Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has commended his players for their performance in Sunday’s 4-0 win over West Ham, but warned that his team face an “unbelievable tough” season ahead of them. The Reds finished 25 points behind champions Man City last term but did overcome Pep Guardiola’s men fairly convincingly in the Champions League quarter-finals, and so there has been hope among the Anfield stands that the Merseysiders could challenge at the top of the league this season. This was about as emphatic a start as they could have hoped for, as well as being their fourth successive four goal return against the Hammers (0-4, 1-4, 4-1 and then 4-0), and the match served as a stark reminder to new West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini how tough life can be in the Premier League.
Man-of-the-match Sadio Mane did wonders for his early season fantasy points tally as well – he bagged a brace with successful strikes not far away from either side of half time. That also means he becomes the first Liverpool player to score in three successive opening fixtures since club legend John Barnes accomplished that between 1989-90 and 1991-92. That means Mane, with a valuation of 9.5m in the Euro Fantasy League game, gets off the mark with 10 points. Mohamed Salah (who else!) had opened the scoring on 19 minutes, meaning he now has 20 goals in 20 games at Anfield, bagging himself six points in the process. It was also an impressive debut for £50m man Naby Keita, who put in a performance in the middle of the park sure to endear him to the Liverpool fans very quickly indeed if he can keep that kind of level up.
The Hammers, meanwhile, struggled despite having spent £100m on new recruits and bringing in former Premier League winning boss Pellegrini during the summer. Of course, an opening day fixture away to Liverpool is never one that will have fans rubbing their hands together and fancying hitting the ground running – at a push, it may give fans an idea of where their club are at based on how well they push the opposition, rather than by how many goals they win. New signing Felipe Anderson had a subdued outing, while Jack Wilshere wasn’t given too much of a chance to do anything with the ball either. New goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski‘s primary job proved to be picking the ball out of the back of the net as well, but then perhaps there can be some leniency on the criticism considering that he was up against one of the top two or three attacking lines in England.
Of the players who featured, Mane did of course bag the most fantasy points with 10. Salah earned six, with Daniel Sturridge taking four. Former world-record goalkeeper Alisson had a quiet afternoon as well, only having two attempts on target to keep out. He gets seven for the clean sheet as does Andrew Robertson for the clean sheet and an assist. Virgil can Dijk and Joe Gomez each earned five, while Trent Alexander-Arnold received four after losing one for a booking.
West Ham’s fantasy stats are, of course, not looking great at this stage. There is plenty of time for Fabianski to improve on his -6 tally, as well as defenders Angelo Ogbonna and Arthur Masuaku, who each now find themselves on -3.
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