There was a bumper day of pre-season friendly action on Saturday, with 12 Premier League teams in action.
We’ll have the goal, assist and line-up information from all these games plus brief Fantasy Premier League (FPL) flavoured notes on each clash.
We start with Arsenal, Aston Villa, Brighton and Hove Albion, Burnley, Crystal Palace and Leicester City in this summary, with a round-up of the other half-dozen games to follow later.
Don’t forget to check out our comprehensive pre-season page for more information on the warm-up matches taking place ahead of Gameweek 1.[anon_only id="snack_dex6"] [/anon_only]
STOKE CITY 2-0 ASTON VILLA
After the Fantasy fervour whipped up by Emiliano Buendia’s (£6.5m) Aston Villa debut and his brace of assists at Walsall in midweek, there was a more sobering result at the bet365 Stadium.
The Villans were undone by two sloppy, albeit well-executed, goals in their second warm-up game of the summer.
Both strikes stemmed from the halfway line: Steven Fletcher first looping a header over Jed Steer (£4.0m) after a 50-yard cross-field ball from Nick Powell before Mario Vrancic was allowed to run half the length of the field to double Stoke City’s lead.
As for Buendia, he was stationed as a number 10 in a 4-2-3-1 in the Potteries, having been used on the right flank on Wednesday.
While it wasn’t nearly as productive an afternoon as Buendia enjoyed at the Bescot Stadium, the Argentine midfielder did link up well with Anwar El Ghazi (£6.0m).
The pair combined for a chance that Buendia could only prod at home goalkeeper Josef Bursik, with El Ghazi twice testing the Stoke custodian – one of his efforts being pushed onto the upright.
Joining those two players and Ollie Watkins (£7.5m) in the four-man Villa attack was promising youngster Aaron Ramsey, although that selection screamed ‘placeholder’ given that Jack Grealish (£8.0m) and Bertrand Traore (£6.0m) have yet to return from international duty.
Ashley Young (£5.0m) was once again employed at left-back and curled an early free-kick narrowly wide (Buendia was also stood over the ball, suggesting he’ll play a part in dead-ball situations as expected this season), while Matt Targett (£5.0m) made his return from a minor injury on the hour-mark.
Aston Villa XI: Steer (Sinisalo 60), Cash (Guilbert 60), Bogarde (Konsa 60), Hause (Revan S 60), Young (Targett 60), McGinn (Hourihane 60), Nakamba (J Ramsey 60), Buendia (Philogene-Bidace 60), A Ramsey (Chukwuemeka 60), El Ghazi (Davis 60), Watkins (Wesley 60).
ARSENAL 4-1 MILLWALL
- Goal: Calum Chambers (£4.5m), Alexandre Lacazette (£8.5m), Nicolas Pepe (£7.5m), Folarin Balogun
- Assist: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.0m) x2, Chambers, Willian (£6.5m)
Arsenal’s win over Championship side Millwall on Saturday afternoon replaced their scheduled trip to the US, which had to be cancelled because of a coronavirus outbreak at the club.
Calum Chambers (£4.5m) pounced on a spectacular Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.0m) shot that hit the woodwork to tap the Gunners in front, with the full-back then turning provider for Alexandre Lacazette’s (£8.5m) headed second.
Nicolas Pepe (£7.5m) curled home a third after Lacazette dummied Aubameyang’s pass into his path before Folarin Balogun latched onto a Willian (£6.5m) through-ball to round off the scoring.
Aubameyang started the game up top, with Eddie Nketiah (£5.5m) on the left, but was pushed wide in the second half upon Lacazette’s introduction.
Playing in the hole of a 4-2-3-1 was Emile Smith Rowe (£5.5m), who wasn’t among the attacking returns but who was noticably more involved when it came to shooting opportunities, something that hopefully bodes well for the season to come.
The young playmaker indeed said upon the signing of his new long-term contract last week:
The manager always wants me to score more goals, I think that’s important for the position that I play in. So I just want to try and score and create more goals for the team, I think that will help us majorly, so that’s what I’m going to focus on in training as well.
The more defensive-minded Albert Sambi Lokonga (£5.0m) made his debut further back in central midfield, meanwhile.
Arsenal XI: Okonkwo (Hein, 46), Chambers, Holding, Mari (Cedric, 60), Tierney (Tavares, 60), Partey (Maitland-Niles, 71), Elneny (Lokonga, 46), Pepe (Willian, 71), Smith Rowe (Nelson, 71), Aubameyang (Balogun, 71), Nketiah (Lacazette, 46).
