We’ll be bringing you Scout Notes on every single friendly involving a Premier League club this summer as we gear up for Gameweek 1.
These articles get more detailed – and more useful – the closer we get to the start of the 2022/23 season as preferred formations, favoured personnel, injury concerns and form assets become apparent.
We’re also keeping tabs on the minutes played in each of these warm-up fixtures, with Premium Members of Fantasy Football Scout able to access this information at the bottom of this article.
It’s important to stress that, at this time of the summer, plenty of academy products get ample game-time. This is true again this year, as players involved in international duty in June were given a belated break and most of them haven’t been featuring in the very early pre-season friendlies.
Thursday and Friday’s reports are listed below, with the weekend write-ups to come later today.
NURNBERG 3-5 ARSENAL
- Goals: Jesus x2, Elneny, own-goals x2
- Assists: Nketiah x3, Martinelli x2
The FPL ownership figure of Gabriel Jesus (£8.0m) rocketed up past 50% after the Brazilian scored twice on his Arsenal debut on Friday.
The striker is now selected by 53.4% of Fantasy managers at this very early stage, an increase of over 7% on what it was before he made his Gunners bow. He remains by some distance the second-most-owned forward in the game, behind only Erling Haaland on 64.6%.
Jesus required less than two minutes to make a mark, cutting in off the right and exchanging passes with Eddie Nketiah (£7.0m) before finishing well.
The Brazil international went on to prod in his second and Arsenal’s fifth strike, having earlier effectively forced two own-goals when closing in on a cross from Gabriel Martinelli (£6.0m) and when pouncing on a rebound from a Nketiah shot that hit the woodwork.
It was interesting that Mikel Arteta opted to pair both Nketiah and Jesus up front, having started the game in last season’s preferred formation, 4-2-3-1. But the introduction of the summer signing from Manchester City prompted Arteta into a system switch, with the two FPL forwards forming a strike partnership in a 3-5-2 – a system that also saw Martinelli used as a left wing-back:
Above: Arsenal’s formation after kick-off in the second half
It’s a formation that we might not see every league fixture but one that gives Arteta options depending on the opposition/match situation.
“I’m so, so proud. I’m proud to be here at this big club. I’ve completed four or five days together with the lads, and I just want to say thank you to everyone at Arsenal because they make me feel at home. Everyone is talking, coming to me and saying ‘good luck, we are happy to have you here’, and I’m happy to be here as well. That makes me feel at home.” – Gabriel Jesus
“That’s why we brought him here, to put the ball in the back of the net and obviously for his confidence and for him to believe in what we are doing I think it’s really important and he’s settled really well.” – Mikel Arteta on Gabriel Jesus
Arsenal’s end-of-season clean sheet drought spilled over into pre-season as they frequently wobbled and conceded three goals, although there was good news from Arteta after the match when it was revealed that Kieran Tierney‘s (£5.0m) 30th-minute substitution was pre-planned and not enforced due to injury.
Arsenal XI: Turner (Okonkwo 68′); Bellerin (Martinelli 46′), P. Mari, Walters (Gabriel 46′), Tierney (Cedric 30′); Sambi Lokonga (Patino 68′), Maitland-Niles (M’Hand 68′), Smith-Rowe (Elneny 46′); Pepe (Jesus 46′), Nketiah (Marquinhos 68′), Nelson (Balogun 68′)
LEEDS UNITED 4-0 BLACKPOOL
- Goals: Koch, Firpo, Rodrigo, Joseph
- Assists: Firpo, Harrison, Gelhardt, Shackleton
Jesse Marsch sent his troops out in a familiar 4-2-3-1 for Leeds’ thumping of Blackpool, with budget forward Sam Greenwood (£4.5m) in the ‘no. 10’ role behind lone forward Joe Gelhardt (£5.5m).
