Aleksandar Mitrovic, Kelechi Iheanacho and Cenk Tosun demonstrated their credentials as mid-price forwards, while a youthful – and injury-hit – Spurs side were beaten 4-1 in Spain.
Roberto Firmino and Alisson made their first Liverpool starts of pre-season as the Reds ran riot in Dublin, while Manchester United’s mixed pre-season culminated with a defeat in Munich.
Our latest instalment of Scout Notes rounds up the goals, assists, team news, injuries and tactical talking points from six pre-season friendlies contested over the weekend.
Bayern Munich 1-0 Manchester United
Manchester United’s rocky pre-season culminated in a narrow defeat against the German champions, with Jose Mourinho still without the services of Romelu Lukaku (£11.0m), Paul Pogba (£8.0m), Jesse Lingard (£7.0m), Marouane Fellaini (£5.0m) and Ashley Young (£6.0m) after their World Cup exertions with Belgium, France and England.
Marcus Rashford (£7.0m), Victor Lindelof (£5.0m) and Phil Jones (£5.5m) did make their first United appearances of the summer, though, as Mourinho’s side fell to a second-half Javi Martinez strike.
While Lukaku cut short his post-World Cup break and could be in contention to play some role in the Premier League curtain-raiser against Leicester City, Mourinho’s post-match comments would suggest that the players at his disposal at the Allianz Arena will be largely the same ones available to him on Friday night:
We have to organise the week in a way so we can be fresh for Friday because, on Friday, the Premier League starts.
We play for points and it’s with the players we have. There is no time to cry. Players are not going to be here on Friday and we have to go with the best possible team and with a great mentality.
Eric Bailly (£5.5m) is the latest injury headache for Mourinho, with the Ivorian centre-back limping off in Germany just five minutes into the second half. Ander Herrera (£5.0m) is also being assessed for a minor hamstring strain.
Luke Shaw (£5.0m) continues to offer a cut-price route into the Red Devils’ backline after making his fifth start of the summer, while no United player has played more pre-season minutes (533) than midfielder Andreas Pereira (£5.0m), who was deployed alongside Herrera and Fred (£6.0m) in Munich.
Rashford, meanwhile, is a likely contender to spearhead the United attack on Friday evening, after playing over an hour of the defeat to Bayern. Alexis Sanchez (£10.5m) and Juan Mata (£6.5m) would also appear odds-on to start in the front three, having featured in 416 and 439 minutes of United’s pre-season respectively.
MANCHESTER UNITED XI (4-3-3): De Gea (Grant 78′); Darmian (Jones 65′), Bailly (Smalling 51′), Lindelof (Tuanzebe 78′), Shaw (Mitchell 78′); Herrera (Garner 81′), Pereira, Fred (Chong 78′); Mata (McTominay 65′), Rashford (Fosu-Mensah 65′), Sanchez
Everton 2-3 Valencia
- Goals: Cenk Tosun (£7.0m), Michael Keane (£5.0m)
- Assists: Theo Walcott (£6.5m), Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.5m)
Everton’s below-par pre-season was summed up in their 3-2 loss to Valencia at the weekend: bright at times in attack but suspect in defence.
Marco Silva has pinpointed the need for a new centre-back after watching his side concede ten goals in their last three friendlies, with Phil Jagielka (£4.5m) and Michael Keane (£5.0m) looking suspect at the heart of the Everton defence again on Saturday.
The former Hull City and Watford boss said:
When we started we knew more or less what were our targets. I know what positions I have to improve and I have started to make more decisions to be sure about everything. But in some positions, it was clear in my mind what we needed from the first day.
Since the first day, if I want to put one central defender in the game, we don’t have any. Mason Holgate has been injured since the first week of pre-season. We lost others [Ashley Williams]. It is one position and it is easy to understand how many we need in that position. We have to sign new players there.
Lucas Digne (£5.0m) replaced Leighton Baines (£5.5m) at half-time for his Everton debut and was robust in his defensive work while also causing the visitors some problems on the left flank.
Although the Toffees’ defence looks to be an area to avoid on current form, their attack showed promising signs ahead of their excellent-looking start to the season (Silva’s troops avoid any of the “big six” in their first nine league fixtures at Goodison Park).
