Having rounded up the Saturday friendlies involving Liverpool, Everton, Newcastle United, Arsenal and Aston Villa in our previous Scout Notes article, we now turn our attention to the games involving Crystal Palace, Burnley, West Bromwich Albion and Brighton and Hove Albion.
As usual, we’ll provide a summary of the key talking points, manager quotes, injury news, minutes played and attacking returns registered as the clock ticks down on Gameweek 1.
Crystal Palace 1-1 Brondby
While the chances of Nathan Ferguson (£4.0m) being fit for Gameweek 1 seem to be on the slim side, another budget-freeing route into the Crystal Palace defence has presented itself – at least, for now.
Tyrick Mitchell (£4.0m) started his third straight pre-season match in a row on Saturday, again deputising for the injured Patrick van Aanholt (£5.5m) at left-back.
In truth, the Eagles’ defence almost picks itself at present, with Joel Ward (£4.5m), Scott Dann (£4.5m) and FPL midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate (£5.0m) having started all four of their side’s warm-up games at the back.
Ferguson, van Aanholt, Gary Cahill (£4.5m), James Tomkins (£4.5m) and Mamadou Sakho (£4.5m) all remain unavailable at the time of writing, leaving the versatile Martin Kelly (£4.5m) as Roy Hodgson’s only real senior alternative in defence.
Jairo Riedewald (£4.5m) and Jeffrey Schlupp (£5.5m) have previously filled in at left-back under Hodgson, with the former indeed starting in that position in the 2-1 win over Oxford United, but it’s perhaps telling that Mitchell has held onto the shirt since then and even more so that he lasted the full 90 minutes in what was Palace’s final warm-up match ahead of Gameweek 1.
One word of warning, however: van Aanholt has been recently pictured doing work on the training ground, so the Netherlands international may not be a million miles away from a return.
The Eagles may have a decimated backline and are often put to the sword against tougher opposition but they are traditionally good bets for clean sheets in clashes with fellow also-rans, having kept ten shut-outs in 20 matches against teams finishing 10th or below last season.
Vicente Guaita (£5.0m) is usually a dependable sort between the posts (he had the third-best expected goals prevented tally last season) and he made a couple of smart stops against Brondby, narrowly failing to keep out the Danish side’s second-half equaliser.
Palace had taken the lead through Wilfried Zaha (£7.0m), who grabbed his third goal in four games when collecting Jordan Ayew‘s (£6.0m) pass and smashing a deflected effort past Marvin Schwäbe.
Zaha and Ayew were again playing as a strike duo in a 4-4-2, a system Hodgson has turned to frequently in pre-season in the absence of his two bona fide centre-forwards.
With new signing Eberechi Eze (£6.0m) again missing out because of a groin injury, it was Jeffrey Schlupp (£5.5m) and Andros Townsend (£6.0m) who were given the nod to flank Zaha and Ayew in what was at times a fluid front four.
Schlupp caught the eye with his probing runs and a couple of early chances, with the Eagles more threatening than we became accustomed to last season.
Ayew and Max Meyer (£5.0m) also wasted one-on-ones, with another Zaha effort being hooked off the goal-line.
Hodgson said after full-time:
We’ve got to start taking chances. Today I think [we had] 20-odd really good opportunities and, quite frankly, five or six of them were such clear goal chances I can’t believe we didn’t put the ball in the back of the net.
The back four once again and goalkeeper were really good and I thought our attacking play produced the goal chances we were hoping it would produce.
Crystal Palace XI: Guaita; Ward, Kouyaté, Dann (Kelly 65′), Mitchell; Schlupp, Riedewald, McArthur (Milivojevic 45′), Townsend; Zaha, Ayew (Meyer 65′).
Burnley 4-1 Heart of Midlothian
Burnley 4-2 Mansfield Town
- Goals: Jay Rodriguez (£6.0m), Max Thompson, Lewis Richardson, Johann Berg Gudmundsson (£5.5m) | Josh Brownhill (£5.0m), Chris Wood (£6.5m) x2, Bobby Thomas
- Assists: Richardson, James Tarkowski (£5.5m), Thompson | McNeil x2
Sean Dyche again split his squad in two for a pair of friendlies on Saturday, with each Burnley XI plundering four goals at their Barnfield Training Centre.
