Our pre-season coverage continues with a look at the four pre-season friendlies involving Premier League clubs that took place on Sunday.
There were first appearances of the summer for a number of key Fantasy assets while there were some key injury updates to note which could affect our thinking for Gameweek 1.
Arminia Bielefeld 2-2 Norwich City
- Goals: Josip Drmic (£5.5m), Dennis Srbeny (£5.5m)
- Assists: Kenny McLean (£5.0m)
Fantasy managers who are backing Liverpool’s attacking assets in Gameweek 1 would have been further encouraged by events in Bielefeld on Sunday.
The Reds take on newly promoted Norwich City in the 2019/20 curtain-raiser and the Canaries are facing a selection headache at the back going into that encounter at Anfield.
With Christoph Zimmermann (£4.5m) already a major doubt for the start of the season after undergoing knee surgery, manager Daniel Farke lost another centre-half in Ben Godfrey (£4.5m) after less than 25 minutes of the Canaries’ first pre-season friendly.
Godfrey and Zimmermann were Norwich’s first-choice defensive pairing in the run-in last season.
Back-up midfielder Louis Thompson, playing at full-back on Sunday, had earlier limped from the pitch to add to Farke’s injury woes.
Speaking after the match, the Norwich boss said:
I’m a bit more concerned about Ben Godfrey because it was a contact injury and it was pretty painful. He had to leave the stadium on crutches.
We have to wait to see what the scan and what the doctor says. Hopefully, he’s available pretty soon but at the moment, I’m pretty concerned because it doesn’t look good.”
Christoph Zimmermann is out for a few weeks and I’m now concerned that Ben could miss a few weeks.
Timm Klose (£4.5m), Alex Tettey (£4.5m), Mario Vrancic (£6.5m) and Todd Cantwell (£4.5m) missed out on the 2-2 draw, meanwhile, although Farke is less concerned about this quartet of players:
The small injuries don’t concern me too much. Todd, for example, will join us during team training tomorrow, Timm probably on Tuesday. Mario will be back soon.
Alex has a small calf injury. We are awaiting the scan. He did it a couple of days ago,
Because of so many games, there are some injuries. The only big problem we have at the moments is the injuries we have in the centre-back position.
Left-back Jamal Lewis (£4.5m) moved across to centre-half alongside Grant Hanley (£4.0m) following Godfrey’s withdrawal, with substitute Philip Heise filling in for Lewis.
Teemu Pukki (£6.5m) got his first taste of pre-season football after replacing Josip Drmic (£5.5m) at half-time, with the Finland international striking the post in stoppage time as Norwich chased a winner against their ten-man opposition.
Drmic had gone one better in the first half and opened his Norwich account from the spot, with the visitors awarded a penalty when Kenny McLean (£5.0m) flicked Patrick Roberts‘ (£5.5m) corner onto a Bielefeld hand.
It remains to be seen where Drmic figures in the running order from 12 yards going forward: the Canaries had five different penalty takers in 2018/19, all of whom missed one effort each.
Norwich had lined up in their familiar 4-2-3-1 system, with Roberts and Emiliano Buendia (£6.0m) providing the width and Dennis Srbeny (£5.5m) supporting Drmic in attack.
Srbeny latched onto a loose throw to curl in Norwich’s second goal before making way for Marco Stiepermann (£5.5m) at the interval.
Tim Krul and Ralf Fahrmann (both £4.5m) each got a half to impress and were both beaten as Arminia salvaged a draw despite the first-half dismissal of Joan Simun Edmundsson.
Lewis was culpable for the German side’s opener after spraying a wayward pass across midfield, while the hosts’ equaliser came in the dying stages when Krul was beaten by a curling shot from the edge of the Norwich box.
Norwich City XI (4-2-3-1): Fährmann (Krul 46′), Thompson (Aarons 19′), Godfrey (Heise 24′), Hanley, Lewis, Leitner (Trybull 46′), McLean, Buendia (Idah 75′), Roberts (Hernandez 46′), Srbeny (Stiepermann 46′), Drmic (Pukki 46′).
Bradford City 1-3 Liverpool
- Goals: James Milner (£5.5m) x2, Rhian Brewster
- Assists: Ryan Kent x2, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (£6.5m)
Jurgen Klopp provided reassuring news on Andrew Robertson (£7.0m) ahead of Sunday’s win over Bradford City.