Cenk Tosun (£7.0m) produced a man-of-the-match performance leading the line in Silva’s 4-4-1-1 system and the Everton manager was gushing in his praise for the Turkish striker:
In the box, he is a fantastic football player. The capacity he has to score with his right and left foot [is important]. He improved on the other things in his game and did well. He understood better what I want and is improving his game. For a striker, when he scores everything is different and it helps his confidence grow.
Tosun levelled the game up at 1-1 following excellent work from Theo Walcott (£6.5m), who was making his first pre-season appearance on the right flank.
Gylfi Sigurdsson‘s (£7.5m) hustling work in the “number ten” role was pivotal to Tosun’s opener and the Icelandic international recorded a direct assist of his own with a pinpoint corner-kick delivery onto the head of Keane.
Seamus Coleman (£5.5m) and substitute Sandro Ramirez (£5.5m) were both culpable for Valencia’s second-half winner after their tangle allowed Daniel Wass to fire past Maarten Stekelenburg (£4.0m), who was between the sticks for the Toffees yet again with Jordan Pickford (£5.0m) still on a post-World Cup break.
EVERTON XI (4-4-1-1-): Stekelenburg; Coleman, Jagielka, Keane, Baines (Digne 45′); Schneiderlin, Gueye (Calvert-Lewin 74′), Walcott (Ramirez 60′), Richarlison (Lookman 81′); Sigurdsson (Dowell 87′); Tosun (Davies 74′)
Liverpool 5-0 Napoli
- Goals: James Milner (£5.5m), Georginio Wijnaldum (£5.5m), Mohamed Salah (£13.0m), Daniel Sturridge (£6.0m), Alberto Moreno (£4.5m)
- Assists: Sadio Mane (£9.5m), James Milner, Divok Origi, Daniel Sturridge
Three of Liverpool’s returning World Cup stars got their first taste of pre-season action in the Reds’ rout of Napoli at the weekend.
Alisson (£5.5m) was handed his Liverpool debut and produced an assured performance in goal, while Roberto Firmino (£9.5m) was reunited with Mohamed Salah (£13.0m) and Sadio Mane (£9.5m) in Jurgen Klopp’s familiar-looking three-man attack. Trent Alexander-Arnold (£5.0m) recorded a fitness-boosting 28-minute cameo at right-back, meanwhile.
Klopp was effusive in his praise for his new Brazilian goalkeeper, particularly regarding his passing ability and his duties as a “sweeper-keeper” when Liverpool’s defence played a high line:
He’s quite a good footballer — probably as good as the goalie he is! An all-round good performance for the first game. He was very, very aware of all situations when he was needed behind a high last line. We involved him a lot in our build-up, but we need to get used to that a little bit more still — that’s clear [and] he needs to get used to it a little bit more, but there were a lot of good build-up situations, so that helps. But at the end, he’s there to catch balls and he did that in all the decisive moments today, so I’m really pleased.
Liverpool’s starting XI in the match against Napoli looks to be close to their first-choice XI, with perhaps doubts over Nathaniel Clyne (£5.0m), James Milner (£5.5m) and Georgino Wijnaldum (£5.5m) in their respective positions ahead of the Gameweek 1 visit of West Ham United.
Milner certainly pressed his case for inclusion with a goal of his own (Mane with the assist) and a pinpoint cross for Wijnaldum’s strike as Liverpool took a 2-0 lead into the break. No Liverpool player has featured as much as the industrious Milner (408 minutes) in pre-season.
Xherdan Shaqiri (£7.5m) replaced Firmino at half-time and the Swiss international, who was deployed across the front line as the second half dragged on, played a part in Salah’s obligatory goal.
Daniel Sturridge (£6.0m), who has featured in all eight of Liverpool’s pre-season friendlies, grabbed Liverpool’s fourth after following up Divock Origi‘s saved shot and then played a superb cross-field ball to fellow substitute Alberto Moreno (£4.5m) for the Spanish left-back’s 80th-minute strike.
With Joel Matip (£5.0m) sidelined and Dejan Lovren (£5.0m) only just returning to training after his run to the World Cup final with Croatia, Joe Gomez (£5.0m) featured again at centre-back. Only Milner has played more minutes for the Reds than Gomez (394) over the summer and the young defender can be confident of a start against West Ham on Sunday lunchtime.
Klopp’s comments on Tuesday should serve as a warning for potential Fantasy owners of Salah, Mane and – especially – Firmino for Gameweek 1 at the very least, with reduced pitch-time a possibility in that encounter with the Hammers.
