Scout Notes

Salah and Firmino get first pre-season minutes as Chelsea assets impress

Mohamed Salah (£12.5m), Roberto Firmino (£9.5m) and Alisson (£6.0m) featured for the first time in pre-season as Liverpool beat Lyon 3-1. 

Three of the other ‘big six’ teams were in action on Wednesday evening, too, with Chelsea’s attacking assets particularly impressing in a 5-3 win over Red Bull Salzburg.

West Ham United beat Hertha Berlin by the same scoreline, with Sebastien Haller (£7.5m) and Pablo Fornals (£6.5m) scoring their first goals for Manuel Pellegrini’s side.

Our Scout Notes article below explores all five matches in detail.

Liverpool 3-1 Lyon

  • Goals: Roberto Firmino (£9.5m), own-goal, Harry Wilson
  • Assists: Ki-Jana Hoever, Bobby Duncan

Jurgen Klopp used 27 different players as Liverpool bounced back from a 3-0 hammering by Napoli with a fairly comfortable win over Lyon.

Sadio Mane (£11.5m), who returns to training next week, is the only member of the Liverpool squad yet to feature in pre-season.

As well as Salah, Firmino and Alisson getting their first minutes on the board, Xherdan Shaqiri (£6.5m) and Naby Keita (£6.0m) also returned from injury to feature.

The Reds had struggled to carve out too many opportunities in the defeat to Napoli but were understandably a lot sharper and more creative with some of their big-hitters up front back.

Speaking after the match, Klopp said:

I think Mo is naturally fit and he can sprint all day, which helps us of course. It opens up the pitch, you can play much more football – not always between the lines, if you from time to time chip the ball in behind the line then Mo makes these offers which is very important for us.

Bobby in between the lines and in the box, present, really important.

Shaq did well and Naby Keita enjoyed the game as well, so that was really cool. With Mo it helped us a lot and with Bobby. 

Asked if Salah, Firmino and Alisson would be ready to feature against Manchester City in Sunday’s Community Shield, Klopp added:

I don’t know yet in the moment, so that’s how it is. We have to see. I don’t say 100 per cent not, there’s a chance that they will play, yes. They will be involved whenever, from the start, maybe we cannot make these changes like today after half an hour or whatever, that’s maybe not possible in that game so we have to see.

We have to see how they react tomorrow, now training is not the highest intensity anymore, now training is about the detail [and] we really need to prepare the game.

Firmino soon got off the mark when pouncing on a deflected Shaqiri cross to fire low past the Lyon goalkeeper and, while Salah’s shooting boots were left back in the changing room, the Egyptian nevertheless looked lively down the right flank.

Salah was withdrawn at half-time, with Firmino – along with Shaqiri – having been substituted after just half an hour.

Lallana Deep

Not for the first time in pre-season, Adam Lallana (£6.0m) was used in a deeper role in central midfield.

The former Southampton midfielder impressed as a ‘number six’, with Klopp opting to go without a recognised anchor in the centre of the park.

The tactic may be one Klopp considers in ‘easier’ fixtures, as the German coach was quick to point out the defensive drawbacks of such a set-up:

It helped a lot how Adam Lallana played in that position; it is difficult to play in that central position when you have such a good footballer who wants each ball.

It’s not too cool when you lose a ball there, to be honest, but all the rest was brilliant.

Today he looked really fresh, so for him the pre-season was very successful. On the position, it depends to the opponent and to the alternative and what you have. In a friendly, you can accept you can lose a ball there, but in a proper match, I am not sure.

He is a very smart footballer – a very, very smart footballer. He likes it but it is not his only position now, we don’t say he is a number six or nothing. 

Alisson’s Aim Not True

Following the trouble of Liverpool’s first-choice back four – especially Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.0m) – in the defeat to Napoli, it was the turn of the normally dependable Alisson to drop a pre-season clanger.

The Brazil international fumbled an innocuous low cross from Liverpool’s right flank and then fouled Moussa Dembele when trying to retrieve the ball, with Memphis Depay converting the subsequent penalty.

