Arsenal picked up injuries to two key players as they beat Chelsea on penalties in Dublin, while Alexandre Lacazette (£9.5m) became their top goal-scorer of the summer.
Meanwhile, there was another start and another impressive performance from Blues’ midfielder Callum Hudson-Odoi (£4.5m), with plenty of opportunities available on the attacking flanks at Stamford Bridge early on this season.
Elsewhere, we have started calculating how many minutes have been played by West Ham and Fulham’s assets as the Gameweek 1 deadline creeps ever closer…
MAINZ 1-1 WEST HAM
Goals: Toni Martinez
Assists: Robert Snodgrass
Arthur Masuaku (£4.5m) seems to have secured his position as first-choice left-back for the coming season. The FPL midfielder has been involved in more pre-season minutes than any of his colleagues (473) while Aaron Cresswell (£5.5m), thought to be recovering from a groin injury, has not featured at all yet. On the opposite flank of defence, it appears to be a close-run thing between Pablo Zabaleta (£4.5m) and Ryan Fredericks (£5.0m). The former Manchester City man has appeared in all but one summer meeting so far (296 minutes) but the signing from Fulham is not far behind him on four outings and 235 minutes.
The 22.4 percent of Fantasy managers invested in Lukasz Fabianski (£4.5m) may have to keep a careful eye on West Ham’s final summer friendly on Friday when they play Angers in Austria. That’s because Adrian (£4.5m) has been between the sticks for the Hammers for all but one of their pre-season games so far, with only Masuaku and Mark Noble (£5.5m) receiving more pitch-time. The Spaniard has registered 405 minutes to Fabianski’s 90, slightly puzzling considering that the former Swansea man’s return to training was not too delayed by the World Cup with Poland eliminated in the group stages.
Also of note was another 90 minutes for former Hull City midfielder Robert Snodgrass (not yet in FPL). None of West Ham’s wingers have registered as many minutes as his 389 so far this summer, with new signings Felipe Anderson (£7.0m) and Andriy Yarmolenko (£7.0m) rested for the Mainz match. It will be interesting to see if either of them are thrown straight into the Gameweek 1 side to face Liverpool. Their transfer fees suggest they should be first-choice on each flank but their combined pitch time of 300 minutes is still less than Snodgrass, who now has a goal and two assists to his name. Michail Antonio (£7.0m) started for just the second time in this one.
The centre-back situation will also take some assessing with Angelo Ogbonna (£4.5m), Issa Diop (£4.5m) and Fábian Balbuena (£4.5m) all in the frame. Diop has registered the most minutes so far (368), followed by Ogbonna (299) and then Balbuena (206). Outside of those numbers, Diop was signed for a club record fee of £22 million and has played in all friendlies so far, suggesting Pellegrini is a fan of the 21-year-old. Meanwhile the experienced Balbuena has been involved in every match since his arrival and it was Ogbonna who missed out against Mainz.
Finally, there was another routine start for Marko Arnautovic (£7.0m) who, despite working hard, could not find the net – although this was the first match this summer in which he has not scored.
WEST HAM XI (4-2-3-1): Adrian; Masuaku, Balbuena, Diop, Zabaleta; Rice, Noble (Cullen 76’); Antonio (Martinez 60’), Wilshere (Obiang 60’), Snodgrass; Arnautovic.
ARSENAL 1-1 CHELSEA
- Goals: Alexandre Lacazette (£9.5m) | Antonio Rudiger (£6.0m)
- Assists: Reiss Nelson (£4.5m) | Cesc Fabregas (£6.5m)
Arsenal manager Unai Emery will be hoping for good news on two of his key players after they picked up injuries on Wednesday night. Aaron Ramsey (£7.5m) had some muscle pain before the Gunners’ 1-1 draw with Chelsea and was forced to pull out of the game, while Sead Kolasinac (£5.0m) was withdrawn on 70 minutes after struggling with a knee problem.
“Aaron Ramsey has got a little pain in his muscle and we decided not to start him because it is maybe a big risk for him. I am awaiting the medical analysis and I think it’s not a big problem. Kolasinac is maybe different. It’s his leg. For that, we’re waiting for the scan to know better what the injury is.” – Unai Emery
Kolasinac had looked set to offer a budget way into Arsenal’s defence, with attacking potential too, so an injury to him would be a blow to his 4.9 percent ownership. With Nacho Monreal (£5.5m) not ready just yet, Ainsley Maitland-Niles (£4.5m) seems the natural replacement, although he is listed as a midfielder in FPL.
At centre-back, Shkodran Mustafi (£5.5m) and Sokratis Papastathopoulos (£5.5m) are emerging as the preferred pairing. Only Hector Bellerin (£5.5m) and Kolasinac had registered more pre-season minutes than Mustafi’s 263, while new signing Sokratis is not far behind on 223. Rob Holding (£4.5m) and Calum Chambers (£4.5m) have managed just 137 and 108 minutes respectively and are probably not worth taking a risk on unless Sokratis or Mustafi pick up an injury before Gameweek 1.
Behind the defence it was another start in goal for Petr Cech (£5.0m). The former Chelsea man now has double the minutes of new signing Bernd Leno (£5.0m) so far this summer and also saved Alvaro Morata’s (£9.0m) penalty in normal time.
Emery deployed a front-three of Henrikh Mkhitaryan (£7.0m) and Mesut Özil (£8.5m) in wide areas in Dublin, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.0m) the centre-forward. This was the second of the public friendlies in which Alexandre Lacazette (£9.5m) did not start, although it was him who saved the day for the Gunners by scoring an injury-time equaliser.