Football playing-wise, a lot of moments were really good. Now we need to get back the freshness, for one thing, and the other thing we still need to work on is endurance. The boys are not all on the same level, you can see that.
The boys who trained from the beginning could go 90 – Millie [Milner] could have gone 90, Gini [Wijnaldum] could have gone 90, but you saw Sadio, Mo… Bobby was not allowed to go more than 45, that was already at the edge. He needs training now and maybe he needs the game on Tuesday [against Torino].
LIVERPOOL XI (4-3-3): Alisson; Clyne (Alexander-Arnold 62′), Van Dijk, Gomez (Phillips 76′), Robertson (Moreno 62′); Milner (Fabinho 56′), Wijnaldum (Jones 62′), Keita (Origi 71′); Salah (Solanke 62′), Mane (Sturridge 62′), Firmino (Shaqiri 46′)
Fulham 2-2 Celta Vigo
- Goals: Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.5m), Aboubakar Kamara (£4.5m)
- Assists: Andre Schurrle (£6.0m), Aleksandar Mitrovic
Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.5m) took just three minutes of his second Fulham “debut” to open his account, with the Serbian also registering an assist in the 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo at the weekend.
Mitrovic, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Craven Cottage and has since made his move to west London permanent, capitalised on build-up play from Andre Schurrle (£6.0m) and Jean Michael Seri (£5.5m) to open the scoring before teeing up Aboubakar Kamara (£4.5m) for Fulham’s second.
The Cottagers were twice pegged back by their Spanish visitors in the first 45, with the second half remaining scoreless.
While Slavisa Jokanovic’s 4-3-3 system was a familiar one, the personnel within it were noteworthy from a Fantasy perspective.
Concerns about Ryan Sessegnon (£6.5m) being shifted back to defence – where he spent the first half of 2017/18 – were heightened on Saturday as the teenage prospect lined up at left-back, with Schurrle stationed ahead of him in the Fulham front three.
Maxime Le Marchand (£4.5m), who has spent part of pre-season at left-back, lined up alongside Tim Ream (£4.5m) in central defence, meanwhile. The capture of Alfie Mawson (£5.0m) could free Le Marchand up to return to left-back, although the former Swansea City defender will miss the first three Gameweeks of the season with a knee injury. There are, of course, still two days of the transfer window remaining for Jokanovic to bolster his options at full-back, but FPL managers would be prudent to monitor these pages over the coming 72 hours for further clues as to where Sessegnon will line up in the Gameweek 1 encounter with Crystal Palace.
Speaking of Sessegnon and Mawson, Jokanovic said:
I don’t believe it is good to play Ryan Sessegnon left full-back but if I don’t have another choice I will play with him.
[Mawson] won’t be ready. We will be waiting between two and three weeks for him to start working with us. In this moment, I don’t expect he can help us before September.
A knock-on effect of Sessegnon’s posting at left-back was that Schurrle’s space on the right flank was subsequently filled by Kamara, whose budget price tag has contributed to him being the eighth-most popular forward in FPL at the time of writing.
While many of his 10+% owners will not be banking on Kamara for appearance points, that the French forward is still involved in Fulham’s first-team picture with just two days of the transfer window remaining will surely only increase his popularity.
FULHAM XI (4-3-3): Fabri; Christie (Fossey 79′), Le Marchand, Ream, R. Sessegnon; Seri, McDonald, Cairney (Johansen 60′); Kamara, Mitrovic (Kebano 79′), Schurrle (S. Sessegnon 68′)
Lille 1-2 Leicester City
- Goals: Kelechi Iheanacho (£6.0m)
- Assists: Marc Albrighton (£5.5m), Ben Chilwell (£5.0m)
With Harry Maguire (£5.5m) only just returning to training following his exertions with England in Russia and Jonny Evans (£5.0m) still struggling with injury, Leicester City’s centre-half pairing for their Friday night match at Old Trafford could be a makeshift one.
Wes Morgan (£4.5m) and Yohan Benalouane (£4.0m) have started both of the Foxes’ previous two friendlies and looked particularly shaky in France at the weekend, with Leicester reliant on some heroics from Kasper Schmeichel (£5.0m) to keep them in the match in the opening exchanges.
