Gareth Bale suffers an injury scare after a Charlie Adam challenge see the Welshman withdrawn at half-time in Spurs’ goalless draw with Liverpool. Mladen Petric continues to rack up the goals for Fulham, while Mauro Boselli does his best to tempt Fantasy managers again with his third strike in as many games for Wigan. Demba Ba and Ryan Taylor both notch as Newcastle win and Jonathan Walters scores for the second game running as Stoke scrape a narrow victory in Orlando:
Liverpool 0 Spurs 0
The 35 degree conditions were very much against both sides and contributed to a bore goalless draw in Baltimore last night. Fabio Borini made his Liverpool bow after coming on as a second-half sub for the Merseyside outfit, while Steven Gerrard featured for the first time since Euro 2012 but the match was one to forget for Brendan Rodgers. For Spurs, Andre Villas-Boas started with Jermaine Jenas and Jake Livermore in the double-pivot, allowing Gylfi Sigurdsson a more advanced role from the previous game, with the Icelandic international lining up alongside Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon behind lone striker Harry Kane.
Bale seemed to have a free role early on in the first half, which resulted in Lennon filling in on the left as the Welshman roamed around the pitch – Jonjo Shelvey, Stewart Downing and Adam Morgan all had efforts for Liverpool as Spurs struggled to make an impact but the Londoners found their feet after Bale moved back to the left. The Welshman teed up Lennon and Sigurdsson in quick succession – the former somehow managed to hit the post from point-blank range as the first-half came to a close. Both sides made several changes after the break to combat the heat and boost their respective squads’ fitness – the alterations disrupted the flow of the game and although Borini and Carroll had chances for the Reds, the pair – in keeping with the overall tone – failed to produce.
Post-match, mush of the talk surrounded a Charlie Adam tackle on Bale midway through the first-half. The Welshman failed to appear after the break and reports suggest he left the stadium wearing a protective boot over his ankle – Andre Vilas-Boas admitted the winger was suffering after the over-the-top challenge:
I think it is a very nasty challenge from Charlie. Charlie came to me and said something about the challenge. I can accept but I think he should go to the player to say sorry. Because if the player escapes hospital it is because he is very lucky- he is not ok. He is so-so. It is extremely painful and twisted, his ankle.
Liverpool Starting XI: Jones (Gulacsi, 46); Flanagan (Wisdom, 46), Carragher (Wilson, 62), Skrtel (Sama, 62), Enrique (Robinson, 62); Spearing (Lucas, 62); Shelvey (Gerrard, 62), Adam (Henderson, 46); Downing (Sterling, 46), Morgan (Eccleston, 46; Carroll, 72), Cole (Borini, 62).
Spurs Starting XI: Friedel; Naughton (Walker 45), Gallas (Vertonghen 75), Kaboul (Dawson 60), Assou-Ekotto (Bassong 60); Jenas (Smith 82), Livermore (Huddlestone 60); Lennon (Carroll 70), Sigurdsson (Bentley 60), Bale (Townsend 45);
Wycombe 0 Fulham 3
Martin Jol trialled a 4-2-3-1 formation for yesterday’s trip to Wycombe, with Bryan Ruiz tucked in behind Mladen Petric up front, while Alex Kacaniklic and Mesca Na Bangna were handed the wing roles. Petric had bagged three goals in his first two starts for the Cottagers and continued his superb pre-season form; he found the net with a superb effort from just outside the box on 18 minutes and had as many as five attempts on goal in the first-half alone, including a direct free-kick. To Wycombe’s relief, Petric was replaced by Kerim Frei just after the hour mark, though Ruiz continued to threaten and grabbed the goal his display merited, curling home a superb free-kick with five minutes left on the clock. The scoring wasn’t quite over for the visitors and just three minutes later, on-loan right-back Sascha Riether teed up Steve Sidwell for a third.
