Keep or Sell Liverpool Players?

Over the international break, we noticed a lot of FPL managers discussing whether to keep or sell their Liverpool players. So we have written this article to provide some advice and tips on what to do in this situation, in the hope it will give some managers a few answers.

Highest Owned Players

Liverpool have started the season in fantastic form, winning their first 4 matches, scoring 9 and conceding just 1 goal. Liverpool’s front line have started where they left off from last season, scoring 7 of the 9 goals between the 3 of them.

Leading the goalscoring for Liverpool is Sadio Mane, who has already scored 4 goals and tops the FPL midfield points on 39. He has also been a bonus point magnet this season, registering 8 out of a possible 12. Mane’s electric start has meant that his price has risen from £9.5m to £10.0m in just 4 game weeks, making it very difficult for those who hadn’t owned him to get him into their teams.

Mo Salah (£13.0m) seems to be under his first real FPL test in recent weeks, with many managers questioning his value. We will look at this topic later in the article, but something that can’t be ignored is his current returns so far this season.

Salah has registered 27 points, with 2 goals and 2 assists contributing to this tally. The bonus points haven’t been as kind to the Egyptian, still to not get a single bonus point in either of the opening 4 matches. Although there have been questions about the value of Salah, he still remains the highest owned player at 51%.

Outside of the reds front three, the defence have been as essential to their start and have provided great returns for FPL managers. Andy Robertson (£6.1m) appeared as one of the value picks of the season last year and has started in equally impressive form. His ownership has reflected this, being the 4th highest owned defender at 23.1% and rewarding those managers with 32 points. Similar to Mane, Robertson has proved to be great for bonus points, gaining at least 1 point in 3 of the 4 matches.

The final stand-out FPL asset for Liverpool has been their new goalkeeper Alisson (£5.6m). Alisson was recently in the spotlight for his awful mistake against Leicester after overplaying. An unfortunate mistake that hasn’t taken away from the new dynamic that he has brought to the team, with his incredible range of passing and confidence on the ball. Alisson has kept 3 clean sheets so far this season and has become the 3rd highest owned goalkeeper (18.8%), behind other premium’s Ederson and De Gea.

Why managers are considering selling

We’ve purposely highlighted the ownership of each FPL player to give an insight into how many managers rely on Liverpool assets. It seems that, especially across the Twitter community, there are questions being posed about whether Liverpool players are still essential FPL picks.

Although it seems a ridiculous question considering the start that both the team and players have had, we are going to look at whether there is theory to these thoughts.

Firstly, the Champions League has been drawn and Liverpool have been given a very difficult group alongside PSG, Napoli and Red Star Belgrade. The return of the Champions League alone increases rotation in the Premier League, and it seems this draw will only support this claim.

Looking at the upcoming fixtures for Liverpool, the introduction of the cups means that they will be playing 7 games in 3 weeks. Here is their fixture list over the 3 weeks:

Date FixtureCompetition
Sat 15th SeptemberTottenham (Away)Premier League
Tuesday 18th SeptemberPSG (Home)Champions League
Saturday 22nd SeptemberSouthampton (Home)Premier League
Wednesday 26th SeptemberChelsea (Home)Carabao Cup
Saturday 29th September Chelsea (Away)Premier League
Wednesday 3rd October Napoli (Away)Champions League
Sunday 7th October Manchester City (Home)Premier League

YIKES.

Liverpool have a tough task over these three weeks, juggling 3 cup competitions while remaining competitive in them all. And for FPL managers, it brings about the question of whether Liverpool players are essential with these fixtures coming up. Rotation will obviously be at the forefront of these matches, and the only clear game where the second string team will play is the Carabao cup match against Chelsea.

The Premier League match against Southampton at Anfield will surely be an opportunity for Klopp to play some of the fringe players like Shaqiri, Sturridge and Moreno. This match in a normal run of fixtures would be ideal for a Salah or Mane captain, but will cast doubts over managers about the starting place of that player.

Along with the regularity of the fixtures, it is also the difficulty of each one. Liverpool play 3 of the ‘top 5’ teams in this period and will pose questions to their recent defensive stability. Managers owning defensive cover such as Alisson and Robertson must decide whether they think Liverpool can acquire enough clean sheets over this period to justify their premium prices. At £5.6m, Alisson is a significant purchase in the goalkeeping department, and although Liverpool could keep a number of clean sheets, could there be value in other teams?

An example of contrasting fixture difficulties is Leicester and Crystal Palace. Schmeichel (£5.0m) has only 1 clean sheet this season, however plays Bournemouth, Huddersfield, Newcastle and Everton over the same period as Alisson. Wayne Hennessey (£4.5m) has also only 1 clean sheet, and plays Huddersfield, Newcastle, Bournemouth and Wolves over the period.

