There were six pre-season friendlies contested on Friday and Saturday, with Chelsea and Manchester United among the teams in action.
Our latest Scout Notes article rounds up the headline team news, injury updates, goalscorers and assist-makers from these half-dozen games.
Our pre-season minutes spreadsheets have also been updated, meanwhile, as we keep track of which players are most involved for their respective clubs.
Perth Glory 0-2 Manchester United
- Goals: Marcus Rashford (£8.5m), James Garner (£4.5m)
- Assists: Paul Pogba (£8.5m)
The supposedly wantaway Paul Pogba (£8.5m) was handed a 45-minute runout in Manchester United’s first pre-season friendly in Australia.
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer named two separate teams for Saturday’s match in Perth and Pogba was part of the second-half XI, curiously popping up on the right-hand side of central midfield and frequently combining with new recruit Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£5.5m) and youngster Mason Greenwood (£4.5m) down the right flank.
Both of United’s goals stemmed from the hosts trying to play their way out from the back, with Pogba’s interception falling for Marcus Rashford (£8.5m) to rifle in the Red Devils’ opener.
The Frenchman unquestionably made an impact after his introduction (albeit against a limited A-League side in the middle of their own off-season), with United having looked flat in the first half and going into the break locked at 0-0.
Daniel James (£6.0m) was the exception to the rule in the opening 45 minutes, with the young winger’s pace causing Perth problems down the left flank.
Solskjaer paid tribute to James and Wan-Bissaka, along with his academy products, after full-time:
Both the new lads did well, both Dan and Aaron. You had Mason [Greenwood], Angel [Gomes], Jimmy, the young lads, [Tahith] Chongy. All showed they can make it as a Man United player.
Anthony Martial (£7.5m) did little to impress as the spearhead of United’s attack in the first half, with Jesse Lingard (£6.5m) and Ashley Young (£5.5m) going closest to scoring with efforts from distance.
A feature of United’s play in both halves was their high, aggressive press, something Angel Gomes (£5.0m) – playing on the left flank in this encounter – highlighted after the match:
We’ve been working hard, trying to get the front-foot press and trying to create and score as many goals as possible.
We’ve got very quick, direct and pacy players and we tried to press, stay high, get everyone locked up. We did that so we could create more chances, win the ball up higher and try to dominate the game.
A limpingLuke Shaw (£5.5m) departed in the final ten minutes to be replaced by goalscorer James Garner (£4.5m), although the United left-back’s issue is not thought to be serious and he has subsequently trained with the rest of the squad.
Romelu Lukaku (£8.5m), Eric Bailly (£5.0m), Victor Lindelöf (£5.5m) and Lee Grant (£5.0m) missed out with minor niggles but all four players also trained on Monday ahead of the forthcoming match against Leeds United.
David de Gea (£5.5m) was an unused substitute, meanwhile.
Manchester United first-half XI (4-2-3-1): Romero, Dalot, Tuanzebe, Jones, Young, A Pereira, Matic, Chong, Lingard, James, Martial.
Manchester United second-half XI (4-2-3-1): J Pereira, Wan-Bissaka, Smalling, Rojo, Shaw (Garner 81′), McTominay, Pogba, Gomes, Mata, Greenwood, Rashford.
St Patrick’s Athletic 0-4 Chelsea
- Goals: Mason Mount, Emerson Palmieri (£5.5m), Olivier Giroud (£7.0m) x2
- Assists: Mateo Kovacic (£5.5m), Ross Barkley (£6.0m), Kenedy
Olivier Giroud (£7.0m) put down a marker for the striker’s spot in Frank Lampard’s new-look Chelsea side after scoring a brace in Saturday’s win over St Patrick’s Athletic.
The Frenchman, making his first appearance of pre-season, was thrown on as a half-time substitute as Lampard changed both system and all 11 players at the break.
Giroud opened his account with a close-range finish after meeting Kenedy‘s cross from the left flank but his second goal was all his own work – the former Arsenal forward latching onto a loose pass, beating two opposition defenders and firing a low angled shot into the bottom corner.
There may well be two striking spots available in Chelsea’s team should Saturday’s evidence be anything to go by.
Giroud was the spearhead of the attack in a 4-2-3-1 in the second half but, the France international’s brace aside, the Blues were fairly lacklustre after the break.
It may well simply have been the players within that system who were flattering to deceive but the visitors looked more potent in the 4-4-2 diamond that Lampard started out with at kick-off.
Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshauyi were the strike partnership in that system, with Mason Mount in the number ten role behind them and Ross Barkley (£6.0m), Mateo Kovacic (£5.5m) and anchor Jorginho (£5.0m) pulling the strings further back.
Lampard singled out several of those players after the match, saying:
Tammy and Michy had a lot of energy up front and showed exactly the sort of stuff that I want.