Jack Harrison (£6.0m), scorer of eight goals in each of the last two Premier League seasons, was noticeably involved at set-play situations, ‘assisting the assister’ for Robin Koch‘s (£4.5m) opener with a quickly taken free-kick and then providing the corner that Junior Firpo (£4.5m) nodded in shortly after.
“We’ve worked a lot and talked a lot about set pieces and I’m happy to see the group excited about these moments as well.” – Jesse Marsch
Whether Marsch plans to accommodate both Harrison and new signing Luis Finisterra (£6.5m), who played exclusively on the left flank last season, in his line-up going forward is something to monitor over the next few weeks.
Gelhardt, denied a goal himself by the assistant referee’s flag, then teed up Rodrigo (£6.0m) – who was playing in an unfamiliar right-wing role – for the Whites’ third before Marsch gave youth a chance in the second half.
Leeds United XI: Meslier (Klaesson 45’), Drameh (Shackleton 61), Koch (Mullen 45’), Struijk (Moore 61’), Firpo (Davies 45’), Roca (Bate 61’), Gray (Allen 72’), Rodrigo (Miller 45’), Greenwood (McGurk 61’), Harrison (Forshaw 61’), Gelhardt (Joseph 61’).
NOTTINGHAM FOREST 1-3 COVENTRY CITY
- Goal: Biancone
- Assist: None
Only the first half of Nottingham Forest’s 3-1 defeat to Coventry on Friday would have been of any interest to FPL managers, with boss Steve Cooper handing game-time to reserves and academy products after the interval.
Forest were in their now-customary 3-4-1-2 shape in the opening 45 minutes, with four summer signings making their debuts: Dean Henderson (£4.5m), Giulian Biancone (£4.5m), Moussa Niakhate (£4.5m) and Taiwo Awoniyi (£6.0m).
The versatile Biancone was deployed at right wing-back and is likely a placeholder for the incoming Neco Williams (£4.0m), who FPL managers will be keeping tabs on given his price and starting status.
The sound of Cooper urging Biancone to push up “higher” would have been of encouragement to prospective Williams owners, too, and indeed it was the French defender who grabbed Forest’s only goal of the game when he swept home a loose ball in the Coventry box.
With Forest adopting a higher line, all three of Coventry’s goals came from balls hoofed over the top – albeit two of them were conceded by the second string after the break.
Henderson won’t have been happy with his part in the Sky Blues’ equaliser just before half-time, with the loanee slow to get down to a Matt Godden shot.
Forest first half XI: Henderson; Worrall, Cook, Niakhaté; Biancone, Yates, Colback, Ioannou; Lolley (Hammond 37′); Taylor, Awoniyi
Forest second half XI: Smith; Back, Mbe Soh, Panzo, Donnelly; Cafu, Ojeda; Xande Silva, Hammond, Mighten; Nuno da Costa
SERVETTE 0-2 WEST HAM UNITED
- Goal: Alese, Mubama
- Assist: None
Two youngsters were on the scoresheet as West Ham opened their pre-season with a win.
Centre-half Aji Alese and young striker Divin Mubama were on target, tapping in from close range after unwitting opposition touches from a Manuel Lanzini (£5.5m) free-kick and a Said Benrahma (£6.0m) shot presented them with open goals.
Benrahma of course was a popular Gameweek 1 punt this time last year after an excellent pre-season but this was more Hyde than Jekyll from the hot-and-cold Algerian, whose first touch and finishing let him down on Friday.
The Hammers were lucky to bank their clean sheet, with Servette hitting the woodwork three times and missing more chances aside, although the visiting defences in either half contained only one likely first-choice starter.
West Ham United XI: Fabiański (Trott 46′), Ashby, Dawson (Diop 46′), Alese, Cresswell (Zouma 46′), Coventry, Lanzini (Ekwah 46′), Fornals (Chesters 60′), Benrahma (Okoflex 60′), Masuaku (Longelo 46′), Antonio (Mubama 46′)