There are now a large group of budget Crystal Palace players making strong cases for inclusion in our Fantasy Premier League squads for Gameweek 1.
Wilfried Zaha opened his pre-season goal tally after playing up front against Oxford, while Andros Townsend added a hat-trick of assists and Aaron Wan-Bissaka started in defence once again.
Elswhere, Marko Arnautovic and Mark Noble have been drawing attention to themselves at West Ham but Southampton continue to struggle defensively.
We’ve got all the latest goals, assists and Fantasy talking points from another round of pre-season fixtures.
AFC WIMBLEDON 2-1 BRIGHTON
Goals: Ollie Norwood
Assists: Aaron Connolly
Brighton manager Chris Hughton has played down injury fears over Shane Duffy (£4.5m) and Jurgen Locadia (£5.5m) as the pair were withdrawn during a 2-1 defeat at AFC Wimbledon.
Duffy came off after 30 minutes having recovered from a groin injury last month, but was reportedly in good spirits after the match. Locadia went down holding his left-thigh after a 55th minute tackle, appeared to be in some discomfort, and asked to be immediately substituted.
“It’s just very precautionary. What we tell all players is that any little niggles or anything they feel, or if they get to a level where they are not comfortable, then come off and we will deal with it. At the moment we will assess both of them and we are hoping both will be available for midweek.”
Duffy has admitted there is more competition for places in defence this season and it’s difficult to get a fix on who Hughton believes is his best back-four just yet. While Duffy, Gaitan Bong (£4.5m) and Ezequiel Schelotto (£4.0m) were involved at Wimbledon, other key figures such as Lewis Dunk (£4.5m), Bruno (£4.5m) and new signing Bernardo (£4.5m) were utilised against Crawley on Friday, with most popular defender Markus Suttner (£4.0m), owned by 5.7 percent, deployed on the left-wing there. New addition Leon Balogun (£4.5m) is yet to be involved in pre-season action following his late return to training as a result of the World Cup.
Locadia was Brighton’s biggest threat against Wimbledon, the Dutchman having three good chances to score before being taken off.
Pascal Groß (£7.0m), the most fashionable Seagull with 12.5 percent ownership, was deployed just behind Locadia in a 4-4-1-1 formation, but offered little before being substituted on the hour-mark.
Ollie Norwood scored the penalty after Wimbledon’s two goals, although very few key players were present on the pitch when it was taken – so it probably doesn’t tell us too much about their set-piece pecking order. Groß took the Seagulls’ most recent Premier League penalty, against Spurs in Gameweek 35.
After the match Hughton also said he expects Glenn Murray (£6.5m) to return in midweek, after picking up an ankle problem during the 1-1 draw with St Gallen.
BRIGHTON XI (4-4-1-1): Button; Bong (Davies 70’), Duffy (White 21’), Barclay, Schelotto (Moore 70’); March (Gyokeres 70’); Stephens (Norwood 61’), Kayal (Mandroiu 70’), Knockaert (Tilley 70’); Groß (Towell 61’); Locadia (Connolly 55’).
OXFORD UNITED 1-3 CRYSTAL PALACE
- Goals: Wilfried Zaha (£7.0m), Jeffrey Schlupp (£4.5m), Sulley Kaikai
- Assists: Andros Townsend x3 (£6.0m)
Wilfried Zaha (£7.0m) scored his first pre-season goal in Crystal Palace’s 3-1 win at Oxford United. The Ivory Coast international was deployed as a centre-forward in a 4-4-2 system for the first time, and with Christian Benteke (£6.5m) missing out with a knee injury, he lined up alongside Alexander Sørloth (£5.0m), who has led the attack in every game so far. The Norwegian had impressed himself up until now, with one goal and three assists in two matches, but was poor against Oxford, missing a golden opportunity to open the scoring.
Zaha’s goal came as an equaliser after Oxford had taken the lead, the forward latching onto the end of Andros Townsend’s (£6.0m) cross. That was the latter’s third assist in as many outings, but he added a fourth for Jeffrey Schlupp (£4.5m) to make it 2-1 and fifth in the second-half.
