Chelsea 0-2 Liverpool
- Goals: Sadio Mané x2 (£11.9m)
- Assists: Roberto Firmino (£9.4m)
- Penalty saves: Alisson (£6.0m)
- Penalty misses: Jorginho (£5.0m)
- Red cards: Andreas Christensen (£5.0m)
- Bonus points: Mané x3, Alisson x2, Trent Alexander-Arnold x1 (£7.5m), Virgil van Dijk x1 (£6.5m)
In Liverpool’s 2-0 win at Chelsea on Sunday, Sadio Mané (£11.9m) reminded Fantasy Premier League managers of his goal-scoring advantage over Mohamed Salah (£12.1m) in away matches.
The Senegalese international found the net seven times on the road last season, behind only Roberto Firmino (£9.4m) among his Liverpool colleagues. Crucially, that accounted for 38.9% of Mané’s league goals in 2019/20, a sizeable chunk.
By contrast, just four of Salah’s 19 league efforts went in away from Anfield, 21% of his overall total, and the Egyptian already has one blank from a possible one on the road this season, this time recorded at former club, Chelsea.
Salah was full of running at Stamford Bridge, and he was enthusiastic in the shot once again, but just as was often the case away from home last season, Mané was the one to really shine.
It was his powerful run which forced a last-ditch foul from Andreas Christensen (£5.0m), resulting in a red card shortly before half-time.
And it was Mané’s famed ability in the air that put Liverpool in front. Firmino got around the back of Marcos Alonso (£6.0m) on the right-hand side, crossing for Mané to skip clear of Kurt Zouma (£5.0m) and substitute Fikayo Tomori (£4.9m) and nod beyond Kepa Arrizabalaga (£5.0m).
Then, just minutes later, Mané was on-hand to capitalise on yet another catastrophic error from the Chelsea goalkeeper. After giving the ball up to Tomori, he chased down the pass-back to Kepa, blocking the attempted clearance inside the box and firing underneath the panicked shot-stopper for 2-0.
“I think in the first half Sadio was really close to blocking it there already but you just have to do it. I love it when we get rewards for this kind of situation. The first goal was a nice piece of football, everybody involved pretty much. Firmino cross and then Sadio comes in front of his man, so it’s really difficult to defend. Good goal and gave the game the right direction.” – Jurgen Klopp
It is games like this one that certainly bolsters the theory that it doesn’t matter which premium Liverpool asset you own – as long as you stick to the one you’ve got, recognising the strengths and weaknesses in comparison to the other.
Salah gets most of his work done at Anfield, he takes the penalties and usually bests his colleague for the sheer frequency of shots. Meanwhile, as evidenced by the win at Chelsea, Mané is better in the air, receives more of the so-called bigger, higher-quality chances suited to dangerous counter-attacks and typically finds the net more often away from home.
On that note, two of Liverpool’s next three matches occur on the road, Jurgen Klopp’s men set to for visits to Villa Park and Goodison Park. That said, five of their next three are at Anfield, Arsenal, Sheffield United and West Ham the next three sides scheduled to visit Salah’s hunting ground.
Liverpool’s attacking credentials were also boosted at Stamford Bridge as new signing Thiago Alcantara (£6.0m) made his debut in central midfield.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich man came on to replace Jordan Henderson (£5.5m) at half-time after the club captain sustained a thigh problem. Unsurprisingly, Thiago was able to make a big impact on proceedings, stringing together 74 successful passes in just 45 minutes, the fourth-most in the whole match.
Admittedly, such a tally was recorded against a 10-man team but this well-documented ability of Liverpool’s new number six is likely to come in handy when they face deep blocks in the future. Aston Villa (away), Everton (away) and Sheffield United (home) are three of their next four opponents who could employ such a tactic.
“Then we had to make the decision and decided for Thiago because, even without training against 10 men, he’s then pretty much the perfect player on that position, I would say. Everything he did today was completely natural. It was not all perfect but it was natural, so the passes he tries to play are natural. That’s good, really good, nice.” – Jurgen Klopp
After conceding three goals at home to newly-promoted Leeds in Gameweek 1, there was a significant improvement from Liverpool’s defence on Sunday.
That was mostly connected with an incredible, almost man-of-the-match-worthy, performance from Fabinho (£5.5m) at centre-back. The Brazilian dropped into the back-four in the place of Joe Gomez (£5.5m), who had been less than impressive against Leeds.
The Englishman was also absent through injury, as was Joel Matip (£5.5m), but even when Gomez returns, Fabinho appears to have already made a strong case to jump ahead of him in the pecking order. The arrival of Thiago also takes the pressure off Liverpool’s number three having to take part in midfield duties.