RANGERS 0-0 BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION
Graham Potter provided injury updates on Tariq Lamptey (£4.5m), Danny Welbeck (£6.0m), Adam Webster (£4.5m) and Lewis Dunk (£5.0m) after his under-strength Seagulls side drew a blank in Glasgow.
Lamptey now looks set to miss the start of the season, with the Albion head coach saying:
It’s a little bit slower than we would like and probably he would like but with the nature of his surgery and the injury, we need to make sure that he’s right rather than putting any timescale on it. He’s making progress but not as fast as we and he would like.
It’s important that we just stay patient and do the right things for him, make sure we finish off this last stage of his rehab in a good way, because it’s not necessarily about being available for the first game, it’s about being available for as many games as he can in the season.
At this stage, I would say it’s unlikely [that Lamptey features in pre-season] but you never know. We’ll take it not necessarily day by day, but essentially, we have got a plan but we’ll see how he responds as well, that is important.
Webster and Dunk, like Lamptey, were not available for the draw at Ibrox on Saturday.
Their prognosis looks better than that of the young wing-back but Dunk still remains a doubt for the clash with Luton Town on Saturday, with Potter saying:
They’ve got a chance, Adam more so than Lewis.
Welbeck did actually make the Seagulls’ matchday squad for the game with Rangers but was an unused substitute, with Potter explaining:
I need to speak to Danny and the physios. He literally just had a feeling before he was about to come on, so we didn’t want to take any chances, we are at that stage where we don’t want to take chances. So we will see how he goes but hopefully nothing to worry about.
As for the action on the pitch, summer signings Enock Mwepu (£6.0m) and Kjell Scherpen (£4.5m) were involved as Potter utilised 22 members of his squad.
Mwepu was a stand-out performer even though Rangers created the better chances, with the Zambian deployed on the right of centre-midfield in a 4-3-3.
Mwepu looked to get forward throughout his 45-minute showing and said after full-time:
I’ve told Danny Welbeck, ‘You’re going to score a lot of goals this season. Just be ready for my assists!’ I’m going to set them up for him.
I love to play as an attacking midfielder, so (number) eight, right or left. When I look back, I was actually a winger but now I’m growing in the game more I prefer to play in position No 8 or 10 but I’m really adaptable to different kinds of positions. But attacking is my position, eight is good.
Albion first-half XI: Scherpen, Leonard, Duffy, Burn, Zeqiri, Mwepu, Lallana, Gross, Khadra, Maupay, Connolly,
Albion second-half XI: Steele, Furlong, Tanimowo, Ostigard, Tsoungui, March, Bissouma, Alzate, Richards, Andone, Tau.
IPSWICH TOWN 0-1 CRYSTAL PALACE
- Goal: Wilfried Zaha (£7.0m)
- Assist: None
Wilfried Zaha‘s (£7.0m) positive start to life under Patrick Vieira continued at Portman Road at the weekend.
Zaha won and converted a second-half penalty – admittedly with Luka Milivojevic (£5.5m) off the pitch – to notch the only goal of the game but was a threat from open play throughout, seeing a number of openings thwarted by last-minute blocks or interceptions.
Previous comments from the Palace camp about getting the ball to Zaha more were supplemented by Jairo Riedewald‘s (£4.5m) post-match soundbites on Vieira’s more attacking mindset:
This is something we worked on on the first day of pre-season: creating more chances and being more aggressive when we don’t have the ball. I think if you look at the first-half we had a 20-minute spell where we created a lot of chances.
So far it’s been good for me. Tactically I like the way he wants to play. I like his vision, with [Jeff] Schluppy and Macca [James McArthur] next to me. It’s good.
Also the centre-backs are stepping in as well and being more aggressive, and the [full-backs] are high up the pitch. So it’s clear this season we’re trying to be more aggressive and create more chances.
Those comments about the full-backs getting forward more often will be music to the ears of prospective owners of Tyrick Mitchell (£4.5m), who said of his link-up with Zaha down the Palace left:
He’s a quality player. We’re working well together. Every time I get it, I know he’s always showing for the ball to attach one-on-one, so it’s good to have him in front of me.
Last year. I was more defensive. I have it in me so it is good to show it on the pitch.
