SOUTHAMPTON 1-0 LIVERPOOL
- Goals: Danny Ings (£8.3m)
- Assists: James Ward-Prowse (£6.2m)
- Bonus points: Ings x3, J Stephens x2, Bednarek x1
Liverpool assets put in the worst possible audition for Double Gameweek 19 as they slumped to a 1-0 defeat to Southampton on Monday night.
During their last Premier League match before they host Manchester United and Burnley, the Reds struggled to offer much in the way of attacking quality, continuing a concerning trend ahead of the upcoming mini chip season.
Over the three matches that followed the 7-0 win at Crystal Palace, Liverpool have scored just one goal and taken two points from a possible nine. Such an achievement is all the more discouraging considering they faced West Bromwich Albion, Newcastle and Southampton.
For the first time since May 2018, Jurgen Klopp’s men have now failed to score in back-to-back league matches, having found the net in each of their 21 previous outings.
“What was disappointing (about the defeat)? How long have we got? We were not good enough. It’s our fault, my responsibility, that’s it.” – Jurgen Klopp
Liverpool can hardly protest at their misfortune either as they failed to register a shot on target until the 75th minute when Sadio Mané (£11.9m) finally found some space to shoot but tested Fraser Forster (£4.0m) only with a low, scuffed effort.
That was the longest the Reds have had to wait for an accurate effort in a Premier League match since December 2015, 89 minutes into a 2-0 defeat at Newcastle two months into Klopp’s Liverpool tenure.
“We were dominant in the right areas, had the moments but then the decision-making was not that good. The last pass, we missed the last pass. I heard now we only had one shot on target; we had a lot of shots next to the target which we did not finish, but even with them we probably did not have enough for the moments we had. Our fault, my responsibility and that’s it.” – Jurgen Klopp
ALWAYS CAPTAIN… WHO?
Fantasy managers considering Mohamed Salah (£12.6m) for the Double Gameweek 19 captaincy are almost certainly having second thoughts in the break between Gameweeks 17 and Blank Gameweek 18.
After scoring 16 points as a substitute against Crystal Palace, the Egyptian has now blanked in each of his last three Premier League appearances.
That is the longest he has gone without an attacking return in 2020/21 and, against Southampton, there was very little in the way of straws to clutch at.
Most of Liverpool’s play went down the left-hand side through Andrew Robertson (£7.4m) and Mané on Monday night, their crosses into the box well dealt with by Jack Stephens (£4.6m) and Jan Bednarek (£4.9m) before they could get through to Salah. As a result, Southampton now have more clean sheets in the last four matches (three) than any other side.
Kyle Walker-Peters (£4.8m) also impressed in his handling of Liverpool’s left-sided attackers and in one of the rare moments where Mané got the better of him, the cross was just too high for Salah to get over it, his effort going over the bar.
Meanwhile, the right-winger’s link-up with Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.3m) was virtually non-existent as the Englishman had one of his worst games in a Liverpool shirt to date. He gave the ball away 38 times against Southampton, the most of any player in one match this season – and he only featured for 77 minutes before James Milner (£5.3m) replaced him.
So then… what now for Salah as a captain candidate in Double Gameweek 19? After all, Kevin De Bruyne (£11.6m) scored a double-digit haul operating as a false-nine at Chelsea and faces Crystal Palace and Aston Villa in that round.
Meanwhile, both of Bruno Fernandes‘ (£11.3m) Double Gameweek 19 matches are on the road, where he has produced 10 points per game this season.
And the other advantage they have over Salah is another chance to impress. It is clear that Liverpool have serious attacking problems right now but the only chance Fantasy managers will have to assess whether or not they have made progress in solving them is a third-round FA Cup tie against Aston Villa on Friday.
However, how much we will be able to read into that match remains to be seen. Considering the busy December schedule, which does not let up in January, Klopp and Dean Smith are almost certain to chop and change their teams.
As a result, potential Salah backers have only the last three matches to rely on for their captaincy decision – and they were not encouraging.
By contrast, De Bruyne and Fernandes both feature in Blank Gameweek 18 bringing their existing form into relatively appealing matches likely to allow for encouraging Double Gameweek 19 captaincy auditions.
“They are football problems; yes, we are worried about that but football problems you solve with football and that’s what we are working on. We know about the situation, we are not silly, and we have to show a reaction, 100 per cent.” – Jurgen Klopp
SITTING ON DEFENCE
Liverpool’s Monday-night defeat did not do wonders for their defensive assets ahead of Double Gameweek 19 either.
Once again, they were patched up in that department, Jordan Henderson (£5.4m) dropping into centre-back alongside Fabinho (£5.4m) in Joel Matip‘s (£5.4m) continued absence.
However, a lapse in concentration during an early James Ward-Prowse (£6.2m) free-kick from Alexander-Arnold allowed Danny Ings (£8.3m) to nip in and find the net.
“His finishing is quality but he works hard for the team too. It is important that he is fit and he’s back.” – Ralph Hasenhüttl
Interest in Liverpool defenders had been relatively high for this game considering Southampton went three matches without scoring between Gameweeks 14 and 16.
They even came into Gameweek 17 with a number of key absentees including Alex McCarthy (£4.7m), Jannik Vestergaard (£4.8m), Oriol Romeu (£4.5m) and Che Adams (£6.1m) who missed out due to self-isolation, knee issues, a calf problem and concussion respectively.
“Oriol [Romeu], maybe one or two weeks out, so hopefully for the Leicester game he is back. Moussa [Djenepo], looks not so good. Che [Adams] is only out with a concussion, so hopefully also back as soon as possible.” – Ralph Hasenhüttl
They even lost Moussa Djenepo (£5.4m) to hamstring problem during the first half, making way for 21-year-old Nathan Tella (£4.4m), but still had enough about them to absorb Liverpool’s pressure and stretch the visitors’ defence on the counter-attack in key moments.
“(Djenepo) had a bad injury history with his muscles. It was maybe a setback. I said to him head-up, he will come back strong and I tried to give him a lift.” – Ralph Hasenhüttl
“We had so many injuries and still competed. I think the system works.” – Ralph Hasenhüttl
Southampton XI (4-4-2): Forster; Bertrand, Bednarek, J Stephens, Walker-Peters; Djenepo (Tella 32′), Ward-Prowse, Diallo, Armstrong; Walcott (Valery 82′), Ings (Nlundulu 77′).
Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Alisson; Robertson, Fabinho, J Henderson, Alexander-Arnold (Milner 77′); Oxlade-Chamberlain (Shaqiri 57′), Wijnaldum, Thiago; Mané, Firmino, Salah.
Lessons learned from FPL Gameweek 17
- Everton 0-1 West Ham United
- Manchester United 2-1 Aston Villa
- Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 Leeds United
- Crystal Palace 2-0 Sheffield United
- Brighton and Hove Albion 3-3 Wolverhampton Wanderers
- West Bromwich Albion 0-4 Arsenal
- Burnley P-P Fulham
- Newcastle United 1-2 Leicester City
- Chelsea 1-3 Manchester City
- Southampton 1-0 Liverpool
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