Liverpool 5-3 Chelsea
- Goals: Naby Keïta (£5.8m), Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.7m), Georginio Wijnaldum (£5.4m), Roberto Firmino (£9.3m), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (£6.1m) | Olivier Giroud (£6.7m), Tammy Abraham (£7.4m), Christian Pulisic (£7.4m)
- Assists: Sadio Mané (£12.2m), Mohamed Salah (£12.5m), Alexander-Arnold, Andrew Robertson (£7.0m) | Willian (£7.3m), Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi (£5.1m)
- Bonus Points: Alexander-Arnold x3, Firmino x2, Robertson x1
Fantasy Premier League managers were treated to a preview of Gameweek 38+ as the goals flowed in Liverpool’s 5-3 win over Chelsea on Wednesday evening.
It was a night where each side’s defences went on holiday and the floodgates opened up, usually the hallmark of the last day of the season.
On the basis of this performance, there will be plenty of interest in Liverpool attackers as they travel to Newcastle on Sunday, but Fantasy managers may have to ask some important questions as they prepare for the closing weekend of 2019/20.
Firstly, for all the Reds’ free-flowing football, which could punish an injury-stricken Magpies squad, they will be travelling to St. James’ Park in the wake of celebrating lifting the Premier League trophy. The last time they played after a big party they were soundly beaten 4-0 by Manchester City. While Newcastle are unlikely to be as punishing as Pep Guardiola’s men, there are sure to be concerns of a Liverpool performance akin to that defeat on Sunday…
But provided Jurgen Klopp can encourage a stronger focus on the next match than we saw with that heavy Etihad loss, there were a lot of encouraging signs about his attackers against Chelsea.
Mohamed Salah (£12.5m) is sure to go into Gameweek 38+ with a bee under his bonnet after he was unfortunate to miss out on a goal for the third match in a row. The Egyptian was, as ever, the most threatening Liverpool forward in terms of shots produced and chances created for him, while Sadio Mané (£12.2m) did not shoot once.
Despite a heavy involvement in the regular forays into Chelsea’s territory, Salah could muster only an assist for Georginio Wijnaldum’s (£5.4m) first-half goal. And when the premium midfielder was replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (£6.1m) in the 79th minute, he was positively thunder-faced.
With just one match left of the season, Salah sits four goals behind Jamie Vardy (£9.7m) in the race for the Premier League Golden Boot. While clinching the award seems unlikely at this point, it will almost certainly be on the Egyptian’s mind on the final weekend of the campaign. If Liverpool can replicate the free-flowing display of Wednesday night, and Salah keeps up his involvement in those attacks, a big haul is hardly off the cards. He may have to work on his finishing in the next few days though, especially after spooning a golden chance wide in the second-half when he was clear through on goal.
After recording just one attacking return between Gameweeks 30+ and 36+, Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.7m) was back to his scintillating best against Chelsea, becoming the first defender of the season to go past the 200-point barrier. Currently sat on 209 for the campaign, he is just five points off breaking the record for most points in a season for a defender, set last year by colleague Andrew Robertson (£7.0m).
Against Chelsea, the right-back struck home a routine direct free-kick in the first half before throwing up a trademark cross in the second, nodded home by Roberto Firmino (£9.3m). Both of those events bode well for a Gameweek 38+ meeting with Newcastle, the Magpies sitting inside the bottom three for headed goal attempts allowed and set-play attempts conceded since the Premier League restart.
Those statistics may also be of a benefit to Robertson who continues to have a hand in Liverpool corners, nearly earning an assist for a Salah goal in the second half against Chelsea, a previous corner also leading to Wijnaldum’s first-half strike. The left-back got the attacking return his crosses deserved in the 84th minute when his ball sailed through the middle of the Chelsea defence to be turned in by Oxlade-Chamberlain. That made for Robertson’s fourth assist of the restart period, double the number recorded by Alexander-Arnold.
Obviously, the Reds were helped by continual issues with Chelsea’s defence. They have now gone an entire Premier League campaign with just one clean sheet on the road and only four sides have conceded more goals from set pieces than Frank Lampard’s men. While they have managed seven clean sheets at home, their susceptibility to corners may convince owners of Willy Boly (£4.9m) or Romain Saïss (£4.8m) to start them for Gameweek 38+. Meanwhile, Chelsea’s general issues with defending, made worse by continued poor performances from Kepa Arrizabalaga (£5.4m), is sure to be enough evidence to hold onto Raúl Jiménez (£8.1m) for one last hurrah.
That said, as much as Chelsea struggled at the back, they offered plenty of attacking threat at Anfield. Liverpool’s defence has not been at its best since the restart, keeping just three of their 15 clean sheets since Gameweek 30+, but owners of Christian Pulisic (£7.4m) should feel particularly encouraged ahead of the final round of fixtures.
Despite only playing 31 minutes, the American managed a goal and assist for a nine-point score. During this time on the pitch, Pulisic looked unplayable, exploiting the space behind Liverpool’s defence to cross for Tammy Abraham (£7.4m) to tap-in and net an excellent swivelled finish of his own. Whether he will get as much of freedom against a compact Wolves side remains to be seen, but the mid-priced midfielder has now delivered attacking returns in all but one match since the Premier League restart, averaging 6.8 points per game during that period.
Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Alisson; Robertson, van Dijk, Gomez, Alexander-Arnold; Wijnaldum (Milner 66’), Fabinho, Keïta (C Jones 66’); Mané (Origi 87’), Firmino (Minamino 87’), Salah (Oxlade-Chamberlain 79’).
Chelsea XI (3-4-3): Kepa; Rüdiger, Zouma, Azpilicueta; Alonso (Emerson 88’), Kovačić, Jorginho, R James; Mount (Pulisic 58’), Giroud (Abraham 58’), Willian (Hudson-Odoi 58’).
FPL Lessons Learned From Gameweek 37+
- Norwich City 0-2 Burnley
- Bournemouth 0-2 Southampton
- Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 Leicester City
- Brighton and Hove Albion 0-0 Newcastle United
- Sheffield United 0-1 Everton
- Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 Crystal Palace
- Watford 0-4 Manchester City
- Aston Villa 1-0 Arsenal
- Manchester United 1-1 West Ham United
- Liverpool 5-3 Chelsea
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