Another Gabriel Jesus (£8.0m) goal, quotes on Aston Villa’s penalty-taking pecking order and an assist for budget midfielder Andreas Pereira (£4.5m) were amongst the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) headlines from the pre-season friendlies on Sunday and Monday.
We’ve got all the goal, assist and line-up information you need in this latest Scout Notes article.
We’re also keeping tabs on the minutes played in all of these warm-up fixtures, with Premium Members of Fantasy Football Scout able to access this information at the bottom of this article.
ARSENAL 2-0 EVERTON
- Goal: Jesus, Saka
- Assist: Cedric, Jesus
The ownership of Gabriel Jesus (£8.0m) continues to rise and rise, with the Brazilian striker now in almost 60% of FPL squads after his latest star turn in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Jesus showed quick feet to control Cedric Soares‘ (£4.5m) corner and fire past Jordan Pickford (£4.5m), later claiming an assist when his attempted pass for Gabriel Martinelli (£6.0m) fell kindly for Bukayo Saka (£8.0m).
He was at the centre of much of what Arsenal did well in the first half, from the aggressive from-the-front pressing he honed at City to the two near-miss goal attempts before his opener.
Any notion that Mikel Arteta may use Jesus on the right flank seems to have been shelved for now, although the Arsenal boss continues to trial a 3-5-2 – as he did in the second half against Everton – perhaps with a view to uniting the Brazil international and Eddie Nketiah (£7.0m) in a front two on some occasions.
“Well, he’s very versatile, but obviously, the way we would like to develop him, is in that [number 9] position. But not on his own sometimes, but don’t close that door because Gabby in relation to what the opponent does in certain games we are going to have to use him in different positions. He is open to that and he knows it’s part of his strength as well.
“He creates chaos, he creates uncertainty and he’s always on your shoulder. He’s always there to nick the ball off you, he’s always in front of the goal. He’s a real threat and this is what we need. And then he’s the one. The moment we give the ball away he is straight away active and putting pressure and getting his team behind him.” – Mikel Arteta on Gabriel Jesus
Arteta started with a 4-2-3-1 in this match, with Gabriel Martinelli (£6.0m), Martin Odegaard (£6.5m) and Saka in behind Jesus. Martinelli later moved to left wing-back after the interval, a tweak that Arteta also made in the 5-3 win over Nurnberg earlier in the month.
William Saliba (£4.5m) impressed at centre-half and his services might well be needed come Gameweek 1, with Arsenal missing several first-teamers at the weekend. It sounds like none of the injuries are particularly serious but then again, we thought that of Takehiro Tomiyasu (£4.5m) in January.
“[Ben White] had a niggle in his quad and we had to protect him, but he trained with the squad yesterday, so hopefully he will be alright.
“We had Kieran [Tierney] with a slight problem, we had Emile [Smith Rowe] as well with a muscular niggle, Tomiyasu as well and Ben. The rest of them are fine, but it’s a matter of days with them.
“[Fabio Vieira] had a slight problem in his bone and hopefully he will start to train in the next week or so.” – Mikel Arteta on injuries
“He was really good. I think he played a really good game, he looked really composed, straight away from day one he looked completely focussed, he’s evolved the way we wanted and today I think he had a great performance.” – Mikel Arteta on William Saliba
As for Everton, £4.0m defender Nathan Patterson was given the chance to impress in the absence of Seamus Coleman (£4.5m). Coleman should be nearing a return come Gameweek 1, however, so Patterson will have to really lay down a marker in the remaining friendlies for his first-team stint to be anything other than brief.
While Patterson isn’t a secure starter yet, Vitalli Mykolenko (£4.5m) appears to be. His appeal would be boosted should Lampard stick with the wing-back system he used towards the back-end of last season and in Sunday’s match against Arsenal but the Everton boss hinted after full-time that it’s a formation that he might not prefer going forward.
“We have to play three at the back because of the group we have on the trip. I like to be more flexible and to maybe play three in midfield, like Arsenal did tonight.” – Frank Lampard
Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Turner; Cedric (Holding 46′), Saliba (Pablo Mari 71′), Magalhaes (Walters 70′), Tavares (Bellerin 46); Xhaka (Lokonga 71′), Thomas (Pepe 46′); Saka (Maitland-Niles 46′), Odegaard (Elneny 46′), Martinelli (Nelson 71); Jesus (Nketiah 46′).
Everton first-half XI (5-4-1): Pickford; Patterson, Holgate, Mina, Godfrey, Nkounkou; Gray, Doucoure, Davies, Dele; Calvert-Lewin
Everton second-half XI (5-4-1): Crellin; Mills, Tarkowski, Keane, Welch, Mykolenko; Iwobi, Warrington, Gbamin, Gordon; Rondon.
CHELSEA 2-1 CLUB AMERICA
- Goals: Werner, Mount
- Assists: Alonso
The much-touted move to a back four didn’t materialise in Chelsea’s pre-season opener on Sunday morning, with Thomas Tuchel sending his troops out in the usual 3-4-3.
