Liverpool 4-0 Southampton
- Goals: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (£6.2m), Jordan Henderson (£5.4m), Mohamed Salah x2 (£12.6m)
- Assists: Roberto Firmino x3 (£9.6m), Henderson
- Bonus Points: Salah x3, Henderson x2, Alisson x1 (£6.1m)
Mohamed Salah (£12.6m) looks back to his ominous best after a second double-figure haul in as many Premier League matches.
He took his time to get involved in the goals for Liverpool but registered two strikers in the final 20 minutes of a hard-fought 4-0 win over Southampton.
The fact that the Reds had to toil for a large majority of this game arguably increases Salah’s appeal ahead of an incredibly appealing run of fixtures.
Between now and Gameweek 29, Liverpool travel to Norwich and Watford and host relegation-threatened West Ham and Bournemouth.
Salah probably would have been in the captain conversation for each of those matches anyway, but as his ownership and form continue to sky-rocket, the Egyptian is moving closer to ‘essential’ status once more.
Naturally, the increased interest in Salah’s services has been greatly influenced by a recent injury to Sadio Mané (£12.3m), although there remains a chance that the Senegalese international could be fit in time for a Gameweek 26 trip to Carrow Road, where Norwich have conceded more goals than on their travels this season.
Of course, such a statistic is also welcome news to Salah owners too.
However, with Salah soaking up so much support of late, his ability to propel Fantasy managers up the rankings has been dampened somewhat.
Thankfully, two of the Egyptian’s attacking colleagues have also been making strong cases for inclusion recently, neither of which are so widely owned.
The first is Roberto Firmino (£9.6m), who managed to chalk up three assists against Southampton. The Brazilian was, yet again, an instrumental part of Liverpool’s offensive efforts and is finally starting to convert this into something tangible for his 17.7% (and increasing) ownership.
In the last eight matches, Firmino has produced four goals and three assists and averaged 5.9 points per game. With Mané’s fitness still admittedly in doubt, and a number of centre-forwards frustrating their owners, there certainly seems to be merit to considering a Salah/Firmino double-up.
However, an even cheaper option has recently presented himself in the form of Jordan Henderson (£5.4m).
The central midfield player got a goal and an assist in the win over Southampton, his sixth and seventh attacking return of the campaign.
Henderson has arguably been one of Liverpool’s best players this season but, like Firmino, it has only been in recent weeks that he has converted this into something worthy of Fantasy investment.
After the first 23 matches of the season, the former Sunderland man had scored just once and produced only two assists. In his last three, Henderson has two goals and has set up a further two.
With those aforementioned favourable fixtures coming up, Henderson’s appealing price and 1.6% ownership could ensure he remains a powerful differential for Fantasy managers.
With all of these Liverpool options, we should, as previously mentioned, hand them extra credit for how they were able to break down a stubborn Southampton side.
The Saints arrived at Anfield in decent defensive form, as was reported in our Captain Sensible article, and they managed to largely frustrate Liverpool for the opening 45 minutes.
While it was not too surprising to see Southampton do their best to stifle their illustrious hosts, it was impressive that they were able to do so with their staffing problem at right-back.
With Cédric Soares (£4.8m) injured and subsequently loaned to Arsenal, and Yan Valery (£4.6m) only recently returning from an illness, Ralph Hasenhüttl was forced to play midfielder James Ward-Prowse (£5.8m) at right-back.
Despite that disadvantage, Southampton went into the break at 0-0. They also did a great job of protecting their slightly makeshift back-four with some excellent marauding runs from Danny Ings (£7.0m), Shane Long (£4.6m) and Nathan Redmond (£6.2m).
Ings, in particular, was unfortunate not to get some attacking returns as he troubled Liverpool in the first half, exploiting some space by Virgil van Dijk (£6.5m) and forcing some important saves. With favourable fixtures on the horizon for Southampton, Ings still looks lively enough to capitalise.
Moussa Djenepo (£5.2m) also stung Alisson‘s (£6.1m) palms in the first half, receiving the ball from a Long knock-down and firing an effort towards goal from the edge of the box.
In the end, it must be said that four goals flattered Liverpool to an extent, as their class and desire to win the Premier League shone through in the second period – but that is, of course, great news for owners of their Fantasy assets.
It was also an eighth clean sheet from a possible nine for Liverpool, even if they were mildly fortunate to register this one.