We want to have energy in the side and press from the front and Michy and Tammy have both really taken on board what I’ve said to them.
So I was delighted with that and I think the only thing missing from both of their performances was a goal.
Mason showed what I saw at Derby last year with his energy alongside Ross so there were a lot of good performances.
Batshuayi had several cracks at goal – including one that hit the woodwork – but it was Mount who opened the scoring, latching onto Kovacic’s fine pass to prod the ball past the Pats’ goalkeeper.
A feature of the narrow 4-4-2 diamond meant that full-backs Davide Zappacosta (£4.5m) and Emerson Palmieri (£5.5m) were noticably pressed high up the pitch and it was the Italian left-back who doubled Chelsea’s lead, collecting a pass from Barkley (who himself had earlier hit the post) and rifling in an effort from distance.
Lampard discussed his formation changes after full-time:
We want to be adaptable, whether we need to change something in-game or for games. That’s the way we train and I want the players to have that. We know we’re not bringing any players in so we need to find little ways in pre-season and we want to try to make it difficult for teams to play against us.
It went really well in the first half. We had a lot of bodies in midfield and they dominated the ball in there, as they should do in this sort of game. As we get fitter, train more and the combinations get better, hopefully, we’ll see more of that.
N’Golo Kante (£5.0m) missed out through injury but Lampard delivered a fairly positive update on the Frenchman after full-time:
He’s been training on his own with the physios this week because he’s still feeling the effects of his injury from the end of last season and we just want to be careful with him.
It’s not a big problem. We know he’s a fit boy and he has a great attitude so the last thing we want to do is push him too early. Hopefully next week in Japan we’ll start to integrate him into the group.
Chelsea first-half XI (4-4-2 diamond): Caballero, Zappacosta, Tomori, David Luiz, Emerson, Jorginho, Mount, Kovacic, Barkley, Abraham, Batshuayi
Chelsea second-half XI (4-2-3-1): Cumming, Alonso, Zouma, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Bakayoko, Gilmour, Kenedy, Pedro, Palmer, Giroud.
FC Liefering 2-5 Brighton and Hove Albion
- Goals: Lewis Dunk (£4.5m), Glenn Murray (£6.0m), Jurgen Locadia (£5.5m), Leandro Trossard (£6.0m), Florin Andone (£5.0m)
- Assists: Pascal Gross (£6.5m), Locadia, Markus Suttner, Alireza Jahanbakhsh (£6.0m) x2
Graham Potter’s reign as Brighton manager got off to a winning start as the Seagulls comfortably saw off Austrian second-tier club FC Liefering.
Stiffer tests await and it’s difficult to read too much into a comfortable pre-season victory over European minnows but there were at least glimmers of hope that Potter will deliver on his promise of providing more attacking football at the Amex next season.
The former Swansea boss fielded two entirely different teams in each half but what remained consistent was his use of a fluid 4-2-3-1, with Glenn Murray (£6.0m) leading the line in the first half and Florin Andone (£5.0m) spearheading the attack after the break.
Both Brighton strikers found the back of the net, with Murray being teed up by Jurgen Locadia (£5.5m) for Brighton’s second goal and Andone completing the rout with a header from a superb Alireza Jahanbakhsh (£6.0m) cross.
Jahanbakhsh was one of the biggest flops of 2018/19 but looked re-energised here, playing in a number ten role behind Andone and setting up new signing Leandro Trossard (£6.0m) for Albion’s fourth goal – both of his assists coming from crosses from the right flank.
Potter said of the Iran international:
It was nice for him to contribute to the goals. It’s probably what he wants to do, what he was brought here to do.
The key probably with Alireza is to get him as close to goal as possible. That’s probably where they used him in Holland and therefore you get the goals and assists.
We have got a lot of forward players. We are just trying to find out where best to play. He ended up on the right as well, so with the personnel on the pitch there was quite a bit of fluidity amongst them.
Sometimes that’s positive, sometimes it’s not, it depends how you look at it, but it was nice for him to get a couple of assists.
Trossard, deployed on the left wing after a half-time introduction, took his goal well on 47 minutes with his first touches of the ball.
Potter paid tribute to the Belgian and fellow new recruit Matthew Clarke (£4.5m) after the game:
Both of them were good in the second half, it’s never easy coming to a new club and settling in straight away. But they have both adapted well to an increase in level.
It was nice for Leandro to get his goal and Matt was solid defensively, so I’m happy with their application this week and am looking forward to working with them going forward.
Pascal Gross (£6.5m) was in his customary number ten role in the first half and there was a familiar ring to his part in Brighton’s opener, with Lewis Dunk (£4.5m) looping a header in from the German’s corner.