That will have been music to the ears of owners of Reece James (£6.0m) and Ben Chilwell (£6.0m), given the attacking license that system gives them, although it seems that Tuchel will consider moving to a 4-3-3 further down the line when he makes further captures at centre-half – the suggestion being that the ageing Thiago Silva (£5.5m) would be less effective in a four-man defence.
It was business as usual for the wing-backs against Club America, with James and Marcos Alonso (£5.5m) involved in Chelsea’s two goals. An advanced James, on as a half-time substitute and later to score a comical own-goal, supplied Timo Werner (£8.0m) with the pass that the German finished at the second attempt, while Alonso teed up Mason Mount (£8.0m) for the latter’s stunning match-winner.
“Wherever I’m asked to play, I’ll do my best and try to help the team as much as I can.
“I personally prefer to play wing-back out of the two positions but Thomas is the manager and I’m the player so wherever I’m required to play, I’ll always play.
“I’ve played a number of positions before and I’m used to it now so it’s just about adapting on the day.” – Reece James
Chilwell also got 45 minutes of football, although a slight rustiness and Tuchel’s words below suggest that he may not be quite at his best for a little while yet.
“‘I’m super happy that he’s back. It’s a difference from training to playing a game and he will take time, but he will get there because he deserves it and we will support him on his way back.” – Thomas Tuchel on Ben Chilwell
Mount, interestingly, was stationed in a central midfield two on Sunday, although the absence of N’Golo Kante (£5.0m) and Mateo Kovacic (£5.0m) perhaps influenced that decision.
Kai Havertz (£8.0m), reclassified as a forward this season, was again used through the middle, the German spurning one excellent chance when being put clean through by Conor Gallagher (£6.0m).
“I’ve played a lot of positions over the years but last season I played a lot as a number nine and it’s a position I like very much. If I look back four years ago, I could never have imagined playing there. But the last two years I’ve played it more often and I like the position.
“It’s still good that I am flexible and can play different positions up front, but I am there to score goals and make assists and as a number nine you have to do that and link up with players.” – Kai Havertz
Chelsea first-half XI (3-4-3): Arrizabalaga; Chalobah, Thiago Silva, Sarr; Kenedy, Barkley, Gallagher, Chilwell; Ziyech, Havertz, Hudson-Odoi
Chelsea second-half XI (3-4-3): Bettinelli; Azpilicueta, Ampadu, Emerson; James, Mount, Jorginho, Alonso; Pulisic, Batshuayi, Werner
ASTON VILLA 1-0 LEEDS
- Goals: Ings pen
- Assists: None
Philippe Coutinho (£7.0m) missed from the spot in Aston Villa’s narrow win over Leeds on Sunday.
With one regular taker, Danny Ings (£7.0m), off the field but Ollie Watkins (£7.5m) on it, Coutinho stepped up to take Villa’s first-half penalty after forcing the handball award himself.
Illan Meslier (£4.5m) was equal to Coutinho’s effort and the follow-up, however, with Ings later coming onto the field of play to despatch his own spot-kick.
Interestingly, Steven Gerrard later took responsibility for hand-picking Coutinho for penalty-taking duties and added that the first choice for 2022/23 was still undetermined.
“It’s up for grabs. We’ve got games and, if the games finish in a draw situation, we’ll have some penalty shoot-outs so I’m pretty open. I’m here to be persuaded so we’ll see. Danny’s penalty today was fantastic. You don’t save them when they’re on either side of the net. But, listen, the first one is on me. I take responsibility. I select the penalty taker so I’ll share the responsibility on that one.” – Steven Gerrard
There were some positive displays on both sides, notably from some new signings.
Boubakar Kamara (£5.0m) certainly looked the part for Villa. While not an FPL target himself, his presence in the middle of the park – both on and off the ball – should help those around him. Not just offering more protection to the centre-halves, his occasional dropping back into the defence freed Lucas Digne (£5.0m) and Matty Cash (£5.0m) to get forward more.
A cut-price Leon Bailey (£5.0m) again caught the eye as he attempts to kickstart his Villa career, while Ings looked livelier than Watkins up top.
As for Leeds, Rasmus Kristensen (£5.0m) looks a good find at right-back – although his loftier price tag will deter FPL investment.
Meslier, a divisive figure but our projected top-scoring £4.5m goalkeeper over the first eight Gameweeks, also impressed with that double-save from Coutinho and a one-on-one stop when facing Watkins, with the acquisitions of midfielder Marc Roca (£5.0m) and Tyler Adams (£5.0m) looking like they will afford the Leeds custodian more protection.
“Honestly, now the tactic with Jesse is good, it’s better. I feel more protection with my team mates and honestly today it was good. I had a lot of tackles and defensive actions from my teammates so yeah, I think it’s positive for the future.” – Illan Meslier
Fans of a playing £4.0m defender will want to keep tabs on the Leeds left-back situation over the coming weeks, with Leo Hjelde (£4.0m) and the as-yet-unpriced Leif Davis sharing game-time on Sunday in the absence of the injured Junior Firpo (£4.5m).
