and Firmino who scrambled the ball clear.
Despite that spirited start from the hosts, they were 1-0 down in the eighth minute.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (£6.2m) slid Firmino into some space in the centre, who moved it on to Salah. He was then taken down by Coady, resulting in a Liverpool free-kick.
The Egyptian and Alexander-Arnold stood over and, in spite of an ominous run-up, the latter saw his effort headed over by Conor Coady (£5.0m).
That wouldn’t stop the right-back notching his 14th attacking return of the season. He was able to pick out Henderson from the resulting corner, who nodded cooly beyond Patrício.
There were suggestions that the ball had brushed Mané’s head on the way through but the official finding was that it did not touch the winger.
He went close to an assist again in the 17th minute when he played a cross-field ball around the Wolves back-three to Salah, who had to drag back and inside onto his left foot to get a shot off, which was well blocked by Coady.
Oxlade-Chamberlain then played a lovely chipped through ball out to a free Mané out on the left, but he was quickly closed down by a recovering Dendoncker, who won the ball by kicking it against the Liverpool man’s arm.
It was at this point that Mané was taken off and replaced by recent new signing Takumi Minamino (£6.5m). Naturally, such a frustrating event for Liverpool saw the game lose a bit of pace and urgency for the next 10 minutes or so.
Wolves were the first to reinject some life into the game as Traoré dropped deep to create opportunities again, the first putting Doherty into space before Jiménez went through the middle and had a fierce effort blocked by van Dijk.
In first-half stoppage time, Salah went on a mazy run through the heart of the Wolves defence and managed to get enough space on his left to unleash a shot on goal, blocked by Matt Doherty (£6.1m).
Salah picked up where he left off in the second half, catching Traoré in possession and smashing a powerful left-footed shot across the Wolves goal, stopped only by a sprawling Patrício save.
Naturally, the start to the second period stretched the game which played right into the hands of Wolves and the pace of Traoré.
He began to find more space down the right-hand side of Wolves’ attack and, in textbook fashion, his 51st-minute inch-perfect cross into the box, found Raúl Jiménez (£7.5m) in space, who leapt up to place a glancing header beyond Alisson (£6.1m).
Such a morale-boosting goal thoroughly put the wind into Traoré’s sails. For a relatively prolonged spell, Traoré began completely terrorising Liverpool down his side, with Robertson eventually having to bring him down on the edge of the box, picking up a yellow card in the process.
Traoré almost scored a bit later, finding space to blast across goal, forcing a vital save from Alisson.
Liverpool struggled to respond to this shift in the game, perhaps all too aware of the danger of being caught out on the counter-attack by Traoré. Even after the shackles were put back on Traoré to some extent, they were more reticent moving forward.
It took until the 60th minute for their next real chance, which fell to Minamino after a cross from Salah. His effort was blocked, the rebound falling to Firmino, who could only drive the ball low towards an already floored Patrício for a routine recovery by the goalkeeper.
Wolves kept up the pressure with Jiménez played in by Traoré in the 67th minute, shooting from a wide-angle and drawing a save from Alisson’s face.
However, Liverpool still managed to dig out a victory from this tough position.
Henderson played Salah in for another chance just short of the 70th minute and the Egyptian, as ever, worked himself into a position where he could smash it with his left foot. This effort ended just wide, the latest that will have left his Triple Captainers with their head in their hands.
As predicted as a possibility in the build-up to the Double Gameweek, it was away-day specialist Firmino who won the tie in the end.
He had two glorious chances in the closing stages, the first the Brazilian missed and the second buried.
He was played through one-on-one with the goalkeeper in the 81st minute and fired a low effort at goal, when he arguably should have gone for the chip – Patrício making a good stop with his legs.
But as stoppage time approached, Firmino found himself in space once again, played through by Henderson and rifled his latest effort into the top corner for all three points.
It may well be half-time in the Double Gameweek, but as things stand, those who went with either Firmino or Alexander-Arnold currently have the advantage in the Triple Captaincy debate.
Wolves XI: Patrício; Saïss, Coady, Dendoncker; Jonny, Neves, Moutinho (Gibbs-White 87′), Doherty; Neto (D Jota 77′), Jiménez, Traoré.
Liverpool XI: Alisson; Robertson, van Dijk, Gomez, Alexander-Arnold; J Henderson, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Fabinho 70′); Mané (Minamino 32′), Firmino, Salah (Origi 85′).
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