Same again please Jurgen!

28/08/2020 Planet FPL

With just over 2 weeks left of pre-season it is about time I shared with you all my take on Liverpool going into the 2020/21 season and what this could potentially mean for FPL.

Finally after 30 years my beloved reds secured the Premier League title. F**k your asterix talk because of Covid-19 because the title was wrapped up at about quarter past 6 on Sunday the 19th of January when Salah latched onto Alisson’s long pass to make it 2-0 in the 90th minute against United at Anfield. Long before the world knew about the severity of this global pandemic.

I remember being in the Editor’s tap for the First Planet FPL live event following the end of the 2018/19 season and ahead of the Champions League final against Tottenham when I was asked whether Liverpool could go one better next season after running City so close in the last season. Instead of my heart ruling my head I kind of deflected the question by answering it with an ‘IF’. My response was IF we beat Tottenham then we will have a real chance for the simple reason that the players and the fans will change from doubters to believers. Cliché I know but Klopp was absolutely spot on when he said this upon his arrival at Anfield almost 5 years ago. Winning becomes a habit, I’ve seen it throughout my life with the great Liverpool teams of the 70s and 80’s, Ferguson’s United, Wenger’s invincibles and the cheque book teams of Chelsea and City.

With that in my mind, can Liverpool go ahead and win it again this season? I don’t see any reason why they can’t! Lots of pundits and FPL managers are of the opinion that Liverpool over performed last season and the teams around them under performed. I don’t buy into this at all. In my opinion during the season campaign of 2018/19 Liverpool played better than they did last season. Yes, City were below par from the standards they had set over the previous years and the likes of United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham are all teams very much in their infancies of building for a new era – new managers and lots of changes in the playing personnel. Yet I believe Liverpool were below par as well for the standards they set the season before. What they did have though was BELIEF!

So for the upcoming season I will make a bold statement, which is very unlike me with my pessimism towards my boys, but we will win the league again! It won’t however be a one horse race as early as January as I expect all the teams around us to improve and close that gap right up to make it a more competitive title race come May 2021.

So, after all that spiel, you want to hear my feelings about Liverpool’s FPL assets for the new season. For anybody who read it last year then you can stop reading now because I am not going to tell you anything different to what I said last year. For the new readers amongst you, here is my take.

Defensively Liverpool only racked up 15 clean sheets last season after Alisson managed to get 21 in his first season as the Liverpool No. 1. So a little underwhelming but also not to be sniffed at as it was only 1 behind the golden glove winner and fellow Brazilian Ederson.

In my opinion there were a couple of factors behind this. The most obvious was the injury to Alisson in the season opener against Norwich, which kept him out of 9 games. Although Adrian had some questionable performances in his absence I think the most significant reason wasn’t the loss of the Beautiful Brazilian but the below par performances of his teammate Fabinho. After pretty much securing his position in the midfield 3 from the second part of the 2018/19 season, for all intents and purposes, Fabinho looked every bit as effective as Kante had been in the title winning season for Leicester. Sweeping up in front of the back four and cleverly disrupting play when needed. I watched every single minute of every single game last season and from what I saw it took Fabinho a long while to return to the performances he had the season before. In fact it was only really after lockdown when I thought to myself that he was playing more like his old self. So, barring serious injury to one of the key components of Alisson, Van Dijk and Fabinho I fully expect Liverpool to have closer to 20 clean sheets again.

I am not going to throw statistics at you about which defenders are good options as I am sure you all know that we have a couple of decent attacking fullbacks who can chip in with a goal or two and a few assists. I’ll break it down for you very simply. There are 3 players to choose from. The best option regardless of price has to be Trent. The guy is an absolute baller and is only getting better. 28 FPL assists in 2 seasons and 5 goals, 4 of them coming last season. To put that into perspective there was only one other defender who gets anywhere near them kind of numbers and that is his team mate Robbo who has chipped in with 24 assists over the past 2 seasons but only 2 goals. Arguably Trent is the best value defensive option in the game and Robbo is the 2nd best, regardless of their prices. The only other option in my opinion is big Virg. Although he doesn’t offer the same goal and assist threat as the other 2 what he has offered over the past 2 seasons’ is consistency. Not just in performances but also in appearances. He has started every single Premier League game for the last 2 seasons scoring 9 goals and assisting a further 6. If you want to save a little money in investing in Liverpool’s defence then look no further than our No. 4!

Selecting Alisson is a waste of a Liverpool slot. He is slightly cheaper than the other 3 but is very rarely in the bonus as he isn’t called upon too much too make saves. I’d also advise to avoid Matip and Gomez as I expect them to share minutes throughout the season so the risk of rotation is much higher.  With the arrival of Tsimikas from Olympiacos and Neco Williams emergence from the reserves there are a lot of people questioning the rotation risk of Trent and Robbo. I personally think that although the risk is slightly greater I still expect both to start at LEAST 33/34 games barring injury. I would expect Neco and Tsimikas to add that extra competition which every player needs but also to feature more prominently in the cup competitions and possibly the group stages of the Champions League depending on the draw. In conclusion the extra £s you spend on Robbo, VVD and TAA will reap you the benefits.

Moving on to attacking aspects this pretty much is the same as last year as well. Mane or Salah, FULL STOP. I will always personally favour the Egyptian over his Senegalese teammate as his ceiling to haul is much higher given his selfishness in around the box but my advise would be to either choose both, if that’s your thing, or pick one and stick with them as doing the okey cokey with them usually ends in tears. Here are just a couple of stats to justify my advice. Salah now has 61 attacking returns in the last 72 starts for Liverpool in the Premier League (41 goals and 20 assists). Whilst on the other wing Mane has 53 attacking returns in his last 71 starts (40 goals and 13 assists). Pretty impressive and hence why they are both priced as the most expensive midfielders in the game at £12m.

Are there anymore attacking options to consider??? Again like last season there are maybe 2 more. Anyone who knows me will know how much I love Bobby. His influence on this Liverpool team can’t be underestimated not to mention having the best teeth in the Prem but because of the 5 previous mentioned top picks I can’t see how he can be 1 of the 3 Liverpool players we are able to select. At £9.5m if he was in another team with less options he would be a real consideration. The only way he could emerge as an option was if god forbid some of the previously mentioned assets are not available due to injury. The plus side of owning Bobby is that if he scores he generally cleans up all 3 bonus!

Not to sound like a broken record but the only other consideration who is very much a ‘wait and see’ is Naby Keita. Towards the latter part of last season he showed glimpses of the player we all believed him to be but his Liverpool career has been blighted by injury after injury. I really think that he could contribute double digit attacking returns If he can stay fit, nail down one of those 3 midfield slots and start 25-30 games. At £5.5m he could prove to be excellent value for money.

I really can’t see any other players emerging as Fantasy options for the upcoming season but will be more than happy to be proven wrong!!

With regards to incomings ahead of the new season I will Tweet a little update if and when new faces arrive at Melwood. I don’t want to tempt fate by mentioning rumoured potential signings for them to not materialise.

Hope you enjoyed the article and good luck for the upcoming season.