The Fantasy Premier League pre-season programme is about to kick into overdrive as we edge closer to Gameweek 1 of the new campaign.
Everton and Crystal Palace have already played their first matches (detailed below) and there are more to come in the next few days.
Fantasy managers are reminded to stay tuned into our pre-season page to get all the latest updates and talking points from the summer’s friendlies.
We will be producing Scout Notes articles regularly between now and Gameweek 1 on the matches played by the top-flight sides.
Not only will we be on the lookout for the next Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£5.5m), the Scout editorial team will be tracking pre-season minutes of every FPL asset.
That way, when we publish our predicted line-ups for Gameweek 1, they will be based on as much information given to us by the respective Premier League managers as possible.
We have already made a start on our spreadsheets which, this season, will be publicly available to you throughout the summer as we update them on a special page of its own.
For now, we have embedded the sheets below for all teams with a fixture between now and Sunday to give you a taster.
In order for desktop users to navigate these sheets, select the embedded window and use the arrow keys to scroll across.
Mobile users can simply drag the sheet across to navigate fully although we should point out that they are best viewed on a desktop device.
As already mentioned, Everton started us off on Saturday as they flew to Kenya for their first pre-season game.
Kariobangi Sharks 1-1 Everton (4-3 on penalties)
Goals: Joe Williams
As it was their first pre-season friendly it is hard to read too much into Everton’s 1-1 draw with Kariobangi Sharks over the weekend.
Only a handful of first-team players were involved for the Toffees as Marco Silva simply gave his players a run-out.
Lucas Digne (£6.0m), Gylfi Sigurdsson (£8.0m) and Jordan Pickford (£5.5m) were among the big names absent for Everton, while Richarlison (£8.0m) was busy winning the Copa America with Brazil.
Of those priced up by FPL for the new season, only Leighton Baines (£5.0m), Maarten Stekelenburg (£4.0m), Theo Walcott (£6.5m), André Gomes (£6.5m), Tom Davies (£5.5m), Morgan Schneiderlin (£4.5m) and Ademola Lookman (£5.0m) were involved against the Sharks.
All of them played no more than 45 minutes, with the latter featuring for just 15 as he went off with an injury.
Lookman left Kenya with the help of crutches after twisting his ankle against the Sharks and Everton confirmed afterwards that his knock would require a scan.
“Ademola Lookman will undergo a scan this afternoon after sustaining an ankle injury against Kariobangi Sharks.” – Everton press release
The performance against Kariobangi was by no means impressive, but that shouldn’t bother Fantasy managers at this point.
As already mentioned, most of the key personnel were absent from the match-day squad while those who did play were still building up their fitness.
Nairobi, where the fixture took place, is also a high-altitude location, which would have made it harder for Everton’s players, just six days into pre-season training, to look as sharp as they will probably be when Gameweek 1 comes around.
Mason Holgate, not currently priced up by FPL, but with history on the game, had a particularly poor afternoon, looking especially off the pace and at fault for the Sharks’ opening goal.
Stekelenburg did not look in the kind of form to stand a chance of ousting Pickford from his number one spot as he was less than impressive.
Meanwhile, Jonas Lössl (still not priced by FPL) made his first appearance in an Everton shirt.
The Toffees were much better in the second half as youngster Joe Williams equalised from a free-kick but they still went on to lose on penalties.
12 months ago, Everton began pre-season with a 22-0 win against an unheard of European minnow – and the advice was not to read too much into it. The same should be said about this performance as there is still a long way to go.
Up next for Silva’s men is a trip to FC Sion on Sunday afternoon and with Digne, Pickford and Michael Keane (£5.5m) now back in training as of Tuesday, we could see more of a meaningful encounter in that one.
“It was good, a good experience. We’ve come out here and do what we were supposed to do which was more about fulfilling our obligations. The game at the end of a long week was a nice way to round it off. I enjoyed the short time we had out here. It was a good experience for the younger players to come out and good for the Kenyan lads as well. I’m sure that will be something that will stay with them. The game was a fun type of game and that’s what it was supposed to be.” – Leighton Baines
Everton XI: Stekelenburg (Lössl 45′); Baines (Robinson 45′), Connolly (Astley 45′), Gibson (Markelo 88′), Holgate (Feeney 72′); Davies (J Williams 45′), Schneiderlin (Baningme 45′), A Gomes (Adnerian 45′); Lookman (Broadhead 15′), Niasse (Hornby 45′), Walcott (Bowler 45′).
FC Luzern 1-1 Crystal Palace (5-6 on pens)
Goals: Christian Benteke (£6.0m)
Assists: Max Meyer (£5.5m)
In contrast to Silva, Roy Hodgson used the majority of his senior first-team players in Crystal Palace’s trip to FC Luzern in Switzerland.
Only five FPL assets were absent for the Eagles and most of them were not involved due either to injury or international duty.
Mamadou Sakho (£5.0m) and James Tomkins (£5.0m) are still sidelined with knocks sustained last season, while Wilfried Zaha (£7.0m) and Cheikhou Kouyaté (£5.0m) are competing for Ivory Coast and Senegal respectively at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Vicente Guaita (£5.0m) was not in the match-day squad and, as yet, there has been no official explanation for his absence, but there’s still plenty of pre-season matches to play.
The match got off to a quick start as Christian Benteke (£6.0m), leading a 4-4-2 formation alongside Connor Wickham (£4.5m), opened the scoring in the second minute.
He rose highest in the air to meet a Max Meyer (£5.5m) cross with his head and find the back of the net.
In the aftermath of Wan-Bissaka’s departure from Selhurst Park, there has been keen interest in who will replace him at right-back.
Youngster Sam Woods, traditionally a centre-back, played the entire 90 minutes in this position while Joel Ward (£4.5m) was used at centre-back and Martin Kelly (£4.0m) joined him at the heart of defence at half-time, to allow Jairo Riedewald another chance to push forward into central midfield.
Obviously, there is only so much we can read into Hodgson’s decision to start Woods at right-back at this early stage, but it’s worth keeping an eye on that position throughout the summer.
As has been mentioned before, we certainly shouldn’t rule out recruitment in that area of the team.
Also getting a 90-minute run-out was Wayne Hennessey (£4.5m). He was unable to stop Luzern equalising in the sixth minute.
It is worth tracking how often he plays during pre-season compared to Guaita, given that he can offer a £0.5m saving on the Spanish goalkeeper.
Meyer and Benteke proved to be the main threats for Palace in the match, the former pulling the strings and the latter asking questions of the Luzern defence.
Neither of them could contribute to another goal for the Eagles though and the encounter finished 1-1 before a 6-5 win on penalties for Palace.
James McArthur (£5.5m), Ward, Kelly, Jeffrey Schlupp (£5.5m), Alexander Sørloth and Nya Kirby all netted their spot kicks with Hennessey only stopping Luzern’s sixth in sudden death.
Crystal Palace XI (4-4-2): Hennessey; van Aanholt (Mitchell 65′), Riedewald, Dann (Ward 45′), Woods; Meyer (Kirby 65′), Milivojevic (McArthur 45′), Dreher (Kelly 45′), Townsend (Schlupp 45′); Benteke (Daly 65′), Wickham (Sørloth 45′).
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