Locadia, used on the left flank in the first half, scored a goal of his own when latching onto the end of Markus Suttner‘s cross before the interval.
Potter said after full-time:
We had five different scorers and everyone chipped in, which is always positive. It’s still early and our international players only came back at the start of the week, but the whole group has been really good.
Now we can move it forward back in England, I still have a lot of decisions to make and we still have a couple of players away too.
Potter had a good record of working with youth players at Swansea and both Max Sanders and Steven Alzate were given chances to impress at right-back and central midfield respectively.
The ex-Ostersunds manager saw his Swans side concede 62 goals last season, however, and it remains to be seen if he can address the poor marking and hesitancy that allowed Liefering to score twice in the first half on Saturday.
Brighton first-half XI (4-2-3-1): Button, Montoya, Burn, Dunk, Suttner, Alzate, Stephens, March, Gross, Locadia, Murray.
Brighton second-half XI (4-2-3-1): Walton, Sanders, Duffy, Clarke, Bernardo, Propper, Kayal, Knockaert, Jahanbakhsh, Trossard, Andone.
Young Boys 2-0 Crystal Palace
A strong Crystal Palace side lost on Saturday in their second and final pre-season match in Switzerland.
Except for Wilfried Zaha (£7.0m) – on duty with the Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations – and the injured James Tomkins and Mamadou Sakho (both £5.0m), Roy Hodgson’s starting XI was about as strong as it could possibly be for this latest encounter against Swiss opposition.
FPL budget buy Martin Kelly (£4.0m) was once again deputising at centre-half alongside Scott Dann (£4.5m), with Patrick van Aanholt (£5.5m) and Joel Ward (£4.5m) occupying the full-back positions.
Andros Townsend (£6.0m) and Luka Milivojevic (£7.0m) played the full 90 minutes in midfield, as did Jeffrey Schlupp (£5.5m) in his second match back from the ankle injury that caused him to miss the Africa Cup of Nations.
The Ghana international said after full-time:
I tore some ligaments in my ankle against Man City towards the end of the season. I had a lot of work in the summer and managed to get it right. I felt really good today getting through that 90 minutes and everything else is obviously a bonus.
Christian Benteke (£6.0m) was part of a two-pronged strike duo alongside Alexander Sorloth, with Max Meyer (£5.5m), so often overlooked by Roy Hodgson last season, again among the substitutes.
Meyer’s introduction at half-time saw Schlupp move into a supporting role behind Benteke, with Palace having been second-best throughout the first half and 2-0 down at the break.
Hodgson explained his tactical changes:
We changed the system, didn’t we? We started with the two lads up front. They couldn’t get hold of the ball and we were getting overrun in midfield. I think bringing Jeff Schlupp into more of a No.10 position, if you like, in between the midfield and the forwards, we got on the ball a little bit better.
Max Meyer came on the left-hand side and suddenly got us on the ball a little bit more. Our passing was a lot better and our possession play was a lot better.
Vicente Guaita (£5.0m) was back between the posts but was at fault for Young Boys’ first goal – the Palace goalkeeper hurtling out of his box to meet a loose ball and getting stranded as Nicolas Moumi Ngamaleu rounded him to score.
Guillaume Hoarau then doubled the hosts’ lead with a deflected effort on 30 minutes.
Reflecting on the game, Hodgson said:
I’m not at all disappointed here today. I was a bit after the first half but the second half has really cheered me up because I thought we played really well.
I thought particularly in the first half it showed that they had been training for four weeks and they’ve already played quite a lot of important games in their friendly matches.
To be honest in the second half I thought we were arguably the better team. They didn’t create that many chances but unfortunately, we shot ourselves in the foot with a major error after five or six minutes. So of course, when you start games like this and you’re 1-0 down it’s always going to be hard.
It was an excellent workout for the boys. We worked really hard and I’m actually impressed by the level of fitness we showed today after only two weeks in training.
Crystal Palace XI (4-4-2): Guaita, Van Aanholt, Dann (Woods 67), Kelly (Riedewald 67), Ward, Schlupp, Milivojevic, McArthur (Dreher 86), Townsend, Sorloth (Meyer 45), Benteke (Wickham 67).
Fulham 0-1 Burnley
- Goal: Chris Wood pen (£6.5m)
- Assist: Ben Gibson (£4.0m)
Chris Wood (£6.5m) may have a slight upper hand when it comes to the spot-kick running order at Burnley next season.
Wood despatched a 70th-minute penalty in Friday’s behind-closed-doors friendly win over Fulham after Ben Gibson (£4.0m) had been floored in the Cottagers’ box.