Klopp wasn’t too concerned, saying:

We conceded an interesting goal with the penalty, that’s how it is [and] you can see in these situations that all the boys need to adapt to it again. It was only three weeks but now Ali is two days in training like Mo, like Bobby, like Naby and like Shaq, so that means they need just a bit of time but you see the natural quality of them as well and that helps us of course. All round it was a much better performance, but again, I said that will happen. 

Alexander-Arnold, along with Virgil van Dijk (£6.5m) and Andrew Robertson (£7.0m), emerged as a 62nd-minute substitute and underscored his attacking threat, teeing Jordan Henderson (£5.5m) up for a chance and then seeing a free-kick sail just wide.

Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Alisson (Mignolet 62′), Hoever (Van den Berg 46′, Alexander-Arnold 62′), Gomez (Matip 62′), Lovren (Van Dijk 62′), Larouci (Robertson 62′), Lallana (Henderson 62′), Keita (Lewis 46′, Wijnaldum 62′), Shaqiri (Milner 30′, Fabinho 62′), Salah (Duncan 46′, Elliott 62′), Wilson (Oxlade-Chamberlain 62′), Firmino (Brewster 30′, Origi 62′).

Red Bull Salzburg 3-5 Chelsea

  • Goals: Christian Pulisic (£7.5m) x2, Ross Barkley (£6.0m), Pedro (£7.5m), Michy Batshuayi (£7.0m)
  • Assists: Pedro, Pulisic, Barkley x2

With not one of their players costing more than £7.5m in Fantasy Premier League, Chelsea always looked as if they could potentially offer us up some bargain assets in 2019/20.

Wednesday’s eight-goal thriller in Salzburg would only have furthered the cause for optimism, with the Blues producing a slick attacking display at the home of the Austrian champions – although there are still question marks over the defence.

Mid-price Midfield Candidates

Saturday’s final pre-season friendly against Borussia Moenchengladbach may be the ultimate signpost to Frank Lampard’s Gameweek 1 line-up but the starting XI against Red Bull Salzburg may not be too far away from the one we see at Old Trafford.

With N’Golo Kante (£5.0m) still injured, Chelsea again lined up in a 4-2-3-1 with Jorginho (£5.0m) and Matteo Kovacic (£5.5m) as the deep-lying midfield pair.

The FPL midfielders we are most interested in are further forward, of course, and, in the absence of Willian (£7.0m), it was Pedro (£7.0m), Ross Barkley (£6.0m) and Christian Pulisic (£7.5m) who got the nod to line up behind lone striker Tammy Abraham (£7.0m) in Austria.

Pedro and especially Pulisic were excellent on the flanks but it was arguably Barkley who caught the eye most in ‘the hole’, producing two superb assists for his fellow attacking midfielders and scoring from the spot after Pulisic had been felled.

Pulisic said of Barkley’s raking pass for his second goal of the night:

I wasn’t even sure he was going to see me! That was the one I kind of received with my face, it was funny, but what an amazing pass and obviously I did the rest.

Our midfield has amazing quality, and the passes they can make and the movement in there is really good. It helps me so much with my game.

I’m really enjoying my football at the moment. Being at a new club is amazing, I’m really happy to be here, and the guys have been really welcoming. I have enjoyed every moment of it so far.

Barkley’s assist for Pedro’s goal was perhaps overshadowed by the Spaniard’s wonderful backheel lob but the winger paid tribute to Barkley after the game, saying:

Ross’s was a great ball to me and it was a special touch and a beautiful goal and I am very happy to do this.

Pulisic’s pace in behind the opposition backline caused plenty of problems, with a backpedalling Salzburg defence unable to do anything about the American’s two goals and then forced into bringing him down for the penalty award.

Lampard said of Pulisic’s display:

He showed his quality and I love the nature of his goals where he has an intention to run behind the line and not come short, and the finishing was good.

It is what he is going to have to do because he is going to play in the Premier League and the Champions League, this is the top end. A winger has to have the desire not just to be tidy but to be getting in behind people and then with his quality he can be a really big player for us.

He is a big signing for us with big potential but the big question is he has to adapt to a different league, but I have seen already a really good attitude and a willingness to listen to information. He is 20 years of age so we have to remember he is young. I am happy to work with him, I want him to improve him.

