Bebe emerges from the background to notch for United as Sir Alex Ferguson’s men battle for a draw. Brendan Rodgers is also held in his first game in charge of Liverpool, with another unlikely source, academy graduate Adam Morgan, sparing the blushes with an equalising strike against Toronto. The Hammers return to winning ways, Swansea hit five, while Fulham’s Mladen Petric continues to edge his way onto our pre-season watchlist with a brace as the Cottagers are held to a 2-2 with Kaiserslautern. There were eleven pre-season matches played out on Saturday, read on for the notes…
Ajax Cape Town 1 Man United 1
Sir Alex Ferguson fielded a mixture of youth and experience for yesterday’s draw in South Africa. With Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling both sidelined and Nemanja Vidic still building up his fitness, Scott Wootton continued alongside Rio Ferdinand in the heart of the back-four, though there were plenty of familiar names further up the field. Intriguingly, Anderson was handed a role on the left flank, with Antonio Valencia on the right, while Shinji Kagawa – in his first start for the club – tucked in behind Javier Hernandez in a 4-4-1-1.
Hernandez was unlucky not to give his side the lead on 34 minutes after his header from Wootton’s cross was palmed away by the home side’s keeper and the Mexican also set up Kagawa on the hour mark, only for the latter to miss from six yards out. Valencia tormented the hosts on the right before making way on 68 minutes as Ferguson made four changes, with new boy Nick Powell coming on for his debut and the much-maligned Bebe afforded his first United start for 17 months. Indeed, it was the latter who saved his side’s blushes with a late, late equaliser, slotting home a cross from right-back Marnick Vermijl after United had gone behind with just four minutes remaining on the clock.
Post-match, Ferguson was full of praise for the two summer signings, going on to say:
Shinji was very good. He’s an intelligent footballer, quick and has his head up all the time. He knows when a pass has to be made and I’m pleased. Nick Powell is a talented boy. He missed some training and 30 minutes was just stretching him a bit in terms of sharpness but the boy is a very good talent.
United Starting XI: Amos; Vermijl, Wootton, Ferdinand, Blackett; Valencia (Tunnicliffe 68), Carrick, Scholes (Powell 68) Anderson (Lingard 68); Kagawa (Berbatov 77); Hernandez (Bebe 68)
Motherwell 1 Everton 1
David Moyes’ side continued their unbeaten pre-season run with a competitive draw in Steven Hammell’s testimonial. The Toffees boss fielded a strong starting XI for the clash, as Everton lined up in a 4-4-2 in the first half with Victor Anichebe and Apostolos Vellios up front and the former played a part in his side’s opener, after Shane Duffy nodded home his cross to give the visitors the lead at the break. Moyes then handed second-half roles for the likes of Nikica Jelavic and Darron Gibson as the Toffees reverted to their usual 4-5-1, while new boy Steven Naismith was given his debut with 20 minutes left of the match. Tucked in just behind the Croatian, Naismith’s up front understanding with Jelavic – continuing on from their days together at Glasgow Rangers – was all too apparent and his impressive showing hinted at the pair’s potential in the season ahead.
Everton Starting XI: Howard; Hibbert, Duffy, Distin (Heitinga 70), Neville; Coleman, Fellaini (Naismith 70), Cahill (Rodwell 46), Osman (Junior 46); Vellios (Gibson 46), Anichebe (Jelavic 46).
Colchester 1 West Ham 2
Sam Allardyce rolled out a front three for the trip to Colchester, with triallist Colin Kazim Richards handed a starting role alongside Nicky Maynard and Carlton Cole up top. Guy Demel – at 4.0 and 3.6 in FPL and the Sky Sports game respectively – continued at right-back, while Matt Taylor started at left-back, though the former Bolton man moved into midfield with just four minutes on the clock after Kevin Nolan was subbed off due to a foot problem. Nicky Maynard gave the Hammers the lead on 16 minutes after volleying home a Carlton Cole knock-down and was also involved in his side’s second; Mark Noble slotted home from the spot after Maynard was brought down in the box, with the midfielder again serving a reminder of his cut-price potential at 5.0 in FPL and 4.7 in the Sky Sports game. Allardyce saw his side concede just before the break but made only three changes in the second half, choosing instead to give many of his first-team regulars 90 minutes under their belts as the Hammers picked up their second victory from five pre-season games so far.