Attention has also now been drawn to the former Leicester City man, who started on the left-flank of midfield for the third match in a row on Saturday, adding his first goal of pre-season. Priced at just £4.5m and classified as a defender, continued starts in midfield should see him improve on his 0.3 percent ownership before Gameweek 1. Continuing the theme of out of position defenders, Jairo Reidewald (£4.5m) was deployed in central midfield alongside James McArthur (£5.0m) for a third time in a row, although he may lose his place when Luka Milivojevic (£6.5m) returns to action.
Confidence is growing in £4.0m defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka, now owned by 3.2 percent of managers, who made his third consecutive start of pre-season at right-back. He is the only member of the back-four that faced Oxford to have featured from the beginning in every friendly so far. James Tomkins (£4.5m) is the most popular with 11.2 percent ownership, as another start alongside Mamadou Sakho (£5.0m) suggest that will be the first-choice centre-back pairing this season.
Despite rising interest in the Palace defence, the result at Oxford means that in three pre-season matches, they are yet to keep a clean sheet. Although the fault for that in this particular encounter was that of Wayne Hennessey (£4.5m), who came out of his goal too early to allow Jon Obika to score.
The Welshman may still have a slight advantage over new signing Vicente Guaita (£4.5m) in the fight to be Palace’s number one shot stopper as he has played more minutes than him (135 to 90). However, Guaita has conceded just one goal and Hennessey two, with some blame on him for the latter of those.
Substitute Sulley Kaikai made it 3-1 when Townsend cut the ball back for him. That was his third goal involvement of pre-season but he is yet to be added to FPL.
CRYSTAL PALACE XI (4-4-2): Hennessey (Guaita 45’); Van Aanholt (Ward 64’), Sakho, Tomkins, Wan-Bissaka; Schlupp (Williams 82’), McArthur (Puncheon 82’), Riedewald, Townsend; Sørloth (Kaikai 64’), Zaha.
LILLE 0-0 EVERTON
- Goals: None
- Assists: None
A mostly second-string Everton drew 0-0 with Lille in Portugal before losing on penalties.
Oumar Niasse (£5.5m) and Nikola Vlasic (£5.0m), both of whom started the match, were the pair who missed spot-kicks.
The Toffees were largely on top for most of the match with Sandro Ramirez (not yet in FPL), and Davy Klaassen (£6.0m) having chances the score, the latter denied only by an offside call after he had put the ball in the net.
With Jordan Pickford (£5.0m) still on leave, there was another start for Maarten Stekelenburg (£4.0m) in goal.
EVERTON XI (4-3-3): Stekelenburg; Robinson, Williams (Holgate 84’), Pennington, Kenny; Klaassen (Dowell 79’), Connolly (Davies 79’), Besic; Niasse, Ramirez (Mirallas 45’), Vlasic.
LYON 4-0 FULHAM
- Goals: None
- Assists: None
Popular FPL midfielder Ryan Sessegnon (£6.5m) was deployed on the left flank of a front three again for Fulham, but is still without a single goal involvement for the club in pre-season.
In fact, this 4-0 defeat in France means the Whites have now gone three summer friendlies in a row without a goal.
Sessegnon’s role in attack does appear to be fairly secure at this point, with the arrival of Maxime Le Marchand (£4.5m) to play at left-back in his place – some good news for his 13.8 percent ownership.
The rest of the front three also provided FPL talking points as £4.5m striker Aboubakar Kamara started there for the third time in four matches, suggesting he could be closer to the first-team than previously believed, and justifying the 7.7 percent investment in him so far.
Meanwhile, £4.5m midfielder Rui Fonte played as a centre-forward for the second time in pre-season, having appeared in the front three as a substitute against Reading and Fenerbahce.
Manager Slaviša Jokanović named the same back-four to face Lyon that lined up against Reading, with mostly youngsters playing Fenerbahce last week. Alongside Le Marchand at left-back was the centre-back pairing of Tim Ream (£4.5m) and Denis Odoi (£4.5m) with Cyrus Christie (£4.5m) at right-back.
In midfield, there as a first start for new signing Jean Michaël Seri (£5.5m), who lined up alongside key man Tom Cairney (£5.0m) and Stefan Johansen (£5.5m).
It was not a match to remember for this Fulham line-up though, as a brace from Martin Terrier, a Diaz Mariano penalty and a Maxwel Cornet strike wrapped up the win for Lyon in the second-half.