Don’t bank on Barkley for penalties

With Jorginho on the field, it was perhaps a surprise to see Barkley step up and take the spot-kick that Pulisic won in the first half.

It remains to be seen if the England midfielder is ahead of the absent Willian in the penalty-taking running order, however, with ‘in the know’ Twitter account CarefreeYouth suggesting that the Brazilian remains at the front of the queue.

William is not guaranteed to be a regular starter, of course, and as Salah proved last season, a deputy penalty-taker can still have plenty of joy from 12 yards.

Defensive Wobbles

While there was much to be positive about in attack, there were more problems at the back.

Kurt Zouma (£5.0m) and David Luiz (£6.0m) struggled at centre-half after the break, while Chelsea’s vulnerability at set plays was again apparent when they conceded from a corner early in the second half.

Salzburg’s second goal came from the penalty spot, while their third strike followed some hesitant defending in the Chelsea box.

Lampard said of the game:

Some really good play from us, some good goals, good combinations. Great attacking of the line from front men and wingers, which is a huge thing for me, and obviously conceding some goals with some sloppy moments from us.

They tested us on the ball, we succeeded at times and not at other times but I am pleased generally. Conceding in pre-season is something you don’t want to do but it is not the worst as it gives you things to address before the business starts.

Forward Thinking

Much uncertainty still surrounds the striker’s role at Chelsea.

Abraham got the nod to lead the line on Wednesday and has more pre-season minutes to his name than any other Chelsea striker but he was one of the Blues’ least-effective players and posed little goal threat.

Michy Batshuayi (£7.0m) came off the bench to grab Chelsea’s fifth goal so all eyes will be on Saturday’s starting XI to see which of Lampard’s three forwards he favours ahead of Gameweek 1.

Chelsea XI (4-2-3-1): Kepa, Azpilicueta (Zappacosta 82′), Zouma, David Luiz (Tomori 75′), Emerson (Alonso 75′), Jorginho (Kenedy 75′), Kovacic (Christensen 81′), Pedro, Barkley, Pulisic (Mount 75′), Abraham (Batshuayi 75′).

Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Bayern Munich

  • Goals: Erik Lamela (£6.0m), Christian Eriksen (£9.0m)
  • Assists: Georges-Kevin Nkoudou, Harry Kane (£11.0m)

Spurs lifted the Audi Cup after defeating Bayern Munich in a penalty shootout after the two sides drew 2-2 in normal time.

This was Spurs’ second game in two days following their win over Real Madrid and Mauricio Pochettino again restricted most players’ game-time to 45 minutes or less, with the exception of Moussa Sissoko (£5.0m) and Lucas Moura (£7.5m).

Line-up Lessons

Pochettino again favoured a 4-2-3-1 for this match, with an ‘out-of-position’ Lucas leading the line in the first half.

Dele Alli (£8.5m), who has operated in increasingly deeper midfield positions in the last year or so, was back in the number ten role and was flanked by Erik Lamela (£6.0m) and Georges-Kevin N’Koudou in the midfield three behind Lucas.

It was the two Spurs wingers who combined for the opening goal, with Lamela – one of the Lilywhites’ stand-out performers in pre-season so far – getting on the end of an excellent low cross from N’Koudou in the 19th minute.

Nine changes followed at the interval as Harry Kane (£11.0m) was brought on to lead the line, with Lucas dropping back into a wide role.

Son Heung-min (£9.5m) was stationed on the opposite flank and had two presentable chances when running through on goal, while Christian Eriksen (£9.0m) looked brighter than he had been against Madrid in ‘the hole’ and scored his first goal of pre-season when Kane teed him up in the Bayern box.

Kane was predictably more involved than Lucas had been as the spearhead of the attack, seeing a fierce shot parried over by Sven Ulreich and setting up Son for his best chance of the game.

Right-back developments

Spurs conceded two second-half goals to force the match into a shootout but a bigger concern for Pochettino would have been the loss of Juan Foyth (£5.0m) to injury.

With Serge Aurier (£5.0m) sidelined and Kieran Trippier sold, Foyth – who is admittedly suspended for Gameweeks 1 and 2 anyway – was one of two remaining options for the problem right-back slot.