There is no guarantee that these alternatives are going to outscore Alisson over the fixture period, but the clean sheet potential seems to favour Schmeichel and Hennessey and would provide some additional funds for FPL managers to boost their squad.

Robertson falls under the same category in regards to the clean sheet potential over the course of the fixtures. Although this is true, what should be remembered is the bonus point potential that he possesses. When arguing Liverpool defenders, many made a claim for Alexander-Arnold and while this isn’t right or wrong, Robertson has the higher yield of getting them all important points. His assist potential could mean that he retains high scoring point hauls if Liverpool continue to score goals.

Salah, Mane or both?

Both Salah and Mane have significant ownership in the game, with some managers owning both players. At £3.0m cheaper, Mane has been the value pick out of the two and produced great points returns for managers. And while the defensive assets seem to be a risk going into these fixtures, we look at whether you should be owning Salah or `Mane.

Plenty of debate has been raging over Twitter in recent weeks over xG, xA, xG90 and so on. For us, we believe that they are a great tool to understand more about a player and whether they are realistically capable of maintaining or improving the level that they are currently playing at. Below is a table we created looking at the general stats of the two players so far this season in the Premier League:

Underlying StatsSalahMane
xG (Expected goals)3.11 (2 actual goals)2.13 (4 actual goals)
xA (Expected assists)1.72 (1 actual assist)0.64 (0 actual assists)
xG90 (Expected goals per 90)0.820.55
xA90 (Expected assists per 90)0.450.17
Sh90 (Shots per 90)5.012.60
Kp90 (Key passes per 90)3.431.56

So it is clear from the table, that in underlying stats terms Salah is performing the best out of the two. It is with this information where you must decide how you play FPL and how significant you take these sort of stats in consideration. There is no right or wrong answer, but for this article our recommendations will be based with these stats in mind.

The main question that needs to be asked of Mane is, can he maintain this form across the whole season?

The stats suggest that Salah is underperforming whereas Mane is overperforming their current goal tallies. Mane has been predicted to score 2.13 goals, however has scored 4 goals. We don’t think that stats like these should be taken too much into mind, considering there have only been 4 league matches. But if Mane was to continue in this form, then it would be one of the most over achieved performances in FPL history.

Both players are nailed on starters and it would be difficult to say which player Klopp would prefer to rest over certain games. We still think that Salah is Liverpool’s best player and FPL asset, and would be the man to start the majority of these fixtures. His goalscoring against the big teams last year was exceptional and makes him fixture proof during these games.

Wildcard

If you have the luxury of still not activating your wildcard, then you could have two bites at the bullet. The big problem for many managers is the fact that once these fixtures have past, many will want to revert back to a Liverpool double or triple up in their squads. However, this would more than likely require a points hit and restructure of the squad to bring back some of the more expensive FPL assets.

If you still have your wildcard, this could prove to be an easier task than for those without.

Transferring out Liverpool players can be done for the short term benefits of the difficult fixture schedule. If your squad can continue to be competitive until the end of these fixtures, the wildcard could be used to bring in the Liverpool players that you want. Of course, this strategy is exceptionally niche and would only work for a small amount of managers who can sustain their squad until this point, but food for thought for those with wildcard options.

FPLadvice verdict

While Liverpool have been fantastic so far this season, our studies have convinced us that having triple or even double assets are not essential over the coming game weeks. Defensively, we don’t think that there is significant value in owning a Liverpool asset. And more importantly, other teams provide a better opportunity of scoring bigger and more consistent points.

For Alisson owners, there are alternative goalkeepers at £4.5 and £5.0m that are expected to score better than the Brazilian. If your squad has free transfers and has not been decimated by the recent international injuries, we’d recommend considering Hennessey or Schemichel for your squads. The major benefit to owning Alisson is the safer bet of not being rotated during the schedule. It seems like his presence in the Liverpool team is important for Klopp, and think he will retain his place in the Premier League matches.

Unlike Alisson, as mentioned Robertson is a regular bonus point scorer and therefore shouldn’t be sold as quickly. The general template teams are including Mendy and Alonso in these squads, so if you are in this bracket we’d recommend selling. If you don’t own the mentioned two, we would recommend looking at alternative premium defenders that can similarly match his attacking threat. If money in the bank, Mendy would be the obvious choice however Trippier can also be a like for like swap. But don’t take a points hit to get Robertson out of your team if you do not own other premium  defenders.

The decision made for both Salah and Mane could prove to be a season defining one for some managers in their mini-leagues. Firstly, if you own both players we think that one should be sold as there is more value is other alternatives. Which of the two however, is a coin toss if you do not make decisions based on underlying stats. If you do, it seems Salah is the sensible choice and would also provide a regular captain choice for your squad.

We hope this article has helped those FPL managers who own Liverpool players, and now have a bit more knowledge on what to do with them. Please comment if you have any questions and share if you enjoyed the content. Keep an eye out for our GW5 top 5 player picks tomorrow.

 

 

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