Millions of pounds worth of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) talent met at the King Power Stadium on Saturday – but how did the key Fantasy targets of Liverpool and Manchester City get on?
Our latest Scout Notes article rounds up the key FPL talking points plus the goals, assists and line-up information from the Community Shield.
LIVERPOOL 3-1 MANCHESTER CITY
- Goals: Alexander-Arnold, Salah pen, Darwin | Alvarez
- Assists: Salah, Darwin, Robertson
The sight of Erling Haaland (£11.5m) slamming a six-yard effort against the crossbar in second-half injury time was soon accompanied by the inevitable FPL mini-exodus.
Haaland’s ownership had dropped by 3% in the four hours after full-time, although that still leaves him in more than one in two Fantasy squads.
“He is strong. He missed it and another time he will put it in the net. It happened – it’s football. He had another goal disallowed because the ball was out of the line. He has this talent and he will do it. I am not concerned or worried about that.
“I would be happy if he scored and we win but we have a long season ahead of us. It is so intense. He is going to help us, I am pretty sure about that.” – Pep Guardiola on Erling Haaland’s late miss
Wasteful finishing and the blank aside, the signs were actually quietly encouraging – despite what you may have read elsewhere.
Haaland’s three shots were all high-percentage chances totaling 1.59 expected goals (xG), and this was against one of the Premier League’s best defences. He even found the net with one smartly taken finish, only for play to be stopped due to the ball being out of play.
Then there were the numerous unrewarded bending runs behind the last line – a la Jamie Vardy (£9.5m) – that demanded through-balls played to him, the type of ‘eye test’ observation that isn’t captured by the Opta data-bods.
As much as anything, it looked like City need to adapt to him rather than vice-versa; the usually dead-eyed Kevin De Bruyne (£12.0m), strangely, was guilty of not picking him out on a couple of occasions.
It may not come as soon as Gameweek 1 (match fitness seems to be an issue, for starters), so you can understand the temporary loss of faith, but a hatful of goals in 2022/23 looks inevitable.
“Love watching him live. It’s brilliant watching him. His movement is outstanding and it is only a matter of time, especially when City get that sharpness back, going forward. There’s goals to come. His movement is unbelievable.” – Roy Keane
The Liverpool starting line-up for the Community Shield was fairly easy to predict, with Roberto Firmino (£8.0m) starting through the middle as he so often does in matches of this magnitude, but Darwin Nunez‘s (£9.0m) chances of leading the line for Liverpool in Gameweek 1 now look a bit better.
His four-goal substitute appearance against RB Leipzig was followed by another match-turning cameo here, with the Uruguayan winning a late penalty that Mohamed Salah (£13.0m) converted before wrapping up the victory with a close-range header.
Darwin had more shots than any other Liverpool player on show despite playing just half an hour, with the Uruguayan thwarted in another one-on-one situation by Ederson (£5.5m).
Although they are different players, there are FPL parallels here with the Diogo Jota (£9.0m) of last season: a worry over minutes and rotation but underlying ‘per 90’ stats that threaten to be almost as good as Salah’s.
Klopp may still opt to ease Darwin into the fray even against a defence as suspect as Fulham’s, with his quotes below about “impact”, being “patient” and getting “better with time” placing doubt over a start, but he immediately looks more of a natural fit with Liverpool than his fellow man-bun modeler does at City.
“It was good, it was really good. It is clear it will get better with time. We live in a world where everybody gets judged on first sight and that’s not helpful for nobody, but it happens constantly. We were today – both teams – not at 100 per cent of their physical, usual situation, if you want. But in the first few games [of pre-season] we were not even close to the fitness level of today.
“When he came on, we passed each ball for him to chase it and after the third ball he was completely killed and then everybody judged his first touches and these kind of things. It’s just a joke, but we have to live with that, he will deal with it brilliantly, we are patient, and we know he can do good stuff. I liked his impact today; I liked the impact.” – Jurgen Klopp on Darwin Nunez
SALAH AND THE REST
Salah interestingly took Liverpool’s spot-kick despite James Milner (£4.5m) being on the pitch; it appears to have been Milner who had the final say in the past, suggesting the veteran is now increasingly happy to hand over penalty-taking duties to the Egyptian even when both are on the field of play.
The lively Salah ‘assisted the assister’ for both his penalty and Liverpool’s third goal, also setting up the equally impressive Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s (£7.5m) deflected deadlock-breaker.
Luis Diaz (£8.0m) was quieter, as he has been throughout pre-season, so it still may be a little premature to mention him in the same breath as Andrew Robertson (£7.0m) in discussions around the third Liverpool spot in our FPL sides, particularly when the cheaper Scot is so prominent in the opposition area – here the left-back not only assisted Darwin’s strike but also nodded a glorious chance of his own wide from close range.
As for City, Phil Foden (£8.0m) got his first minutes of pre-season as a second-half substitute after missing the tour of the US. Foden’s lack of action has meant that Riyad Mahrez (£8.0m) and Jack Grealish (£7.0m) have had a chance to lay down a marker for one of the Gameweek 1 wide roles but they both flunked their auditions at the King Power and were hooked before the hour mark, with replacements Foden and rookie Julian Alvarez (£6.5m) going on to be involved in the City equaliser.
Joao Cancelo (£7.0m) meanwhile was stationed at left-back, where the consensus seems to be that he appears less effective, although let’s not forget that the bulk of his 11 FPL assists last season came from that very position.
Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Adrian, Alexander-Arnold (Milner 74′), Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Henderson (Elliott 74′), Thiago (Keita 84′), Diaz (Carvalho 89′), Salah (Jones 90′), Firmino (Nunez 59′).
Manchester City XI (4-3-3): Ederson, Walker, Dias, Ake, Cancelo, Rodrigo, De Bruyne (Gundogan 73′), Bernardo, Mahrez (Foden 58′), Grealish (Alvarez 58′), Haaland