FPL pre-season: Darwin scores four off the bench

Liverpool were in pre-season friendly action last night and we’ve got all the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) talking points covered.

There’s goal, assist and line-up information, too, while Premium Members of Fantasy Football Scout can view the pre-season minutes tracker at the bottom of this piece.

Notes on the Friday morning match between Leeds United and Crystal Palace will be added to this article after the game’s completion.

LIVERPOOL 5-0 RB LEIPZIG

  • Goals: Salah, Nunez x4
  • Assists: Firmino, Diaz, Alexander-Arnold, Elliott, Carvalho

Match highlights

Reports of Darwin Nunez‘s (£9.0m) ineptitude may have been greatly exaggerated – and now we have the opposite problem.

Such is the fickle world of Fantasy Football that yesterday’s donkey is today’s thoroughbred, with Darwin’s four-goal salvo against RB Leipzig seeing his FPL ownership steadily rise overnight.

“Too eager to impress but still early days” was our reasoned mitigation of his first two goalless pre-season run-outs, so there has to be just as much perspective-placing when things go right at the other end of the pitch.

Two of his strikes probably shouldn’t have happened: the first was a penalty that regular taker Mohamed Salah (£13.0m) stepped aside for, while the fourth owed much to some hideous handling from Leipzig goalkeeper Janis Blaswich.

“Mo gives Darwin the penalty and Darwin, Pandora’s box was open. That’s of course a perfect night for him.

“We always think that if you pay a lot of money then the players feel no pressure or whatever. They are all completely normal human beings and the first touch is not perfect then all of a sudden… This generation of players read social media, which is really not smart, but they do. All of a sudden you get in a rush and these kinds of things. That’s the best way obviously to stop all these discussions. He’s a different striker to what we have or what we had, but he’s a really good one.” – Jurgen Klopp

One positive view is that Darwin keeps finding himself in excellent goalscoring positions, whether the chances are spurned as they were against United and Palace or despatched in the manner they were against Leipzig. Getting lots and lots of opportunities is a good thing and, as we’ve seen with Salah over the years, you don’t have to be the most prolific of finishers to become a viable FPL option.

And the more options we Fantasy managers have, the less ‘template’ the game becomes – so let’s hope for the likes of Darwin, Raheem Sterling (£10.0m) and Jamie Vardy (£9.5m) to give us plenty of selection headaches in 2022/23.

Diogo Jota‘s (£9.0m) injury hands Darwin a chance to impress from the off in Gameweek 1 against a defensively suspect Fulham, although Klopp does still have Roberto Firmino (£8.0m) available through the middle. It was, indeed, the Brazilian who started Thursday’s match alongside Salah and Luis Diaz (£8.0m) in the front three, with all of Darwin’s good work coming as a second-half substitute.

It was a business as usual elsewhere, with Salah scoring, as he always does, and Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m) assisting, as he always does. The usual defence for a match in Europe was in place at kick-off, too, with Ibrahima Konate (£5.0m) preferred over Joel Matip (£6.0m). Konate was frequently wheeled out in the cups at home and abroad last season, with Matip regularly starting in the league, although the former was occasionally called upon domestically when Liverpool were up against pace.

Substitutes Harvey Elliott (£5.0m) and Fabio Carvalho (£5.5m) also impressed in the front three in Thursday’s rout, each assisting a Darwin goal; they very likely won’t be in the starting XI come Gameweek 1 but can maybe expect to see a bit more game-time than usual this season, with the allowance of five substitutes presenting them with more cameo opportunities and the occasional start.

Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Adrian (Davies 60′); Alexander-Arnold (Milner 60′), Konate (Matip 46′), Van Dijk (Gomez 60′), Robertson (Tsimikas 46′); Fabinho (Bajcetic 60′), Thiago (Jones 60′), Keita (Henderson 46′); Salah (Elliott 60′), Firmino (Nunez 46′), Diaz (Carvalho 60′)