A Leandro Trossard (£6.5m) hat-trick, Bruno Guimaraes (£6.0m) in a deeper role and another eye-catching display from Eberechi Eze (£5.5m) were among the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) talking points from the latest batch of pre-season friendlies to get the Scout Notes treatment.
Brighton and Hove Albion, Crystal Palace and Newcastle United were all in action this weekend and we’ve got the goals, assists and line-ups from these matches in our article below.
Reports on the weekend’s other fixtures are linked below, with a review of Sunday’s action 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.
BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION 5-1 ESPANYOL
- Goal: Webster, Dunk, Trossard x3
- Assist: Gross, Trossard, Veltman x2, Lallana
The curious case of Leandro Trossard (£6.5m) at wing-back continued as the Belgian scored a hat-trick from that position against Espanyol on Saturday.
It’s a continuation of some excellent form from the back-end of last season, when Trossard delivered seven attacking returns in six appearances – again, mostly from left wing-back.
Second striker to wing-back is not a positional change that we usually associate with an upturn in form but it does seem to be benefitting Trossard, who is admittedly more Marcos Alonso than Paul Dummett when it comes to attacking license afforded.
“I think he likes that role off the left. It means that he can play centrally from there, and he can obviously come on his right side and score.
“So it looks like he is enjoying his football. He finished off the season really well and we’re excited to see him start it again.” – Graham Potter
The absence of the wantaway Marc Cucurella (£5.0m) saw Adam Webster (£4.5m) return at centre-half, where Cucurella has been spending the bulk of his playing time for Brighton of late.
“Hopefully, Marc [Cucurella] will recover from his calf [issue], it was a problem he had this week. That is how I see it, yes, at the moment [he will be involved in Gameweek 1]. He had a feeling in his calf this week so didn’t feel like it was the right thing to risk him today but we will see for next week.” – Graham Potter
Webster and Lewis Dunk (£4.5m) both scored headed goals to underscore the set-piece threat that Albion pose, particularly when Pascal Gross (£5.5m) is in the side.
Danny Welbeck (£6.5m) looks set to be leading the line for the Seagulls come Gameweek 1, meanwhile, with Neal Maupay (£6.5m) again only a substitute amid talk of a move away. Budget forwards Denis Undav (£5.5m) and Julio Enciso (£5.0m) were also among the names on the bench for this encounter, with the starting XI likely to look very similar against Manchester United this weekend.
Brighton and Hove Albion XI (3-4-2-1): Sanchez, Veltman, Dunk, Webster (van Hecke 72), March, (Lamptey 72), Mac Allister (Alzate 69), Caicedo (Sarmiento 77), Trossard (Maupay 72), Gross (Mitoma 72), Mwepu (Lallana 55), Welbeck (Undav 72).
CRYSTAL PALACE 4-2 MONTPELLIER
- Goal: Zaha, Edouard x2, Guehi
- Assist: Eze x2, Ward, Ayew
For what we wrote about Joe Aribo (£5.5m) in our Scout Notes on Southampton’s final pre-season friendly,the same applies to Eberechi Eze (£5.5m).
Crystal Palace have arguably the worst opening run of fixtures in the league, meeting five of the ‘big six’ in the first nine Gameweeks and sitting bottom of our Season Ticker as a result.
FPL managers will probably be giving the Eagles a wide berth for the time being, then, but there’s medium-term hope and expectation around Eze, whose 2021/22 was a bit of a non-starter thanks to a long-term injury, gradual reintegration into the squad and Conor Gallagher‘s (£6.0m) form.
With Gallagher gone and the goalscoring midfield void unfilled by any new arrival, Eze’s game-time prospects should be much better this season.
Two assists arrived in Saturday’s 4-2 win over Montpellier, the second from a corner; having set-piece responsibilities is another string to Eze’s bow.
“It’s about the number of minutes [he plays]. He played a lot of friendly games and is in really good shape. There’s no doubt about his quality. He can create goals, he can score goals, and again on the other side – how can we help the team to defend better?
“I think today you can see he’s really focusing and concentrated on his position out of possession and he’s playing with belief and confidence.
