Salah and blanks again as Brighton defensive assets shine ahead of good run |

Liverpool 0 Brighton 1

  • Goals: Steven Alzate (£4.3m)
  • Assists: Leandro Trossard (£5.7m)
  • Bonus Points: Alzate x3 Lewis Dunk (£4.8m) x2 Robert Sanchez (£4.4m)

A Mohamed Salah (£12.7m) blank caused major title-chasing anguish in both the Premier League and its fantasy equivalent.

Liverpool’s loss to a brilliant Brighton leaves them well adrift of Manchester City at the top of the table, while Salah’s seventh game in eight without a goal or assist destroyed the captaincy plans of a staggering 80.8% of Fantasy Premier League’s (FPL) top 10,000 managers.

The Egyptian’s blank was also keenly felt by more than 448,000 managers who had made him Gameweek 22’s most popular purchase.

Although a Seagulls clean sheet was clearly unexpected among all those managers, it wasn’t exactly some random occurrence. The shut-out at Anfield was the fourth in a row from Graham Potter’s side.

And with a good schedule from now until the end of the season – they’ll face only three of the “big clubs” (both Manchester sides and Chelsea) across their last 16 fixtures.

Fantasy managers would be wise to consider Brighton’s defensive options, as we mentioned in Gameweek 21’s Scout Notes.

Chief among them could be goalkeeper Robert Sanchez (£4.4m), who now has five clean sheets from his 11 starts this season. For context, Reds stopper Alisson (£5.9m), who missed Wednesday’s clash through illness, also has five, but from 18 matches.

Not that Sanchez was overly busy at Anfield, as Liverpool managed only one shot on target all match, and it wasn’t from Salah.

That demonstrated how stale Liverpool’s attack is at present, with manager Jurgen Klopp delivering his latest post-match verdict on the fitness of both Sadio Mane (£11.9m), who was missing for a second straight match, and Diogo Jota (£6.6m), who hasn’t played since Gameweek 11.

“Diogo is – I don’t know exactly – a couple of weeks, two, three, four. I’m not sure. And Sadio, we will see. He might be available for the weekend, I don’t know. He didn’t train with the team today. We will see.”

Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Kelleher; Robertson, J Henderson, N Phillips, Alexander-Arnold; Thiago, Milner, Wijnaldum (Oxlade-Chamberlain 64); Shaqiri (Origi 64), Firmino (Jones 79), Salah.

Brighton XI (3-5-2): R Sanchez; Webster, Dunk, Burn; March (Lallana 67), Alzate, Bissouma, Groß, White; Trossard (Zeqiri 87), Maupay (Connolly 83).

Aston Villa 1 West Ham United 3

  • Goals: Ollie Watkins (£6.3m) | Tomas Soucek (£5.3m), Jesse Lingard (£5.9m) x2
  • Assists: Jack Grealish (£7.8m) | Said Benrahma (£6.0m), Michail Antonio (£6.6m) x2
  • Bonus Points: Lingard x3 Soucek x2 Emiliano Martinez (£5.2m) x1 Grealish x1

Jesse Lingard (£5.9m) came out of the wilderness to score twice on his debut for West Ham.

The Manchester United loanee looked impressively fit and sharp considering it was his first minutes of league action this season and he also slotted straight into David Moyes’ side during an entertaining clash at Villa Park.

The encounter proved pleasing for most of the fantasy managers in the game.

The 40.2% owned Jack Grealish (£7.8m) set up Ollie Watkins‘ (£6.3m and 18.2% owned) goal, making it a fourth straight attacking return for the Villa skipper and a third in four for the striker.

And FPL’s most popular keeper, the 34.1% owned Emiliano Martinez (£5.2m), brought in four points from six saves and a bonus point.

As for the Hammers, Tomas Soucek (£5.3m) scored his eighth goal of the season for his 19% ownership – no midfielder has more strikes excluding penalties this campaign – while the 20.2% owned Michail Antonio (£6.6m) provided two assists to make it four returns from his last five starts.

Lingard understandably earned Moyes’ praise and is now one of Gameweek 23’s top five transfers-in, alongside Antonio.

“You’ve got to remember he was an England international not so long ago. He’s still young enough to get back to that and I tell you what, he showed some qualities tonight.”

David Moyes

There could be a Fantasy sub-plot developing, with the fit-again Ryan Fredericks (£4.2m) playing as an out-of-position midfielder.

