Fantasy Football Scout’s coverage of pre-season continues with another round of match reports on key friendlies.
We’ve gone over some recent summer games to pull out the key Fantasy talking points… and track the minutes played by every player…
BRIGHTON 1-1 CHELSEA
- Goals: Pascal Groß (£6.0m) | Timo Werner (£9.5m)
- Assists: Aaron Connolly (£5.5m) | Callum Hudson-Odoi (£6.0m)
Timo Werner (£9.5m) did not wait around to get his Chelsea career off and running.
The former Leipzig forward made his debut for the Blues in a pre-season draw with Brighton on Saturday afternoon, finding the net before the five-minute mark.
Werner also produced plenty to like off the ball as well, with some excellent energy and movement during his 61-minute outing.
There was, as expected, a lot of drifting into the left-hand channel and dropping deep, but these runs only served to demonstrate Werner’s ability to link-up with his team-mates – possibly hinting at assist potential.
It must be said that the German international offered a lot more in the first half than during the second, in light of the creativity and service around him.
Stationed on the right-hand side of Chelsea’s front-three, Hakim Ziyech (£8.0m) showed exactly why Frank Lampard wanted to bring him to Chelsea. As well as providing excellent delivery from set plays, it was his cross that led to Werner’s goal, helped on by Callum Hudson-Odoi (£6.0m).
There was, perhaps, a little bit too much time spent on the chalk of the touchline against Brighton for Ziyech but it is early days yet.
Furthermore, Fantasy managers may have to play a patient game with the former Ajax man in light of a second-half injury. Ziyech was forced off in the 54th with what Lampard described post-match as a “little twist to the knee” that needs to be looked at. Olivier Giroud (£7.0m) also left the game late-on with a bandaged head.
Christian Pulisic (£8.5m), Fikayo Tomori (£5.0m), Emerson Palmieri (£5.0m), Mason Mount (£7.0m), Ross Barkley (£6.0m), Jorginho (£5.0m), Michy Batshuayi (£6.0m) and Tammy Abraham (£7.5m) all missed the game due to time in isolation over the last two weeks.
As ever, concerns about Chelsea’s defence remain as they conceded two penalties at the Amex Stadium, one saved by Willy Caballero (£4.5m), the other conceded.
Meanwhile, Leeds fans will not have enjoyed Ben White (£4.5m) featuring for over an hour as part of a strong-looking back-three for Brighton.
He was joined at the back by Lewis Dunk (£5.0m) and Adam Webster (£4.5m) as Graham Potter vows to give him the chance to earn a first-team place this season.
Tariq Lamptey (£4.5m) was used as a second-half substitute while three different Seagulls goalkeepers were used – but David Button (£4.0m) did not feature.
Christian Walton came on for Mat Ryan (£4.5m) at the interval but was forced off through injury with 10 minutes left to play, allowing Robert Sánchez to come on and finish the game.
Pascal Groß (£6.0m) scored the equalising goal for Brighton from the spot, but it is unclear what this means for the pecking order as Neal Maupay (£6.5m) had been substituted before this penalty, having missed one of his own earlier in the match.
Brighton and Hove Albion XI (3-5-1-1): Ryan (Walton 62′ | Sánchez 80′); Dunk (Bernardo 62′), Webster (Burn 62′), B White (Duffy 62′); March (Connolly 62′), Bissouma (D Stephens 62′ | Sanders 73′), Alzate (Molumby 46′), Lallana (Mac Allister 46′), Veltman (Lamptey 46′); Trossard (Jahanbakhsh 62′); Maupay (Groß 62′).
Chelsea XI (4-3-3): Kepa (Caballero 46′); Alonso (Maatsen 66′), Christensen (Azpilicueta 46′), Clarke-Salter (Rüdiger 46′), R James (Lawrence 66′); Loftus-Cheek (Vale 72′), Kanté (Ampadu 61′), Kovačić (Baker 61′); Hudson-Odoi (McCormick 72′), Werner (Giroud 61′ | Castillo 90+2′), Ziyech (Gallagher 54′).
SPURS 4-1 READING
- Goals: Own Goal, Dele Alli (£8.0m), Son Heung-min (£9.0m), Erik Lamela (£6.0m)
- Assists: Son x2, Lucas Moura (£7.0m), Steven Bergwijn (£7.5m)
Son Heung-min (£9.0m) continued his exhilarating pre-season form in a big win over Reading on Friday, but Fantasy managers are urged to consider the context before jumping at the chance to throw him in their next draft.
For the second friendly in a row, the South Korean was used as a central striker in the absence of Harry Kane (£10.5m), who missed the last two weeks of training following a quarantine period after travelling.
Just as he did back in February, Son made the most of his advanced central role against Reading and now has three goals and two (Fantasy) assists this summer.
In the first half on Friday, Ben Davies (£5.0m) played a long ball down the left-hand side of the field, run onto by Son, whose shot was turned into his own net by Omar Richards.
