FPL pre-season: £4.0m defender Williams impresses

There were more pre-season friendlies contested in the last 24 hours and we’ve got all the goal, assist and line-up information you need in this latest Scout Notes article.

Nottingham Forest, Leicester City, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa are covered in this piece, with the big guns of Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea – along with Everton – to follow later.

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.

READ MORE:Tuesday friendly round-up: Martial, Rashford and Sancho on target


  • Goals: L Taylor x2, own-goal
  • Assists: McKenna, Donnelly

Match highlights

Neco Wiliams (£4.0m) impressed at right wing-back as Nottingham Forest defeated Hertha Berlin on Wednesday.

The bargain-bin FPL defender was instrumental in his side’s first two goals, firstly providing the nimble footwork and cross that Scott McKenna (£4.5m) nodded on for Lyle Taylor (£4.5m) to convert from point-blank range.

Williams’ through-ball for Taiwo Awoniyi (£6.0m) was then fumbled by the Hertha goalkeeper, with Taylor mopping up to double his tally.

The 20%-owned Williams had earlier supplied another chance for Awoniyi so although there was no attacking return on paper, there was plenty of promise from the budget Fantasy asset.

On the opposite flank, Harry Toffolo (£4.5m) made his debut on the same evening that positional rival Omar Richards (£4.5m) was ruled out for up to 10 weeks with a hairline leg fracture.

“Omar has picked up an injury, we are still getting to the bottom of it. But it is unfortunate what has happened. It is not going to be a few days. But it is not going to be months and months and months.” – Steve Cooper

Elsewhere, Brennan Johnson (£6.0m) – heavily involved in all set plays – was deployed slightly deeper in the number 10 role of a 3-4-1-2, a tactical tweak that may be reversed if Forest can secure the signature of Jesse Lingard.

And while the sight of a £4.5m FPL forward scoring a brace grabs the attention, it was only a few weeks ago that Taylor was reportedly made available for transfer by Forest after spending part of last season out on loan.

£4.5m midfielders Jack Colback and Cafu were yet again paired in the middle of the park, meanwhile, but Forest did add to their engine-room options with the capture of Lewis O’Brien on Wednesday. First-team regular Ryan Yates (£5.0m) is also still to return from injury.

Nottingham Forest XI (3-4-1-2): Henderson; Worrall, Niakhate, McKenna; Williams, Colback, Cafu, Toffolo; Johnson, Awoniyi, L Taylor

Subs on: Biancone, Cook, Mbe Soh, Laryea, Mighten, Ojeda, D Taylor, Hammond, Fewster, Donnelly


  • Goals: Archer
  • Assists: Watkins

Match highlights

Cameron Archer (£4.5m) made it two goals in as many pre-season games with the match-winner against Brisbane Roar but whether he will become the pick of the bargain-bin FPL forwards is still uncertain.

It’s not just pecking order (third in line for a striking spot) or formation choice (a 4-3-2-1/4-3-3 would limit the opportunities further) but whether he’ll be even at Aston Villa come Gameweek 1, with the young hitman saying that a decision is about to be made over whether he departs on loan.

“Yeah he [Gerrard] said at the start that he’ll let me know whether I’ll go out on loan or not at the end of the Australia tour.

“So I’m going to try my best to impress him. Obviously I would prefer to play here but if I need to go out on loan to play games, because that’s what young players need, we’ll see.” – Cameron Archer

Archer, part of a front two with Ollie Watkins (£7.5m) in the second half, swept home his strike partner’s mishit shot to hand Villa the win, shooting off-target with two decent chances either side of that goal.

The first-half set-up saw Philippe Coutinho (£7.0m) playing slightly deeper as a number eight, rather than ‘in the hole’ where we’re accustomed to seeing him, so it’ll be interesting to monitor his usage in pre-season as we assess his FPL potential for 2022/23.

Formation choice might also be key for Leon Bailey (£5.0m), who again shone in a wide role in the first half. The Jamaica international was at least used as part of a front two towards the end of last season, so it’s perhaps not a given that his starting chances rest solely on Gerrard’s use of wingers.

And as previously mentioned in last week’s write-up, the acquisition of Boubakar Kamara (£5.0m) looks to have given Lucas Digne (£5.0m) and Matty Cash (£5.0m) even more license to push forward, with the pair noticeably high up the field against Brisbane.

Aston Villa first-half starting XI (4-3-3): Martinez, Cash, Carlos, Chambers, Digne, McGinn, Kamara, Coutinho, Bailey, Traore, Ings.

Aston Villa second-half starting XI (4-3-1-2): Martinez, Kesler Hayden, Konsa, Mings, Augustinsson, Iroegbunam, Luiz, J.Ramsey, Buendía, Archer, Watkins.


  • Goals: Daka, Barnes, Fofana, Maddison
  • Assists: Soumare, Maddison, Dewsbury-Hall

Match highlights

After setting up a strike in last week’s draw with Leuven, James Maddison (£8.0m) carried on his pre-season form with a goal and an assist in Wednesday’s thumping of Hull.