FULHAM XI (4-3-3): Bettinelli; Le Marchand (Kebano 45’), Ream (Jenz 74’), Odoi (Cisse 74’), Christie (S Sessegnon 69’); Cairney (de la Torre 74’), Seri (McDonald 61’), Johansen (O’Riley 74’); R Sessegnon (Fossey 74’), Fonte (Kait 74’), Kamara (Thorsteinsson 74’).
Real Betis 2-0 Huddersfield | Werder Bremen 1-0 Huddersfield
- Goals: None
- Assists: None
A youthful Huddersfield side was defeated in two 45-minute matches against Real Betis and Werder Bremen.
It was a largely second-string side with most of the first-team players set for action against SV Darmstadt the following day.
Budget forward Collin Quaner (£4.5m), owned by 7.7 percent of Fantasy managers, was deployed on the right of attacking midfielder again and had penalty claims waved away, with Laurent Depoitre (£5.5m) leading the line.
Loren and Sergio Canales got the goals for Betis as they rounded off a 2-0 win.
For the second 45-minute game, David Wagner pushed Florent Hadergjonaj (£4.5m) from right-back into central midfield in place of Abdelhamid Sabiri (£4.5m), with Jordan Williams filling the defensive vacancy.
Ramadan Sobhi (£5.0m) got his first minutes in a Huddersfield shirt 26 minutes into the Bremen match, coming on for Quaner to play on the right of attacking midfield.
Terence Kongolo (£4.5m) put the ball in the net but had his goal chalked off for a foul in the build-up, committed by Depoitre.
Florian Kainz scored a direct free-kick after Williams’ foul to win the match for Bremen.
The two matches combined ensured a run of 270 minutes without a goal for the Terriers in pre-season.
HUDDERSFIELD vs BETIS XI (4-2-3-1): Coleman; Löwe, Kongolo, Stanković, Hadergjonaj; Sabiri, Hogg, O’Brien, Kachunga, Quaner; Depoitre.
HUDDERSFIELD vs WERDER BREMEN XI (4-2-3-1): Coleman; Löwe (Edmonds-Green 31’), Kongolo, Stanković, Williams; Hadergjonaj, Hogg; Kachunga, O’Brien, Quaner (Sobhi 26’); Depoitre.
Notts County 1-4 Leicester
- Goals: Wes Morgan (£4.5m), Hamza Choudhury, Demarai Gray (£5.5m), Islam Slimani
- Assists: James Maddison (£6.5m), Leonardo Ulloa
Fantasy managers were given an idea of how Leicester’s defence could line-up in the absence of Harry Maguire (£5.5m) at the start of the season.
As expected, Wes Morgan (£4.5m) and new signing Jonny Evans (£5.0m) were the two centre-backs, neither one owned by more than 1.3 percent in FPL while Maguire’s ownership is still above 20 percent.
There was no involvement for new arrival Ricardo Pereira (£5.0m) meaning youngster Darnell Johnson played a full 90 minutes at right-back, while Ben Chilwell (£5.0m) replaced Christian Fuchs (£4.5m) at the break.
In the absences of Jamie Vardy (£9.0m), Kelechi Iheanacho (£6.0m) and Shinji Okazaki (£5.5m), FPL midfielder Fousseni Diabaté (£5.0m) led the forward line, with Islam Slimani and Leonardo Ulloa coming on in the second-half and combining for the Foxes’ fourth goal. With the other centre-forwards soon to become available, Diabaté is unlikely to start up front again.
For this match, he was flanked by James Maddison (£6.5m) and Demarai Gray (£5.5m), both of whom have below one percent ownership but impressed in this outing.
The game got off to a frantic start with David Vaughan hitting the post for Notts County, Evans having two shots blocked and Fuchs firing wide.
Lewis Alessandra opened the scoring in the 20th minute when his initial shot was saved by Eldin Jakupovic (£4.5m), who started in goal in light of Kasper Schmeichel’s (£5.0m) extended absence and Danny Ward’s (£4.5m) recent arrival from Liverpool. The former Oldham and Plymouth man converting the rebound.
Morgan equalised soon after, controlling Maddison’s corner and hitting a half-volley past Branislav Pindroch in the County goal.
Gray’s impressive effort made it 3-1 to Leicester. The winger picked the ball up in the County half, beat two defenders and then converted from a tight angle.
