Fantasy managers got their first glimpse of Ayoze Perez (£6.5m) in a Leicester City shirt on Tuesday evening as the Foxes took on Scunthorpe United in their opening pre-season friendly of the summer.
We’ll assess the mid-price Fantasy Premier League midfielder’s debut and assess how two of the promoted clubs got on in their own most-recent games.
You can read about Arsenal, Bournemouth, Burnley and Crystal Palace’s Tuesday fixtures here.
Scunthorpe United 0-1 Leicester City
- Goal: Ayoze Perez (£6.5m)
- Assist: Ricardo Pereira (£6.0m)
Fantasy managers who saw Tuesday’s match at Glanford Park would have been quietly encouraged by Perez’s debut.
Yes, it was only Scunthorpe United. And yes, this was Leicester’s first pre-season game, with first-teamers such as James Maddison (£7.0m) and Ben Chilwell (£5.5m) still to be reintegrated into the side in the coming weeks.
There were still promising signs, though.
One of the biggest question marks about Perez’s move to Leicester would be where he fits into Brendan Rodgers’ system.
On the face of it, little had changed from the back-end of last season.
Leicester lined up in the similar 4-1-4-1 shape that Rodgers favoured in the closing Gameweeks of 2018/19, with Marc Albrighton (£5.5m) and Perez stationed out wide.
The system resembled 4-1-2-3 at times, though, with Albrighton and Perez cutting in from their respective flanks to support Jamie Vardy (£9.0m) up front.
Perez was mostly used on the right at Scunthorpe (occasionally switching sides with Albrighton) but it was noticeable how often he cut inside and got into dangerous positions in the home box – something he regularly did at Newcastle.
The former Magpie had already gone close with two efforts before he latched onto Ricardo Pereira‘s (£6.0m) low centre to score the game’s only goal and he went close to doubling the Foxes’ lead soon after, seeing a header – again from a Ricardo cross – tipped over.
The Ricardo/Perez combination was flourishing and the Portugal international certainly seemed to thrive on the space vacated by Perez’s darts inside.
Rodgers said of the Spaniard after the game:
We have to score more goals. If we want to progress, we have to get more goals into the team, hence the idea of bringing someone like [Pérez] in.
Even tonight, when he’s not fit, he probably could have scored three goals. He just has that knack of arriving into the box to score, to get shots on target.
Perez himself said:
I get into the box as much as I can, I like to be in the box. That’s always my feeling. I’m used to playing a lot as a striker. I think that’s a part of me now.
To get into the box and find those spaces and good positions to get goals… hopefully [there’s] more to come. I’m very happy and proud of myself to score the first.
Vardy was busy and perhaps should have scored when nodding a Youri Tielemans (£6.5m) cross wide but there positive signs that both he and Perez could blossom in the same side – Vardy’s intelligent movement indeed creating space for his teammates behind him.
Tielemans was his usual productive self on the ball and, like last season, frequently cropped up on the edge of the opposition box – along with impressive youngster Khanya Leshabela – as he arrived late from midfield.
All Leicester players bar Leshabela and goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic (£4.5m) were hooked at the interval, with Hary Maguire (£5.5m) the only real first-team regular on show in a quieter second half.
The likes of Maddison, Harvey Barnes (£6.0m) and Kasper Schmeichel (£5.0m) weren’t involved after being given extended leave following their international exertions over the summer.
Leicester City first-half XI (4-1-4-1): Jakupovic, Ricardo, Soyuncu, Evans, Fuchs, Mendy, Tielemans, Leshabela, Perez, Albrighton, Vardy.
Leicester City second-half XI (4-1-4-1): Jakupovic, Justin, Morgan, Maguire, Elder, Amartey, Ghezzal, King, Leshabela (Knight 66), Muskwe, Iheanacho.
Burton Albion 2-1 Sheffield United
- Goal: Billy Sharp (£6.0m)
- Assist: Enda Stevens (£5.0m)
Callum Robinson (£5.5m) made his Sheffield United debut as a 75th-minute substitute in the Tuesday night defeat to Burton Albion and looked lively in his quarter-hour showing.
The summer signing’s pace and directness were eye-catching in the final 15 minutes, with the former Preston forward – listed as a midfielder in FPL – almost teeing up Leon Clarke with a run and cross from the left before whistling a shot narrowly over himself soon after.
Billy Sharp (£6.0m) once again proved how good he is in the air – he scored more headed goals than any Championship player in 2018/19 – by nodding in Enda Stevens‘ (£5.0m) cross to give the Blades the lead but it was arguably strike partner David McGoldrick (£5.5m) who posed more of a sustained threat, chancing his arm on three occasions before seeing a second-half header ruled out for offside.
