Fulham 1-1 Liverpool
- Goals: Bobby Decordova-Reid (£5.3m) | Mohamed Salah (£12.3m)
- Assists: Ademola Lookman (£5.0m) | Georginio Wijnaldum (£5.3m)
- Bonus: Decordova-Reid x3, Fabinho (£5.4m) x2, Wijnaldum, Salah x1
Fulham’s upturn in performances and results continued on Sunday as they took a much-deserved point from the reigning champions at Craven Cottage.
The better team for long periods, Scott Parker’s side took the lead when Bobby Decordova-Reid (£5.3m) lashed home from an Ademola Lookman (£5.0m) pass midway through the first half.
Liverpool toiled as they attempted to get themselves back in the game and it required a late penalty from Mohamed Salah (£12.3m) to break the Cottagers’ resolve.
Diogo Jota‘s (£6.9m) surge in price and ownership came to an end ahead of the Gameweek 12 deadline, with the mid-price midfielder flagged with a “knock” and rumours swelling that the problem could be more serious than a short-term lay-off.
Jurgen Klopp confirmed the bad news ahead of kick-off in west London on Sunday:
It’s worse than we first thought and better than we then thought. The potential surgeons had a look at it, no surgery needed but he will be out for a while. We don’t know exactly… one-and-a-half, two months?
Jota’s unfortunate prognosis is, of course, positive news for Salah and Sadio Mane (£11.9m) on paper, with regards to rotation risk.
While Takumi Minamino (£6.0m) and Divock Origi (£5.2m) may well be handed game-time over Christmas and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (£6.3m), who was back on the bench on Sunday, has previously been deployed in Klopp’s attacking trident, none of the back-ups had made quite the impact that Jota had.
The Jota update wasn’t the only bit of injury news from the Liverpool camp.
While Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alisson (£5.9m) made welcome returns and a rusty-looking Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.2m) was handed his first league start since before the November international break, the Reds were hit by more problems at the back.
Andrew Robertson‘s (£7.2m) understudy, Kostas Tsimikas (£4.9m), also looks poised to be out until February, with Klopp telling the media ahead of kick-off that the Greek full-back’s length of absence would be “pretty similar” to that of Jota.
The reigning champions’ one fit senior, recognised centre-half, Joel Matip (£5.4m), was replaced at half-time on Sunday, meanwhile, with Jordan Henderson (£5.4m) having to fill in alongside fellow midfielder Fabinho (£5.4m) at the back.
Klopp at least offered some reassurance ahead of Wednesday’s match against Spurs:
Joel Matip has a spasm in his back. We will see. In the moment, nothing else. He got already treatment, will get treatment and we will see. I think there’s a chance for Wednesday. [It’s not that bad] at the moment, no.
On the Fulham fitness front, Aleksandar Mitrovic (£5.6m) wasn’t involved in the matchday squad – although the out-of-favour Serb, who has only been a substitute since the last international break, almost certainly wouldn’t have started anyway.
Parker said of his forward:
He just rolled his ankle a little bit in the week. It was just a bit too early for him.
While the absence of crowds has led to much talk about home advantage being negated, the truth is that familiar surroundings still provides an edge of sorts.
Liverpool are winless in five on the road and haven’t kept a clean sheet on their travels since Gameweek 2, with their showing at Fulham flat to say the least.
Alisson was called on to make a handful of early saves as his defence buckled, while the Reds’ attack struggled to break down a stubborn Fulham backline throughout.
Salah and Mane had one clear opening apiece in the first half and Henderson should have scored on the hour-mark but in truth, they owed a great debt to the 80th-minute spot-kick award for an Aboubakar Kamara (£4.8m) handball.
Salah, incidentally, was due to be taken off just before the penalty was given.
While there was encouragement for owners of Harry Kane (£10.9m) and Son Heung-min (£9.6m) here, let’s not forget how good Liverpool continue to be on Merseyside, with Leicester City and Wolves swatted aside by a combined 7-0 scoreline in the last two Premier League matches at Anfield.
While Liverpool’s front three turned in a below-par display, Curtis Jones (£4.4m) was excellent.
Playing as the link-up between midfield and attack, Jones’ driving runs and crisp passing (his success rate of 95% wasn’t bettered by any other starting outfielder in this game) caught the eye.
At £4.4m, Jones is fast becoming an attractive budget midfield option and has started three of the Reds’ last four Premier League games.
With relatively few of us boasting a triple-up from Klopp’s side, Jones is hardly using up a slot that could be better utilised elsewhere in the Liverpool squad.
His short-term appeal partly hinges on the length of absences for Naby Keita (£5.2m), Thiago Alcantara (£5.8m) and James Milner (£5.3m), with competition stiff in the engine room when everyone is fit.
With options like Yves Bissouma (£4.5m) offering guaranteed game-time and Tomas Soucek (£5.0m) a real attacking menace, plenty of FPL managers will still consider Jones to be lower down the budget midfield pecking order.
Based on Sunday’s evidence, though, a first-team spot is his to lose for now.
IVAN THE TERRIBLE FINISHER
Parker continued with a 3-4-3 system on Sunday and the deployment of Decordova-Reid, an FPL forward lest we forget, at right wing-back.
Also playing ‘out of position’ at present is Ivan Cavaleiro (£5.3m), who offers more mobility than Mitrovic as the spearhead of the Fulham attack.
Cavaleiro had three excellent chances to score against the Reds, including two one-on-ones with Alisson.
While profligacy is a problem, his ‘out of position’ tag, his role as first-choice penalty-taker and Fulham’s ability to create chances for him does mark him out as a possible budget midfield differential to consider for the forthcoming favourable fixture run.
Lookman similarly continues to catch the eye, with another fine performance rewarded with his third attacking return in four Gameweeks.
We never thought we’d say this: but are Fulham’s defenders also emerging onto the FPL radar, at least for emergency bench fodder duties?
Their new-look backline has been quietly impressive over a tough run in the last six Gameweeks, with only late Liverpool, Leicester and West Ham goals depriving them of clean sheets to go with their Gameweek 7 shut-out against West Bromwich Albion.
Pivotal to it all has been the return to fitness of Joachim Andersen (£4.5m), who was again superb alongside the commanding Tosin Adarabioyo (£4.5m) on Sunday.
While we’d still steer clear of those two in an FPL sense, Antonee Robinson (£4.4m) is one of the cheapest starting Fantasy defenders at present and offers additional assist potential as an attack-minded wing-back: since his first Fulham start in Gameweek 4, he is joint-fifth among Fantasy defenders for chances created.
With matches against Brighton (twice), Newcastle, Burnley and West Brom to come before the end of January, Robinson is not the worst FPL pick as a third substitute.
Fulham XI (3-4-1-2): Areola; Aina, Andersen, Adarabiyo; Decordova-Reid, Anguissa, Lemina (Reed 79′); Robinson; Loftus-Cheek (Kamara 74′); Cavaleiro, Lookman (Bryan 87′).
Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold (Phillips 68′), Matip (Minamino 45′), Fabinho, Robertson; Jones, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah (Origi 84′), Firmino, Mane.
Lessons learned from FPL Gameweek 12
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