Daniel Amartey’s (£4.5m) cross was cushioned by Ulloa into Slimani’s path for the Algerian to score the fourth.
LEICESTER CITY XI (4-3-3): Jakupovic; Fuchs (Chilwell 46’), Evans (Amartey 62’), Morgan (Knight 62’), Johnson; Elder (Ndukwu 62’), Choudhury (King 46’), Mendy (Iborra 45’); Maddison, (Kapustka 62’) Diabaté (Slimani 62’), Gray (Ulloa 62’).
Derby County 3-0 Southampton
- Goals: None
- Assists: None
Fantasy managers may have to reconsider their investment in Southampton wing-back Cédric Soares (£4.5m) as Mark Hughes’ experiments with a back-three continue to cause defensive problems for the Saints.
The Portuguese defender, owned by 15.8 percent, was not present for the 3-0 defeat at Derby but he may return to a side that struggles to keep clean sheets one the season starts. In three matches against comparatively lower opposition they have not kept a single one yet and have been breached a total of eight times.
For each match, the back-three has consisted of Ryan Bertrand (£5.0m), Wesley Hoedt (£4.5m) and Jack Stephens (£4.5m), with new signing Jannik Vestergaard (£5.0m) joining them at half-time at Pride Park. However, the former Borussia Mönchengladbach man made a costly error for the opening goal against Derby.
Admittedly, Hughes has acknowledged the problems at the back and revealed Southampton would continue to work to improve their defence.
“We need to step up. We have had three games now, we have conceded too many goals than I would like so we still need to do the fundamentals right in terms of getting the defensive work right. I am glad that the situations that could have been addressed have been highlighted so we can highlight that and learn from them.”
Further up the field Nathan Redmond (£5.5m) started the game in an advanced position again, furthering his appeal although he ended a run of two goals in two at Derby.
Mohamed Elyounoussi (£6.5m) made his first appearance in a Southampton shirt on the opposite flank to Redmond in the 3-4-3 but did not deliver much.
Fantasy managers will be no closer to knowing which of the Saints’ strikers will start the season. Charlie Austin (£6.0m) was preferred for the first hour but Manolo Gabbiadini (£6.0m) replaced him just after the hour-mark, having shared minutes with him in China.
Derby didn’t take the lead until the second half of this encounter, Joe Ledley played a ball through, which should have been intercepted by Vestergaard but he missed his clearance, allowing Tom Lawrence to run in and score.
Soon after, Lawrence struck again after a fine run ended with him striking from range.
Mason Bennett added the third, converting a rebound from a Florian Jozefzoon shot.
SOUTHAMPTON XI (3-4-3): McCarthy; Bertrand (McQueen 80’), Hoedt, Stephens (Clasie 80’); Targett (Vestergaard 45’), Lemina (Gallagher 80’), Ward-Prowse (Hojbjerg 63’), Armstrong (Romeu 63’); Redmond (Reed 63’), Austin (Gabbiadini 63’), Elyounoussi (Davis 45’).
Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Brentford
- Goals: Fernando Llorente (£6.0m), Georges-Kévin N’Koudou
- Assists: Victor Wanyama (£5.0m), Son Heung-min (£8.5m)
Fantasy managers were given another look at the how Tottenham might line-up without their key World Cup players in Gameweek 1.
Fernando Llorente (£6.0m) made it two goals in two as he looks to make the case for starting ahead of Harry Kane (£12.5m) against Newcastle on August 11. Owned by just 0.3 percent, if he does get the nod for the first week at least, he could be difference making budget forward.
His goal in this behind closed doors friendly was assisted by Victor Wanyama (£5.0m), another player expected to benefit from a host of World Cup related absences in the early part of the season.
Son Heung-min (£8.5m) made his return to the side, setting up Georges-Kévin N’Koudou’s later winner in this match although the South Korean is only expected to be available for Gameweek 1 before travelling for the Asian Games with his nation.
Tottenham did not reveal the team sheet as this was a behind closed doors friendly but the report on their website indicated that Michel Vorm (£5.0m) started in goal again. The former Swansea man, owned by just 0.1 percent is another budget differential worth monitoring in the early part of the season if Hugo Lloris (£5.5m) does not return to action in time for the start of the season.
