It was a dramatic round of Champions League action for the four English teams, with late drama and an injury to much-bought Romelu Lukaku (£11.7m). Four wins from four came in (plus a bonus victory for Leicester in the Europa League) but what can we learn from their starting line-ups, ahead of the weekend’s Premier League action?
LIVERPOOL (won 3-2 vs Atletico Madrid)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold (Gomez 85’), Matip, van Dijk, Robertson; Keita (Fabinho 46’), Henderson, Milner (Oxlade-Chamberlain 63’); Salah (N Williams 90’), Mane (Jota 63’), Firmino
Jurgen Klopp named his strongest side for the huge trip to Madrid, with Roberto Firmino (£8.8m) starting again following his weekend hat-trick at Watford. If Liverpool had a similar standard of opponent coming up in Gameweek 9, it could be suggested that it’s Diogo Jota’s (£7.5m) turn to start. However, Sunday brings a big match at Manchester United, so Klopp should name a similar XI with Fabinho (£5.4m) perhaps included.
MANCHESTER CITY (won 5-1 vs Club Brugge)
Ederson; Walker, Dias, Laporte (Ake 56’), Cancelo; De Bruyne (Palmer 64’), Rodri (Fernandinho 71’), Bernardo (Gundogan 56’); Mahrez, Foden (Sterling 64’), Grealish
The Pep Roulette spun out a strong line-up in Brugge, with Ruben Dias (£6.2m), Kyle Walker (£5.6m) and Jack Grealish (£7.9m) back in after being rested against Burnley. Once a 3-0 lead was established by the 53rd minute, Guardiola soon replaced Aymeric Laporte (£5.5m), Bernardo Silva (£7.0m), Kevin De Bruyne (£11.9m) and Phil Foden (£8.0m) ahead of Saturday’s trip to Brighton.
It’s notoriously difficult to predict the actions of the Spaniard but Gabriel Jesus (£8.6m) wasn’t brought on so could start ahead of Riyad Mahrez (£8.7m) on the south coast. Joao Cancelo (£6.3m) has played every minute of City’s league campaign and took part in all 90 here. When will his rotation arrive? At least Dias has just had one.
CHELSEA (won 4-0 vs Malmo)
Mendy; Christensen, Thiago Silva, Rudiger; Azpilicueta (James 65’), Kante (Saul 65’), Jorginho, Chilwell (Alonso 65’); Mount, Lukaku (Havertz 23’), Werner (Hudson-Odoi 44’)
Lukaku’s 36% ownership was rising ahead of a strong captaincy run of Norwich (H), Newcastle (a) and Burnley (H). So naturally, such is the current state of FPL, the Belgian injured his ankle whilst winning a first half penalty. Timo Werner (£8.6m) also departed before the break, with boss Thomas Tuchel stating “we will have some games without Romelu and Timo.”
That greatly shakes up the Fantasy community, as Kai Havertz (£8.1m) is suddenly a very attractive punt considering he has no competition up front. At wing-back, Ben Chilwell (£5.7m) and Cesar Azpilicueta (£6.2m) started over Marcos Alonso (£5.9m) and Reece James (£5.5m) again, although both were switched after 65 minutes. Initially, it could be assumed that James and Alonso were therefore primed to start against the Canaries but perhaps they were brought on to rest Azpilicueta and Chilwell ahead of Saturday. With Tuchel, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to predict.
MANCHESTER UNITED (won 3-2 vs Atalanta)
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay (Pogba 66’), Fred (Matic 88’); Greenwood (Sancho 73’), Fernandes, Rashford (Cavani 66’), Ronaldo
A dramatic comeback occurred at Old Trafford, as Man United overturned a 2-0 half time deficit via goals from Marcus Rashford (£9.4m), Harry Maguire (£5.4m) and Cristiano Ronaldo (£12.5m). The four substitutions of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer were about rescuing the game rather than rest, so it could be said that the line-up against Liverpool will be the same. Perhaps Jadon Sancho (£9.0m) starts over Mason Greenwood (£7.6m) or the returning to match fitness Rashford, with Paul Pogba (£7.6m) pushing to play.
LEICESTER CITY (won 4-3 vs Spartak Moscow)
Schmeichel; Amartey, Evans (Vestergaard 82’), Soyuncu; Pereira (Albrighton 59’), Soumare, Tielemans (Choudhury 65’), Thomas (Bertrand 82’); Maddison; Iheanacho, Daka
The Foxes began Wednesday with their own comeback win, turning 0-2 into 4-2 before a late consolation ended the game with Spartak Moscow as 4-3. Patson Daka (£7.1m) netted all four goals, partnered with Kelechi Iheanacho (£7.0m) as Jamie Vardy (£10.6m) was kept on the bench, further encouraging Lukaku sellers to purchase the league’s joint-top scorer.
Harvey Barnes (£6.6m) also remained unused, just like during last Saturday’s win over Man United, having seemingly been sacrificed in order to restore in-form Iheanacho to the line-up. Brendan Rodgers added: “Timothy Castagne (£5.3m) was due to start but he’s just felt his hamstring a little bit, and the last time we had this experience with him, he played on and pulled his hamstring, so he’s not able to play this evening.”