A James Milner penalty gets Liverpool’s pre-season up and running, Tom Ince bags a debut goal for Huddersfield, while Gylfi Sigurdsson seemingly edges closer to a move away from Swansea after opting out of the club’s US tour.
Here’s a round-up of yesterday’s action….
Tranmere Rovers 0 Liverpool 4
One of the upcoming Fantasy Premier League campaign’s more anticipated events – a James Milner penalty – helped kick-start Liverpool’s pre-season with some style.
The former England international netted seven times from the spot last year while playing as a left-back, only for his FPL designation as a midfielder to severely hamper his appeal.
His reclassification as a defender for 2017/18 has already prompted 10.5% of us early adopters to pay 6.5 for his services, with penalties a major factor in that purchase, and Milner duly delivered to set the Reds on the way to a convincing win at Prenton Park.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was without four of his key attackers, with new signing Mohamed Salah missing out due to work-permit issues and Philippe Coutinho, Sadio Mane and Adam Lallana all unavailable as they work on their fitness levels.
The Reds’ boss welcomed back skipper Jordan Henderson, though, who made his first appearance since February after finally recovering from a heel problem.
Klopp used a 4-3-3 system throughout, starting the match with Daniel Sturridge up front, flanked by Sheyi Ojo and another reclassified man, Roberto Firmino, who has gone from midfielder to striker for this year’s game.
Ojo provided the assists for both of Liverpool’s first-half goals, the second a fine long-range effort from Marko Grujic.
Klopp made ten changes at the break, among them a first outing for new signing Dominic Solanke, who took over from Sturridge in the central striker role.
Further goals followed from Pedro Chirivella, who was set up by Solanke, and Ben Woodburn, who converted from the spot late on after being brought down.
Speaking post-match, Klopp praised ‘long-term project’ Solanke before hinting that more signings were in the pipeline.
“We cannot only buy players because other teams buy players—we do our business as well as we can do it and we are completely in it. We are convinced about the way we are going, so that’s all. I’m not nervous, maybe that’s the right message.”
Liverpool are in action again tomorrow, at Wigan Athletic.
Liverpool XI First half: Karius; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Lucas, Milner; Henderson, Grujic, Wijnaldum; Ojo, Firmino, Sturridge.
Liverpool XI Second half: Karius (Grabara 67); Clyne, Gomez, Klavan, Flanagan; Stewart, Chirivella, Woodburn; Markovic, Kent, Solanke.
Subs not used: Randall.
Young Boys Bern 2 Stoke City 2 (Stoke win 4-3 on penalties)
Veteran campaigner Charlie Adam sparked a second-half comeback from two goals down for Stoke City in their pre-season Uhrencup encounter with Bern.
The midfielder scored from the penalty spot and then set up Marc Muniesa’s equaliser, before Peter Crouch registered the decisive spot-kick in the shoot-out that followed the 2-2 draw.
Potters boss Mark Hughes again opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation in which Thibaud Verlinden and Julien Ngoy provided the width, with Bojan operating behind central striker Saido Berahino.
Hughes then handed new signings Josh Tymon and Darren Fletcher pitch-time after the break, with Jakob Haugaard, Crouch, Muniesa and Dom Telford also introduced.
Speaking after the match, Hughes confirmed that the club have made an offer to take Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma (priced at a lofty 5.5 in FPL) on loan for the season.
“There is genuine interest. We’d like to make it happen if we can. The boy himself has to make a decision. We are one of many interested parties but we’re very hopeful. We’re still doing a number of deals.”
Stoke City XI: Grant (Haugaard 46); Johnson (Edwards 67), Shawcross (Souttar 67), Wollscheid (Muniesa 46), Pieters (Shenton 70); Adam (Fletcher 67), Imbula (Sweeney 67); Ngoy (Telford 46), Bojan (Campbell 70), Verlinden (Tymon 46); Berahino (Crouch 46).
Sub not used: Jarvis.
Accrington Stanley 0 Huddersfield Town 1
New boy Tom Ince was the man for Huddersfield boss David Wagner at the Wham Stadium.