Maddison delivered 22 attacking returns in his final 23 appearances of 2021/22 and was in eye-catching mood on Humberside, providing a peach of a cross for Wesley Fofana (£4.5m) to nod in and then bagging a fine goal of his own to round off the scoring.

The midfielder also whistled a direct free-kick narrowly wide.

It was only really the second half of the Foxes’ latest pre-season friendly that would have been of much interest to Fantasy managers, with Brendan Rodgers sending out mostly his second string in the opening 45 minutes.

The glorified reserves were in a wing-back system prior to the interval, with Patson Daka (£6.0m) on target, but Rodgers changed to a 4-3-3 after the interval with the big guns of Maddison, Jamie Vardy (£9.5m) et al sent on.

“We played two different systems and the players played the systems very well. We need that adaptability and we showed great quality tonight. 

“The goals were very good, with good build-up play, but everything was connected and I was really pleased with some of the tactical things we’ve been working on. Especially, with the second-half team, some of the areas we looked to get into, with full-backs, with the no. 8s, it pushes us higher up the pitch when we can be more aggressive. With and without the ball, it was a pleasing night.” – Brendan Rodgers

Harvey Barnes (£7.0m) was also on the scoresheet but his strike was heavily deflected.

If there’s anything to read into the ‘first-team’ selection in the second half, then James Justin (£4.5m) and Ricardo Pereira (£4.5m) have the early advantage in the game-time battle of the attractively priced full-backs.

Leicester City first-half XI (5-3-2): Iversen, Thomas, Soyuncu, Vestergaard, Amartey, Castagne, Tielemans, Mendy, Praet, Perez, Daka

Leicester City second-half XI (4-3-3): Iversen, Pereira, Fofana, Evans, Justin, Soumare, Maddison, Dewsbury-Hall, Albrighton, Vardy, Barnes


  • Goals: Jimenez pen, Neto, Podence, Kilman | Toti
  • Assists: Neto, Gibbs-White, Jonny | Ronan

Match highlights v Alaves

Wolves contested two pre-season friendlies in the space of 12 hours, the second of which was early this morning against Levante.

Bruno Lage named his strongest starting XI in the initial game against Alaves and there were some interesting personnel and tactical decisions to note.

The first was Lage’s setting up of Wolves in a more attacking 4-3-3/4-2-3-1, systems that the club have been working on in their training camp.

Another was the deployment and impressive performance of Morgan Gibbs-White (£5.5m) on the right of the Wolves attack, with the budget FPL midfielder supplying the assist for Pedro Neto‘s (£5.5m) strike.

You’re not wrong in thinking all this sounds familiar: Lage used a back four for much of pre-season last summer before belatedly switching to the wing-back system we saw for much of 2021/22, while Gibbs-White was heavily used in the friendlies before departing on loan.

And, true to form, Lage sent out his troops in a 3-4-3 in the match against Levante on Thursday morning, although it was a significantly weaker side on paper.

Neto, the sixth-most-owned FPL midfielder at present, had earlier won the penalty that Raul Jimenez (£7.5m) converted, while Jonny (£4.5m) – whose attacking threat wasn’t diminished by a shift to full-back from wing-back – crossed for the pint-sized Daniel Podence (£4.5m) to nod in after the break.

There were encouraging displays by Podence, Neto and Gibbs-White in a fluent Wolves attack, although Lage’s side were admittedly up against a side from the Spanish second tier.

 “Honestly, I’m better than I thought. There were difficult times before but I finished the season well. I had more games than I was expecting and this summer I needed the break to get my knee back.

“Now I’m feeling very good and I think that my levels are rising and rising to be better than I was before.

“It’s all about confidence. It’s always difficult for a player to come on the pitch and think ‘oh it will hurt again’ but what I want to enjoy every game that I have.” – Pedro Neto

The fit-again Max Kilman (£4.5m) rounded off the scoring with a solo goal from his own half.

Podence and Yerson Mosquera (£4.0m) were both sent off in an ill-tempered defeat to Levante, meanwhile, with Toti (£4.0m) nodding in Wolves’ consolation.

Gibbs-White started as a ‘false nine’ in this match before being replaced at half-time.

Wolves XI v Alaves: Sarkic, Jonny (Lembikisa 77), Coady (Collins 59), Boly (Kilman 46), Ait-Nouri (Toti 77), Neves (Griffiths 77), Moutinho (Hodge 77), Dendoncker (Podence 46), Gibbs-White (Corbeanu 59), Jimenez (Cundle 77), Neto (Campbell 77).

Wolves XI v Levante: Smith, Mosquera (Lembikisa 46), Collins (Toti 64), Toti (Boly 46), Bueno, Dendoncker (Ronan 64), Ronan (Griffiths 46), Corbeanu, Cundle, Podence (Hodge 46), Gibbs-White (Coady 46).