Any imaginary coach who led Mohamed Salah last weekend would have hoped for a big result when he saw Liverpool crush Bournemouth 9-0 on Saturday.
But despite achieving the biggest win in Premier League history, which equals the record, Salah failed to score a single offensive comeback.
He’s now the second best-selling player in round five, so what should the Fantasia directors do with Salah and is he still a captain option?
The likelihood of Salah (£13.0m) being empty in Gameweek 4 was low, especially as he played 90 minutes and was on penalties for Liverpool. Luck is a big factor in the FPL and those who chose Salah as captain can feel miserable.
Another day we could see two goals from Salah. He missed an open goal from a few feet away and then Mark Travers provided another good opportunity over the bar.
His basic numbers from the game were excellent. He had four shots in the penalty area, two of which were big chances and he also made two. xG (expected goals) from the match was 1.35, while his Liverpool teammates were 2.46 xG.
Salah (1.35) 0-9 (2.46) teammates
– xG philosophy (xGPhilosophy) August 27 2022
Before the fourth round, Salah participated in more than half of Liverpool’s goals this season with two goals and one assist. He had a 60% chance in Gameweek 4 any time he scores in a Bournemouth match.
But Liverpool took advantage of Bournemouth in wide positions, as half of the goals came from a corner or crosses inside the penalty area, which does not necessarily suit Salah.
Liverpool’s set-piece quality was on a different level than in recent weeks, leading to Virgil van Dijk and Luis Diaz guiding the corner kick. The short, clever routine also led to a second win for Roberto Firmino. Both full-backs were more dynamic, with Andy Robertson putting in an excellent game and Trent Alexander-Arnold scoring to finish third for Liverpool.
The stick or the sprain?
A lot of fantasy directors are considering their options this week, as Salah has been sold by more than a quarter of a million managers already.
I could see his ownership drop to around 50% by the midweek 5th Game Week deadline, which comes in at 6pm UK time today – don’t miss it!
Selling Salah is a dangerous strategy. It’s a busy schedule coming up for all six of the big clubs, and there will likely be a rotation between Erling Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus.
However, Salah has played every minute of the Premier League’s game for Liverpool so far this season and with injuries surging for Jurgen Klopp’s side, he is unlikely to feel comfortable anytime soon after the season started in great shape.
Salah ranks fifth in terms of great chances this season with four, and is among the top five for xG and leads the key passes with 15.
Salah will resume an offensive comeback, and the fixture schedule remains good for the next three matches, with Liverpool facing Newcastle, Everton and Wolves.
Salah was the most capped player in the fourth round, but his return against Bournemouth means the tables could turn before the fifth round.
He should still be considered among the top choices this week, especially with the potential for another 90-minute performance, ahead of another home game against Newcastle.
Owners Kevin De Bruyne (£12.2m) and Erling Haaland (£11.8m) will automatically consider the captaincy for visiting Nottingham Forest in Gameweek 5, but there are justifiable concerns about game time.
Pep Guardiola has already spoken of the need to rest Haaland, saying: “I will tell you now that when we play every three days, Erling will not play. (Julian) will play Alvarez.” De Bruyne is the safest captain’s choice if you own one.
Captain Haaland is a gamble, but he can still provide a fair amount of imagination as a substitute against Nottingham Forest and is the only player to have produced offensive returns in every game this season.
Harry Kane travels to West Ham with Tottenham Hotspur and Jesus at home to Aston Villa, two other major options likely to write momentum.
Personally, I will look for the leader of Jesus. Aston Villa have lost a clean sheet this season and conceded seven goals. Meanwhile, Jesus has scored two goals and assisted two goals at home this season for the leaders Arsenal.
(Top image: John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)