Team Preview: Liverpool

General overview:

  • Expected formation: 4-2-3-1 / 4-3-3
  • Expected line-up: Mignolet; Clyne (Alexander-Arnold whilst injured), Lovren, Matip, Milner; Wijnaldum, Henderson; Salah, Coutinho, Mané; Firmino

Or should Coutinho’s move to Barca happen:

  • Mignolet; Clyne (Alexander-Arnold whilst injured), Lovren, Matip, Milner; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Lallana; Salah, Firmino, Mané
  • Penalties: Milner, Sturridge, Henderson, Coutinho
  • Direct free kicks: Coutinho, Milner, Henderson
  • Corners: Milner, Coutinho, Firmino
  • Indirect free kicks: Milner, Henderson, Coutinho
  • Opening Fixtures: Wat (a), CRY (H), ARS (H), Mci (a), BUR (H), Lei (a), New (a), MUN (H), Tot (a), HUD (H)

A big season for Liverpool and a big season for Jürgen Klopp last year. The likeable German guided Pool to a fourth place finish last season, taking Arsenals spot in the Champions league with it – a pretty good first full season. This year however, after already spending a fair bit in the transfer market on a couple of players, Liverpool fans will be wanting the team to push on and mount a title challenge, whilst also making a mark on the European front.

Let’s take a look at the Reds squad and what it offers us FPL managers this season.

The Defence

Conceding a total of 42 goals in total last season (ranked 5th in league), and racking up a total of 12 clean sheets, the Liverpool defence was pretty decent for FPL returns. James Milner (£6.5m) had the best points return with 139, vastly helped by his role as the main penalty taker last season, which I see no reason why that wouldn’t continue this year.

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Klopp loves Milner’s hard work and endeavour out wide, which is how he made the left back position his own. But with the arrival of Andrew Robertson (£5.0) from Hull City, Milner’s left back role could be under threat. This might not be all bad however, as Klopp could utilise him in a more natural role in midfield, potentially offering us an OOP defender, on pens and playing in an attacking side.

I would avoid both the goalkeepers (£5.0m) as we simply don’t know who Klopp will play in the Premier League, and with Champions League this season, rotation will be an inevitability. Of those 12 clean sheets last season, Karius kept 3 and Mignolet 9. The Belgian looks to be the favoured, but we can’t be 100% sure.

Elsewhere in defence, I feel both centre backs Lovren (£5.5m) and Matip (£5.5m) are overpriced and should be avoided. When compared to Nathaniel Clyne (also £5.5m) at right back, I know who I would prefer.

Clyne had a poor season by his standards attacking wise last season however (only 2 assists), but I see him improving on that this year. With the wealth of attacking quality Pool have and Clyne’s runs in behind the opposition defence, he could easily double that number and maybe get on the score sheet a few times too.

Clyne hasn’t played any pre-season however. This offers us a cheap route into the Reds defence throughout the early gameweeks in the form of Trent Alexander-Arnold (£4.5m). Having spent most of pre-season in the right back spot, he looks to have nailed down this position for the start of the season at least.

Attacking Riches

With Klopp either using the 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 formation, the likes of Henderson (£5.5m), Can (£5.0m) and Wijinaldum (£7.0m) will be playing too deep for me to be considering this season. Wiji got a more than decent haul of 149 points last season, but I don’t see him replicating that this season from the centre midfield position.

With the incredible Neymar transfer to PSG (a bit expensive for our FPL teams at £198m) , Liverpool fans will be terrified of Barca taking Phillipe Coutinho (£9.0m) off them. Let’s just assume he will still be playing in red this season. He makes Liverpool tick, he’s at the heart of team, awesome long range shooting ability and will score and create bucket fulls! I know I don’t need to sell the Brazilian to anyone, so instead let’s look at the other pool players in the forward positions.

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Sadio Mané (£9.5m) comes in at £0.5m more expensive than Coutinho. After having a great first season for the reds, bagging 13 goals and 7 assists (which incidentally mirrors Coutinho’s numbers), the expectation is he will push on and better these stats having suffered an injury after coming back from the AFCON. With the arrival of Mohamed Salah (£9.0m) however, Mané has been switched from his favoured right side, over to the left during pre-season. Now this could just be Klopp testing him out, as the two wingers could switch often and of course we have no idea to what extent it could affect Mane’s FPL output, if at all but, it’s perhaps something we should just keep an eye on.

The Egyptian bought from Roma for around £34 million has been on fire in his first few games for the club, grabbing 4 goals in their friendlies. Blessed with blistering pace, he had a great season in the Italian capital last season, scoring or assisting 28 times in 31 games! Having slotted into the Klopp tactic seamlessly, Salah looks like he could be in for a big season.

For more information on Salah, read our article ‘Insight Into Liverpool’s New Signing Mohammed Salah‘ where we go into extended detail about the talented winger.

The important news for us FPL managers over the summer, was the reclassification of Roberto Firmino (£8.5m) as a forward. His score of 180 from midfield last season, would have become 158 as a striker, as we showed in the player value spreadsheet.

Bobby’s value and subsequently his appeal, is significantly lower as a result of his reclassification and with the wealth of premium options in forward positions, most FPL managers, including myself, will be going with one cheap “enabler” with 2 premium captain options alongside, leaving no room for the mid-range strikers, £7.5 – 9.0m.

MIDs + FWDs Player Value Screen Shot 2017-07-14 at 18.01.28

Conclusion

Liverpool’s opening fixtures are a mixed bag to say the least, with Arsenal, Man City, Man United and Spurs all to play before November –  it’s not a particularly easy start for Jürgen’s men.

The defence may struggle to keep teams out during these opening games. Most of Liverpool’s 12 clean sheets last season came in the second half of the season where they changed from their fluid, attacking style, to that of a more controlled one. I would advise that we leave Pools defence well alone until we know which Liverpool we’re going to get. If van Dijk gets his move to the red side of merseyside however, we might just see them become a little more solid throughout the entirety of the campaign, then perhaps we can cast our eyes to the defence.

On the other hand, the midfield looks ripe for the picking in terms of FPL assets.

If Coutinho stays, he will almost guarantee goals at the top end of the pitch. Now whether this will transfer into points for the Brazilian himself or for his team mates, remains to be seen. The way I see it, Mané and Salah will be the ones stretching defences and getting in behind, with Firmino creating space and Coutinho picking the pass.

These 4 players however, will share most of the attacking points and picking the right one at the right time (much like last season) will be a difficult, yet potentially fruitful task. At this moment in time, I see Salah as the most enticing option as he is in-form (albeit pre-season), has a point to prove in England and has players behind him who will create plenty of chances for him.

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