Alexis Sánchez (£10.5m) put on another excellent performance leading Manchester United’s attack in their first win of pre-season on Tuesday, furthering his case for inclusion in Fantasy Premier League squads.
However, it was revealed that Romelu Lukaku (£11.0m) could make an earlier-than-expected return to competitive match action after he cut short his World Cup leave.
Elsewhere there were some chances for Tottenham’s younger players to impress, as those who went the distance in Russia look like they could be back too late for Gameweek 1.
MANCHESTER UNITED 2-1 REAL MADRID
- Goals: Alexis Sánchez (£10.5m), Ander Herrera (£5.0m)
- Assists: Matteo Darmian (£5.0m), Sánchez
Alexis Sánchez (£10.5m) put on another impressive performance leading Manchester United’s strike force as they recorded their first win of their pre-season tour. The Chilean now has two goals and one assist this summer, more involvements than any of his team-mates, and is in good form to retain his starting berth against Leicester City on August 10. However, it was revealed after the Madrid match that Romelu Lukaku (£11.0m) and Marcus Rashford (£7.0m) had returned early from their holidays in an attempt to be available for Gameweek 1. It currently looks like Paul Pogba (£8.0m), Jesse Lingard (£7.0m), Ashley Young (£6.0m) and Marouane Fellaini (£5.0m) are the only ones who will definitely be ruled out.
“These are the players that we have, plus Lindelof, that started training two days ago, plus Marcus Rashford, Jones and Lukaku, because they gave to the group and to the team three days of their holidays, so they’re coming back three days early to try and be available for the team.” – Jose Mourinho.
With Sánchez having started the last four up front, accruing 326 minutes in the process, one might expect that he will remain the favourite in that position for Gameweek 1 at least. How long that may last is difficult to predict. So despite the increased Fantasy interest in him over the last few days, that could be quelled by him returning to midfield once Lukaku is back for good.
Mourinho went with three at the back against Madrid with a host of absences in that position, but does not want us to read too much into that. Chris Smalling (£6.0m) is still injured, Marcos Rojo (£5.0m) is preparing for a move away, possibly to Everton, and Victor Lindelof (£5.0m) and Phil Jones (£5.5m) have only just returned from World Cup leave.
“Tactically, means nothing. We tried with the players we had available to organise the best possible team to defend against them. We only had one central defender (Bailly) so I decide because I have only one, instead of playing with two I play with three. Because with three they can support each other a bit more. Timo Fosu-Mensah is a right-back, Scott McTominay is a centre midfielder, we tried to organise the three to make them a bit more comfortable, so I was not working to prepare the team for the future of the Premier League.”
Mourinho may start to change his mind on not standing in the way of Matteo Darmian’s (£5.0m) planned exit from Old Trafford after he was involved in Sanchez’s goal against Madrid. The Italian has the opportunity to make the right-back spot his own with injuries to Antonio Valencia (£6.5m) and Diogo Dalot (£5.5m). With 352 pre-season minutes under his belt, nobody in the right full-back area has had as much summer pitch time as him, so, barring a new signing, he could easily be first-choice for several weeks if he decides to stay in Manchester.
Finally, there was another update on Anthony Martial (£7.5m), who is looking less and less like a Fantasy option worth considering for Gameweek 1. In fact, his time at Manchester United may well be coming to an end after he failed to report back for training after leaving the pre-season tour for the birth of his son. He has also not turned up at the club’s Carrington training complex even after most of his colleagues came back from the States or early from their holidays.
“Anthony Martial? Is better for Karen (Man United press officer) to answer if she wants to answer. We’re here to talk about the game.”
MANCHESTER UNITED XI (3-5-2): De Gea; McTominay (Mitchell 79’), Bailly, Fosu-Mensah; Shaw, Fred (Tuanzebe 68’), Pereira, Herrera, Darmian; Sánchez, Mata (Garner 82’).
AC MILAN 0-1 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
- Goals: Georges-Kevin Nkoudou
- Assists: None
It was a youthful Spurs side that beat AC Milan in their final International Champions Cup fixture, but there was still plenty to be learned from a Fantasy perspective. Not least because 21-year-old midfielder Luke Amos (not in FPL) has been tipped by Mauricio Pochettino to break into the first team this season. With Spurs missing so many senior players through injury or World Cup involvement this summer, the youngster has had a chance to stake a claim for a place in the side.
“He’s not so young, 21, but maybe he doesn’t have Premier League experience. But his performances in the three games showed it’s not a problem to put him in to play. Maybe he’s going to play ahead of some senior players. I’m more than brave and if I believe in some players I go with all the consequences.”
After the match Pochettino confirmed that the Spurs players who made it as far as the semi-finals in Russia would return to training next Monday. That gives them five days to try and get ready to face Newcastle in Saturday August 11’s lunch-time kick-off. The Spurs manager confirmed that he will need to see each of them individually before making a decision and he is not prepared to either rule out or confirm any of their potential involvements.
“First we need to assess them on Monday and see what happens. Maybe some players look after themselves and they’ve been training, maybe others rest. We need to see and of course we are not going to take risks if some players are not ready to compete, to play. That is so, so clear. But I don’t want you to start asking me why one is and why one is not. I make clear today the statement that if someone is not ready, he’s not going to be involved, because we are not going to take risks. We cannot [pick them] because we need them, or because [they are] some names, or the people will be disappointed. We are going to look after them in the best way, try to help them and start to play when they will be ready, not before.”
Should Harry Kane (£12.5m) miss out on Gameweek 1, Fernando Llorente (£6.0m) has now started every pre-season match for Spurs and should get the nod to face Newcastle, barring any high-profile transfers. The former Swansea man also has four goals this summer, more than any of his colleagues so far.
The goalkeeper situation is not quite so clear. If Hugo Lloris (£5.5m) is not considered ready from the off then either one of Michel Vorm (£5.0m) or Paulo Gazzaniga (not in FPL) are the alternatives. The former has more starts in public matches (two) but the pair are virtually level for minutes played (133 and 137 respectively).
At centre-back, Davinson Sanchez (£6.0m) made his first club start of the summer against AC Milan and now has 135 minutes under his belt. He should be able to start in Gameweek 1 but who he is paired with is still unclear, with Toby Alderweireld (£6.0m) and Jan Vertonghen (£6.0m) in the group to return on Monday. We learned last week that Ben Davies (£6.0m) could play in central defence which would allow Kyle Walker-Peters (£4.5m) an opportunity with Serge Aurier (£6.0m) on the opposite flank.
In midfield, Christian Eriksen (£9.5m) came on as a second-half substitute against AC Milan in his attempts to be fit in time for the trip to Newcastle. He has started twice in pre-season amassing 177 minutes. Lucas Moura (£7.0m) looks a certainty for several weeks with Son Heung-min (£8.0m) absent from Gameweek 2 until potentially the end of August. The former PSG man has started every match so far and accrued 210 minutes in the public friendlies adding three goals and two assists. No Spurs player has been involved in as many as him.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR XI (4-2-3-1): Vorm (Gazzaniga 45’); Georgiou (Davies 77’), Sanchez (Carter-Vickers 92’), Eyoma, Walker-Peters; Amos, Skipp; Moura (Eriksen 63’), Nkoudou, Marsh (Aurier 77’); Llorente (63’).