Speaking after the game, manager Chris Wilder said:
We don’t like to lose so we’re disappointed with that. They came up with that bit of magic right at the end.
But there were enough positives out there, we’ve got some more minutes under our belts, fitness-wise we’re moving in the right direction and our overall play, a couple of sloppy periods apart, was better than last time. So that’s good.
Didzy [McGoldrick], in the first quarter-of-an-hour or so, could have had a hat-trick. We created plenty against a side I respect and who are managed by someone I have huge amount of respect for as well. Now the challenge is to keep picking it up even more in our next one. We know we’ve got to keep doing that, in all aspects, with the challenge ahead of us.
The Blades lined up in their now-familiar 3-4-1-2 shape, with Chris Basham (£4.5m) demonstrating the underlapping/overlapping centre-half tactic with one surge into the Burton box that almost led to a second United goal.
Luke Freeman (£5.5m) was stationed in behind McGoldrick and Sharp and hit the bar with an early effort, while central midfielder John Fleck (£5.0m) also hit the woodwork.
For those looking at possible bench fodder options, John Lundstram (£4.0m) is a name to monitor.
Listed as a defender in FPL, the defensive midfielder – who made only five starts in the Championship last season – replaced Fleck in the second half and caught Wilder’s eye again after his promising display against Betis last Friday.
I thought John Lundstram yet again impressed. He’s possibly a player that many would have thought we’d have moved on in the summer but he’s got a definite part to play.
Simon Moore (£4.5m) again played the whole 90 minutes in goal as United’s pursuit of Dean Henderson drags on.
Moore didn’t have any chance with the winner, with Burton’s Marcus Harness finding the net with a rocket from the edge of the United box.
Burton’s equaliser was a soft one from a corner, with the Blades allowing Burton’s John Brayford to turn the ball in from six yards out.
Sheffield United XI (3-4-1-2): Moore, Basham (Jagielka 62), Stearman (Egan 62), Bryan (O’Connell 62), Baldock (K Freeman 62), Fleck (Lundstram 62), Norwood (Slater 62), Stevens, L. Freeman (Duffy 62), Sharp (Robinson 75), McGoldrick (Clarke 62).
Bonner SC 1-4 Norwich City
- Goals: Adam Idah x2, Onel Hernandez (£5.5m), Teemu Pukki (£6.5m)
- Assists: Patrick Roberts (£5.5m), Philip Heise, Sam Byram (£4.5m), Emiliano Buendia (£6.0m)
Daniel Farke had a positive injury update on Ben Godfrey (£4.5m) after the Canaries’ behind-closed-doors friendly win over Bonner SC on Tuesday.
Godfrey had limped out of the match against Arminia Bielefeld on Saturday and was an early doubt for the Gameweek 1 clash with Liverpool but the prognosis now appears to be more positive.
The Norwich manager said:
We are pretty relieved. There is no fracture, no injury to the ligament. It was just an unbelievably painful knock at his ankle. It was swollen and has been on crutches for two days.
But today, he was already able to walk a bit and we hope to have him back pretty, pretty soon. It’s a big relief and I’m pretty delighted to be honest.
As well as Godfrey, there were a number of other enforced absentees in the 4-1 win over German fourth-tier club Bonner but none of the injuries are said to be serious.
Young striker Adam Idah led the line in front of a quartet of attacking midfielders and scored twice in the first half, first finishing a pass from Callum Roberts (£5.5m) and then turning in Philip Heise‘s cross.
With Heise at left-back and Norwich short in the centre-half department, Jamal Lewis (£4.5m) again lined up at the heart of the defence alongside Grant Hanley (£4.0m).
Right-back Sam Byram (£4.5m) made his debut as a second-half substitute and Farke had words of praise for his new signing after the match:
Sam was alright. It’s pretty difficult because it was pretty busy for him over the last couple of days. He had a long travel yesterday, he trained also this morning.
We got the feeling it was for the best, although he doesn’t have all the information about our game, to throw him into the mix.
He was there with some really good scenes, especially in the offence. He had a brilliant assist for one goal but one or two scenes in the defence that we have to work on a bit but it’s good that he was able to join us this quick. It will help him to settle in here.
Byram crossed for Onel Hernandez (£5.5m) for Norwich’s third goal before Teemu Pukki (£6.5m), on as a 75th-minute substitute, pounced on a deflected shot from Emiliano Buendia (£6.0m) to complete the scoring.
Norwich City XI (4-1-4-1): McGovern (Fährmann, 46), Aarons (Byram, 46), Hanley (c), Lewis, Heise, Leitner, Roberts (Buendia, 75), Stiepermann (Cantwell, 46), Srbeny, Hernandez, Idah (Pukki, 75).
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