The Scottish left-back, who also suffered a hamstring injury when playing for Scotland in early June, recently underwent hand surgery to deal with an infection.
It’s unlucky, he got bitten by something not so good – not a dog, I think it was a spider or a mosquito – and it got infected. It’s not a massive problem apart from throw-ins!
He should be back in training in a couple of days. The rest is good, he could do all of the programme he had to do.
The Reds were again without the likes of Mohamed Salah (£12.5m), Alisson (£6.0m) and Roberto Firmino (£9.5m), all of whom were handed post-tournament rests following their contributions at the Africa Cup of Nations and Copa America.
Sadio Mane‘s (£11.5m) Senegal, meanwhile, reached the final of the Africa Cup of Nations after Sunday’s win over Tunisia.
That final will take place on Friday, exactly three weeks before Liverpool’s Gameweek 1 fixture.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.0m), Jordan Henderson (£5.5m), Virgil van Dijk (£6.5m) and Georginio Wijnaldum (£5.5m) weren’t present at Valley Parade either but returned to training on Saturday and will be involved in Liverpool’s forthcoming trip to the United States.
Klopp said on Saturday, ahead of the Bradford game:
It’s good to see them back, absolutely brilliant. They are all in good shape and good spirits, I would say. I am happy, they are happy to be back as well. They had the holiday they needed and wanted, so now we can start. Very good.
Training [is the plan]. How pre-season will be now, individual programmes for different players and groups.
We will play the game tomorrow without them because they have to train twice. Today they did their lactate test, tomorrow they will train twice.
On Monday, the rest of the squad who are playing now will have a day off before we fly to America. They will train with them again and the group who came late.
From America onwards, they are pretty much in a normal rhythm, but we will use these three or four days to do some different things with them. Then, after landing in America, they are fully available.
Liverpool’s squad at Bradford was much the same as it was against Tranmere but Dejan Lovren (£5.5m) returned to play the first 45 minutes at centre-back.
James Milner (£5.5m) scored twice for the visitors, his first a deflected effort following a short corner and his second a penalty after impressive young winger Ryan Kent had been felled.
Rhian Brewster tapped in Liverpool’s third after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain‘s (£6.5m) deflected shot had been parried away.
Bradford pulled a goal back from the penalty spot through Eoin Doyle in what was the hosts’ only shot on target.
The first half saw Adam Lallana (£6.0m) feature in a deep central midfield role and Klopp discussed this unusual tactical approach after full-time:
Adam is this kind of player, he can play that no problem. He enjoys it obviously a lot! It’s about getting Adam the rhythm, bringing the things he is naturally good in: small spaces, keeping the ball, passing the ball and all that stuff, and then from time to time offering the runs in behind as well – especially together with Millie that’s possible.
For us, it’s another option to use. He just needs a bit of luck now, that’s true. We have to come through [pre-season] without injuries, that would be cool, and we have a couple of ‘new’ players I would say, this season.
Liverpool first-half XI (4-3-3): Mignolet, Clyne, Phillips, Lovren, Larouci, Milner, Lallana, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilson, Kent, Brewster.
Liverpool second-half XI (4-3-3): Mignolet (Atherton 81′), Hoever, Matip, Gomez, Lewis, Fabinho, Woodburn, Jones, Duncan, Origi, Millar.
FC Sion 0-0 Everton
Gylfi Sigurdsson (£8.0m), Seamus Coleman (£5.5m), Lucas Digne (£6.0m) and Jordan Pickford (£5.5m) all got their first taste of pre-season football as Everton drew a blank in Switzerland.
All four players were named among the substitutes with a view to being introduced after the break but Coleman was thrown into the fray earlier than expected when youngster Joe Williams limped off after half an hour.
Everton lined up in their usual 4-2-3-1 for their second pre-season fixture but there was nothing familiar about the sight of Kevin Mirallas at right-back, with the Belgium international – who spent last season on loan at Fiorentina – struggling with his defensive duties early on.
Coleman’s introduction meant that Mirallas could be pushed forward into his more recognised wide-midfield role but the Belgian was one of six players hooked at half-time.