With Nathaniel Clyne adopting ‘Kyle Walker’-esque positioning and forming a back three with the visiting centre-halves when Palace were on the ball, Mitchell was allowed to bomb forward and provide width as Zaha roamed infield – something to watch out for when the real action gets underway in August.
Elsewhere, Jean-Philippe Mateta (£5.5m) did himself few favours with a profligate display, while Marc Guehi (£4.5m) made his debut at centre-back after his summer move from Chelsea.
Crystal Palace XI: Guaita (Butland 64), Clyne (Ward 64), Kouyate (Kelly 64), Tomkins (Guehi 64), Mitchell (Hannam 64), Riedewald (Milivojevic 64), McArthur (Boateng 75), Schlupp (Wells-Morrison 75), Zaha (Banks 75), Mateta (Street 75), Ayew (Rak-Sakyi 75).
BURTON ALBION 0-0 LEICESTER CITY
Leicester City’s pre-season got underway with a goalless draw at Burton.
Jamie Vardy (£10.5m) and Kelechi Iheanacho (£7.5m) were back in tandem once again but there was a change to the starting formation and, consequently, the Nigerian operated in a slightly deeper role.
Brendan Rodgers had finished last season playing a 3-4-1-2 but he reverted to a 4-2-3-1/4-4-2 hybrid here, with Iheanacho – who skied a spot-kick in Saturday’s end-of-game penalty shootout – playing just off Vardy as more of a support striker and dropping deeper, something we FPL managers obviously don’t want to see too much of.
The pair had been brought on at half-time, with new signing Patson Daka (£7.5m) spearheading the attack ahead of number 10 James Maddison (£7.0m) in the opening 45 minutes.
A move to a 4-2-3-1 would not just have implications for Iheanacho but for Leicester’s centre-halves, too, with the three-man backline of late-2020/21 now competing for two spots.
Jonny Evans’ (£5.5m) ongoing injury means that it is not an issue at present but prospective owners of Wesley Fofana (£4.5m), who sits in 25% of squads, may want to bare the formation choice in mind.
Elsewhere on the fitness front, Harvey Barnes (£7.0m) was not involved but has now returned to training with the Foxes.
Ryan Bertrand (£5.0m) made his Leicester debut but it was his positional rival, Luke Thomas (£4.5m), who perhaps most caught the eye in a sun-drenched encounter in which minutes were more important than momentum.
Leicester City first-half XI: Jakupovic, Ricardo, Fofana, Soyuncu, Bertrand, Choudhury, Soumare, Ghezzal, Maddison, Maswanhise, Daka.
Leicester City second-half XI: Iversen, Daley-Campbell, Amartey, Benkovic, Thomas, Ndidi, Dewsbury-Hall, Sowah, Suengchitthawon, Iheanacho, Vardy.
OLDHAM ATHLETIC 0-2 BURNLEY
- Goals: Jay Rodriguez (£5.5m), Lewis Richardson
- Assists: Bobby Thomas, Rodriguez
Jay Rodriguez (£5.5m) continues to make hay in the absence of Chris Wood (£7.0m) and Matej Vydra (£5.5m), with his positional rivals currently on international duty and on a post-EURO 2020 break respectively.
Rodriguez made it four attacking returns in two pre-season appearances, first tapping home from point-blank range from a corner-kick situation and then claiming the ‘Fantasy assist’ when young strike partner Lewis Richardson followed up his saved shot to score.
In a summer of turmoil elsewhere, Burnley are reassuringly still predictable: same manager, same 4-4-2 formation and largely the same personnel.
Sean Dyche said of his side’s display and missing players:
They had some good chances in the first half and didn’t take them but in the second half we showed enough there – like we should do – and I thought we were really sharp, so I was pleased for that and it was good for the supporters to see a couple of goals.
We still have Vyds and Woody to come back and Kevin Long and Popey so our group does get stronger and a bit deeper. We are probably one or two short so we will see how that goes in the transfer window.
Burnley first-half XI: Peacock-Farrell, Bardsley, Tarkowski, Mee, Pieters, Gudmundsson, Cork, Benson, Glennon, Barnes, Richardson.
Burnley second-half XI: Norris, Lowton, Collins, Thomas, Taylor, Gudmundsson (Gomez-Mancini 70), Westwood, Brownhill, McNeil, Rodriguez, Richardson (Thompson 70).
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