Post-match, the Fulham boss lavished praise on Ruiz’s display before discussing the merits of new forwards Petric and Hugo Rodallega. Although the latter is still a couple of weeks away from full fitness and has yet to feature this pre-season, Jol revealed Rodallega also has the potential to play on the flank in the season ahead:
He (Ruiz) took the free-kick well. He’s a terrific player who I know well. Hopefully he can show our fans now what he can do. He was out for a few months last season with an horrific injury so I was very happy to see him. He showed some very good touches and I thought he was the best player on the pitch… Rodallega is similar to Andy Johnson. He’s got a lot of pace to stretch defences and can also play on the left. Petric is a number nine but can play off a big man as well. He’s really versatile. I know him from Hamburg and he was a very talented boy.
Fulham Starting XI: Schwarzer; Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise; Diarra, Dembele (Trotta 77), Ruiz; Na Bangna, Petric (Frei 59), Kacaniklic (Sidwell 59)
Southampton 0 Ajax 1
Having tried a 4-3-2-1 formation in the previous two matches, Nigel Adkins rolled out a 4-3-3 for yesterday’s defeat to Ajax. Nathaniel Clyne was handed his first start since joining from Crystal Palace and slotted into the back-four alongside the rest of last season’s first-choice defence. Adam Lallana played in a deeper role in central midfield once more, while Jay Rodriguez again featured from a wide position, with Rickie Lambert the lone forward. Clyne’s display was lauded by the club’s official website, with his pace proving crucial both defensively and in attack, while Rodriguez had an offside goal chalked off and Lambert also had a couple of first-half attempts which failed to come to fruition. After going behind on 64 minutes, Adkins made a host of substitutions which were unable to spark the Saints into life as the Dutch champions held out for a deserved win.
Post-match, the Southampton boss spoke on his tactical thoughts for the season ahead. Discussing the 4-3-3, Adkins admitted that, while his side have been offensively superb over the last two seasons, the step up to the Premier League may see him slightly curtail his side’s natural attacking instincts:
We have a few players fitting into different positions but we want to be attack minded and to do that you have to keep the ball. It is another formation that we have been working on for the past two weeks that can enhance the other two formations that we have already done very well with over the past two seasons. It’s something we have recognised and worked on because we have to realise that we can’t just go into the Premier League and play gung-ho because the opposition will punish us with a better class of player who will cut us open, score and then the game is lost. We want to play an attractive way but we have to give ourselves a chance to win so defensively we have to up our game.
Southampton Starting XI: Davis (Gazzaniga 70); Clyne (Richardson 46), Fonte, Hooiveld, Fox (Shaw 70); Schneiderlin (Hammond 79), Ward-Prowse (Chaplow 79), Lallana (Puncheon 79); Guly (Chambers 84), Rodriguez (De Ridder 84), Lambert (Sharp 70)
Peterborough 0 Norwich 2
Norwich’s previous two matches under Chris Hughton had seen the Canaries line up in a 4-4-2 formation but the new boss tried out a 4-3-3 for the trip to Peterborough. Chris Martin and Simeon Jackson flanked Steve Morison in the front three, with the latter proving to be his side’s chief goal threat in the opening 45 minutes. Although Wes Hoolahan, Leon Barnett and Jackson all fired off long-range efforts, Morison had a couple of clear-cut chances and resultantly gave his side the lead on 32 minutes courtesy of an Andrew Surman assist. Morison’s work-rate as the lone striker came in for high praise from the club’s official website as he pressed and harried the home defence repeatedly before he made way for Grant Holt on 72 minutes – one of nine second-half changes by Hughton. The game lost its tempo after the host of substitutions but James Vaughan grabbed a second towards the end after being played in by fellow-sub Grant Holt – Vaughan has now scored three goals in three games, while the Canaries have now recorded back-to-back clean sheets.