Aston Villa first half starting XI (4-3-3): Olsen, Cash, Mings, Chambers, Digne, Kamara, Luiz, J.Ramsey, Coutinho, Bailey, Watkins.
Aston Villa second half starting XI (4-3-3): Olsen, Guilbert, Chambers, Carlos, A.Young, McGinn, Nakamba, Sanson, Buendia, A.Ramsey, Ings.
Leeds United XI (4-2-3-1): Meslier, Kristensen (Drameh 64), Koch, Llorente (Struijk 45), Davis (Hjelde 68), Roca (Forshaw 62), Adams (Gray 62), Aaronson (Klich 62), James (Summerville 62), Harrison (Sinisterra 62), Bamford (Rodrigo 62).
FULHAM 2-0 NICE
FULHAM 1-5 BENFICA
- Goals: Kebano pen, Wilson pen | Mitrovic
- Assists: Harris, Jasper | Pereira
Andreas Pereira‘s (£4.5m) FPL ownership continues to rise, with the budget Fulham asset now the fourth-most-owned midfielder on 22%.
His price tag is the obvious appeal but it’s a rarity that we get a £4.5m midfielder who not only plays every week but operates in an attacking role and takes set plays, as happened on Sunday.
Having appeared off the bench in Saturday’s win over Nice, Pereira made his first Fulham start 24 hours later against Benfica. Deployed in an advanced number 8 role and getting forward to support Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.5m) in Marco Silva’s 4-3-3, the former Man Utd man whistled an early shot wide before providing a whipped corner that Mitrovic nodded home in the second half.
Other than the attacking returns for the well-owned Pereira and Mitrovic, it was a predictable horror show from Fulham.
Silva’s side came up from the Championship with an attacking mentality and there are suggestions that their manager is peeved at the lack of summer recruitment, particularly at the back where new bodies are desperately needed. That was even more evident in Sunday’s sloppy, error-strewn defensive display against Benfica, who were 3-0 up after half an hour. It all bodes well for Liverpool in Gameweek 1, at least.
Reserves and academy products were mostly fielded against Nice but Neeskens Kebano (£5.5m) and Harry Wilson (£6.0m) both scored penalties with Mitrovic off the pitch. Kebano wasn’t on the field for Wilson’s penalty and the vice-versa was also true.
NEWCASTLE UNITED 0-1 MAINZ
Newcastle dominated their Monday afternoon clash with Mainz but couldn’t fashion out too many clear chances and succumbed to a breakaway goal early in the second half.
Kieran Trippier (£5.0m) was again involved at direct free-kick situations, also teeing up Chris Wood (£6.0m) for a big chance that the Kiwi could only prod wide via a challenge.
New signing Sven Botman (£4.5m) also earned rave reviews from the watching media, with the Magpies seldom troubled at the back despite the goal concession that they were unhappy about due to a claimed infringement.
Fabian Schar (£4.5m) seems to be fine after limping off, meanwhile.
The defence probably looks in better shape than the attack at present, with Newcastle frustrated in their attempts to add to their options up top, but Callum Wilson (£7.5m) at least remains fit for the time being.
Newcastle United XI: Dubravka (Pope 61), Trippier (Krafth 61), Schar (Burn 57), Botman (Lascelles 61), Dummett (Ritchie 31 [Targett 61]), Guimaraes (Shelvey 61), S.Longstaff (Willock 61), Joelinton (Anderson 61), Almiron (Murphy 61), Fraser (Saint-Maximin 61), Wood (Wilson 61).
SK AUSTRIA KLAGENFURT 0-0 SOUTHAMPTON
Adam Armstrong (£5.5m) missed a penalty in the absence of the injured James Ward-Prowse (£6.5m) as Southampton drew a blank in Austria.
Armstrong had scored in Saints’ opening pre-season victory on Saturday but fluffed his lines from 12 yards, having early taken too long when presented with a sight of goal from open play.
Ralph Hasenhuttl has started with a 3-5-2 in both of Southampton’s first two pre-season friendlies, with one eye on the desperate defensive form at the tail-end of 2021/22.
“It’s just something that we have been working on during the pre-season. We’ve tried to get defensively more stabilised and this is very often based on a good defence and this is a little bit easier with the three in the back. But it doesn’t mean that we always want to play in this shape, so we definitely have more opportunities.” – Ralph Hasenhuttl
While wing-backs like Kyle Walker-Peters (£4.5m) were encouragingly high, the move to a more defensive shape has come at a cost further forward. Saints have struggled to carve out too many clear openings in their first two pre-season games, although did strike the woodwork twice in this latest fixture.
“It’s a question of how quick you can score the goals, but this is the issue, we don’t score in these moments.
“In some parts I liked what I have seen, but, especially in the final third, like we always say, we are missing something.
“Our problem last year was that when we are coming in these areas, we are not scoring the goals. From these chances we need to take more – we had two shots on the post and bar, but we know this, we know we have to do something there.” – Ralph Hasenhuttl
Ward-Prowse is expected back soon.