Liverpool 4-0 Wolves
- Goals: Mohamed Salah (£12.3m), Georginio Wijnaldum (£5.3m), Joel Matip (£5.4m)
- Own goals: Nelson Semedo (£5.6m)
- Assists: Jordan Henderson x2 (£5.4m), Salah, Sadio Mané (£12.0m)
- Bonus points: Salah x3, J Henderson x2, Matip x2
RETURN OF THE KING
A kind run of fixtures and a first double-digit haul since returning from self-isolation has made Mohamed Salah (£12.3m) the hot topic of a Gameweek 12 trip to Fulham.
The Egyptian registered a goal and an assist as Liverpool ran out comfortable winners over Wolves on Sunday, becoming only the second team to put four goals past Nuno Espirito Santo’s men since their return to the Premier League in August 2018.
His 14-point haul was made all the more ominous for Fantasy Premier League managers as Diogo Jota (£7.0m), a recent emerging alternative option, watched from the bench for 73 minutes before registering a one-point cameo.
Unsurprisingly, Salah is now the second-most signed player for Gameweek 12 when Liverpool travel to Fulham.
More importantly, Salah’s long-term appeal stretches beyond Sunday’s trip to Craven Cottage as the Reds face Crystal Palace (away), West Bromwich Albion (home) and Newcastle (away) between then and Gameweek 16.
At the time of writing, the Egyptian is owned by 32% of Fantasy managers; relatively low by his historic standards.
Meanwhile, more managers inside the top 10k own Jota than Salah. Therefore, the differential potential is still there for him, although it is unlikely to last too long considering the volume of new backers he is picking up for Gameweek 12.
A clean sheet against Wolves is certainly something to be encouraged by for owners of Liverpool defensive assets
Since the first match after Virgil van Dijk‘s (£6.3m) injury at Everton (against Ajax in October), the Reds have conceded six goals in 11 games in all competitions, keeping six clean sheets in the process.
However, there are several mitigating factors to consider for future investment.
Firstly, it must be said that Liverpool were helped in their latest shut-out by Wolves’ own problems.
This was their first match without Raúl Jiménez (£8.3m) who suffered a fractured skull against Arsenal.
Rather than replace the Mexican with Fabio Silva (£5.2m) in a straight swap, Nuno selected Daniel Podence (£5.4m) to lead the line with Pedro Neto (£5.6m) and Adama Traoré (£6.2m) providing the width.
Without Jiménez’s ability to hold the ball up and bring others into the game, Wolves lacked penetration and even when Traoré did manage to break free from Liverpool’s doubled-up marking, there was very little for the winger to aim at. As an aside, such a dynamic could bode well for Aston Villa’s defensive credentials in Gameweek 12, especially as they’ve conceded just two goals in four away matches this season.
It also, of course, also worth pointing out that Wolves generally struggle against Jurgen Klopp’s men. This was their eighth consecutive defeat to Liverpool, a run which has seen them concede 19 times and score just twice.
Meanwhile, the best way to invest in Liverpool’s defence is in flux once again. Budget options Caoimhin Kelleher (£4.5m) and Neco Williams (£3.9m) both benefitted from the clean sheet in goal and at right-back respectively.
However, Alisson (£5.9m) could be back from his hamstring injury in time for the Fulham game while Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.2m) returned to action against Wolves, replacing Williams in the 68th minute.
FAB FOUR VS FLAT FOUR
Wolves have now used a four-man defence for three Premier League matches in a row, suggesting that Nuno intends to shift to a 4-3-3 formation longer term.
His team have been synonymous with a back-three and wing-backs since their return to the Premier League but those days could be over now.
Nuno first used this new system in the 1-1 draw against Southampton largely because of Conor Coady (£5.0m) and Romain Saïss (£5.1m) both missing out.
The fact that the back-four persists despite those two returning to the fold suggests it could be here to stay, bad news for Max Kilman (£4.3m) who has been omitted from the starting XI over the last two, unable to displace either one of Coady or Willy Boly (£5.5m) at centre-back.
That said, the results of this switch have not been too promising. Against Liverpool, Coady was more error-prone than usual, his poor chested control gifting Salah his early goal – only his third error leading to a goal in 87 Premier League matches.
Between Gameweeks 1 and 8, Wolves kept clean sheets in 50% of their matches and gave up 1.1 goals per game. Since moving to a back-four, they are yet to shut an opposing team out and have conceded two goals per game. It is early days, of course, but owners of Aston Villa and Chelsea attacking assets, their next two opponents may be buoyed by what they have seen so far.
Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Kelleher; Robertson, Fabinho, Matip, N Williams (Alexander-Arnold 68′); C Jones, Wijnaldum, J Henderson (Keïta 81′); Mané, Firmino (Jota 73′), Salah.
Wolverhampton Wanderers XI (4-3-3): Patrício; Marçal, Coady, Boly, Semedo; Neves (F Silva 62′), Moutinho, Dendoncker; Neto (Vitinha 79′), Podence (Aït-Nouri 71′), Traoré.
Lessons learned from FPL Gameweek 11
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