Alli headed to Lucas Moura (£7.0m) on the edge of the box, taking in an immediate first-touch return pass and lofting the ball over visiting goalkeeper Rafael Cabral.
Steven Bergwijn (£7.5m) found space on the left six minutes later, allowing him enough room to pick out Son in the box, who swept in at the back post.
The South Korean was then involved again as he got fouled for the free-kick Erik Lamela (£6.0m) dispatched in the 52nd minute.
Tottenham Hotspur XI (4-2-3-1): Lloris (Hart 46′ | Gazzaniga 74′); B Davies (Sessegnon 46′), Dier (Carter-Vickers 46′), Alderweireld, G Fernandes (Aurier 46′); Højbjerg (Bowden 75′), White (Sissoko 46′ (Devine 86′)); Bergwijn (Cirkin 62′), Alli (Clarke 62′), Moura (Lamela 46′); Son (Scarlett 81′).
SPURS 1-0 BIRMINGHAM
- Goals: Steven Bergwijn (£7.5m)
- Assists: Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (£5.0m)
Spurs’ next pre-season game, played the following day added a few extra factors for Fantasy managers to consider.
Kane was finally named as part of a matchday squad after his period of self-isolation, although he did not feature against Birmingham. It means we will probably only get to see him in action for Spurs before Gameweek 1 when they travel to Watford on September 5 – although he is due to play for England during the international break.
With three friendlies in the books for Spurs now, we are starting to get an idea of who Mourinho’s favourites have been in other positions.
Gedson Fernandes (£5.0m) has played 225 minutes across those outings, used in a number of different roles (including right-back) while Ryan Sessegnon (£5.0m) has registered the same game-time (most among Spurs players) predominantly on the left-hand side of attacking midfield.
Moura has also been extensively used, playing for 90 minutes against Birmingham and is the third-most utilised Spurs player so far.
Also of note, Cameron Carter-Vickers has now played 180 minutes, the most of any Spurs centre-back. While Toby Alderweireld (£5.5m) and Eric Dier (£5.0m) are likely to be the first-choice pair, the youngster’s involvement could be enough to earn a £4.0m or £4.5m price on FPL.
The same could be said of Dennis Cirkin, who has largely been rotating the left-back berth with Davies, registering 118 minutes so far.
Tottenham Hotspur XI (4-3-3): Hart (Lloris 46′); Cirkin (B Davies 46′), Carter-Vickers, Dier (Bergwijn 46′), Aurier; White (Alli 46′), G Fernandes, Sissoko (Højbjerg 61′); Sessegnon, Clarke (Son 71′), Moura.
NEWCASTLE 2-1 BARNSLEY
- Goals: Andy Carroll (£5.5m), Jacob Murphy
- Assists: Matt Ritchie (£5.0m)
Andy Carroll (£5.5m) continues to draw Fantasy attention ahead of the new season as he scored for the second pre-season friendly in a row on Saturday.
With Dwight Gayle (£6.0m) currently out injured with an ankle problem, and Joelinton (£6.0m) and Yoshinori Muto (£5.0m) still yet to be involved in a single friendly, Carroll’s chances of starting Gameweek 1 are beginning to look encouraging indeed.
Add into the mix that he has now scored two goals in as many appearances over the summer, and Steve Bruce may have no choice but to build his attack around the striker for the visit of West Ham on Saturday, September 12.
With a dearth of serious options in the £5.5m bracket among forwards this season, interest in Carroll may increase slightly in the coming days.
Meanwhile, Fantasy managers should keep an eye on the goalkeeper situation at Newcastle in light of Martin Dúbravka‘s (£5.0m) recent injury.
Karl Darlow (£5.0m) is obviously too expensive for anyone to really consider but Mark Gillespie (£4.5m) could offer value if he were to nail a place down. So far this pre-season, both goalkeepers have played half of the two games. With each of them on 90 minutes total game-time this summer, more data is needed.
Of the two goalkeepers, Darlow remains the unbeaten one so far, Newcastle conceding nine minutes after Gillespie came on against Barnsley.
Matt Ritchie (£5.0m) made his first appearance of pre-season on Saturday, featuring on the left-hand side of midfield, registering an assist for Carroll’s goal and going close to scoring himself.
Allan Saint-Maximin (£5.5m) was used only as a second-half substitute in this outing and, interestingly, after two games, 11 of his colleagues have been handed more game-time. The Frenchman was exciting during his 29-minute cameo though, producing a trademark fizzing run and cross late in the game, which nearly resulted in Josh Murphy (not yet priced) adding his second of the game, were it not for a deft touch by Barnsley’s goalkeeper.
Murphy was another player to add some zip to Newcastle in the second half, winning a penalty that he scored himself.
