FPL pre-season: Cheap buys star in Saturday friendlies

There were more pre-season friendlies contested on Saturday, so we’re bringing you the headline Fantasy Premier League (FPL) updates from each one in this article.

We’re also keeping tabs on the minutes played in all of these warm-up fixtures where possible, with Premium Members of Fantasy Football Scout able to access this information at the bottom of this article.

READ MORE: Friday’s friendlies: Jesus over 50% owned after debut brace


  • Goals: Bailey, Archer, Watkins, Luiz
  • Assists El Ghazi, Bailey, O’Reilly

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Leon Bailey (£5.0m) was a name we mentioned in a recent article on biggest FPL price falls and the Jamaica international began pre-season in encouraging fashion, lashing home Villa’s opener in their 4-0 win at Walsall on Saturday.

Starting on the left wing of a 4-2-3-1, Bailey also teed up Anwar El Ghazi (£5.0m) for a near miss before supplying the hopeful pass that budget forward Cameron Archer (£4.5m) made the most of to double Villa’s lead.

Bailey and Archer are at two very attractive prices in their respective positions but they remain long-shots for the time being, with the former’s prospects of sustained first-team involvement dependent not just on his manager and the formation choice but his own fitness. Archer, meanwhile, remains behind Danny Ings (£7.0m) and Ollie Watkins (£7.5m) in the queue up top, with another loan move to the Championship still a possibility.

Watkins and Ings were both thrown on at half-time to play ahead of Emi Buendia (£6.0m) as a strike pairing, with Watkins sweeping Villa 3-0 up in the second half. Douglas Luiz (£5.0m) then scored direct from a corner to put gloss on the scoreline.

The debut of dominant centre-half Diego Carlos (£5.0m) was encouraging, for those FPL managers hoping that his summer arrival can help boost the clean sheet count of Matty Cash (£5.0m) et al when the proper action gets underway. Stiffer tests await, of course, including two meetings with Premier League clubs in Australia over the next fortnight.

Aston Villa first-half XI: Sinisalo, Kesler Hayden, Carlos, Mings, Revan, Azaz, Nakamba, Traoré, El Ghazi, Bailey, Archer

Aston Villa second-half XI: Sinisalo, A. Young, Chambers, Feeney, Chrisene, O’Reilly, Luiz, Sanson, Buendía, Ings, Watkins


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There aren’t too many FPL forwards below £6.0m who catch the eye at present but Brighton do have two such strikers on their books in the form of Denis Undav (£5.5m) and Julio Enciso (£5.0m).

It was, perhaps contrary to expectations, Enciso who looked the livelier of the two on Saturday, with the teenage Paraguayan a bright spark in his 45-minute showing and going close with a free-kick.

A playing £5.0m forward would be a welcome prospect in FPL but it’s still not even a surety that Enciso stays with Brighton next season, as the Seagulls have previous with sending young, foreign imports – eg Alexis Mac Allister (£5.5m) and Moises Caicedo (£5.0m) – out on loan before they make the step up to Premier League level.

“Physically, yes [he can cope with the Premier League]. He’s a little powerhouse, to be fair to him. He can run, he’s got the capacity, he’s tenacious but he is only young. So it’s about seeing how he adapts to a new continent, a new club, a new league. We have seen it before with Alexis (Mac Allister) and Moises (Caicedo). It’s not straightforward but we like what we see and he has made a really good first impression.

“I don’t think we’ve decided anything [about him going on loan]. The first impression has been really positive. We will make the right decision based on him and what the needs of the group are and the squad. He is an option for us, that’s for sure.” – Graham Potter on Julio Enciso

Undav, one of Europe’s top scorers last season with 25 goals for Saturday’s opponents USG, was, by contrast, disappointing, not that opinions should be set in stone after one half of pre-season football.

“Not good, to be honest. I didn’t get enough balls and sometimes I lost the ball easily. But in my head, the first thing was to see how my teammates are so it wasn’t so important to play now the best game of my life, but to figure out where I can fit and to see if I have the ball, when I have to keep it, play it fast or get in the box when I have the chance to score.” – Denis Undav on his performance

Elsewhere it was business as usual for Brighton: lots of possession, no goals scored and Neal Maupay (£6.5m) losing his cool.

