Romelu Lukaku makes his Man United debut, but Marcus Rashford scores the goals, while Olivier Giroud reminds all and sundry of his own striking prowess as Arsenal win again in Australia.
Elsewhere, Saido Berahino finally opens his Stoke City account and a Swansea City budget option is handed a new string to his bow in Gylfi Sigurdsson’s absence.
Here’s the notes from a busy pre-season Saturday.
LA Galaxy 2 Man United 5
The man in many a Fantasy team – Romelu Lukaku – made his Man United debut and was promptly upstaged by a rival for the central striker role.
The Belgian currently sits in just under half of all Fantasy Premier League squads, but it was team-mate Marcus Rashford, owned by a mere 2.9%, who did the damage in the first match of United’s American tour.
Jose Mourinho opted to field a three-man defence for the encounter against the Galaxy, deploying Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Daley Blind, with Antonio Valencia and Jesse Lingard as the wing-backs.
United kept that shape for the second period, with Victor Lindelof, joining Lukaku in a completely new line-up.
By then, Rashford had scored twice, courtesy of assists from Lingard and Juan Mata, before Marouane Fellaini rounded off the first-half goals, with Lingard again the provider.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Anthony Martial made it 5-0, with assists from Martial and Timothy Fosu-Mensah, before two late strikes for the hosts took a touch of the gloss off the victory.
Not that Mourinho was downcast, preferring to dwell on the flexibility that playing with three at the back can bring to his side.
“We have trained for five days and in these five days we trained for two days in the relation to this system. The improvements are in relation to four hours of work, so I couldn’t expect much better, it’s something we have to keep working on in case during the season we decide to play three at the back. We did it twice against Rostov and maybe we want to do it more times.”
That statement would suggest that Mourinho has far from settled on the system, although Fantasy managers should certainly monitor the situation. Valencia’s stock, as a wing-back, would clearly be lifted by such a role.
Equally, Mourinho was buoyant on Rashford’s performance, indicating that he will look to pair the starlet with Lukaku over the pre-season.
“He [Rashford] has a great attitude and last season he maybe was not scoring a lot of goals and missing some chances but it was not a drama because that’s part of the evolution. We know he is going to score more goals than last season. Today he was in a different team to Lukaku [first half and second half]. We will also try both in the same team which I think can also work.”
Man United XI First half: De Gea; Jones, Smalling, Blind; Valencia, Carrick, Herrera, Fellaini, Lingard; Mata; Rashford.
United XI Second half: Pereira; Tuanzebe, Lindelof, Bailly; Fosu-Mensah (Mitchell 85), Pogba, A. Pereira, Mkhitaryan, Darmian; Martial; Lukaku.
Subs not used: Romero, McTominay.
Western Sydney Wanderers 1 Arsenal 3
There might be a strong sense that Olivier Giroud will not be an Arsenal player much longer, but he took his chance to remind everyone of his worth during a routine win in Australia.
The French target man opened the scoring in Sydney, one of two assists for Nacho Monreal as he made his case to start ahead of new man Sead Kolasinac either as the left-sided centre-half or at wing-back.
Mohamed Elneny hit the third, from an Alex Iwobi assist, despite being asked to operate at centre-back in Arsene Wenger’s now seemingly go-to system of a three-man defence.
But it was the second goalscorer – Aaron Ramsey – who could well be one of the more relevant Fantasy issues this season.
The Welsh midfielder is priced at just 7.0 after enduring a lacklustre 2016/17 campaign in which he produced just 56 points. Used in both pre-season matches to date, Ramsey’s goal reminded us of what an attacking threat he can be from midfield.
New signing Alexandre Lacazette started the match on the left in a role made particularly potent by Alexis Sanchez last season, as Giroud was handed the central striking role.
The Chilean’s future is still to be decided, although his latest comments suggest it may not be as an Arsenal player.
“It depends on them (Arsenal). I have to wait to know what they want. My idea is to play and win the Champions League. It’s a dream I have had since I was little.”
Wenger again rang the changes later than most managers, swapping goalkeepers at half-time and then the entire outfield contingent after 66 minutes.
Arsenal XI First 66 minutes: Ospina (Martinez 46); Monreal, Koscielny, Elneny; Maitland-Niles, Ramsey, Xhaka, Oxalde-Chamberlain; Lacazette, Iwobi; Giroud.
Arsenal XI 67 minutes onwards: Martinez; Bramall, Mertesacker, Kolasinac; Bielik, Coquelin, Ozil, Willock, Nelson; Welbeck, Walcott, Nketiah.
Monaco 4 Stoke City 2
Saido Berahnio scored his first Stoke City goal before a classy Monaco side proved rather too much for Mark Hughes’ men.
The striker turned home a Giannelli Imbula rebound as Stoke’s strong starting XI made a good fist of the first-half but still trailed by the interval.
Mame Diouf levelled things after the break before the French side pulled away once and for all.
Hughes gave four players their first starts of pre-season. Ramadan Sobhi and Xherdan Shaqiri played on the left and right wings respectively, Geoff Cameron moved in at centre-back next to Ryan Shawcross, and Joe Allen filled the number 10 role just ahead of Imbula and Darren Fletcher in midfield.
Allen’s role and Cameron’s pre-season are of particular interest. The USA international is available as a 4.5 defender in FPL and, if he can cement regular starts, could open up some profitable rotation pairing options.