The Argentina international was again deployed in this position in the second half but had to be substituted in the final quarter of an hour with an ankle injury.

The severity of the issue is yet to be determined by Pochettino said after full-time:

I need to talk with the doctor now. He twisted his ankle but at the moment I cannot update. I saw when he was leaving the pitch and he said to me it was his ankle and it was very painful. I don’t know but for sure we will get an update in the next few hours or few days.

Kyle Walker-Peters (£5.0m) remains the front-runner to start in the opening two Gameweeks and a medium-to-long-term injury to Foyth would only strengthen his hold on the position, barring further recruitment.

Spurs first half XI (4-2-3-1): Lloris, Walker-Peters, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Rose, Winks, Sissoko, Dele, Lamela, Nkoudou, Lucas.

Spurs second-half XI (4-2-3-1): Gazzaniga, Foyth (Marsh 77′), Alderweireld, Tanganga, White, Sissoko (Georgiou 84′), Skipp, Lucas (Roles 70′), Eriksen, Son, Kane.

Hertha Berlin 3-5 West Ham United

  • Goals: Pablo Fornals (£6.5m), Manuel Lanzini (£6.5m), Sebastien Haller (£7.5m), Grady Diangana (£4.5m), Michael Antonio (£7.0m)
  • Assists: Haller, Fornals, Robert Snodgrass (£5.5m), Carlos Sanchez (£4.5m), Javier Hernandez (£6.0m)

West Ham United doubled their pre-season goal tally in one fell swoop in Germany on Wednesday.

Sebastien Haller (£7.5m) and Pablo Fornals (£6.5m) both emerged from the match with a goal and an assist to their names, with Manuel Lanzini (£6.5m) also on target.

Fornals opened the scoring after being teed up by Haller and then freed Lanzini on the edged of the box for the Hammers’ second goal.

Haller himself scored West Ham’s next strike – their third equaliser of the match – when his header from a Robert Snodgrass (£5.5m) free-kick crept across the line.

Grady Diangana (£4.5m) ran onto a Carlos Sanchez (£4.5m) pass to put West Ham ahead for the first time before Michael Antonio (£7.0m) finished the scoring when rifling in from inside the Hertha box.

Injury updates

Angelo Ogbonna (£4.5m) returned from injury as a substitute in this match but there was still no sign of Mark Noble (£5.0m) or Ryan Fredericks (£4.5m).

The pair, who have a dead leg and a groin injury respectively, are not expected to remain sidelined for long.

Lukasz Fabianski (£5.0m) was a late withdrawal from the starting XI against Hertha but initial reports suggest his groin strain isn’t serious.

Line-up lessons

West Ham are blessed with a multitude of attacking options in midfield but the fact that Lanzini, Fornals and Felipe Anderson (£7.0m) started behind Haller for the second game running might be significant come Gameweek 1.

Anderson was again stationed on the right with Lanzini on the opposite flank, meaning that Fornals was free to roam behind Haller in a central position.

There were certainly promising signs in the attacking positions, with some lovely interplay between the Hammers’ front four.

Jack Wilshere (£5.0m) and Ben Johnson (£4.0m) were arguably the placeholders for Noble and Fredericks in the 4-2-3-1, while Roberto (£4.5m) filled in for Fabianski between the sticks.

Defensive Struggles

As slick as West Ham were in possession, they were worryingly fragile at the back – good news, perhaps, for owners of Manchester City assets ahead of Gameweek 1.

Declan Rice (£5.0m) was often left exposed as the sole defensive midfielder in the side, although Wilshere dropped deeper to help him out as the game went on.

Fabian Balbuena (£4.5m), arguably West Ham’s best centre-back, had an unconvincing game while budget FPL defender Johnson also struggled at times.

Roberto, meanwhile, didn’t fill his backline with much confidence and has now conceded nine goals in pre-season to Fabianski’s one.

In essence, little has seemingly changed from last season: only relegated Fulham and Huddersfield kept fewer clean sheets than the Hammers and there is no real sign that the defensive frailties have been addressed by their attack-minded manager over the summer.