Marc Cucurella (£5.0m), heavily linked with a move to Manchester City, was stationed at left wing-back in the first half as Graham Potter stuck with the 3-5-2 set-up that was so successful at the tail-end of 2021/22.

Brighton first-half XI: Steele, Clarke, Dunk, Offiah, March, Karbownik, Lallana, Weir, Cucurella, Enciso, Welbeck.

Brighton second-half XI: Scherpen, Veltman, Webster, van Hecke, Lamptey, Kozlowski (Jenks 75), Alzate, Gross, Zeqiri, Maupay, Undav.


  • Goals: Mbeumo (pen), Dasilva
  • Assists: Wissa, Baptiste

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Thomas Frank kept faith with a 4-3-3 shape for Saturday’s win over Boreham Wood.

It’s a system that he used to great effect in more ‘winnable’ matches towards the end of 2021/22, with the 3-5-2 retained for games against sides towards the top of the table.

It meant that Bryan Mbeumo (£6.0m) and Sergi Canos (£5.0m), recently reclassified as a forward and a defender respectively by FPL Towers after mostly playing as a striker and a wing-back in 2021/22, were ironically back in winger roles we typically associate with Fantasy midfielders.

It was Mbeumo who opened the scoring from the spot early in the game, finding the net from 12 yards in substitute Ivan Toney‘s (£7.0m) absence after Yoane Wissa (£5.5m) had been felled.

Wissa, Mbeumo and Toney could have had other attacking returns before and after half-time as chances continued to come and go for the Bees, with the game only put to bed late on.

It was Josh Dasilva (£4.5m) who grabbed the second goal and he’s one to monitor in pre-season for fans of a budget midfielder, as he had been a regular starter in Brentford’s promotion-winning year before a serious hip injury sidelined him for 11 months and reduced his involvement last season to nine appearances.

“I think we created a lot of chances, we should have scored more goals. It was nice to see Josh Dasilva on the scoreboard. It’s nice to see Bryan Mbeumo scoring as well but for Josh, because he has been out for so long, it’s good to see him score. I think a good pre-season for him will put him in a top position. We know he’s a goal threat and we saw him score a nice goal.” – Thomas Frank on Josh Dasilva

Kristoffer Ajer (£4.5m) was among the notable absentees for Brentford and he now looks set to miss the start of 2022/23 as a result of surgery over the summer.

Brentford first-half XI: Cox; Stevens, Jansson, Racic, Henry; Janelt, Peart-Harris, Trevitt; Mbeumo, Dervisoglu, Wissa

Brentford second-half XI: Balcombe; Roerslev, Oyegoke, Bech, Thompson; Maghoma, Dasilva, Baptiste; Young-Coombes, Toney, Canos


  • Goals: Eze, Ayew, O’Brien, Benteke, Rak-Sakyi
  • Assists: Zaha, Clyne, Milivojevic, Plange, Edouard

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Palace’s starting XI against Millwall was about as strong as Patrick Vieira could name on Saturday, with Michael Olise (£5.5m) still sidelined through injury and new signing Cheick Doucoure not quite through the door.

The defensive performance was decidedly un-Palacelike given that the Eagles boasted one of the better backlines of 2021/22, although fitness and not form is the watchword in early July. Still, two goals conceded from set plays might be a concern for Patrick Vieira after the struggles from dead-ball situations in the first half of last season especially.

There was more promise going forward and from Eberechi Eze (£5.5m) in particular, with the midfielder the stand-out player from the Palace side and looking like he could fill the void left by departed loanee Conor Gallagher (£6.0m). Regularly getting up to support the front three in attack, Eze coolly slotted home the Eagles’ opener after being slipped in by Wilfried Zaha (£7.0m) 10 yards out.

A Jordan Ayew (£5.5m) rebound, a Jake O’Brien header from a Luka Milivojevic (£4.5m) corner and a close-range Christian Benteke (£5.5m) effort put Palace 4-2 up, with Jesurun Rak-Sakyi (£4.5m) grabbing the winner after Millwall had briefly restorted parity.