The return from injury of centre-halves James Tarkowski (£5.5m) and Kevin Long (£4.5m) was the main headline from the weekend’s double-header, although Sean Dyche is still without the sidelined Ben Mee (£5.0m), Jack Cork (£5.0m) and Ashley Barnes (£6.0m) – none of whom have featured at all in pre-season.
Dyche provided an update on two of them after Saturday’s game:
Corky is a bit longer term, going well but the whole programme, we knew that was longer.
Barnesy is making real good progress at the minute, he’s had a real tough run of it. He’s not with us yet but he’s working hard with the science team.
Tarkowski, who has racked up five attacking returns in each of the last two seasons, claimed an assist for the Clarets’ second goal in the 4-1 win over Hearts, with youngster Max Thompson tapping in his knockdown from close range.
With Barnes sidelined and Chris Wood (£6.5m) on the other pitch, Jay Rodriguez (£6.0m) tucked away a penalty to give Dyche’s side the lead in that match.
Lewis Richardson netted a third before Johann Berg Gudmundsson (£5.5m), who is one to watch in FPL should he stay fit, rounded off the scoring with a sumptuous chip.
In the other game, Josh Browhill (£5.0m) curled in a superb direct free-kick and Wood scored a second-half brace as the Clarets saw off Mansfield 4-2.
Charlie Taylor (£4.5m) put through his own net in that fixture.
Without a fixture in Gameweek 1, Dyche said that the Clarets may indulge in one more pre-season friendly on Friday before the competitive action commences.
Burnley XI v Hearts (4-4-2): Norris; Lowton, Long, Tarkowski, Pieters; Gudmundsson, Westwood, Benson, Rodriguez; Thompson (Mumbongo 65′), Richardson (Elva-Fountaine 73′).
Burnley XI v Mansfield Town (4-4-2): Jensen; Bardsley, Thomas, Dunne, Taylor; Goodridge, Brownhill, Tucker, McNeil; Wood, Vydra.
Brighton and Hove Albion 0-0 West Bromwich Albion
The David Button Classic ended goalless at the Amex, with the budget goalkeeper watching on from the bench as his former and current employers drew a blank.
This was a bit of a bore draw on the south coast, with Albion bossing possession without having much penetration in attack – something that was true of the Seagulls for a large chunk of 2019/20.
What good came from Albion stemmed from Yves Bissouma (£4.5m) in the middle of the park, with the Malian midfielder continuing his fine form that saw him become a regular at the back-end of last season.
He may well be the pick of the current crop of £4.5m midfielders in FPL, even accounting for Graham Potter’s unpredictable line-ups.
Bissouma thumped a volley narrowly over in the first half of Saturday’s stalemate and registered Albion’s only shot on target of the game, later producing a superb through-ball that Adam Lallana (£6.5m) couldn’t capitalise on.
The former Liverpool man, along with Alexis Mac Allister (£5.5m) and lone striker Neal Maupay (£6.5m), did little to impress in attack, with Albion deprived of the services of Leandro Trossard (£6.0m) because of the Belgian’s involvement with his national side.
Tariq Lamptey (£4.5m) was also on international duty, with Steven Alzate (£4.5m) the place-holder at right wing-back, but there were further starts for Ben White (£4.5m), Lewis Dunk (£5.0m) and Adam Webster (£4.5m) in what seems to be Potter’s first-choice trio in central defence.
Slaven Bilic was also short on numbers at the weekend, with four players away on international duty, Conor Townsend (£4.5m) and Kenneth Zohore (£5.0m) absent with ankle and calf injuries respectively, and new signings Grady Diangana (£5.5m) and Cedric Kipre (£4.5m) not involved.
The Baggies were mostly reduced to shots from range, although that has never held Matheus Pereira (£6.0m) back before and the Albion talisman twice went close from distance in his 45-minute showing, with one of his efforts deflected onto Mathew Ryan‘s (£4.5m) left-hand post.
Brighton and Hove Albion XI (3-5-1-1): Ryan; Webster, Dunk, White; Alzate (Bernardo 60′), Bissouma, Lallana (Gross 60′), Stephens, March; Mac Allister; Maupay.
West Bromwich Albion XI (4-3-3): Johnstone; Furlong (Peltier 74′), Ajayi, Bartley (Hegazi 58′), Gibbs; Harper (Field 58′), Sawyers, Livermore; Pereira (Phillips 45′), Austin (Tulloch 71′), Edwards (Soule 74′).
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