The right-back combined well with Vladimir Coufal (£4.7m) to keep Grealish relatively quiet on the night, with the pair also creating two chances apiece.

At a chunky £0.5m cheaper, Fredericks would be a bargain way into the Hammers’ defence, although Moyes has many midfield options at his disposal, as Lingard and Soucek demonstrated so artfully at Villa Park.

Aston Villa XI (4-2-3-1): Martínez; Targett, Mings, Konsa, Cash; D Luiz (Sanson 80), McGinn; Grealish, Barkley (Trézéguet 69), El Ghazi (Traoré 45); Watkins.

West Ham XI (4-3-2-1): Fabianski; Cresswell, Ogbonna, Dawson, Coufal; Soucek, Rice, Fredericks (Fornals 84); Lingard, Benrahma (Johnson 88); Antonio.

Leeds United 1 Everton 2

Goals: Raphinha (£5.3m) | Gylfi Sigurdsson (£6.8m), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.6m)           

Assists: Patrick Bamford (£6.6m) | Lucas Digne (£6.1m) | Ben Godfrey (£5.0m)

Bonus Points: Calvert-Lewin x3 Raphinha x2 Sigurdsson x1

A typically exciting game involving Leeds ended in a fourth straight away win for Everton and a first goal since Gameweek 11 for their 38.7% owned striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.6m).

The Toffees have now won seven of their ten matches on the road this season – just as well when their next three away games involve trips to Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea.

Calvert-Lewin’s goal was timely in the week that Josh King (£5.5m), who was given a three-minute run out last night, arrived on loan for the rest of the campaign.

Fantasy interest was blunted by the benching of the 8.9% owned James Rodriguez (£7.7m), but also piqued by a second assist in his fourth match back from a lengthy injury lay-off for the 6.4% owned Lucas Digne (£6.1m).

Patrick Bamford (£6.6m and 47.3% owned) kept the home fires burning with an assist for Raphinha’s (£5.3m) goal – a third straight attacking return, and third goal in the last six starts for the midfielder.

Despite such a consistent run, Raphinha has endured four straight Gameweeks of sales and his price has now dropped £0.2m during a period in which he’s averaged 7.25 points per match.

Leeds XI (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Alioski (Hernández 78), Cooper, Struijk, Ayling; K Phillips; Harrison (Costa 87), Dallas, Klich (Roberts 69), Raphinha; Bamford.

Everton XI (4-2-3-1): Olsen; Digne, Godfrey, Mina, Holgate; A Gomes, Doucouré; Richarlison (Keane 80), Sigurdsson (Davies 89), Iwobi (King 87); Calvert-Lewin.

Fulham 0 Leicester 2

  • Goals: Kelechi Iheanacho (£5.6m), James Justin (£5.1m)
  • Assists: James Maddison (£7.3m) x2
  • Bonus Points: Justin x3 Maddison x2 Jonny Evans (£5.5m)

Leicester City managed their first league win since Jamie Vardy’s (£10.0m) Gameweek 20 departure for a hernia operation as a toothless Fulham were easily kept at bay.

It wasn’t all wine and roses for fantasy Foxes fans, however, as the 8.5%-owned Harvey Barnes (£6.9m), brought in by 134,182 for the Craven Cottage clash, blanked for the first time in five matches and only the second time in eight.

Both Leicester’s goals were set up by James Maddison (£7.3m), who has now produced six attacking contributions from his last seven starts for his 14.9% ownership.

And the Foxes’ second scorer on the night meant a bumper 15-point haul – a season’s best – for James Justin (£5.1m) and his 27.5% FPL following.

Leicester’s fixtures are set fair for most of the next 13 Gameweeks and investment in Maddison and Justin has picked up ahead of Sunday’s trip to Wolves.

Fulham XI (3-4-3): Areola; Aina, Andersen, Adarabioyo; Tete (Cavaleiro 45), Anguissa (Lemina 45), Reed, Robinson; Loftus-Cheek (Decordova-Reid 71), Mitrovic, Lookman.

Leicester XI (4-2-3-1: Schmeichel; Justin, Soyuncu, Evans, Pereira; Choudhury (Mendy 61, Tielemans; Perez (Albrighton 61), Maddison, Barnes (Amartey 76); Iheanacho

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