Ashley Barnes (£6.5m), who played the whole of the second half alongside his regular striker partner, took both of Burnley’s Premier League spot-kicks last season, although Wood had already been substituted on one of those occasions (the 1-1 draw v Southampton in February)
In the other instance, the 3-1 win over Brighton, both Barnes and Wood were on the field – and the New Zealand international was indeed on a hat-trick – when Burnley were awarded a 74th-minute penalty.
Having won the spot-kick himself, Barnes stepped up to take the penalty and scored.
Wood explained the situation after full-time:
I definitely did fancy it. It’s just one of them things, as strikers here we take responsibility for penalties. Normally if you win then you take it. He won it, I asked him for it, but he said ‘no I’m taking it’ which is fair enough. He won the penalty, so we move on and we go again.
We’ve got a rule: if you win, then you take it.
Wood had indeed won and converted a penalty in the defeat to Olympiacos earlier in the season.
So then, it may be that the Burnley strikers continue to take the penalties that they themselves win.
When other players are fouled or a handball decision is given, then it could be Wood – based on Friday’s evidence – who has the nod to take them.
A Ruben Neves (£5.5m)/Raul Jimenez (£7.5m) jobshare is another possibility, of course, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on the situation in the coming pre-season matches.
Wood and Barnes have new competition for their places, of course, and Jay Rodriguez (£6.0m) was handed his first taste of action in his second spell at the club in a 45-minute showing in the Algarve.
The former West Brom striker had a goal disallowed for offside before being replaced at the break.
Josh Benson was the only Burnley player to get more than 45 minutes of football as Sean Dyche made ten changes at half-time, with Erik Pieters (£4.5m) making his debut in a claret and blue shirt.
Dwight McNeil (£6.0m) was reportedly deployed in an unusual central midfield position in the second half, with the fit-again Aaron Lennon (£5.0m) getting a run-out on the flank.
Tom Heaton (£4.5m) wasn’t involved as speculation grows about his future, so Nick Pope and Joe Hart (both £4.5m) each got a half to impress.
Charlie Taylor (£4.5m) reportedly missed out with a “niggle”.
Dyche will split his squad in two for games at Crewe and Port Vale next Saturday.
Burnley first half XI (4-4-1-1): Pope, Bardsley, Mee, Long, Pieters, Gudmundsson, Westwood, Benson, Brady, Hendrick, Rodriguez.
Burnley second half XI (4-4-2): Hart, Lowton, Tarkowski, Gibson, Dunne, Lennon, Cork, McNeil, Benson (Vydra 65), Barnes, Wood.
Real Betis 0-1 Sheffield United
- Goal: David McGoldrick (£5.5m)
- Assist: John Lundstram (£4.0m)
Every single one of Sheffield United’s players listed in Fantasy Premier league bar new signing Callum Robinson (£5.5m) featured in Friday’s 1-0 win over Real Betis.
Chris Wilder set his side up in the familiar 3-4-1-2 shape that he favoured in United’s promotion-winning season, with the usual three of Jack O’Connell, Chris Egan and Chris Basham (all £4.5m) starting the game in central defence.
Further forward, there was only really Billy Sharp (£6.0m) and Oliver Norwood (£5.0m) of the first-team regulars on show in the first half – although bench fodder option John Lundstram (£4.0m), for some reason listed as a defender by FPL, was ‘out of position’ in his regular defensive midfield role.
Sharp had a goal chalked off for a foul while Norwood went close with a free-kick before both players were hooked at the interval as Wilder made eight changes.
Only Lundstram, O’Connell and goalkeeper Simon Moore (£4.5m) remained on the pitch as first-choice wing-backs Enda Stevens (£5.0m) and George Baldock (£4.5m), midfielders John Fleck (£5.0m) and Mark Duffy (£5.5m), and striker David McGoldrick (£5.5m) were thrown on, along with new signings Phil Jagielka (£4.5m) and Luke Freeman (£5.5m).
FPL midfielder Freeman was deployed ‘out of position’ up front with McGoldrick, who spurned a one-on-one opportunity before breaking the deadlock following a headed pass from Lundstram.
After the game, Wilder said:
We needed to be a bit more tidy at times but that’s understandable because, and the same went for Betis, we’re coming back after a break when we’ve not played any football. But we will get better in that regard.
The one thing you saw though, the one thing this group as never lacked, is heart, desire and a hunger to go well. Jack O’Connell and John Lundstram, for instance, showed that out there. For them to play 90 minutes straight away, for them to not to want to come off even though the conditioners are looking at me, that tells you what them boys are about.
Sheffield United first-half XI: Moore, O’Connell, Basham, Egan,
K. Freeman, Lundstram, Slater, Bryan, Norwood, Sharp, Clarke.
Blades (second half team): Moore, Jagielka, Stearman, O’Connell, Baldock, Lundstram, Fleck, Stevens, Duffy, L. Freeman, McGoldrick.