Such a drastic improvement upon moving Fabinho into defence will certainly give hope those on the Liverpool defensive double-up, especially with Villa, Everton, Sheffield United and West Ham four of the Reds’ next five opponents.
“Fabinho, yes! If Sadio wouldn’t have scored two goals, I think Fab would be a proper contender for Man of the Match. I loved his performance, he played outstanding. He helped us a lot with the ball and in defending as well, so yes, a proper performance.” – Jurgen Klopp
“Joe actually should be fine. It was not now really a big one but we have to see. We should be fine Monday already. With Joel, it could be slightly different. It’s not the worst thing in the world but a few weeks, a couple of weeks. Probably after the international break he will be ready again. So we have to see. It’s not cool. It’s crazy, in one day ‘bam bam’ but we have Fabinho and he played an exceptional game, so that was really, really nice.” – Jurgen Klopp
“I just told (Fabinho) as well I think he was Man of the Match. To keep out a striker like [Timo] Werner and don’t let him score, overall he was outstanding. Everyone knows how good he is but it shows also that we need everyone. We are a bit unlucky with the injuries now but we’ll need everyone back because it’s such a long season.” – Virgil van Dijk
However, there were a few moments on Sunday where Chelsea went close to scoring, all of which bodes well for their attacking assets in Gameweek 3 when they travel to West Bromwich Albion.
Timo Werner (£9.5m) did manage to get the better of Fabinho on one occasion in the first half. His first touch bounced off the Brazilian allowing the Chelsea forward to burst forward into space down the left-hand side of the box, firing an effort just wide of Alisson’s (£6.0m) goal.
His fizzing pace also earned a penalty in the 75th, as he drew a foul from Thiago. While Jorginho‘s (£5.0m) poor effort from the spot was saved by Alisson, Fantasy managers should consider the impact Werner has had in this department for Chelsea.
The German international has now won a penalty in each of his Premier League outings now, an ominous statistic as Chelsea prepare to face West Bromwich Albion in Gameweek 3. The Baggies have conceded the joint-highest number of shots over the first two matches and already given up two penalties in that time as well.
As a result, Werner looks a key captain candidate for Gameweek 3 both for his general goal threat anyway, as well as his tendency to win penalties. And you never know, Jorginho’s Gameweek 2 miss, and generally poor performance against Liverpool, might be enough to allow Werner to finally take one of his own after a decent record from 12 yards in Germany…
Meanwhile, there was another blank for Kai Havertz (£8.5m) who was unable to get on the ball enough. In light of Christensen’s sending off, he was replaced for tactical reasons by Tomori at the break and during the first 45 minutes he managed not one effort on goal or key pass.
Is that sufficient evidence to sell the midfielder? Perhaps… especially with James Rodríguez (£7.5m) impressing in his first two outings for Everton. But did Havertz show enough against Liverpool for the more patient of his owners to offer one last-chance-hurrah against West Brom’s porous defence? Possibly.
Some Fantasy managers might consider holding him on the strength of his next fixture alone, but there have been some promising off-the-ball runs from Havertz in his first two games. We highlighted some of these against Brighton and a false-nine role on Sunday produce a few more in the opening half of the Liverpool defeat.
The reason that Havertz was unable to make the most of his positioning, for the second match in a row, was a lack of creativity from those around him. Chelsea are crying out for Hakim Ziyech (£7.9m) to return from injury, so anyone currently invested in a Chelsea attacker should pay attention to the midweek EFL Cup meeting with Barnsley and Frank Lampard’s next two press conferences to see if he has a chance of featuring against West Brom. If he does, we could see big hauls for the likes of Werner, Havertz, Mason Mount (£7.0m) or Christian Pulisic (£8.4m), if he can regain some fitness.
Chelsea XI (4-3-3): Kepa; Alonso, Zouma, Christensen, R James; Kovačić (Abraham 79′), Jorginho (Barkley 79′), Kanté; Werner, Havertz (Tomori 46′), Mount.
Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Alisson; Robertson, van Dijk, Fabinho, Alexander-Arnold; Wijnaldum, J Henderson (Thiago 46′), Keïta (Milner 64′); Mané, Firmino (Minamino 86′), Salah.
FPL Lessons Learned from Gameweek 2
- Everton 5-2 West Bromwich Albion
- Leeds United 4-3 Fulham
- Manchester United 1-3 Crystal Palace
- Arsenal 2-1 West Ham United
- Southampton 2-5 Tottenham Hotspur
- Newcastle United 0-3 Brighton and Hove Albion
- Chelsea 0-2 Liverpool
- Leicester City 4-2 Burnley
- Aston Villa 1-0 Sheffield United
- Wolves 1-3 Manchester City
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