West Ham Starting XI: Jaaskelainen; Demel (Spence 76), Reid, McCartney, Taylor; Noble, O’Neil, Nolan (Potts 4); Kazim Richards (Vaz Te 46), Cole (Mohsni 62), Maynard
Kaiserslautern 2 Fulham 2
Martin Jol’s side went two goals behind early on in their match against the former Bundesliga outfit but, in a game interrupted by lightning, it was one of their summer signings who made the biggest impact. The Cottagers continued in a 4-4-2, with Marcello Trotta partnering Mladen Petric up front and it was the latter who maintained his strong pre-season form with a double to save his side’s unbeaten pre-season run. Trotta – who bagged a brace in the previous match – and Alex Kacaniklic provided the assists as the Croatian took his tally to three goals in two starts since joining from Hamburg in the summer. Priced at 6.0 in FPL and 6.8 in the Sky Sports game, Petric is clearly one to watch ahead of an opening schedule that includes (NOR, whm, WBA, wig) in the first five Gameweeks of the upcoming campaign.
Fulham Starting XI: Schwarzer; Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise (Briggs 69); Kacaniklic (Davies 69), Diarra (Sidwell 46), Etuhu (Baird 69), Ruiz (Frei 52); Trotta (Mesca 46), Petric.
Port Talbot 0 Swansea 5
Michael Laudrup kicked off his career as Swansea boss in style as the Premier League club swept aside fellow Welsh club Port Talbot. The Dane handed the vast majority of his fringe players a chance to impress and Steven Dobbie was the main protagonist for the Swans, firing home a first-half hat-trick courtesy of a couple of converted spot-kicks. Leroy Lita was also on the scoresheet but a host of changes after the break killed the game’s momentum, before youngster Henry Jones – on for Dobbie on the hour mark – fired home the fifth to seal an emphatic victory ahead of the club’s US tour next week.
Swansea First Half: Cornell; Obeng, Tancock, Situ, Alfei; Agustien, Gower, Orlandi, Dobbie, Lita, Moore.
Swansea Second Half: Cornell, Alfei,Tancock, Davies, Richards, Situ, Lucas, Dobbie (Jones 60), Loveridge, Donnelly, Edwards.
Norwich 2 Hertha Berlin 3
Chris Hughton’s first match as Norwich boss ended in defeat thanks to a hat-trick from the visitors’ forward Elias Kachunga. The Canaries manager fielded a different XI for each half and began the match with a 4-4-2 formation, with Grant Holt partnered by Simeon Jackson up front and Elliot Bennett and Andrew Surman on the flanks. Bennett, in particular, was highly praised by the club’s official website and was involved in most of his side’s attacking forays, setting up chances for Holt and Jonny Howson but despite their endeavours, the home side went in at the break two goals down.
The second half saw Steven Whittaker handed his Norwich debut at right-back, with Marc Tierney on the opposite flank and the likes of Wes Hoolahan and Anthony Pilkington in midfield. With Chris Martin and James Vaughan leading the line, Norwich took the game to their opponents and Vaughan notched just four minutes after coming on, slotting home a Pilkington assist. Hertha extended their lead before Daniel Ayala teed up Vaughan for another goal and the forward was unlucky not to grab a hat-trick after some good work by Hoolahan near the end.