West Ham United XI (4-1-4-1/4-2-3-1): Roberto, Johnson (Zabaleta 71′), Balbuena (Ogbonna 60′), Diop, Cresswell, Rice (Sanchez 60′), Wilshere (Snodgrass 60′), Anderson (Yarmolenko 60′), Fornals (Antonio 60′), Lanzini (Diangana 71′), Haller (Chicharito 71).

Angers 1-1 Arsenal (3-4 pens)

  • Goals: Reiss Nelson
  • Assists: Eddie Nketiah (£4.5m)

Alexandre Lacazette (£9.5m) wasn’t involved as Arsenal defeated Angers on penalties in their penultimate pre-season friendly.

The French striker had injured his ankle in Saturday’s defeat to Lyon but the news sounds fairly positive despite his lack of involvement in France last night, with media reports suggesting he has already returned to full training.

Mesut Ozil (£7.5m) and Sead Kolasinac (£5.5m) were also not part of Arsenal’s latest matchday squad, a week after they were the victims of an apparent carjacking attempt.

Young Gunners

From a Fantasy perspective, Arsenal’s match was possibly the least useful of the five friendlies contested on Wednesday night.

Unai Emery’s starting XI was a mixture of academy prospects and second-string players, although Nacho Monreal (£5.5m) could feasibly be part of the Gameweek 1 line-up.

The young Arsenal side never really clicked into gear and registered just two shots on target all match – one of which was their 49th-minute equaliser.

Reiss Nelson was the scorer of Arsenal’s only goal of the game, firing in the rebound after Eddie Nketiah‘s (£4.5m) shot had been blocked.

The likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.0m), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (£5.5m), Sokratis (£5.0m) and Henrikh Mkhitaryan (£7.0m) made it onto the pitch in the second half as Emery chased the game.

Aubameyang – on as a striker after several run-outs on the right flank this summer – had a goal ruled out for offside and ballooned a shot over, with both chances being created by Mkhitaryan.

The Gabonese striker, along with Maitland-Niles, Granit Xhaka (£5.5m) and Joe Willock, all scored from the spot in the subsequent penalty shootout but Mkhitaryan missed.

Pepe latest

Emery was asked about new signing Nicolas Pepe after the game, saying:

He played here in Angers a few years ago, and then in Lille. He has progressed as a player. We are speaking about a lot of players, we want to select on players who can really help us, give us big performances and improve our squad. We have different options.

Yes [he can play with Aubameyang], first because he is left-footed. We have a left-footer in Bukayo, a young player who has a big future for us. For example on the winger one left-footed player can play on one side or the other. It can give us different options.

Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Martinez; Chambers (Maitland-Niles 46′), Mustafi, Medley (Sokratis 46′), Monreal (Thompson 46′); Guendouzi (Mkhitaryan 63′), Burton (Xhaka 46′), Martinelli; John-Jules (Willock 46′), Nelson (Olayinka 82′), Nketiah (Aubameyang 63′).

741 Comments Post a Comment
  1. jbenny1107
    • 7 Years
    2 years, 4 months ago

    King/KDB or Vardy/Frasier. Have Sterling and Wilson.

    1. balint84
      • 5 Years
      2 years, 4 months ago

      v&s

    2. balint84
      • 5 Years
      2 years, 4 months ago

      sorry
      vardy and frasier

  2. jbaby
    • 3 Years
    2 years, 4 months ago

    RMY

    TAA AWB digne chilwell
    Salah sterling zaha perez Mcginn
    Kane

  3. jojon440
    • 7 Years
    2 years, 4 months ago

    Monreal is 5.0 and not 5.5 as mentioned in the article.

  4. ⭐ Bemba_Da ⭐
    • 11 Years
    2 years, 4 months ago

    If mandzukic goes to United would rashford be shifted wide?

  5. Jb_lcfc
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 3 Years
    2 years, 4 months ago

    Are we thinking Abraham is Chelsea's starting striker this season? Pre-season doesn't seem to have been too hot, but it makes the most sense. And at £7.0m...

  6. balint84
    • 5 Years
    2 years, 4 months ago

    A) Robertson + Aké
    B) VanDijk + Vertonghen