“Conor [Gallagher] is not here. I’m really happy with the way Ebs has been training and what he did in the game. He will bring us something different but something as good as what Conor gave to us. He is a fantastic player who creates chances, scores goals. Things happen with him on the field.” – Patrick Vieira on Eberechi Eze
Wilfried Zaha (£7.0m), provider of eight attacking returns in four pre-season appearances and a scorer on Saturday, is another talent on the longer-term radar, especially given the relative shortage of attractive options in the £6.5m-£7.5m midfield bracket.
Odsonne Edouard (£5.5m) meanwhile staked a pretty good claim for the number nine slot on the opening day, bagging two goals here. As we know from experience last season, however, Vieira likes to keep us guessing up top.
It’s not all gravy ahead of Gameweek 1.
Vieira admitted after full-time that a period of adaption would be required due to the high-pressing Gallagher’s return to Chelsea, while team cohesion wasn’t helped as his squad were split in two for much of the summer; vaccination status, among other things, meaning that Vieira was without an abundance of seniors in Singapore and Australia.
This Montpellier game was the first time the squad had been united in three weeks and the French outfit were poor opposition. Hardly ideal preparation for an Arsenal side with momentum behind them.
Crystal Palace XI (4-3-3): Guaita, Andersen (Richards 79), Mitchell (Benteke 79), Ward (Clyne 60), Guehi , Eze (Ferguson 79), Doucouré (Milivojevic 60), Schlupp (Hughes 46), Edouard (Mateta 66), Zaha (Ebiowei 79), Ayew (Plange 79)
NEWCASTLE UNITED 1-0 ATALANTA
NEWCASTLE UNITED 2-1 ATHLETIC BILBAO
While some managers heavily signposted their Gameweek 1 line-ups with their final pre-season friendly teamsheets, Eddie Howe kept us guessing by splitting his squad across two matches on Friday and Saturday.
There was a mix of first-teamers and reserves in both cases, with the preferred centre-half pairing, how the Magpies set up without the injured Jonjo Shelvey (£5.0m) and who joins Callum Wilson (£7.5m) and Allan Saint-Maximin (£6.5m) in the three-man attack still questions to be answered.
The second of those points is important from a Fantasy perspective as it concerns Bruno Guimaraes (£6.0m), the 10th most-owned midfielder in FPL. Deployed in more of a box-to-box role last season, the Brazilian stepped in for Shelvey in the number six slot on Sunday to somewhat dent his goal threat from the engine room. Howe could still move Guimaraes back to his original position by starting Sean Longstaff (£4.5m) as the deep-lying playmaker in Gameweek 1, however.
“We were waiting for some scans results and a couple of opinions on his hamstring injury. It looks like there is some nerve damage. We’re waiting to see the extent of the damage of the hamstring, if there is any at all.” – Eddie Howe on Jonjo Shelvey
Wilson converted expertly on a good weekend for the neglected £7.5m forward crop, with Chris Wood (£6.0m) scoring from the spot in the striker’s absence on Friday.
“It’s been a massively important period for Callum. I think the few games at the back end of last season did him the world of good, but this body of work will hopefully give him a great platform to be robust and withstand the rigours of Premier League football.
“Hopefully, it will also give him the sharpness that he needs to be able to score goals at the very highest level. He took his goal very well today, and that will have done him the world of good.” – Eddie Howe
The reclassified Allan Saint-Maximin (£6.5m) was also on target on Saturday, while the sight of big-money signing Sven Botman (£4.5m) alongside Jamaal Lascelles (£4.5m) – who many thought was fourth in line at centre-half – only confused matters at the rear.
“He’s done very well during pre-season. I’d say today was a snapshot of how he’s been – very composed on the ball, an excellent distributor, short and long. I thought he defended very well.
“He was good aerially and good defending balls in behind. I thought it was a very composed display. He’s showing the characteristics of what he’ll bring to the defence.
“Is he ready? Of course he is. But there’s competition for places, and that’s now probably my biggest dilemma from the two games – trying to pick one XI.” – Eddie Howe on Sven Botman
Newcastle United XI v Atalanta (4-3-3): Pope, Trippier, Schar, Burn, Targett, S Longstaff, Anderson, Almiron, Murphy (M Longstaff 82), Fraser (Bondswell 90), Wood (Stephenson 90)
Newcastle United XI v Athletic (4-3-3): Dubravka, Krafth, Lascelles, Botman, Dummett (Bondswell 70), Bruno (M Longstaff 89), Joelinton, Willock, Ritchie, Saint-Maximin (De Bolle 89), Wilson (Munoz 90)