Norwich City 0-1 Liverpool
Goals: Sadio Mane (£12.2m)
Assists: Jordan Henderson (£5.5m)
Bonus Points: Andrew Robertson x3 (£7.0m), Joe Gomez x2 (£5.3m), Trent Alexander-Arnold x1 (£7.7m), J Henderson x1
The ongoing Sadio Mané (£12.2m) narrative took a perhaps predictable turn in Gameweek 26 as he scored the winning goal for Liverpool at Norwich.
Over 1.6 million Fantasy Premier League managers sold the Senegalese international after he went off injured at Wolves in the first match of Double Gameweek 24. While it took a few weeks for Mané to recover, in the end, he only missed two Premier League outings.
Those who were brave enough to hold onto Liverpool’s left-winger were the real winners of Saturday’s Gameweek 26 action, especially as there was also a blank for the 45.4% owned Mohamed Salah (£12.8m), who was the most captained player of the round.
Also, there was further joy for the 2.7% who own Jordan Henderson (£5.5m) as he produced an assist for Mané’s late goal.
Despite registering just three attacking returns in the first 23 matches of the campaign, Henderson now has five since the start of Double Gameweek 24, more than any of his colleagues.
In truth, Liverpool had to work much harder than many would have expected considering Norwich’s defensive displays this season. The Canaries restricted their illustrious visitors to very few clearcut chances, Mane’s effort in the closing stages, arguably the biggest of the afternoon.
Jurgen Klopp’s men were, understandably, dominant in possession but, especially in the first half, struggled to fashion anything really testing for Norwich or goalkeeper Tim Krul (£4.5m). Salah was his usual busy self in the penalty area with plenty of efforts on goal to show for it, but he lacked quality and accuracy – and the same was true of Roberto Firmino (£9.7m).
Liverpool had to watch their own back-line too with much of their issues in the opening period coming from a spirited start to the game from Norwich. In the 35th minute, new signing Lukas Rupp (£4.5m), deployed on the right flank of attacking midfield again, got clear behind Liverpool’s defence. In acres of space he probably could have shot himself but opted to square to Teemu Pukki (£6.5m), the pass lacking the power to get past an impressive Alisson (£6.1m) save. Either way, were it not for their goalkeeper’s actions, Liverpool might have found themselves (arguably) deservedly behind.
Todd Cantwell (£4.9m) was a thorn in the Reds’ side for much of the afternoon, fouled four times in the opening half-hour and spearheaded their counter-attacks in the second half, one of which resulted in Alex Tettey (£4.5m) inadvertently striking the foot of Alisson’s post.
It was in this period of the game that it became more attack versus defence in favour of Liverpool but they only started to work Krul enough just before the hour-mark.
Salah teed up Naby Keïta (£5.8m) for an edge of the box effort in the 57th minute, which required palming over from Krul, although he was still comfortable.
Virgil van Dijk (£6.5m) then headed the resulting corner at the Norwich goalkeeper, before the former Newcastle shot-stopper produced a world-class double-save.
Salah shot on the turn from close range, forcing another impressive Krul stop and setting up Keïta with an easy loose-ball to tap in. However, his effort was stopped by a smothering save from Krul.
It was after this that Henderson played a fantastic through-pass, which Mané hit beyond Krul on the turn.
Firmino had a late chance to get on the score-sheet as Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.7m) fizzed a ball across the goal-line, perhaps too fast for the Brazilian to get any real purchase on it.
Despite Norwich’s spirited efforts, and Alisson’s crucial first-half intervention, it was also a big evening for those who had doubled or tripled-up on Liverpool defence.
With the Reds dominating possession and only one player scoring at Carrow Road, the excessive number of passes registered at the back helped Andrew Robertson (£7.0m), Joe Gomez (£5.3m) and Alexander-Arnold to bonus points to go with their clean sheet.
Norwich City XI: Krul; Byram (Lewis 27′), Zimmermann, Hanley, Aarons; Tettey (Buendia 83′), McLean; Cantwell, Duda, Rupp (Drmic 83′); Pukki.
Liverpool XI: Alisson; Robertson, van Dijk, Gomez, Alexander-Arnold; Keita (Milner 84′), J Henderson, Wijnaldum (Fabinho 60′); Oxlade-Chamberlain (Mane 60′), Firmino, Salah.
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