Norwich First Half: Ruddy, R. Martin, R. Bennett, Ward, Lappin, Howson, Johnson, E. Bennett, Surman, Jackson, Holt
Norwich Second Half: Rudd, Whittaker, Barnett, Ayala, Tierney, Crofts, Hoolahan, Smith, Pilkington, C. Martin, Vaughan
Evian TG 0 Southampton 1
Nigel Adkins once again rolled out a 4-3-2-1 formation, with Adam Lallana continuing as part of the midfield three. The midfielder excelled on the left flank last season in the Championship with 11 goals and 10 assists; priced at 6.0 in FPL and 4.9 in the Sky Sports game, he’s on the radar of many Fantasy managers but a deeper, central role is worrying. Jason Puncheon and Jay Rodriguez were handed the wing roles with Rickie Lambert playing as a lone forward and the wide boys were the main goal threat in the first half. Both had a couple of chances to find the net, with Puncheon giving his side the lead after receiving a pass from Morgan Schneiderlin.
Adkins made 11 changes at half-time and kept the same formation, though new signing Nathaniel Clyne replaced Luke Shaw midway through the second half. The former Crystal Palace man made an instant impact, with his pace and trickery out wide causing the hosts problems aplenty; intriguingly, he was handed a role on the right flank for the Saints – priced at 4.0 in FPL and 3.7 in the Sky Sports game and classified as a defender in both, his Fantasy potential out of position prospect would be considerably boosted if Adkins continues along the same line of thinking in the season ahead.
Southampton Starting XI: Davis (Gazzaniga 46); Butterfield (Richardson 46), Stephens (Fonte 46), Hooiveld (Seaborne 46), Fox (Harding 46); Ward-Prowse (Chambers 46), Schneiderlin (Hammond 46), Lallana (Chaplow 46); Puncheon (Guly 46), Rodriguez (Shaw 46 (Clyne 69)); Lambert (Sharp 46).
Fenerbahce 1 Newcastle 1
Alan Pardew rolled out a 4-2-3-1 formation for yesterday evening’s draw in Austria. Ryan Taylor and Danny Simpson started as the full-backs, with Gabriel Obertan and Sylvain Marveaux further ahead on the flanks and Demba Ba in the lone forward role. Taylor almost found the net after just two minutes, forcing a save from the Fenerbahce keeper from a direct free-kick and came close again on 24 minutes, when a cross from deep almost sneaked in at the far post; Dan Gosling also had a couple of unsuccessful chances as the first-half finished goalless. Pardew rang the changes after the break, with fit-again Sylvain Marveaux impressing before making way for Jonas Gutierrez just before the hour mark. Mehdi Abeid opening the scoring just three minutes after climbing off the bench and Papiss Cisse – having recovered from illness – almost found the net with a chipped 30-yard effort but the Magpies were denied victory when the Turkish side notched a last-minute equaliser.
Newcastle Starting XI: Elliot; Simpson (Santon 68), Tavernier, Coloccini, R Taylor; Tiote (Bigirimana 59), Gosling (Abeid 73); Obertan (Shola Ameobi 75), Vuckic (Sammy Ameobi 46), Marveaux (Gutierrez 59); Ba (Cisse 68)
CDRQ 1 Reading 1
Brian McDermott’s side followed up the 7-0 drubbing of AFC Wimbledon with a low-key draw in Portugal. A typical Ian Harte free-kick handed newly promoted Reading the lead and offered an immediate reminder as to his Fantasy appeal. He emerged as a part of a fully changed second-half lineup as McDermott gave almost his entire squad a run-out. This included a first glimpse of Adrian Mariappa in a Reading shirt.
Jimmy Kebe and Mikkel Andersen returned from knocks to figure, but Chris Gunter missed out with a training ground injury – as did Simon Church and Jem Karacan. We’re still waiting for the first sighting of Pavel Pogrebnyak in the Royals’ colours; he wasn’t considered in this one after just three days of training with his new team-mates. McDermott’s lineup saw a few players out of position, with Michail Antonio taking a striker’s role in the first half, while Brynjar Gunnarsson occupied the right-back position.