Newcastle United XI (4-5-1): Darlow (Gillespie 46′); Dummett (Manquillo 61′), Clark (Yedlin 61′), Fernández (Lejeune 61′), Krafth; Ritchie (Atsu 61′), S Longstaff (Murphy 61′), Hayden (Saivet 74′), Shelvey (Barlaser 74′), Hendrick (Saint-Maximin 61′); Carroll (Almirón 61′).
HEARTS 0-1 SHEFF UTD
- Goals: John Fleck (£6.0m)
- Assists: Billy Sharp (£6.0m)
Billy Sharp‘s (£6.0m) pre-season form may start asking some questions of Chris Wilder ahead of the 2020/21 campaign.
The veteran forward scored the only goal of Sheffield United’s abandoned 1-0 win at Dundee United last week and he provided an assist as the Blades won at Hearts.
He played in John Fleck (£6.0m) to open the scoring inside the eighth minute before going to close to adding his second goal of the summer and having an effort ruled out for offside.
Sharp and Callum Robinson (£5.5m) have both started each of Sheffield United’s pre-season games so far while Oli McBurnie (£6.0m) and David McGoldrick (£5.5m) remain missing, likely due to isolating in light of track and trace alerts.
While the latter pairing is arguably the first-choice at Bramall Lane, especially based on Project Restart performances, their continued absence from friendly matches is allowing Sharp and Robinson to show what they can do, each of them inside the top-three most-used Blades assets thus far.
Wilder is still without Jack O’Connell (£5.0m) but was able to welcome George Baldock (£5.5m) into the fold, the right wing-back representing the only change from the team selected against Dundee, Regan Slater demoted to the bench.
That meant Wilder could hand another solid innings to the central midfield trio of Fleck, Sander Berge (£5.0m) and Oliver Norwood (£5.0m), who played 67 minutes together at Hearts.
Considering John Lundstram (£5.5m) is still not involved, although back in training, it does look as if Fleck, Berge and Norwood could be the midfield triumvirate for the Gameweek 1 hosting of Wolves.
“John is back with us, there’s a contract offer there. That’s between the club and John and his agent. There’s no reason for John to down tools, and if he’s here for the rest of the season, he’s here for the rest of the season. Would I like him to sign a new contract? Of course, he was outstanding for us. We’ll keep looking at the situation. If the window comes and somebody makes a bid for him, that’s up to John to consider and us to consider.” – Chris Wilder
Another returning name was Lys Mousset (£6.0m) who, after missing out on the Dundee United game, emerged as a 75th-minute replacement for Chris Basham (£5.0m) on Friday.
Sheffield United XI (3-5-2): Ramsdale; J Robinson (K Bryan 67′), Egan (Jagielka 67′), Basham (Mousset 75′); Stevens (Norrington-Davies 67′), Fleck (Osborn 67′), Norwood (Brunt 69′), Berge (Rodwell 69′), Baldock (Slater 69′); C Robinson (Gordon 84′), Sharp (Hackford 80′).
BIRMINGHAM 0-2 LEICESTER
- Goals: Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Marc Albrighton (£5.5m)
- Assists: Youri Tielemans (£6.5m)
Leicester secured a 2-0 win over Birmingham City with the help of a large number of young players earlier this week.
Jamie Vardy (£10.0m) and Kelechi Iheanacho (£6.0m) were among the biggest names missing while James Maddison (£7.0m), Ricardo Pereira (£6.0m), Jonny Evans (£5.5m), Christian Fuchs (£4.5m) and Daniel Amartey (£4.0m) were all absent through injury.
Following Ben Chilwell‘s (£5.5m) move to Chelsea, Fuchs’ knock and the absence for Luke Thomas (£4.5m) forced Brendan Rodgers to deploy academy midfielder Thakgalo Leshabela at left-back for 60 minutes while James Justin (£4.5m) spent the same length of time in his preferred position on the right-hand side of the Foxes’ defence.
Caglar Söyüncü (£5.5m) and Youri Tielemans (£6.5m) went closest for Leicester in the first half, seeing their efforts drag wide and blocked by the defence – and it was the Belgian who carved out the opening goal in the second period.
He made a driving run through Birmingham’s midfield and played in substitute Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall to score.
Marc Albrighton (£5.5m) netted a rather fortunate second goal for Leicester when he charged down a clearance from goalkeeper Zach Jeacock.
With a raft of changes made for the closing stages, Admiral Muskwe won a penalty but saw his spot-kick saved.
Leicester City XI (4-3-3): Schmeichel (D Ward 46′); Leshabela (Marcal-Madivadua 60′), Söyüncü (D Johnson 60′), Knight (Benkovic 46′), Justin (Daley-Campbell 60′); Tielemans (Fitzhugh 60′), N Mendy (Choudhury 46′), Tavares (Dewsbury-Hall 46′); Gray (Albrighton 46′), Hirst (Muskwe 46′), Barnes (Eppiah 60′).