The young gun, bought from Derby County, was given the chance to go for it after the break and duly delivered the only goal. Intriguingly, Ince was also handed a share of free-kicks upon his second-half introduction – priced at 6.0 in FPL, he’s clearly one to monitor in the mid-price bracket after serving up 14 goals and six assists for the Rams last time out.
Wagner used most of his new signings in the first half. Goalkeeper Jonas Lossl, defenders Mathias Jorgensen and Scott Malone, midfielder Danny Williams and striker Steve Mounie all started at Accrington.
Ince and former Montpellier striker Laurent Depoitre were introduced at half-time, while Tommy Smith (foot), Jon Stankovic (knee), Michael Hefele (achilles), Collin Quaner (ankle) and Australian international midfielder Aaron Mooy, who is still on holiday after playing in the Confederations Cup, all missed out.
Huddersfield Town XI First Half: Lossl; Malone, Schindler, Jorgensen, Scannell; Billing, Williams; Lolley, Payne, Kachunga; Mounie.
Huddersfield Town XI Second half: Coleman; Lowe, Hudson (Palmer 74),Whitehead, Cranie; Hogg, Bunn; van La Parra, Wells, Ince; Depoitre.
Barnet 1 Swansea City 0
Swansea City not only lost their opening friendly, they now face the possibility of losing their star midfielder, Gylfi Sigurdsson, who has opted against travelling on their US tour.
Earlier this morning, the club confirmed:
“Having played v Barnet last night, Gylfi did not feel in the right frame of mind to travel due to the current uncertainty over his future.
Coach Paul Clement handed the Icelander the captaincy upon his introduction after the break and also got his first look at new signings Erwin Mulder and Roque Mesa.
Oliver McBurnie started up front as the lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 set-up, though in the second-half, Swansea reverted to the midfield diamond system that saw them see out the previous season.
Winger Jefferson Montero returned to contention after recovering from a hamstring problem, while Clement issued an injury update ahead of the club’s US tour, with Fernando Llorente set to miss out due to a fractured arm:
“Nathan (Dyer) is still on the road to recovery. Normally the rehabilitation period for the type of injury he had is nine months. If that’s the case this time, he will not be fit until October. But Nathan is coming with us to America because unlike Fernando Llorente, he can run and is mobile. We have just got to be careful that we don’t push him too quickly because you can re-rupture those injuries and then you are starting from zero again. Apart from Nathan, everyone who is travelling will be able to train and play.”
One of Swansea’s key performers last season, defender Alfie Mawson, has now joined up with the squad having been given extra time off following his exertions for England at the European U21 championships.
Swansea City First half: Mulder; Rangel, van der Hoorn, Fernandez, Roberts; Fulton, Carroll; Montero, Routledge, Barrow; McBurnie.
Swansea City Second half: Mulder; Roberts (Olsson 70), Bartley, Keston Davies, Naughton; King (Mesa 70), Grimes, Sigurdsson, Fer; Ayew, Narsingh.
SK Slavia Prague 2 West Bromwich Albion 1
Summer signing Jay Rodriguez made his West Brom debut, playing in the number 10 role behind striker Salomon Rondon for the first 45 minutes of the defeat to Prague.
Chris Brunt – reclassified as a midfielder this season in FPL – started at left-back, with Craig Dawson stationed at centre-half as Gareth McAuley missed out through injury.
The Baggies led 1-0 at half-time thanks to a James McClean goal after 26 minutes, with the assist coming from Matt Phillips, but a totally new side took the field after the break and promptly succumbed to defeat.
Free agent Jason Lowe, on trial at right-back, was among the wholesale changes made by Tony Pulis, while McAuley – along with another injured player, James Morrison – rewarded the 30 or so Baggies fans who had travelled to the training camp in Austria by watching the match with them.
West Brom XI First half: Foster; Nyom, Evans, Dawson, Brunt; Yacob; McClean, Livermore, Rodriguez, Phillips; Rondon.
West Brom XI Second half: Myhill, Lowe, Wilson, O’Shea, Melbourne; McManaman, Harper, Field, Leko; Robson-Kanu; Roberts.