Stoke City XI: Butland (Krkic 45); Allen (Grant 45), Robhi, Shawcross (Muniesa 42), Johnson (Tymon 64); Imbula (Edwards 64), Cameron (Adam 64), Pieters (Wollscheid 64), Fletcher (Diouf, 45); Shaqiri (Verlinden 45), Berahino (Crouch 62).
Philadelphia Union 2 Swansea City 2
Kyle Bartley and Jordan Ayew were on the scoresheet for Swansea City, but it was a cut-price midfielder who caught the Fantasy eye.
Tom Carroll (4.5) was handed set-piece duties for the Swans, potentially offering us a lot of bang for minimal bucks should he continue in that role once the season begins. And with Gylfi Sigurdsson almost certain not to be in a Swansea shirt, come August 12, Carroll’s elevation looks likely.
Leroy Fer and Bartley provided the assists for Paul Clement’s men, while defender Alfie Mawson was handed his first run-out of pre-season.
Bartley, a defender, is currently missing from the FPL player list, but would be expected to be priced at 4.0.
Swansea City XI First half: Nordfeldt; Mawson, Olsson, Naughton, Bartley; Fer, Narsingh, Routledge, Carroll, Mesa, Ayew.
Swansea City XI Second half: Nordfeldt; van der Hoom, Rangel, Fernandez, Kingsley; Britton, Montero, Grimes, Fulton, Barrow; McBurnie.
AFC Wimbledon 3 Watford 2
New head coach Marco Silva oversaw a defeat in his first match in charge of Watford, although goals from Ben Watson and Steven Berghuis brought the Hornets to parity before they succumbed to a last-minute winner for the hosts.
Silva employed a 4-2-3-1 system with Etienne Capoue – one of 2016/17’s early bargains – used as part of the attacking midfield three rather than in the double pivot.
Priced at 5.5 on the back of a 131-point campaign last time around, Capoue could at least be given the opportunity to have a tilt at matching that decent total.
Assists at Wimbledon came from Jose Holebas and Brice Dja Djedje.
Watford XI: Gomes (Bachmann 61); Janmaat (Dja Djédjé, 46), Prödl, Britos (Kabasele 46), Holebas; Watson, Doucouré; Berghuis (Gordon 90), Capoue (Folivi 85), Success (Amrabat 46); Okaka.
Sub not used: Rowan.
Estoril Praia 1 Bournemouth 2
Jordan Ibe and Max Gradel hit the goals as Bournemouth started their pre-season with a win.
Sam Surridge and Gradel provided the assists for Eddie Howe’s side, but the manager had to do without new signing Jermain Defoe, who had recently attended the funeral of Bradley Lowery.
Howe handed new boys Nathan Ake and Connor Mahoney first-half starts, while Ryan Fraser filled in at right-back.
Josh King, now reclassified as a striker in FPL played in exactly that role as part of a 4-4-2 system employed by Howe in both halves.
Bournemouth XI First half: Boruc; Fraser, Cook, Ake, Daniels; Mahoney, Cook, Surman, Pugh; Mousset, Afobe.
Bournemouth XI Second half: Federici; Worthington, Francis, Cargill, Mings; Ibe, Gosling, Arter, Taylor; Gradel, King (Surridge 65).
St Gallen 0 Southampton 0
New Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino chopped and changed his squad players in the Swiss stalemate.
Established stars and youthful up and comers – six of whom had never played a first-team match for the club – were mixed and matched in two different sides put out in the first and second halves, but Pellegrino used his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, with Dusan Tadic operating as a No 10 behind Charlie Austin up front.
But there was no place for Virgil Van Dijk, who is being eased back into contact training following his January injury, and Ryan Bertrand, who had a slight hamstring issue and was kept out as a precaution.
Only four La Liga teams conceded fewer goals than Pellegrino’s Alaves last season, and although this was only the first match of the Saints’ pre-season, it could well be the sign of things to come.
Southampton XI First half: Forster, Flannigan, O’Driscoll, Yoshida, McQueen, Romeu, Clasie, Tella (Johnson, 40), Boufal, Tadic, Austin.
Southampton XI Second half: McCarthy, Pied, Jones, Gardos, Little, Hojbjerg, Johnson, Davis, Long, Gallagher, Gabbiadini.
Maidstone United 1 Crystal Palace 3
Jordon Mutch scored twice for Palace as new boss Frank De Boer fielded a side made up almost exclusively of youth teamers.
Rather more telling indications as to how he views his new, and more senior, charges will be available when the club travels to the far east for two matches later this week.
Chelsea 8 Fulham 2
Antonio Conte’s side romped to victory in a behind-closed-doors friendly against their London neighbours.
In a match that took place in Chelsea’s training ground, Cobham, the 7.0-priced Willian (three goals and one assist) showed just why he could offer value for our midfields in the opening few Gameweeks, with Eden Hazard sidelined for the start of the season.
Meanwhile, Michy Batshuayi bagged two goals and a pair of assists as the Blues’ lone striker before his manager made 10 alterations at the break.
Chelsea first-half: Caballero; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill; Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso; Willian, Batshuayi, Pedro.
Chelsea second-half: Eduardo; Kalas, David Luiz, Clarke-Salter; Tomori, Scott, Pasalic, Kenedy; Baker, Remy, Boga.
A reminder that all the friendly results and key Scout Notes are being captured here, in our Pre-Season Guide.