Liverpool finally hit top gear ahead of appealing festive schedule |

Crystal Palace 0-7 Liverpool

  • Goals: Roberto Firmino (£9.2m) x2, Takumi Minamino (£6.0m), Sadio Mané (£11.9m), Jordan Henderson (£5.4m), Mohamed Salah (£12.4m) x2
  • Assists: Firmino, Mané, Andy Robertson (£7.2m), Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.2m), Salah, Joel Matip (£5.4m), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (£6.3m)
  • Bonus Points: Firmino x3, Salah x2, Robertson x1

A ruthless Liverpool demolished Crystal Palace as Mohamed Salah (£12.4m) needed only 33 minutes to rack up a match-leading 16 points.

The midfielder’s 38.4% ownership must have feared the worst when their man was benched by Reds boss Jurgen Klopp for the Selhurst Park encounter.

Those fears proved unfounded, however, as Salah replaced Sadio Mané (£11.9m) after 57 minutes, provided an assist 11 minutes later and then scored twice in quick succession in the last few minutes.

Finishing School

Making a strong case for fact of the day was Palace keeper Vicente Guaita (£4.9m) not making a single save. Yep, Liverpool scored from all seven of their shots on target and the home stopper could do nothing about any of them.

Maximum bonus and the joint top score overall went to the in-form Roberto Firmino (£9.2m), who mirrored Salah’s output from a rather more taxing 74 minutes of pitch-time.

The Brazilian also scored last time out– for the first time in four Gameweeks – and is attracting early buyers for Liverpool’s home game against West Brom on December 27th.

Mané hadn’t found the net since Gameweek 5, but scored and assisted in a lively display, while Takumi Minamino (£6.0m) was preferred to Salah and took his chance with a smart finish to open the scoring.

Klopp was generous in his praise of the Japan international.

“First and foremost, we want to use Taki, so that’s it. He played a top game today, nice finish and he just is in a good moment.” – Jurgen Klopp

But good moment or not, he’s unlikely to dent the playing time of the side’s vaunted front three in the short term, based on Klopp’s comments about his team’s schedule.

“For the first time now in what feels like ages we don’t play Tuesday again. Now we have more time to recover than we ever had before in this season.” – Jurgen Klopp

Salah benched as Matip returns for Liverpool's Palace visit

As for Salah’s benching, Klopp’s reasoning was predictable enough.

“We played Sunday-Wednesday, so we needed fresh legs today. Mo played the last four games, so a massively intense period. So it was clear it will be him.” – Jurgen Klopp

A (sort of) rested Salah, and Firmino and Mané among the goals, is highly likely to mean all three start Gameweek 15, especially as Saturday’s starters were both hooked relatively early.

But the Egyptian remains the most risky not to have in your side seeing he’s now blanked only twice in 12 appearances, one of many reasons why he’s currently Gameweek 15’s most popular purchase.

Normal Service Resuming

Liverpool’s defence has not been wholly convincing this season, not helped by injuries to key personnel.

But Saturday’s clean sheet was a second in four Gameweeks and although Palace threatened consistently throughout a generally good first half display, none of Alisson‘s (£5.9m) three saves were anything more than routine.

Joel Matip (£5.4m) returned, bumped up his score with an assist and should keep his place against West Brom considering the relatively generous recovery time on offer for one who frequently struggles to play twice in a week.

But Fantasy eyes are now firmly trained on more familiar stars – full-backs Andrew Robertson (£7.2m) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.2m).

Both assisted – in the latter’s case for only the second time this season – and Robertson just out-scored his team-mate thanks to a single bonus point.

With Newcastle to follow the West Brom game, investment in the Liverpool back line looks increasingly tempting, if expensive when it comes to the full-backs.

Porous Palace

Fair play to home manager Roy Hodgson, who refused to drop a ‘bad day at the office’ cliché into his post-match assessment.

“There were times when we tried to take the game and the match to them as best we could and there were periods in the game that we did. But to go a goal down so early definitely doesn’t help things.” – Roy Hodgson

Going seven down late on didn’t help either, but whatever Palace are this season, defensively tight is not one of them.

Their one and only clean sheet of the campaign came in Gameweek 1 and they now have the second leakiest back line in the league thanks to Saturday’s seven-goal deluge.

A slice of Boxing Day redemption will need to come away at Aston Villa, and will probably involve the in-form Christian Benteke (£5.5m), who sat out the Liverpool debacle through suspension.

His replacement up front, Jordan Ayew (£5.7m), had a poor match, missing his side’s one big chance and making a real mess of a cut-back that would have gifted Wilfried Zaha (£7.5m) a tap-in.

The latter will surely be hoping to renew his partnership with Benteke as they’ve produced five goals and an assist between them over their last three starts together.

Crystal Palace XI (4-4-2): Guaita; Van Aanholt, Cahill, Kouyate (Tomkins 63), Clyne; Eze (Batshuayi 69), McArthur (Riedewald 75), Milivojevic, Schlupp; Zaha, Ayew. 

Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Alisson; Robertson, Fabinho, Matip, Alexander-Arnold; Keita, Wijnaldum (Jones 69), Henderson; Mané (Salah 57), Firmino (Oxlade-Chamberlain 75), Minamino. 

Lessons learned from FPL Gameweek 14

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