Several mid-price midfield options at Chelsea and Burnley have announced themselves on the Fantasy Premier League radar after impressing in recent friendlies.
The Clarets’ Aaron Lennon (£5.0m) has now scored in successive matches and will be hoping to compete for a starting place with Robbie Brady (£5.5m), who is still not completely fit.
Meanwhile, World Cup absences at Chelsea have left the door open for options such as Pedro (£6.5m), Ross Barkley (£6.0m) and possibly even Callum Hudson-Odoi (£4.5m) to be considered, although it’s early days yet with the Blues.
We’ve got all the goals, assists and Fantasy talking points from Monday’s round of pre-season encounters.
PRESTON 2-3 BURNLEY
- Goals: Aaron Lennon (£5.0m), Daniel Agyei, Dwight McNeil
- Assists: Jeff Hendrick (£5.5m), Jonathan Walters (£5.0m)
Aaron Lennon (£5.0m)’s pre-season form could complicate the discussion over which Burnley midfielder is the best to purchase for our FPL squads, as he scored for the second match running against Preston. With Burnley ranking well for attack on our Season Ticker in the early Gameweeks, there could be some interest in Lennon, as well fellow wingers Robbie Brady (£5.5m) and Johann Berg Gudmundsson (£6.0m). The latter is probably the only one whose starting place is guaranteed for Gameweek 1 but Lennon could feature in the place of Brady, especially on current form and fitness. Also of note was Jonathan Walters (£5.0m) assisting Daniel Agyei’s goal on Sunday, adding to the goal he scored last week.
Judging by manager Sean Dyche’s comments after the win at Preston, Brady is likely to miss out on Thursday’s Europa League qualifying match at Aberdeen, having not been involved at Deepdale. He got 45 minutes and an assist under his belt in Friday’s 5-2 win over Curzon Ashton as he continues to recover from the long-term knee injury sustained in December, but Dyche does not want to take risks with him. By the sounds of it, the Clarets manager is hoping that Brady will be available for Gameweek 1. That would be good news for Fantasy managers aware of his potential this season, but it could well depend on whether Lennon continues his recent scoring form.
“Robbie Brady is doing well – we deliberately took him out of this game, no injury, just to get his map right in his build up. If you’ve been out a long time, if it was a normal pre-season, you’d have a bit of a game, week’s training, but this is too quick, so we took him out to timeline it properly. We’d have to be careful with him, the longer view is more important, not one game. Steven (Defour) won’t be ready, he isn’t on the grass yet, but it’s nothing serious, it’s settling down.”
Dyche has made it difficult to estimate exactly what he believes is his strongest team so far this summer. On two occasions he has organised two friendlies at the same time and split his squad across the fixtures. However, it would seem that he is preparing Stephen Ward (£5.0m), James Tarkowski (£5.0m), Ben Mee (£5.0m) and Matt Lowton (£5.0m) to start against Aberdeen, as they featured from the beginning at Preston. Behind them was Tom Heaton (£5.0m) who started another match in Nick Pope’s (£5.0m) absence. Burnley also rank well for defence on our Season Ticker with the back-four the best place to look to invest with some uncertainty over the goalkeeper position.
Sam Vokes (£5.5m) was the lone front-man against Preston although Chris Wood (£6.5m) and Ashley Barnes (£6.0m) appear to be the first-choice options for Dyche after he discussed their chances of playing against Aberdeen.
“Woody’s got a chance. It was just a precaution tonight, he got a slight feel in his hip, so it’s purely a precaution. Barnesy has an outside chance (for Thursday), he is doing okay, we’re just being careful with him.”
BURNLEY XI (4-4-1-1): Heaton; Ward (Taylor 55’), Mee (Dunne 55’), Tarkowski (Long 55’), Lowton (Bardsley 55’); Lennon (Walters 55’), Westwood (Goodridge 55’), Cork, Gudmundsson (McNeil 55’); Hendrick (Agyei 55’); Vokes (Wells 55’).
PERTH GLORY 0-1 CHELSEA
- Goals: Pedro (£6.5m)
- Assists: Callum Hudson-Odoi (£4.5m)
Two of Chelsea’s cheaper midfielders were thrust into the FPL debate this week as they played in the front three against Perth Glory and were involved for the only goal of the game. Pedro (£6.5m) was the one to find the net and put himself onto the watch-list of many an FPL manager, with Chelsea’s favourable fixtures at the start of 2018/19 and his cut-price. The man who got the assist was youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi (£4.5m), who may also have an outside chance of some starts at the beginning of the season with Willian (£7.0m) and Eden Hazard (£10.5m) absent through World Cup leave and the latter linked with a big move to Real Madrid.
Ross Barkley (£6.0m) was initially used behind the aforementioned Pedro and Hudson-Odoi and Alvaro Morata (£9.0m) in the midfield three, alongside Cesc Fabregas (£6.5m) and Jorginho (£5.0m), making his first appearance in a Chelsea shirt since signing from Napoli. But the former Everton man was shifted onto the left-flank of the front three at half-time and hit the post six minutes after the restart. Fabregas later hit the same post.
The 4-3-3 system installed by new manager Maurizio Sarri was expected to put Marcos Alonso’s (£6.5m) starting berth at risk in favour of Emerson Palmieri (£5.5m) but he was named in the line-up in Australia, with the latter coming on at half-time. The Spaniard may still be deployed too deep to justify a cost of £6.5m, though – it’s worth seeing how involved he will become in subsequent pre-season matches.
David Luiz and Davide Zappacosta could prove the most viable cheaper routes into the Chelsea back-line, which kept a clean sheet in its first pre-season outing. No Chelsea defender in FPL costs lower than their £5.5m price-tag but both of them started against Perth. With Gary Cahill (£5.5m), Andreas Christensen (£5.5m) and Victor Moses (£6.0m) and Antonio Rüdiger (£5.5m) still absent from the training group due to World Cup leave the pair will have a head-start on their team-mates when it comes to competing for a Gameweek 1 starting place.
18-year-old Marcin Bulka started in goal with Thibaut Courtois (£5.5m) and Willy Caballero (£5.0m) still on leave.
CHELSEA XI (4-3-3): Bulka; Alonso, David Luiz, Ampadu (Kalas 61’), Zappacosta (Aina 73’); Barkley (Musonda 76’), Jorginho (Bakayoko 45’), Fabregas; Hudson-Odoi (Pasalic 45’), Morata (Abraham 61’), Pedro (Pizaon 73’).
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