Serge Aurier (£6.0m) and Ben Davies (£6.0m) look assured of starts, at least initially, as they started another pre-season match in the absence of Kieran Trippier (£6.0m) and Danny Rose (£6.0m) respectively.
Erik Lamela (£6.5m) was involved in midfield again but could not add to his hat-trick scored against Southend. Owned by under one percent, either he or Lucas Moura (£7.0m) could take Son’s place during August.
Fortuna Dusseldorf 1-3 Watford
- Goals: Isaac Success, Troy Deeney (£6.0m), Jerome Sinclair (£4.5m)
- Assists: Andre Gray (£6.0m), Daryl Janmaat (£5.0m), Deeney
Watford striker Andre Gray (£6.0m) is determined to be part of the third-striker debate on FPL at the start of this season. The former Burnley man made his second start of pre-season and added to his goal against FC Köln by assisting in this latest match. Fantasy managers could find him a useful differential option early on with Brighton, Burnley, Crystal Palace and Fulham all set to face the Hornets in the first six Gameweeks.
There may be competition from Troy Deeney (£6.0m) for his place, even though the 30-year-old has featured only as a substitute so far. He netted a goal and provided an assist in this 3-1 win in Austria. It is worth following Scout Notes over the summer to see which of the two forwards looks more assured of a start leading into Gameweek 1.
Meanwhile, midfielder Jack Rodwell has been revealed to be on trial with Watford. He nearly scored against Düsseldorf when he headed a Jose Holebas (£4.5m) corner over the bar.
Isaac Success (not in FPL yet) broke the deadlock after Gray ran clear of his defender down the right and played a low cross into the box.
Rouwen Hemmings equalised for Düsseldorf but his side didn’t create too many chances.
Deeney restored Watford’s lead in the second-half after a complete change of personnel, heading home a whipped cross from full-back Daryl Janmaat (£5.0m).
The veteran striker then turned provider late-on to set up Jerome Sinclair’s (£4.5m) goal.
Preston 2-2 West Ham
- Goals: Marko Arnautovic x2 (£7.0m)
- Assists: Mark Noble (£5.0m), Andriy Yarmolenko (£7.0m)
A brace against Preston means it’s now three goals in two pre-season matches for Marko Arnautovic (£7.0m), who appears to have made the centre-forward position at West Ham his own. It would seem very few budget FPL strikers can offer what the Austrian can, with only Zaha matching him for form so far this summer, thus justifying his 24 percent ownership. Despite some tricky fixtures for West Ham in the early part of the season, his popularity and ability to find the net even in tough games may make him essential for Gameweek 1.
But creeping under the radar at West Ham, is captain Mark Noble (£5.0m) who has now registered a goal involvement in every single one of the Hammer’s summer friendlies so far. The 31-year-old netted a penalty in the opening game of pre-season and has assisted Arnautovic in each of the subsequent matches. Anyone looking to capitalise on the Austrian’s form in the early part of the season with a cheaper alternative could consider Noble, owned by just 0.4 percent, who is also in the conversation for penalty kicks.
Andriy Yarmolenko (£7.0m) has hit the ground running at West Ham too, impressing in both his displays and adding an assist for Arnautovic against Preston. Meanwhile, Jack Wilshere’s (£5.0m) being deployed in the number 10 role behind Arnautovic could bode well. The former Arsenal man has not historically starred in FPL but a more advanced position coupled with an in-form player like Arnautovic could bring out the best in him, and he is worth monitoring during pre-season.
In defence, FPL midfielder Artur Masuaku (£4.5m) continues to be deployed at left-back, virtually negating any worth in owning him. Aaron Cresswell (£5.5m) is expected to be first-choice in that position too once he has returned from a groin injury.
Declan Rice (£4.5m) and Issa Diop (£4.5m) started at centre-back as Manuel Pellegrini works out who will take Winston Reid’s (£4.5m) place while he is out for three months. Angelo Ogbonna (£4.5m) featured from the bench while new signing Fabián Balbuena (£4.5m) is yet to feature in pre-season. We will have to monitor the defence further before we get a clearer picture in this department.
WEST HAM XI (4-2-3-1): Adrian; Masuaku, Rice, Diop, Fredericks; Noble, Obiang, Snodgrass, Wilshere, Yarmolenko; Arnautovic.