Liverpool 3-0 Leicester
- Goals: Diogo Jota (£6.6m), Roberto Firmino (£9.2m)
- Own goals: Jonny Evans (£5.5m)
- Assists: James Milner x2 (£5.3m), Andrew Robertson (£7.1m)
- Bonus points: Robertson x3, Milner x2, Alisson x1 (£, Jota x1
Liverpool’s injury-stricken defence turned the Fantasy Premier League narrative on its head in Gameweek 9 as they kept a first home clean sheet of the season against Leicester City.
The Fantasy community largely turned its collective back on members of the Reds’ back-line after the international break but the much-needed return of Fabinho (£5.4m) may have changed a few minds already.
Jurgen Klopp paired the Brazilian midfielder with Joel Matip (£5.4m), at the heart of Liverpool’s defence against Leicester, to the stepping up superbly to a late charge from the visitors.
Anyone wondering about the Reds’ defensive potential for upcoming fixtures against Brighton (away), Wolves (home) and Fulham (away) need only consider the tactical implications of keeping a clean sheet against an in-form Jamie Vardy (£10.2m)
On Sunday, Liverpool pinned Leicester in their own half virtually from kick-off, usually something that suits the Foxes’ central striker’s ability to punish space behind the defence – but the Reds still gave him no quarter and professional rode out a late Leicester charge.
Leicester simply could not string enough passes together to get Vardy through into the space he thrives in, Brendan Rodgers men often shaken in possession by the constant wave of Liverpool attacks. A hugely impressive achievement given the number of shortages at the back.
“We had a good opportunity on the counter with Harvey Barnes, but overall when you are passive like that, your football is not quite the same. We weren’t aggressive enough.” – Brendan Rodgers
“Centre-half, I try to be always in good communication with my teammates – Joel (Matip), Robbo, the players around me. They help me a lot. We knew we were playing against a very good team and a very dangerous striker [Jamie Vardy] but the communication was very important for that as well.” – Fabinho
NECO THE WOODS
Unsurprisingly, there was plenty of focus on Liverpool’s full-backs against Leicester, improved defensive control helping Andrew Robertson (£7.1m) to a 12-point haul courtesy of his third assist of the season and maximum bonus.
“But especially (the second) goal, Jota couldn’t have scored without an outstanding cross from Andy Robertson. What a situation in the whole build-up. All these passes and then I think it was Joel to Robbo. Albrighton tries everything to win the battle, the little challenge there and Robbo is really good first contact. Then a sensational cross.” – Jurgen Klopp
Fantasy opportunisits will have had their eye on the right-back berth though, where set-piece taker James Milner (£5.3m) filled in for Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.3m) and registered two assists for an 11-point haul.
“There were a lot of good things. I can’t pick one that pleased me most – maybe the performance of James Milner at right-back. He played an exceptional game, first there and then in midfield. That is what we expect from ourselves. The injuries were a massive shock in that moment but the boys have to offer solutions. We have centre-halves, they are really young. They are not experienced, you saw the bench tonight.” – Jurgen Klopp
Milner’s midfield classification might be enough to put off investment in him but Fantasy managers will be keeping an eye on the implications of an injury to Naby Keïta (£5.2m).
When he was forced off with a hamstring problem in the 54th minute, Milner took his place in midfield, leaving Neco Williams (£3.9m) to come on and finish the game at right-back.
If Keïta remains sidelined for the same length of time as Alexander-Arnold, then we might finally have a reliable budget starter in the Liverpool defence for long enough to justify investment.
“(Keïta) felt his hamstring and was not able to play on, otherwise he would have stayed on the pitch.” – Jurgen Klopp
DO I STAY OR DIOGO?
Diogo Jota (£6.6m) is starting to ask serious questions of Fantasy managers as he scored yet again in the 3-0 win over Leicester.
He has become the first player in Liverpool’s history to find the net in each of his first four competitive home matches and averages seven points per game since Gameweek 6.
The former Wolves man has secured five bonus in that time and could easily have left Anfield with a double-figure haul against Leicester, operating in Mohamed Salah‘s (£12.2m).
Kasper Schmeichel (£5.5m) was twice called into action to deny Jota at the near post while Roberto Firmino (£9.2m) twice struck the woodwork either from the Portuguese international’s pass or rebounded shot, the Brazilian’s slight waywardness costing him two assists.
The question now is, of course, how often can he start with Salah coming back into the fold following a self-isolation period?
Thankfully, we have a Champions League match against Atalanta midweek to see how prepared Klopp is to throw the Egyptian straight back into the starting line-up.
“I’ve heard, yes, it [was] negative today. I think he is from now on pretty normal in testing. Tomorrow we have the UEFA testing for the Champions League and I am pretty sure he will be in that. He can now train with us tomorrow, that’s it. He will have two tests in the next two days, so, yes, he will be tested like all of us.” – Jurgen Klopp
That said, even if Salah does return for the Gameweek 10 trip to Brighton, Jota has still delivered while sharing the pitch with him.
The two attackers started together in Gameweek 6, when Jota registered a nine-point score. And even if a Salah return pushes the former Wolves man to the bench, he came on for 20 minutes against West Ham and came away with eight points.
Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Alisson; Robertson, Fabinho, Matip, Milner; Keïta (N Williams 54′), Wijnaldum, C Jones; Mané (Minamino 89′), Firmino, Jota (Origi 89′).
Leicester City XI (3-4-2-1): Schmeichel; Fuchs (Praet 62′), Evans, Fofana; Justin, N Mendy, Tielemans, Albrighton; H Barnes (Ünder 62′), Maddison; Vardy.
Lessons Learned from FPL Gameweek 9
- Newcastle United 0-2 Chelsea
- Aston Villa 1-2 Brighton and Hove Albion
- Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Manchester City
- Manchester United 1-0 West Bromwich Albion
- Fulham 2-3 Everton
- Sheffield United 0-1 West Ham United
- Leeds United 0-0 Arsenal
- Liverpool 3-0 Leicester City
- Burnley 1-0 Crystal Palace
- Wolves 1-1 Southampton