FPL Preview: Liverpool

Liverpool

Last year, Liverpool didn’t have the season their spectators were expecting following their near miss the year before. The team struggled for a leader upfront with the departure of Suarez and the injuries to Sturridge, as they limped to a 6th place finish.

In order to change things they have gone out and done their business this offseason adding Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino as the headline additions. The acquisition of James Milner and Danny Ings will be underrated but will give them steel and depth to make up for a couple of key losses. The departure of Raheem Stirling will hurt initially, but the money has been wisely invested to replace Suarez with a Benteke/Ings combination. The addition of Firmino adds talent going forward and Milner will provide that leadership that losing Gerrard has caused.

Early Fixtures Outlook: @ Stoke, vs Bournemouth, @ Arsenal, vs West Ham, @ Man United, vs Norwich

This start looks rather juicy with two promoted team and a potential chance to exploit a West Ham side who will have been playing competitive football for nearly two and half months by that point should give Liverpool a chance to start well both going forward and in defence. The Stoke game will be hard, but after their 6-1 slaughtering last season I think they will have a point to prove and will come out roaring. The games against Arsenal and Man United will be good indicators but could be ones where Liverpool struggle if they haven’t clicked properly.

Goalkeeper Outlook: Simon Mignolet (£5.0m)

After a dodgy start last season, Mignolet came to the fore late in the year as the Liverpool defence and he clicked. With 14 clean sheets he finished the year as a top choice keeper and £5.0m feels like a bargain for him entering the season. If anything the defence is stronger this year and Clyne’s addition shouldn’t upset the balance at all considering his familiarity with Lovren so I expect to see Mignolet have a good year with 12-15 clean sheets and approximately 90-100 saves.

Defence

Stud: Nathaniel Clyne (£5.5m)

I would have Clyne as a stud whether he was at Liverpool or Southampton because both teams have fantastic defences and repeating his 13 clean sheets at Liverpool this season is highly possible. Clyne could potentially end up playing the wing back role in the back three system and then he has a ton of value going forward which could see him chip in with assists or goals. The going forward aspect is a massive bonus in crossing leagues and even in the traditional games he should have plenty of chances for bonus points.

Sleeper: Dejan Lovren (£5.0m)

This one is all about the price because Lovren is likely to start most games in whatever system Liverpool use and I think this defence is a strong one that will keep a lot of clean sheets. Lovren has as much goal threat as most mid-level defenders but there is a lot of value in a team that could have double digit clean sheets when you are a starting centre back.

Among the rest of the defence, Skrtel is the only other one locked in who I can see you being confident using most weeks. Skrtel is capable of chipping in with goals and he should feature heavily next to Lovren in whichever format the team decide to go with. Sakho and Moreno’s values are closely linked to the team’s style with Sakho having increased value if they play a back three and Moreno having increase value if they go for a back four. Toure’s value all lies in injuries, as does Jose Enrique making them unusable in all leagues.

Midfield

Stud: Philippe Coutinho (£8.0m)

There were a few candidates for this but Coutinho wins out because I think he is the most capable player to both score goals and provide assists. Coutinho really came into his own as the season progressed and ended the year in the top 15 of midfield options. Had he of started the year strong then we could easily have been looking at a top five to ten option and then £8.0m this year would look a lock. Priced just below new arrival Firmino and just above Lallana makes him a solid value who will be the centre piece of many teams this year.

Sleeper: Jordan Ibe (£5.0m)

The departure of Sterling has left an interesting hole that needs filling and Ibe could be just that guy after impressing in limited time last season. At £5.0m, Ibe has the potential to be a similar player to Sterling, using his pace on the wings to give full backs nightmares whilst also cutting inside to create havoc amongst the central defenders. I really hope Ibe gets his chance because he could be the bargain of the season if he can nail down regular playing time. I am willing to take a flyer on Ibe very late in draft leagues in the hope he can grow into a third/fourth midfielder for my squad.

Liverpool have a lot of options this year, and in a way that actually harms a lot of individual value. The natural other option to the two mentioned above is club captain Jordan Henderson, who will be a permanent fixture this year but could be more restricted this season with the departure of Gerrard. Adam Lallana is a big debating point for me because he has the quality but he has to beat out the likes of Milner and Firmino to start alongside Coutinho in that attacking central area just behind the striker, and that makes him impossible to rely on. James Milnet should be a favourite to start out wide but he won’t have as many opportunities as he had for Man City and I actually think his fantasy stock has dropped with his move. Firmino is the big wild card because if he adapts quickly then he could be a must own for fantasy at £8.5m but he wouldn’t be the first big singing to struggle in his first year in the Premier League. Markovic has the potential to be the forgotten man with Milner, Firmino, Coutinho, Lallana and even Ibe potentially ahead of him on the pecking order making Markovic unusable to start the season. Can, Allen and Lucas will all start with a more defensive minded attitude and won’t be relevant in standard formats but may have late round value in other formats that reward more defensive minded play.

Strikers

Stud: Christian Benteke (£8.5m)

Benteke

The new Liverpool arrival comes into a massively crowded situation, but Benteke has the class to rise above them all and be the main man at Anfield. Benteke is notoriously a slow starter for fantasy but when he gets going he is like a runaway steam train gathering pace. Playing with the creative midfield options that are behind him will be a big difference from his time at Aston Villa and the big Belgian could end up being one of the best strikers in fantasy.

Sleeper: Divock Origi (£6.0m)

This departure of Sterling has left some interesting options and Origi has the chance to take advantage. The young Belgian could easily step in and make one of those wide spots his own at Liverpool. If he does that then he could be a great success but there are now a lot of quality players at Liverpool and beating out the Brazilian duo as well as Markovic and Ibe could be incredibly tough for Origi. If he does break in then he has the potential to be a solid consistent third striking option given the shallow pool that the forward position can be in the middle of the season.

This Liverpool situation leaves a strange feeling in my stomach because they have so many exciting forward options that there is no way they can all be kept happy. Lambert looks to be on his way out of the door and I fully expect Balotelli to go in January. However, that still leaves Ings and Sturridge who I expect will be competing for that potential second striker role next to Benteke. However, there is a massive IF attached here because Liverpool have assembled a talented group of midfielders as well so they could choose to use a five man midfield and play just one. Ings has gone from looking like of the best fantasy options on the market to a potential unusable player and Sturridge’s value has dropped immensely when you consider the injury history as well.

Predicted Opening day line-up:

GK: Simon Mignolet

RB: Nathaniel Clyne

CB: Dejan Lovren

CB: Martin Skrtel

LB: Alberto Moreno

CM: Joe Allen

CM: Jordan Henderson

RW: James Milner

LW: Jordan Ibe

CAM: Philippe Coutinho

STR: Christian Benteke

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