Lucas Torreira (£5.0m), Stephan Lichtsteiner (£5.0m), Granit Xhaka (£5.5m) and Monreal remained in London to continue building their fitness levels after their extended World Cup leave. Emery revealed that the quartet are likely to get some game-time in Arsenal’s final friendly of the summer, against Lazio in Stockholm on Saturday.
Budget midfielder Callum Hudson-Odoi (£4.5m) impressed for Chelsea once again and has been considered the best performer from Chelsea’s pre-season matches so far. He did well on his flank of the front three and even out-paced Bellerin to win a penalty for his side; a better finish from Morata would have seen him get an assist. Crucially, from a Fantasy perspective, only Jorginho (£5.0m) has chalked up more minutes for Chelsea this summer (213) than Hudson-Odoi’s 212. Owned by just 0.7 percent of managers, and with an outside chance of competitive involvement in the coming weeks, he could prove an exciting differential.
Just behind Hudson-Odoi for pitch-time is the potential bargain of Pedro (£6.5m), who started for a third match in succession on the right-flank of the attacking line. He could not extend his lead at the top of Chelsea’s goal-scorer charts this summer but still played well. Probably more assured of a start in Gameweek 1 than Hudson-Odoi but we’ll learn more from the Community Shield.
FPL defender Victor Moses (£6.0m) is another one to watch as he was used as a second-half substitute on the right flank of the forward line for the second time this summer. The main reason the Nigerian has not started a match yet is the fact he returned to training late after World Cup involvement. He could become a powerful out-of-position option if he can claim a starting spot; which is entirely possible with Eden Hazard (£10.5m) and Willian (£7.5m) not back yet and both linked with moves away from Chelsea.
David Luiz (£5.5m) already looks like the most nailed-on centre-back with his third successive start of the summer against Chelsea. Antonio Rüdiger (£6.0m) lined up next to him this time and scored the Blues’ goal by heading in a Cesc Fabregas (£6.5m) corner. Marcos Alonso (£6.5m) and Cesar Azpilicueta (£6.5m) lined up on the flanks of the back-four.
Ross Barkley (£6.0m) looks set for some serious involvement with the first-team this season having started all the pre-season matches so far. Furthermore, no central midfielder at Chelsea has managed as many minutes as his 199. Owned by just 0.5 percent of managers he may be a budget route into their midfield, with slightly more attacking threat, while N’Golo Kante (£5.0m) is absent.
ARSENAL XI (4-3-3): Cech, Kolasinac (Maitland-Niles 70’), Sokratis, Mustafi, Bellerin (Chambers 79’); Smith-Rowe (Iwobi 63’), Elneny, Guendouzi; Mkhitaryan (Nelson 72’), Aubameyang (Lacazette 72’), Özil.
CHELSEA XI (4-3-3): Caballero (Bulka 78’); Alonso (Palmieri 63’), Luiz (Christensen 45’), Rüdiger (Ampadu 63’), Azpilicueta (Zappacosta 63’); Barkley (Loftus-Cheek 78’), Jorginho (Bakayoko 78’), Fabregas (Drinkwater 45’); Hudson-Odoi (Piazon 85’), Morata (Abraham 63’), Pedro (Moses 63’).
FULHAM 0-1 SAMPDORIA
- Goals: None
- Assists: None
Another 90 minutes in the Fulham net for Fabri (£4.5m) would suggest that he will start there when Crystal Palace travel to Craven Cottage in Gameweek 1. The former Besiktas man has now registered more pre-season minutes than any of the rivals for his position (180), involved in the last three in a row.
In front of him Denis Odoi (£4.5m) is the most nailed-on centre-back with 384 minutes to his name this summer; no Fulham player has more than him. Tim Ream’s (£4.5m) minor injury last month curtailed his pitch-time somewhat (250 minutes), but he has started four matches in central defence. New signing Maxime Le Marchand (£4.5m) began Wednesday’s match in that position, but has been primarily used at left-back this summer. Cyrus Christie (£4.5m) has more game-time than any other Fulham right-back so far (307 minutes).
Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.5m) made his return to the team against Sampdoria, managing a 29-minute cameo appearance. However, he is significantly behind his attacking colleagues after taking extended leave following a World Cup campaign with Serbia. Aboubakar Kamara (£4.5m) has registered more minutes than any other centre-forward for Fulham this summer (312) but there is still a chance for Mitrovic to stake a claim with a start and a good performance against Celta Vigo on Saturday.
Either side of the centre-forward are a number of candidates on the flanks. Andre Schürrle (£6.0m) made his second start of pre-season and will likely be in the frame for a Gameweek 1 start in light of his high-profile move from Borussia Dortmund. The main interest remains with Ryan Sessegnon (£6.5m), who did not start against Sampdoria but still has 312 minutes to his name in pre-season – although two of his seven appearances have been at left-back, something Fantasy managers must stay aware of. Creeping under the radar is Neeskens Kebano (£4.5m). On paper he is probably third-choice on the attacking flanks but no wide forward has more pre-season minutes than him (334).
FULHAM XI (4-3-3): Fabri; S Sessegnon (Christie 72’), Le Marchand (Ream 61’), Odoi, Fossey (R Sessegnon 72’); Cisse, McDonald (Seri 61’), Cairney (Johansen 45’); Schurrle (Mitrovic 61’), Fonte (Kebano 61’), de la Torre (Kamara 72’).
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