Liverpool 2018/19 Review
Champions of Europe for a sixth time and a club-record 97 points in the Premier League, the 18/19 season proved to be a special one for Liverpool fans all over the world.
Victory in Madrid over Tottenham Hotspur made up for the excruciating near-miss in the title race. 97 points would’ve been more than enough to win the title in any season other that 17/18 and 18/19 but all you can do is applaud Manchester City. Pep Guardiola has created a ridiculously good side.
There’s plenty of optimism amongst Reds’ fans that the team can go one better in 19/20 and end the now 30-year wait for that elusive 19th top flight title.
Whereas Liverpool have lost crucial players in seasons directly after challenging for the title in the past decade, there’s no such threat this time. Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane will continue to lead the line next season while most of the defence that conceded only 22 goals in the league all season will remain untouched, with Dejan Lovren potentially the only one to move on.
Whilst I generally tend to hate the term “like a new signing,” that’s exactly what Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will feel like for Klopp’s side. The England international was limited to just one substitute appearance in the whole of 2018/19 but he’ll be keen to make up for lost time and was a huge part of the Liverpool team prior to a serious injury in April 2018.
Overall, Liverpool coped extremely well with very little rotation during 18/19 but add in the UEFA Super Cup, the Club World Cup and a potential for a domestic cup run, just how safe a selection are Liverpool’s stars for FPL managers in the upcoming season?
He’s Virgil Van Dijk
If you want a player who is all but guaranteed to play every second of Premier League football for Liverpool next season, barring injury or suspension, Virgil Van Dijk is your man.
The Dutch colossus started every game for the Reds in the Premier League last season and completed 37 of them with the only exception being the home match against Southampton in September when he was subbed on 55 minutes, robbing many FPL managers of a potential six points.
At the end of the 18/19 season, however, Van Dijk was the second most owned Liverpool defender with 32.3% ownership compared to Andy Robertson’s 33.0%. Trent Alexander-Arnold, who hit double figures hauls in FPL in each of his final four games, was owned by 26.9%. While Robertson and Alexander-Arnold have undoubted assist potential, the threat of rotation hovers over them for 19/20. Joe Gomez was preferred to Alexander-Arnold at times last season while Liverpool’s search for a backup full-back will inevitably mean Robertson gets more of a rest than last season.
Of course, Van Dijk will be expensive. He started the 18/19 campaign priced at £6.0m in FPL and he is likely to be £6.5m at least in 19/20. Alexander-Arnold, who completed the most final third passes for the Reds started at a miserly £5.0. He’ll be no lower than £6.0m when the game relaunches after recording 12 assists, the most for a defender in a single season in Premier League history. Robertson won possession the most times for the Reds last campaign to go along with his 11 assists and, after recording an all-time record score for a defender in FPL (213), his price will surely rise from £6.0m to £6.5m or even £7.0m.
Liverpool’s pre-season could clear up any rotation worries but Van Dijk is the absolute certainty in the Reds defence.
Mane and Salah selection may depend on classification
Something that could have a huge impact on Mane and Salah’s ownership next season is whether the pair are classed as midfielders or forwards.
Both ended with 22 goals last season and a share of the golden boot earning an extra point per goal and a clean sheet point due to being classified as midfielders. However, plenty of FPL managers will be sweating as to whether one or both become forwards for 19/20. This would result in both earning only four points for a goal as opposed to five and, of course, no clean sheet point.
Overall, it’s more likely that Salah will be class as a forward due to the Egyptian’s spells in a central role for the Reds which could see Mane as the better option. With regards to price, Salah started the 18/19 game at £13.0m and the expectation is that he’ll be the same for next term. He also recorded the most shots on target for Liverpool last season which could keep interest in him high as well as being the designated penalty taker when Milner isn’t on the pitch.
The same can’t be said for Mane, however, whose price at the start of last season was £9.5m which turned out to be a bargain. £10.5m is surely the least the Senegalese will start at but even an £11m start would not be a surprise.
Liverpool differential options
All the players discussed so far will be extremely high on the wish list for the majority of FPL managers but who else should people be keeping their eyes on?
Captain Jordan Henderson was given a forward-thinking role towards the end of the season to huge effect. Henderson scored a goal and assist after coming off the bench against Southampton before recording an assist against Chelsea the following week.
Naby Keita is another to consider. The Guinea international had a tough first season at Anfield with injury recording only two goals and one assist in FPL. Before picking up an injury against Barcelona at the Nou Camp, however, he had begun to impose him through his displays and will look to become a consistent figure in his second season.
Other midfielders include Xherdan Shaqiri, Gini Wijnaldum, Fabinho, and James Milner all of whom scored for Liverpool last season. Fabinho will surely be a much more permanent fixture next year after his fantastic performances in the second half of the season but for Wijnaldum and Milner competition with Henderson, Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain will likely see their ownership remain low.
Gameweek 1 Thoughts
On the face of it, Norwich at home is an ideal opener for Liverpool. A promoted team that conceded 57 goals whilst winning the Championship but there are some important factors to consider. Much will depend on how far Egypt and Senegal go in the Africa Cup of Nations with the final on the 19th July, just three weeks before the start of the season. Senegal are one of the favorites so this could impact Mane’s ownership early on while Salahand Keita (Guinea) could return to training earlier.
Salah will surely be one of the leading captaincy candidates for GW1 if he is fully fit. My priority for GW1 would be prioritising the Reds’ defence as they are far more guaranteed to play. Alexander-Arnold, Robertsonand Van Dijk will be main stays in the vast majority of teams but if I had to recommend one of the three, Alexander-Arnoldwould be my go-to man.
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