Norwich Starting XI: Rudd; R. Martin (R. Bennett 46), Ayala (Ward 72), Barnett, Lappin (Tierney 72); Crofts (Johnson 72), Hoolahan (Howson 72), Surman (Pilkington 72); C. Martin (Vaughan 72), Morison (Holt 72), Jackson (E. Bennett 72),
Barnsley 0 West Brom 0
Steve Clarke tried a 4-4-1-1 formation for the trip to Barnsley, having tested 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 in the Baggies previous two matches. Zoltan Gera made his first start for eight months and began in “the hole” behind lone forward Shane Long, with Ben Foster making his first appearance since sealing a permanent move from Birmingham earlier in the summer. Despite their dominance, Clarke’s men failed to offer any real attacking thrust, with Dorrans free-kick and a long-range effort from Gera failing to bother the hosts early on. Jerome Thomas offered a couple of efforts but both were unable to beat Ben Alnwick in the Barnsley goal as the first-half came to a close. New boy Yassine El Ghanassy replaced Gera after the break and tucked in behind Long – the latter came the closest to breaking the deadlock after heading against the post but it wasn’t to be for the Baggies, who have now scored in only one of their three matches under their new manager.
West Brom Starting XI: Foster; Jara, Tamas, Olsson (c), Jones; Hurst (Roofe 85), Morrison, Dorrans, Thomas (Allan 78); Gera (El Ghanassy 46); Long (Berahino 78).
TSG Hoffenheim 1 Wigan 1
Wigan ended their tour of Austria unbeaten after a 1-1 draw with Bundesliga outfit Hoffenheim. Roberto Martinez utilised 10 different outfield players in the second-half as the Latics continued to afford as many squads players game time over the pre-season. Once again, Mauro Boselli continues to hog the headlines – the Argentine notched the opener for Martinez’s men before making way for Connor Sammon on 24 minutes. While Franco Di Santo has yet to score over Wigan’s four matches, Boselli now has three goals in three games; the more impressive fact is he has been handed a total of 90 minutes over that trio of matches to return his impressive haul.
First half: Pollitt; Alcaraz, Caldwell, Golobart; Stam, Jones, McCarthy, Beausejour, Watson, Crusat; Boselli, (Sammon 24)
Second Half: Pollitt, Lopez, Mustoe, Redmond; Boyce, Fyvie, Dicko, Gomez; Maloney, Moses; Di Santo
FC Braga 1 Newcastle 2
Alan Pardew started with a 4-4-2 for last night’s showdown against FC Braga, with Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse playing centrally together for the first time this pre-season. Unsurprisingly, the Magpies boss rolled out a completely different starting XI from Friday night’s match against Olympiacos, with Ryan Taylor at left-back, Sylvain Marveaux on the left flank and Jonas Gutierrez in central midfield. Ba was quickly at the heart of the action, teeing up Sammy Ameobi for a shot on target with five minutes gone – an interception by Braga centre-half Dougla then prevented Ba from nodding his side ahead before he then set up Papiss Cisse for a chance just before the half-hour mark. Cisse had two more opportunities prior to the break thanks to the creativity of Danny Simpson but failed to take either and the sides went in goalless at half-time.
It was Ba who finally opened the scoring, slotting home the rebound from his own saved penalty after Marveaux had been fouled in the box on 64 minutes. The latter also had a hand in his side’s second after another foul on the winger led to a Magpies free-kick; up stepped Ryan Taylor to fire home superbly from 25 yards just five minutes after his side had been pegged back. Yohan Cabaye came on as a late second-half sub for his first taste of action since Euro 2012 and was an immediate threat – his free-kick handed Ameobi another effort on goal before the Frenchman nearly came close to scoring himself – only an acrobatic save from the Braga keeper prevented him from grabbing a goal. The 2-1 win earned Newcastle the 12th Trofeu Internacional de Futebol do Guadiana and saw them score more than one goal for the first time in five pre-season matches.