There were few clues for Fantasy managers here then: McDermott’s first choice back four, in particular, remains of interest but it will likely take several more friendlies before we see a pattern of selection emerge.
Reading First Half: Andersen; Cummings, Shorey, Mariappa, Pearce; Guthrie, Leigertwood, Kebe (Obita 17), Robson-Kanu; Antonio, Roberts
Reading Second Half: Andersen; Gunnarsson, Harte, Gorkss, Morrison; McAnuff, Tabb; McCleary, Obita; Hunt, Le Fondre
Toronto FC 1 Liverpool 1
Brendan Rodgers began his tenure as Liverpool boss with a hard fought 1-1 draw in Toronto, with 18-year old Adam Morgan the unlikely goalscoring hero.
The academy graduate’s goal owed a big debt to the trickery of Raheem Sterling; the winger mesmirising the Toronto defence before firing in an effort that fell into the path of the gleeful Morgan.
Sterling’s eye-catching performance comes shortly after Rodgers stated that he could look to loan out the 17-year old. Rodgers was, however, keen to heap praise on the winger in his post-match comments…
“Raheem is very persistent. He doesn’t get knocked over easily, he shows great courage and bravery on the ball. His strength for the goal was impressive – that was the thing that surprised me for such a slight guy.”
Rodgers was without the likes of Steven Gerrard, Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing, Glen Johnson, Jordan Henderson and Martin Kelly after their Euro 2012 exertions. New signing Fabio Borini was also absent – he’s expected to figure in Wednesday clash with Roma. Dan Agger is another who is being lined up for an early return in that one following his summer campaign with Denmark.
The Liverpool lineup still included a host of familiar names, with Charlie Adam and Alberto Aquilani given central midfield starting berths in the first-half and Joe Cole looking spritely in the second period. Lucas also made a return to action from the bench late on, following months on the sidelines with cruciate ligament injury suffered last November.
Liverpool First Half: Jones: Wisdom, Sama, Carragher, Enrique: Aquilani, Spearing, Adam: Ibe, Ecclestone, Pacheco.
Liverpool Second Half: Gulacsi: Flanagan, Skrtel, Wilson, Robinson: Adorjan (Lucas 74), Shelvey, Suso: Cole, Morgan, Sterling.
Chicago Fire 0 Aston Villa 1
Gabby Agbonlahor took centre stage as Villa continued their US tour with a narrow win over the Fire. The fleet-footed striker headed home from a fine Chris Herd cross to seal the victory, although his evening was bittersweet as an ankle injury saw him stretchered from the field. Early reports indicate that Agbonlahor will now be sidelined for around a fortnight as a result. He joins Darren Bent on the sidelines who missed this game with a thigh strain that will reportedly see him kept out of action for two weeks.
Interestingly, Fabian Delph skippered the Villa side in Bent’s absence, as Paul Lambert shuffled his pack to start with Delph, Gardner, Ireland and N’Zogbia in midfield, benching the likes of El Ahmadi, Bannan and Holman. Herd started at right-back with Matt Lowton emerging as a half-time replacement. Significantly perhaps, James Collins was left out of the starting lineup with Nathan Baker this time partnering Richard Dunne in defence: both Baker and Ciaran Clark are cleary being given every chance to push for starts come the season kick-off with the Villa defence far from decided.
Aston Villa Starting XI: Given (Guzan 81), Herd (Lowton 45), Lichaj (Warnock 57), Baker (Clark 57), Dunne (Collins 45), Gardner (El Ahmadi 67), Delph (Bannan 67), Ireland (Johnson 70), N’Zogbia (Carruthers 70), Agbonlahor (Delfouneso 67), Weimann (Holman 70).
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For Gameweek 38
- van Persie
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“I am happy with the way I’ve started, but on the other hand, I should have scored four or five more, so that’s something for me to work on.”Robin Van Persie talks about his early form at United ahead of his first Manchester derby