It is becoming harder to discern which Crystal Palace assets will be the best ones to own in Fantasy Premier League for 2018/19 as they continue to impress during pre-season.
Meanwhile, Pedro (£6.5m) has made it two goals in as many matches as Fantasy managers flock to the mid-price Chelsea midfielder.
In this latest Scout Notes article we’ll see what some of the weekend’s goals, assists and line-ups mean for our Gameweek 1 preparations.
BIRMINGHAM CITY 1-1 BRIGHTON
- Goals: Yves Bissouma (£5.0m)
- Assists: None
Glenn Murray (£6.5m) appears to have put a pre-season ankle injury behind him as he registered another 75 minutes for Brighton in a 1-1 draw at Birmingham City on Saturday. Although the former Crystal Palace forward believes he is still behind the rest of the squad when it comes to fitness, as a result of the week that he missed with the knock. Murray’s chances of starting Gameweek 1 at Watford are still good though, as Jurgen Locadia (£5.5m) is sidelined and Florin Andone (£5.0m) yet to be involved in a pre-season match through a groin injury. Tomer Hemed (£5.0m) looks the most likely to fight for his place as he has registered more minutes and is Brighton’s top-scorer of pre-season with two goals.
“That injury put me a week behind the rest of the squad, and I had my first 60 minutes against Charlton in midweek. The biggest positive for me was I got through 75 minutes pain free and I’m eager to kick on now.” – Glenn Murray
Manager Chris Hughton only made three substitutions at St. Andrews Stadium, instead of the large swathe of changes pre-season matches have become known for. That lends credence to the idea that the line-up he named was close to the XI he wishes to start at Vicarage Road on August 11.
Shane Duffy (£4.5m) and Lewis Dunk (£4.5m) were paired together at centre-back for the first time this summer, although new signing Leon Balogun (£4.5m) came on for the latter with 15 minutes left. The Nigerian’s late return to the squad and Duffy’s injury earlier this month have made it difficult to asses exactly who looks set to be the first-choice pair. Dunk has played more minutes than the other two and looks the most likely in terms of preparation, hence why he is the most popular of the trio so far (3.8 percent ownership). Brighton have just FC Nantes to play at Amex Stadium on August 3 now, which we hope will give us final clarification over who the preferred pairing is.
“I just put in my best and that’s all I can do. Then you hope it is enough. Of course, I can’t come here and say I played in the World Cup and now I’m going to play from the start. I have to earn it and that’s what I’m trying to do.” – Leon Balogun
Mat Ryan (£4.5m) looks set to be between the sticks from the off, now that he has completed his first 90 minutes since returning from the World Cup. The Australian registered 51 minutes against Portsmouth last week before playing all of the draw in Birmingham.
New signing Yves Bissouma (£5.0m) got the goal in this game, netting a last-minute free-kick he had won himself after Birmingham had gone ahead through Maikel Kieftenbeld in the first-half.
BRIGHTON XI (4-4-1-1): Ryan; Bernardo, Dunk (Balogun 74’), Duffy, Bruno; March, Pröpper, Stephens, Knockaert; Groß (Bissouma 70’); Murray (Hemed 74’).
BURTON ALBION 1-5 CARDIFF CITY
- Goals: Own-goal, Kenneth Zohore (£5.0m), Nathaniel Mendez-Laing (£5.0m), Bobby Reid (£5.5m), Callum Paterson (£5.5m)
- Assists: Junior Hoilett (£5.5m), Joe Ralls (£5.0m), None, Neil Etheridge (£4.5m), None.
Bobby Reid (£5.5m) scored his third goal of pre-season against Burton Albion on Saturday to further his case for a Gameweek 1 start against Bournemouth. However, it was another match where the former Bristol City man was used on the right wing of attacking midfield, slightly frustrating considering he is a forward on Fantasy Premier League. If he is not going to be used as a striker, he will have competition from Josh Murphy (£5.0m), the Bluebirds pre-season top-scorer and Junior Hoilett (£5.5m), who got an assist at Burton.
On the injury front, right-back Lee Peltier (£4.0m) was taken to hospital after a clash of heads. The local press has suggested that manager Neil Warnock prefers Peltier to Jazz Richards (£4.0m) in that position so it will be worth keeping an eye on his fitness in the coming days. He is currently the most popular Cardiff defender with 2.5 percent ownership. If his head injury will put him on the sidelines for some time then Richards, the same price, provides a decent alternative at Cardiff, although Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£4.0m) still looks the most viable option in this price bracket.