However, no defensive player was able to get involved in the goals on Saturday afternoon, with Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.6m) taking a slightly less prominent role in the match than usual. He nearly scored an overcooked cross in the first half but it landed on the roof of Alex McCarthy‘s (£4.4m) net. Aside from that, he played no key passes all afternoon.
Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Alisson; Robertson, van Dijk, Gomez, Alexander-Arnold; Wijnaldum (Minamino 81′), Fabinho, J Henderson (Lallana 88′); Oxlade-Chamberlain (Keita 73′), Firmino, Salah.
Southampton XI (4-4-2): McCarthy; Bertrand, Bednarek, J Stephens, Ward-Prowse; Redmond, Højbjerg, Romeu, Djenepo (Boufal 82′); Ings (Adams 70′), S Long (Obafemi 70′).
BOURNEMOUTH 2-1 ASTON VILLA
by Colm Hayes
- Goals: Philip Billing (£5.0m), Nathan Aké (£4.8m) | Mbwana Samatta (£6.0m)
- Assists: Ryan Fraser (£6.9m), Dan Gosling (£4.9m) | Keinan Davis (£4.3m)
- Bonus Points: Billing x3, Samatta x2, Aké x1
Despite being heavily involved in every Aston Villa attack at the Vitality Stadium, FPL favourite Jack Grealish (£6.7m) failed to notch any attacking returns in GW25.
The Villa star terrorised Adam Smith (£4.3m) down the Cherries’ right, while Jefferson Lerma (£4.8m) picked up two yellow cards for fouls on Grealish – though the player may rightly have been upset at the decision for his second booking.
The red card was soft, there were a few decisions out there that left a lot of people scratching their heads. – Aston Villa boss Dean Smith
Grealish topped several statistical charts among all players during this relegation battle and ‘assisted the assister’ for Villa’s goal.
His pass allowed substitute Keinan Davis (£4.3m) to shoot in the 71st minute, an effort which was blocked but looped up favourably for debutant Mbwana Samatta (£6.0m) to nod before Aaron Ramsdale (£4.7m) was able to claim.
But despite Grealish’s best efforts, first-half goals from Philip Billing (£5.0m) and Nathan Aké (£4.8m) were enough to give Bournemouth a huge three points.
The Villa midfielder created more than double the chances of any other player – including one particularly decent opportunity for Matt Targett (£4.4m) – while one of his raids down the left saw a cross/shot from the byline go through the legs of Ramsdale but amazingly not into the goal.
On his side’s defeat, Dean Smith – who lost Ezri Konsa (£4.3m) to injury at the interval – said:
We didn’t start particularly well, they picked up too many second balls and ended up with territorial advantage in the first half.
I wasn’t happy with the first half and how we played 11 v 11 but the second half, after they had a man set off, was better – although we did not do enough with possession.
They have had a man sent off and after that we have dominated possession but have not done enough to create clear-cut chances to get ourselves back (in it). (We) deserved to lose in the end.
Smith’s opposite number Eddie Howe also recognised how pivotal Lerma’s red card was in the game:
The red card changed everything, we felt a little bit bit hard done by on that decision – Jeff was incredibly unlucky as there were other challenges in the game that didn’t get punished with a yellow card which were worse than that.
At a time when we were in a good place in the game, looking to go 3-0 up, suddenly the game swings on that moment and I didn’t think it was justified.
With that feeling, with the way the game had gone and the run of form we’d been on, it was hugely important we got over the line and won that game. We don’t know whether it will define our season, but it feels like a big moment now.
Bournemouth XI (4-3-3): Ramsdale; Rico, Aké, Francis, A. Smith; Gosling, Lerma, Billing; H. Wilson, C. Wilson, Fraser.
Aston Villa XI (4-3-3): Reina; Konsa (Engels 46′), Mings, Hause; Targett, Douglas Luiz, Nakamba (Trezeguet 80′), Guilbert; Grealish, Samatta, El Ghazi (Davis 58′).
Gameweek 25 Match Reports
- Leicester City 2-2 Chelsea
- Bournemouth 2-1 Aston Villa
- Crystal Palace 0-1 Sheffield United
- Liverpool 4-0 Southampton
- Newcastle United 0-0 Norwich City
- Watford 2-3 Everton
- West Ham United 3-3 Brighton and Hove Albion
- Manchester United 0-0 Wolves
- Burnley v Arsenal
- Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City
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