Claude Puel’s post-match words were hardly ringing endorsements of his stand-in stoppers and speculation is rife about the Frenchman bolstering his defensive ranks before the transfer deadline on Thursday:
We try to find a good solidity and stability, but of course, it is not easy. We will see which players are available (for United). It is difficult. They give their best.
I am happy about Morgan playing 90 minutes and strong in the friendly games. Yohan has also tried to keep a good level. We know it will be a different game against United.
James Maddison (£6.5m) is an injury doubt for the trip to Old Trafford after limping off in the second half of their victory over Lille, but the summer signing from Norwich City looked a threat from both open play and set pieces before his withdrawal.
Another capture in this transfer window, right-back Ricardo Pereira (£5.0m), is an “out of position” name to monitor after he was once again stationed on the wing ahead of Daniel Amartey (£4.5m) at full-back.
With Jamie Vardy (£9.0m) also returning late from international duty and not expected to feature in Manchester on Friday, Kelechi Iheanacho (£6.0m) laid down a marker with a brace against Leicester’s Ligue 1 opponents. The Nigerian striker has four goals in three pre-season matches and looks set to lead the line at Old Trafford.
LEICESTER CITY XI (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Chilwell, Morgan, Benalouane (Johnson 71), Amartey; Ndidi (Elder 71′), Iborra (Silva 46′ (Ndukwu 87′)); Pereira (Fuchs 71′), Maddison (Diabate 57′), Albrighton; Iheanacho (Gordon 71′)
Girona 4-1 Tottenham Hotspur
- Goal: Lucas Moura (£7.0m)
- Assist: None
A young Spurs side were put the sword in Spain as Lucas Moura (£7.0m) once again highlighted his short-term appeal.
The Brazilian midfielder, who had already scored on three occasions in pre-season, fired home a superb free-kick on 13 minutes on an otherwise forgettable evening for Mauricio Pochettino’s team.
Son Heung-min (£8.5m), Serge Aurier (£6.0m), Fernando Llorente (£6.0m) and Ben Davies (£6.0m) were the only other genuine first-teamers who made the trip to Catalonia at the weekend, with Davies once again stationed in the centre of defence.
Christian Eriksen (£9.5m) and Davinson Sanchez (£6.0m) remained at home despite being available for selection, while Pochettino was yet again without his World Cup contingent of Harry Kane (£12.5m), Dele Alli (£9.0m), Toby Alderweireld (£6.0m), Jan Vertonghen (£6.0m), Hugo Lloris (£5.5m), Kieran Trippier (£6.0m), Danny Rose (£6.0m), Eric Dier (£5.0m) and Mousa Dembele (£5.0m) – all of whom resumed training this week.
Erik Lamela (£6.5m), Moussa Sissoko (£5.0m), Harry Winks (£5.5m) and Victor Wanyama (£5.0m) were again missing through injury, leaving the very real prospect of Pochettino having to call on youngsters such as Luke Amos and Oliver Skipp for their Gameweek 1 meeting with Newcastle. Amos, indeed, has played more minutes (346) than any Spurs player in pre-season, while Skipp has racked up the same pitch time as Moura (255 minutes).
Son, Eriksen and Moura look like near-certain starters for the trip to St James’ Park, while Davies and Aurier are as good as nailed in a defence bereft of several options. Kyle Walker-Peters (£4.5m), who has played only 18 minutes fewer than Davies this summer, would seem set for the vacant full-back role if Davies remains at centre-half.
Speaking of his nine returning players who went deep into the World Cup with England, Belgium and France, Pochettino told the club’s website:
[For] the players that were involved in the World Cup, it was massive and so important to give a very good rest and recovery after a very tough season and World Cup and now it’s a big challenge for us to try to provide them with the best tools to be competitive as soon as possible.
Always we need to assess them. We will see on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday then Thursday and Friday to take a decision for the team.
If some players are ready, of course we are going to use them but we are not going to take some risks because sometimes for one game, you lose the players for one month or two months and that is [why it is] so important to be clever in the decisions that we are going to take.
SPURS XI (4-3-3): Vorm (Gazzaniga 46′); Aurier (Walker-Peters 46′), Eyoma (Dinzeyi 79), Davies, Georgiou; Amos (Maghoma 79′), Marsh (Bowden 83′), Skipp; Lucas Moura (Llorente 46′), N’Koudou (Tanganga 63′), Son (Tracey 79′)
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