“He’s gone to hospital now, he can’t remember being knocked out so that’s always a precautionary thing we do so we’ll see what the doctor says. It was a sickening clash, it sounded hollow so hopefully he’s okay.” – Kevin Blackwell, assistant manager
Elsewhere in the Cardiff back-line, Sol Bamba (£4.5m) got his first 90 minutes of pre-season although he should still start in Gameweek 1. According to local press, Warnock likes to manage Bamba’s minutes in pre-season so that he’s at his best for the season proper. In this particular match, the former Leeds man played as well as he did last term, alongside Sean Morrison (£5.0m).
New signing Greg Cunningham (£4.5m) is slowly but surely winning the battle for the left-back spot over last season’s first-choice Joe Bennett (£4.5m). The former Preston man has started the same number of matches as the latter (three each), but has now completed 90 minutes on two occasions with Bennett not managing more than 60 so far. In fact, Cunningham has registered a total of 315 minutes in pre-season compared to Bennett’s 180, and has three assists to show for it.
Neil Warnock left the match early to catch a flight and meet a transfer target. According to Blackwell, Liverpool are the ones who need to make the next move on whether Marko Grujic will be coming back to Cardiff following a successful loan period last season.
“Marko was an absolute credit to himself here and we’re hoping that we can complete the deal. It’s in the hands of Liverpool and his agent and if it was up to Marko, he’d have been here yesterday.” – Kevin Blackwell
CARDIFF CITY XI (4-2-3-1): Smithies (Etheridge 45’); Cunningham, Bamba, Morrison (Ecuele Manga 62’), Peltier (J Murphy 70’); Ralls, Gunnarsson (Damour 62’); Hoilett, Mendez-Laing, Reid (Paterson 62’); Zohore (Madine 62’)
INTER MILAN 1-1 CHELSEA
- Goals: Pedro (£6.5m)
- Assists: Alvaro Morata (£9.0m)
The return of several World Cup players has added more depth to Chelsea’s pre-season squad as they prepare for their first campaign under Maurizio Sarri. With this just Chelsea’s second match of pre-season those who have only just come back haven’t missed too much action and should probably be in the frame for a start in Gameweek 1 and even Sunday’s Community Shield.
Several options who have started the first two matches have made strong cases for their inclusion in Sarri’s first-choice XI, though. Not least mid-price midfielder Pedro (£6.5m) who now has two goals in as many matches from the right-flank of the front-three, benefitting from the continued absence of Eden Hazard (£10.5m) and Willian (£7.5m), both of whom are linked with moves away. Interestingly, the Spaniard still has just 1.7 percent ownership while his aforementioned team-mates have 9.6 and 7.2 respectively.
Perhaps the main competition for Pedro may actually come from Victor Moses (£6.0m) who replaced him just after the hour-mark. Now that Sarri has done away with 3-4-3 and installed his 4-3-3 system, the Nigerian may well return to his previous role of right-winger as he did against Inter Milan. That would be a hugely exciting prospect for Fantasy managers with him classed as a defender in FPL. Moses managed three goals and six assists as a wing-back last season and could be capable of much more if stationed higher up the pitch and with less of a defensive role.
Callum Hudson-Odoi (£4.5m) still has an outside chance of an early season start after he featured from the beginning for a second-match in succession. He followed up his first performance of pre-season, in which he registered an assist, with another fine display on the left-flank of the attack.
David Luiz (£5.5m) looks increasingly like the cheapest reliable Fantasy option for anyone looking to get in on the Chelsea defence. He has started both pre-season matches alongside promising young FPL midfielder Ethan Ampadu (£4.5m) so far and is the more likely of the two to hold onto a starting berth with the return of Antonio Rudiger (£5.5m) and Andreas Christensen (£5.5m), who were their replacements in the 64th minute. The latter, who struggled with injury last season was reportedly limping towards the end of this latest match, suggesting that he may be worth avoiding again in 2018/19. Gary Cahill (£6.0m) is yet to return to the club after his involvement with England at the World Cup.