Marco Silva’s starting XI would have been of little interest to many Fantasy managers, with the Toffees’ most-popular FPL assets either watching on from the bench or, in the case of Richarlison (£8.0m), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£6.0m) and Yerry Mina (£5.5m), still on a post-international duty breather.
Idrissa Gana Gueye (£5.0m) must now surely be a doubt for Gameweek 1, meanwhile, after Senegal made it through to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations, which takes place three weeks before the start of the 2019/20 Premier League campaign.
Michael Keane and Andre Gomes (both £5.5m) were the only regular first-team players to start Sunday’s match in Switzerland, although there were also run-outs for the likes of Leighton Baines (£5.0m), Morgan Schneiderlin (£4.5m) and Tom Davies (£5.5m).
Oumar Niasse, back from his loan spell at Cardiff, toiled up front to no great effect, while new signing Jonas Lossl began the match between the posts.
It was no surprise that Everton looked more threatening after the introduction of their heavy hitters, with Sigurdsson striking the woodwork on two occasions in the second half.
Bernard (£6.5m) also forced a save from the home goalkeeper with a low shot.
Centre-back Mason Holgate and youngster Nathan Broadhead were the only two players to last the full game, with Broadhead impressing on either flank.
Ademola Lookman (£5.0m) and Cenk Tosun (£6.0m) weren’t involved as they fight their way back from injury although were part of the travelling squad.
Everton first-half XI (4-2-3-1): Lossl, Mirallas, Keane, Holgate, Baines, Schneiderlin, Gomes, Williams (Coleman, 31), Davies, Broadhead, Niasse.
Everton second-half XI (4-2-3-1): Pickford, Coleman (Connolly 80′), Holgate, Gibson, Digne, McCarthy, Gomes (Adeniran ’61), Broadhead, Sigurdsson, Bernard, Niasse (Hornby ’54).
SCR Altach 1-1 Southampton
- Goal: Che Adams (£6.0m)
- Assist: Shane Long (£5.0m)
Che Adams (£6.0m) took less than two minutes of his first Southampton appearance to open his account.
The summer signing from Birmingham City finished smartly after turning his marker on the edge of the box, with Shane Long (£5.0m) claiming the assist having rolled a low ball across from the left flank.
The dangerous Adams also struck the post when clean through on goal and then saw an effort hacked off the line after rounding home goalkeeper Martin Kobras.
Ralph Hasenhuttl said of his new striker:
Che could have scored three times, I think. He was a little bit unlucky, but he made the first goal, which was important for him.
He showed from the first moment on that he can help us next season, and I’m happy that he is with us.
Adams himself said:
I definitely could’ve had more – as a striker you get greedy, but it’s the first game. I just try to cause a threat to the defence and create chances.
I feel perfect. I’ve had a hard pre-season, but the lads have dug in well and we’ve got more games to come.
I’ve learned a lot about the team and how the gaffer wants us to play.
Adams lined up in a front two alongside Long as Hasenhuttl rolled out his favoured 4-2-2-2 formation, with Josh Sims and Mohamed Elyounoussi (£5.5m) providing support behind them.
There were chances at both ends and the Saints’ narrow system sometimes left them looking exposed, with Manfred Fischer equalising with a spectacular strike midway through the first half.
Hasenhuttl changed all 11 players at the break and there were 45-minute run-outs for Nathan Redmond (£6.5m), James Ward-Prowse (£6.0m) and Danny Ings (£6.0m) in the second half.
Ings couldn’t prod the ball past Kobras when played through on goal while Redmond, playing in the attacking midfield two behind strike pair Ings and Dan N’Lundulu, also dragged a shot wide.
Michael Obafemi and Jannik Vestergaard (both £5.0m) made returns from injury after missing the closing weeks of the 2018/19 campaign, meanwhile.
Angus Gunn was an unused substitute as Alex McCarthy and Fraser Forster (all £4.5m) shared game-time between the posts.
Moussa Djenepo (£5.5m) didn’t feature as he has been given time off following his exertions for Mali at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Southampton first-half XI (4-2-2-2): McCarthy, Valery, Yoshida, Vestergaard, Bertrand, Romeu, Hojbjerg, Sims, Elyounoussi, Long, Adams.
Southampton second-half XI (4-2-2-2): Forster, Cedric, Stephens, Bednarek, Vokins, Ward-Prowse, Smallbone, Redmond, Obafemi, Ings, N’Lundulu.