Another yellow injury flag was not what Trent Alexander-Arnold (£8.6m) owners needed ahead of Double Gameweek 25.
We’ve got updates on the Liverpool defender plus teammates Alisson (£5.7m) and Joe Gomez (£4.6m) in these first Scout Notes of Gameweek 24.
There is also the latest on Wolverhampton Wanderers pair Hwang Hee-chan (£5.5m) and Matheus Cunha (£5.8m) as we dissect Saturday’s matches at Anfield and Molineux.
ALEXANDER-ARNOLD INJURY NEWS
The opening 45 minutes at Anfield was almost the archetypal Alexander-Arnold half of football.
There was an assist, several whipped deliveries and some raking long passes, all of which looked set to put him in the bonus points mix. There were also a few familiar problems from a defensive point of view, with winger Wilson Odobert (£5.0m) getting lots of joy against the Liverpool right-back.
But 45 minutes was all he got.
Failing to appear after half-time, it soon emerged that his withdrawal was enforced.
There were no obvious signs of him struggling in the first half, and he was still pinging crossfield passes right up to the interval.
Alexander-Arnold himself seemed to think he was “fine”, a view that his manager didn’t share.
“He felt there [his knee]. He stuck in the grass. We will see, we have to have further assessment.” – Jurgen Klopp about Trent Alexander-Arnold, speaking in his press conference
“Same area in the knee. Nothing really bad but he felt it again and we have to see now, we have to assess it.
“Obviously we thought earlier, the players and staff made me aware of it during the game and we were like already, ‘What can we do?’ We would have done the same but then Trent said, ‘No, it’s fine’.
“But it’s not fine [because] he feels it so we had to be careful and took him off.” – Jurgen Klopp about Trent Alexander-Arnold, speaking to Sky Sports
There’ll be a nervous wait for Alexander-Arnold owners this week, then. With Conor Bradley (£4.1m) due back from compassionate leave and Joe Gomez likely to be over his illness, Klopp certainly has alternatives if he doesn’t want to risk FPL’s priciest defender in one or both Gameweek 25 fixtures.
ALISSON + GOMEZ LATEST
Speaking of Gomez, he was one of two Liverpool players not to feature in Saturday’s win apparently due to illness. Alisson was the other.
Klopp did give a slightly cryptic update on Alisson after full-time, however, only confirming that Gomez had the flu.
“We lost this morning Ali with a… I don’t know. It was Joey with the flu, Ali we will see.” – Jurgen Klopp
NOT VINTAGE LIVERPOOL
It was job done in terms of three points but it certainly wasn’t a vintage Liverpool performance at either end.
Frustrated by the Clarets’ defence, the hosts were also caught on the break on several occasions.
“[At] the start of the game, we were a bit too much in a rush. That was the problem: we played too quick, too direct, we couldn’t react with the formation, couldn’t win balls back. They had counter-attacks and that looks not great and doesn’t feel great on top of that.” – Jurgen Klopp
Still, we saw Diogo Jota (£8.2m) and Darwin Nunez (£7.5m) rack up a combined 11 shots between them; not bad for a so-so team display. Darwin, indeed, amassed more xGI than any other Premier League player on Saturday.
The pair were on the scoresheet and have a combined 14 attacking returns between them since Jota returned from injury in Gameweek 19. Luis Diaz (£7.4m), the third musketeer in the Salahless attack, also found the back of the net.
One thing to watch out for if you’re a Darwin owner is his yellow card count. A fourth successive booking took him to eight for the season, two away from a ban. At least there’s no danger of him doing ‘a Mitrovic’ and picking up a suspension midway through the Double Gameweek.
Andrew Robertson (£6.4m) impressed on his first start in four months, meanwhile. Creating five chances and missing a close-range effort of his own, the onus was on him to advance more when Alexander-Arnold exited.
ARSENAL TO EXPLOIT BURNLEY’S SET-PIECE WOES?
Burnley impressed, frustrating Liverpool at one end and causing them jitters at the other.
David Datro Fofana (£5.0m), on his full debut, wasted two glorious chances with the result still in the balance.
He came into the side to replace Lyle Foster (£4.8m), who Vincent Kompany said after the game was absent with a muscle injury.
The Clarets have done alright in recent weeks, not losing by more than a two-goal margin since mid-October.
What hasn’t really improved is their record at set plays, with two of the three goals conceded on Saturday coming from dead-ball situations. Only Nottingham Forest have shipped more goals from free-kicks and corners this season.
It’s Arsenal next – and it sounds like a nice match-up for the towering Gabriel Magalhães (£5.0m).
O’NEIL HOPEFUL ON CUNHA + HWANG
A double injury blow hampered Wolves’ efforts at Molineux.
Hwang Hee-chan pulled up in training ahead of the game with a calf issue, while Matheus Cunha was substituted midway through the first half.
“It started yesterday afternoon when Channy felt his calf.
“[Cunha] felt something in his hamstring. It doesn’t feel too bad now, so let’s see how he goes. Hopefully, nothing too serious because we’ve spoken about fortunately injuries haven’t gone against us this season too much, but as we saw today, he was a big loss. We’ll know a lot more by Monday or Tuesday.
“Hopefully, Channy will be OK next week, too.” – Gary O’Neil
It was no surprise that Wolves struggled without the two men responsible for more than 50% of their league goals this season.
Pedro Neto (£5.7m) did his best to pick up the slack: he forced a superb save from Mark Flekken (£4.5m), hit the woodwork, and crossed for a Craig Dawson (£4.5m) strike that was chalked off for a tight offside.
But the lack of a focal point was telling, with Gary O’Neil having to resort to teenage rookie Nathan Fraser (£4.5m) in the second half.
Rayan Ait-Nouri (£4.5m) caught the eye again, however, advanced to the point that he had more final-third touches than everyone bar Neto on the field. The Algeria international created three chances, too.
Above: Rayan Ait-Nouri’s touch heatmap in Gameweek 24
Speaking of attack-minded left wing-backs, there was another on show for the visitors.
We brought Sergio Reguilon (£4.4m) to your attention in our recent set pieces round-up.
And it was from one of his corners that Brentford opened the scoring, that assist earning him a double-digit haul in Gameweek 24.
He had earlier gone close to other assists, with Neal Maupay (£4.9m) missing a free header and no one managing to get on the end of a cross along the six-yard box.
Reguilon will likely be relying on attacking returns in the next month, as the following run doesn’t bode well for further clean sheets:
As for Brentford’s in-form front two, Maupay had enjoyed the better of the chances.
But, Haaland-like, a peripheral Ivan Toney (£8.1m) popped up to settle the result with his only shot in the box.
That’s now four returns in as many starts since his ban ended, and you wouldn’t bet against him adding to that tally in Double Gameweek 25 given his habit of scoring against the big boys.