Newcastle Starting XI: Harper; Simpson, Coloccini (c), Tavernier, R Taylor; Sammy Ameobi (Obertan 88), Tiote (Cabaye 72), Gutierrez, Marveaux; Cisse, Ba (Vuckic 86)
AC Milan 1 Chelsea 0
The Blues suffered their second successive defeat last night after narrowly losing to the Serie A runners-up in Miami. Raul Meireles started in “the hole” behind Romelu Lukaku, with Ramires on the right and Eden Hazard – who has mainly been played centrally – shifting out to the left flank. Chelsea enjoyed the majority of possession in the first-half but failed to create any real clear-cut opportunities – John Terry had a couple of half-chances but failed to trouble the keeper. Marko Marin replaced Meireles after the break and took up a place on the left flank, with Hazard moving back into the centre. Frank Lampard had two opportunities before he was subbed off, as Roberto Di Matteo began to ring the changes and hand his bench some game time. After Milan went ahead on 68 minutes, Hazard continued to look most likely to make the breakthrough – he was also on free-kicks when Lampard departed – but Milan held firm to secure the win.
Chelsea Starting XI: Cech; Ivanovic (Hutchinson 75), Luiz, Terry (Cahill 58) Cole (Ferreira 58); Mikel, Lampard (Essien 75); Ramires (Malouda 75), Meireles ( Marin 46), Eden Hazard; Lukaku (Torres 58).
Ventura County Fusion 0 Swansea 1
Michael Laudrup continued to give plenty of his squad game time by naming two different sides for each half of last night’s match. New midfielders Jonathan de Guzman and Michu named in the same starting line-up for the first time; while the latter took up the role in “the hole”, De Guzman was fielded in a deeper, central position, with Wayne Routledge and Luke Moore handed the wide roles. Danny Graham was the Swans main goal threat, firing a shot wide before teeing up Moore to open the scoring on 21 minutes. Michu then played in left-back Ben Edwards but the youngster saw his shot saved; Michu and Moore both failed to take further chances as the visitors went in 1-0 up at the break. With changes aplenty at half-time, Jazz Richards impressed bombing forward from right-back – his delivery from out wide created chances for Andre Orlandi, Leroy Lita and Stephen Dobbie, while young winger Gwion Edwards also stood out; he had three opportunities to find the net but was unlucky not to extend his side’s lead, as the Welsh outfit stood firm for the win.
Swansea First-half: Vorm; Rangel, Chico, Tate, Davies; Britton, de Guzman, Michu; Routledge, Graham, Moore.
Swansea Second-half: Tremmel; Richards, Monk, Williams, Bessone; Agustien, Gower, Orlandi; Edwards, Lita, Dobbie.
Orlando City 0 Stoke 1
Tony Pulis served Fantasy managers a reminder of the rotation problems between the posts at Stoke by handing Thomas Sorensen a start – the Dane was described as “the hero of the night” after an inspired display in goal thwarted the hosts time and again. The artificial pitch didn’t help the Potters and their players struggled to adjust to the condition underfoot – Jonathan Walters wasted the first opportunity of the match before a Glenn Whelan free-kick was saved after Walters was brought down. The latter continued to pose problems for the home defence and it was no surprise when he eventually opened the scoring, firing home a Peter Crouch knock-down for his second goal in as many matches. Pulis made plenty changes in the second-half and saw subs Kenwyne Jones and Cameron Jerome both go close but the Potters were then reduced to 10 mean following the dismissal of Glenn Whelan. Jerome and Marc Wilson both limped off later on, allowing Ryan Shotton and Jamie Ness a second stint in the match – the pair had earlier been subbed off.
Stoke Starting XI: Sorensen; Shotton (Arismendi 61), Huth (Higginbotham 55), Shawcross, Wilson(Ness 80); Ness (Whitehead 46), Whelan, Palacios (Upson 46), Etherington (Tonge 46); Crouch (Jones 55), Walters (Jerome 55, Shotton72).
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For Gameweek 38
- van Persie
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“I love to attack and I love to go up front...It is a little more difficult than when you are playing centre-back. If you play the way that I want to play, I think my influence is better as a left-back. For the team, it is best that I play as a centre-back. I like to bring the ball out. You need to move the game quickly, and that is one of my qualities as well.”Jan Vertonghen outlines what he feels is his best position for Andre Villas-Boas