Marcos Alonso (£6.5m) and Davide Zappacosta (£5.5m) started on the flanks of the back-four again, the former the more likely to hold onto his place come Gameweek 1. Emerson Palmieri (£5.5m) wasn’t introduced until the hour-mark this time around having come on for Alonso at half-time beforehand, while Cesar Azpilicueta (£6.5m) played the last 25 minutes at right-back in Zappacosta’s place. Alonso and Azpilicueta remain the most popular Chelsea defenders with 16.9 and 16.1 percent ownership respectively.
There was another start in the midfield for Ross Barkley (£6.0m) and his replacement Tiemoue Bakayoko (£5.0m) had a poor performance – another reason why the Englishman could benefit from a run in the team in absence of N’Golo Kante (£5.0m) early on.
Despite his name being bandied about in transfer negotiations over Gonzalo Higuain, there was another good performance from Alvaro Morata (£9.0m). Starting a second match in a row with Olivier Giroud (£8.0m) still on leave, he got the assist for Pedro’s goal. If he remains in London and Higuain does not join the Blues he is worth considering for the early part of the season at least.
Academy goalkeeper Marcin Bulka started the match with Willy Caballero (£5.0m) replacing him at the break, amid speculation over Thibaut Courtois’ (£5.5m) future at Chelsea.
CHELSEA (4-3-3): Bulka (Caballero 45’); Alonso (Emerson 64’), David Luiz (Rudiger 64’), Ampadu (Christensen 64’), Zappacosta (Azpilicueta 45’); Barkley (Bakayoko 45’), Jorginho, Fabregas (Drinkwater 45’); Hudson-Odoi (Piazon 82’), Morata (Abraham 64’), Pedro (Moses 64’).
READING 0-4 CRYSTAL PALACE
- Goals: Alexander Sørloth (£5.0m), Wilfried Zaha x2 (£7.0m), James Tomkins (£4.5m)
- Assists: Zaha, Patrick van Aanholt x2 (£5.5m), James McArthur (£5.0m)
Fantasy managers will have a hard time choosing between which Crystal Palace players to include in their Gameweek 1 squads as the Eagles won another pre-season match comfortably, this time at Reading.
Wilfried Zaha (£7.0m) understandably remains the most popular asset (31.9 percent ownership) after his brace and assist at the Madejski Stadium. The former Manchester United man now has three goals and an assist in three matches and appears one of the most viable options among mid-price forwards. Marko Arnautovic (£7.0m) has a slightly improved record of five goals and one assist in four outings so far but the West Ham has an arguably harder run of games to open the 2018/19 season compared to Zaha, whose Palace side sit top of our Season Ticker for attack in the first six Gameweeks. With very little to inspire in the forwards category at all in the early weeks, owning both could prove a decent strategy.
Palace also look hugely appealing in defence with a number of options in a strong position for FPL investment. Having now started three matches together, the back-four looks completely locked in. Patrick van Aanholt (£5.5m) added two assists to his two pre-season goals in this one, James Tomkins (£4.5m) found the net, Wan-Bissaka started for the fourth time and could have had two assists were it for better finishing, while Mamadou Sakho (£5.0m) can be a Bonus Points System champion in 2018/19.
However, the goalkeeper situation remains unclear as Wayne Hennessey (£4.5m) replaced Vicente Guaita (£4.5m) for this fixture. The Welshman oversaw Palace’s first clean sheet of the summer and overtook the new signing for pre-season minutes, he now leads the way 225 to 180.
FPL defender Jeffrey Schlupp (£4.5m) continues to play out of position, making his fourth start as a left-midfielder against Reading on Saturday. He has just one goal to his name so far but was dangerous against the Royals. Alexander Sørloth (£5.0m) continues to offer the potential for another discount way into Palace’s attack, making his fifth start at centre-forward and increasing his pre-season record to two goals and three assists. Both Schlupp and Sørloth sit in 0.5 percent of Fantasy squads but their pre-season performances could set them up as extreme differentials.
Luka Milivojevic (£6.5m) came on at half-time for Jairo Riedewald (£4.5m) in the centre of midfield and is now in contention for a start in Gameweek 1.
CRYSTAL PALACE XI (4-2-3-1): Hennessey; van Aanholt, Sakho, Tomkins, Wan-Bissaka; Riedewald (Milivojevic 45’), McArthur (Williams 82’); Schlupp, Zaha, Townsend (Puncheon 82’); Sørloth (Wickham 72’).
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