Saturday’s pre-season friendlies continued at lunchtime with Arsenal’s thumping of Sevilla.
We’ve got the goals, assists, line-ups and Fantasy Premier League (FPL) talking points from this match in our Scout Notes, with more reports on the day’s other games – including the Community Shield – to follow.
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 6-0 SEVILLA
- Goals: Saka x2 (1 pen), Jesus x3, Nketiah
- Assists: Martinelli x2, Gabriel
Gabriel Jesus (£8.0m) cemented his place in millions of FPL squads with a hat-trick in Arsenal’s final pre-season friendly.
The treble took his tally to seven for the summer and while pre-season form can sometimes not be worth the word processing software it’s typed on, a striker going into Gameweek 1 brimming with confidence and feeling good about his new surroundings is more often than not a good thing.
The question for those going without him is: how is your nerve? The Brazilian is now owned by more than two-thirds of Fantasy managers and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see that ownership figure pass 70% by the time we get to the Gameweek 1 deadline.
Two of Jesus’s efforts were opportunistic rebounds after parries from the wobbly Sevilla goalkeeper Bono (insert joke about U2’s ‘Bad’ here), with his second strike a sliding effort from an inviting Gabriel Martinelli (£6.0m) cross.
Four of Jesus’s pre-season goals have been first-time efforts, while another two have been of the swift control-and-finish variety; some clinical execution from a striker whose conversion rate and xG delta wasn’t actually all that impressive at Manchester City. Perhaps being less pressured to impress in limited game-time will boost the Brazil international’s confidence in front of goal, or perhaps he’ll regress more to the mean when meaningful competitive action gets underway.
A Crystal Palace backline that was among the division’s best from an underlying stats perspective will certainly be a test this week.
“You are hoping that that is going to happen but obviously a player has to adapt to a new city, to a new club, new teammates and he’s done it in a really fast and natural way. You can see the way they look for him on the pitch, on and off the ball, and what he’s able to transmit as well on that pitch so I am really happy.
“What are seeing is that everybody, not just Gabby, plays at that intensity and that willingness to win the ball, to promote mistakes and to play in the opponent’s half as much as possible. You cannot do that if players at the front are walking, they are not tracking, they don’t have that instinct and that intention to provoke things that we want and Gabby is phenomenal at that.
“His versatility is well known. Now we are using him as a nine, he can play as a winger, off the left and the right. You can play with two strikes as we have done in pre-season as well and change the shape a little bit. He gives us a lot of flexibility.” – Mikel Arteta on Gabriel Jesus
STARTING XI CLUES
Arsenal’s win over Sevilla didn’t tell us too much new on the personnel front: this was the same starting XI that Arteta named in the previous friendly against Chelsea and it looks increasingly like the one that will take to the field against Crystal Palace on Friday.
Injury victims Takehiro Tomiyasu (£4.5m), Kieran Tierney (£5.0m), Emile Smith Rowe (£6.0m) and Fabio Vieira (£6.0m) are at least back in training and could be in contention for a place in the matchday squad but Arteta’s comments seem to suggest that quartet will be eased into first-team action in the coming weeks.
“I think that most of them will be [available], they’ll have to go through what they need to this week and then hopefully we’ll have them available. They are lacking minutes but we’ll have to build that up like any other injury that we get during the season.” – Mikel Arteta on whether his injured players will be ready for Friday
SAKA ON PENS?
Bukayo Saka (£8.0m) took and converted Arsenal’s spot-kick in Saturday’s win, seemingly rubber-stamping his position as the Gunners’ first-choice taker given that Jesus and Martinelli were on the pitch at the time.
It might not be that simple, however.
Saka was both the winner and taker of Saturday’s penalty, something that has been the case for the last three league spot-kicks that Arsenal have been awarded (two for Saka, one for Martinelli).
Unless we get explicit confirmation from Arteta, a bit of uncertainty remains about the pecking order.
Above images from Sofascore
We saw plenty of full-backs Oleksandr Zinchenko‘s (£5.0m) and Ben White (£4.5m) ‘inverting’ on Saturday, forming a three-man midfield with anchor Thomas Partey (£5.0m) whenever Arsenal bombed forward in a 2-3-5.
That meant that we were treated to the sight of Granit Xhaka (£5.0m) joining the usual foursome in the attack, the Swiss registering two shots and creating three chances.
We’re not suggesting yellow card magnet Xhaka is any sort of FPL target, of course, more that he is likely going to be a placeholder for whichever ‘number eight’ Arsenal recruit.
The tactics also put Zinchenko’s appeal in some perspective, with his attacking threat limited.
It was only a few days ago that we were highlighting his penalty box occupancy against Chelsea, however, so different approaches for different games or periods of matches will probably be the case – something Arteta implied after full-time.
“He gives us a different option to play within the role in different spaces, and I’m really happy to have him.” – Mikel Arteta on Oleksandr Zinchenko
Arsenal XI (4-3-3): Ramsdale, White, Gabriel, Saliba, Zinchenko (Soares 79), Xhaka (Lokonga 90), Partey (Elneny 79), Saka (Nketiah 79), Odegaard, Martinelli (Nelson 90), Jesus (Pepe 79)