We were even treated to the sight of the lesser-spotted Nathan Ferguson (£4.0m) in the second half, with the Palace Twitter account at pains to stress that his withdrawal after 30 minutes of pitch-time was pre-planned.

Palace XI: Guaita (Matthews 62), Clyne (Rodney 62), Guéhi (Ferguson 46, Phillips 77), Andersen (O’Brien 46), Mitchell (Adaramola 62) Eze (Rak-Sakyi 62), Schlupp (Plange 62), Hughes (Milivojevic 46), Zaha (Edouard 46), Mateta (Benteke 62), Ayew (Ebiowei 46).


  • Goals: Ritchie, Joelinton (pen), Almiron x2, S Longstaff
  • Assists: S Longstaff, Krafth, Saint-Maximin, Joelinton

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The recently reclassified FPL midfielder Joelinton (£6.0m) scored from the spot in Newcastle United’s 5-1 win over neighbours Gateshead, although neither Callum Wilson (£7.5m) nor Chris Wood (£6.0m) were on the field at the time.

The Brazilian was again operating in the central midfield spot he made his own during 2021/22, later winning another penalty that Sean Longstaff (£4.5m) skied over the bar and setting up the same player for the Magpies’ fifth and final goal.

Budget Fantasy asset Miguel Almiron (£5.0m) notched a brace in the training ground win over the Heed but despite the winger breaking into his manager’s starting XI towards the back-end of last season, rumours persist that Eddie Howe is intent on adding to his options on the right flank.

Forgotten man Matt Ritchie (£4.5m), who will likely struggle to get a look-in this season if he stays on Tyneside, was used ‘out of position’ in a three-man attack in the first half.

Newcastle United first-half XI: Dubravka, Trippier, Lascelles, Watts, Dummett, Shelvey, Anderson, Willock, Ritchie, Fraser, Wilson

Newcastle United second-half XI: Darlow, Krafth, Watts, Burn, Targett, M Longstaff, Joelinton, S Longstaff, Almiron, Saint-Maximin, Murphy


  • Goals: Barnes
  • Assists: Daka

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Of limited interest to Fantasy managers was the game involving Leicester City, who used 22 players against National League side Notts County – and only four of them, Ricardo Pereira (£4.5m), Wesley Fofana (£4.5m), Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (£5.0m) and Harvey Barnes (£7.0m), were what you’d call first-team regulars.

Back-up strikers Kelechi Iheanacho (£6.5m) and Patson Daka (£6.0m) also got 45 minutes, with the former suffering the ignominy of playing with academy products and trialists after the break.

It was Daka who teed up Barnes for the Foxes’ only goal, with the winger having earlier gone within inches of scoring with a shot that trickled wide.

“Moments of poor control and running into trouble…. but his pace is so hard to defend against” was how Leicester Live summed up the performance of Barnes, which is a neat summation of his career so far.

Brendan Rodgers again opted for a 4-3-3 for Saturday’s friendly, the formation he came to favour for much of last season.

Leicester City first-half XI: Iversen; Ricardo, Fofana, Wilson-Brown, Flynn; Choudhury, Soumare, Dewsbury-Hall; Wright, Daka, Barnes.

Leicester City second-half XI: Stolarczyk, Wormleighton, Appiah (trialist), Hill (trialist), Hughes, Leshabela, Madivadua, Cover, Fitzhugh, Maswanhise, Iheanacho.


  • Goals: Gibbs-White, Podence, Chiquinho
  • Assists: Unknown

As happened last weekend, Wolverhampton Wanderers played a behind-closed-doors friendly that we don’t have any line-up or assist information for.

All the Wolves Twitter account told us was that budget midfielders Morgan Gibbs-White (£5.5m), Daniel Podence (£5.5m) and Chiquinho (£5.0m) were on the scoresheet against the Championship side.

The main headline from the game however concerned a serious ACL injury to Chiquinho, who is now set for surgery and a lengthy period on the sidelines.