Preseason Roundup - Week 2

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Another week of preseason friendlies is in the books as we inch closer to the start of the 2022/2023 Premier League season. Last week, not every club had even begun their preseason schedule. Now, all but one side (Manchester City) have seen action and, in many cases, clubs are playing two matches in a week. With nearly 30 fixtures to cover, there really is no time to waste. For those needing to catch up on Week 1’s notes, just take a quick look via the hyperlink. Right then, let’s dive right in…

Arsenal

July 17th FC Arsenal 2-0 Everton

The Gabriel Jesus bandwagon ahead of Week 1 continues to build as the ex-Manchester City forward was once again the attacking star in a win over Everton. Jesus contributed in both of Arsenal’s goals, scoring one and assisting the other to Bukayo Saka. Gabriel Martinelli was on the opposite flank of Saka and Martin Odegaard played as the CAM, in what is the likeliest setup of the Gunners’ front four to start the season. It is worth noting that Takehiro Tomiyasu has yet to get any preseason minutes, with Cedric playing at right back in this one and providing the other assist, which was from a corner kick. Another interesting note here was Mikel Arteta’s change form a customary 4-2-3-1 formation to a 3-5-2. This allowed Eddie Nketiah a chance to play alongside Jesus as Nketiah continues to make a case for inclusion somehow. The formation could also be in preparation for the arrival of Oleksandr Zinchenko and could eat into any interest in Kiernan Tierney for fantasy purposes. A 3-5-2 would give ZInchenko the wingback role while Tierney would not get forward as much as the left end of a three-center back wall.

Aston Villa

July 17th Aston Villa 1-0 Leeds United

Another matchup between two PL sides saw Villa eke out the victory thanks to a converted penalty kick by Danny Ings. Villa had actually won an earlier penalty before Ings was introduced to the match, leaving Philippe Coutinho with the honors. He could not beat Illan Meslier, however. One noteworthy development that continues in the preseason is the maturation of Leon Bailey. He did not get on the scoresheet like he did in Villa’s previous match, but he still had a positive influence going forward. Villa’s opening fixtures are a bit of a mixed bag but Bailey is shaping up as a 5m midfield option worth gambling on if one is looking to unlock funds. Ezri Konsa should partner Tyrone Mings in central defense once again, but Konsa is in a face for fitness by the season opener. Diego Carlos was brought in and started the second half of this one, but it was Callum Chambers who started both halves and seems to have an edge on starting should Konsa remain out.

Bournemouth

July 15th Bournemouth 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday

July 19th Braga 2-1 Bournemouth

The Cherries got their preseason docket under way this past week with a pair of matchups, both with a win and a loss of the same scoreline. The first was against Championship side Sheffield Wednesday, who the Cherries were familiar with from the previous season. There wasn’t much to analyze as it was a behind-closed-doors event, but we know Lewis Cook and Dominic Solanke were the goal scorers. Solanke was a goal shy of 30 last season and he begins his preparation for a return to the top flight with a strike here. It will be interesting to see if he can take his finishing skills to the next level. With perhaps the toughest opening run of fixtures of any club in the league though, it may be some time before we take in interest in Solanke, or any of Bournemouth’s assets.

Bournemouth’s second match against Portuguese club Braga was not behind closed doors, but it was nearly as cloaked in mystery with only highlights of the Cherries goal shown by a sideline camera (or perhaps, phone). It was Solanke who scored it, once again, further cementing his status as the club’s talisman. It looks like we will need to get a better look at the team in next week’s report, but no need to feel any hint of FOMO with Bournemouth options. Currently, Solanke is the only Cherry with more than 1% ownership (and it’s a whopping 2%).

Brentford

July 16th Stuttgart 2-1 Brentford

July 19th Brentford 2-2 Strasbourg

Bryan Mbeumo got on the score sheet in the first of two games for the Bees in the previous week, firing home Brentford’s lone goal in a loss to Bundesliga side Stuttgart. What matters most about this goal was that it was from open play, unlike the previous one from the penalty spot, an act we probably won’t see in the regular season as Ivan Toney, who once again did not start in this one, is high above all others in the penalty-taking pecking order. Who continues to raise a few eyebrows is Yoanne Wissa. He did not play a part in the Mbeumo goal but he hit the woodwork twice in this. Mathias Jensen assisted the lone strike.

In a flawless segue, Wissa did get on the scoresheet last night in a draw with Strasbourg. He was teed up by Vitaly Janelt, who himself is trying to once again lock up a regular role in the midfield three. Keane Lewis-Potter scored the second goal, another midfield option for Thomas Frank, but he is likely on the outside looking in unless he is on fire for Brentford’s remaining preseason matchups. We finally got a first glimpse of Ivan Toney back in the XI here, but he did not contribute any goal involvements. New wingback signing Aaron Hickey started both matches this week and appears set to be a nailed-on option already heading into Week 1.

Brighton

July 16th Estoril 1-4 Brighton

Graham Potter’s XI here looked like if there was a Week 39 from last season still to play. Pretty much first choice options top to bottom, including Marc Cucurella, who, for now, is still in a Seagull shirt. Speaking of familiar faces, Neal Maupay, who is under major threat for a regular role this season, made a solid statement for himself, bagging a first half brace. His second goal was assisted by Lewis Dunk, who continues to be one of the more popular 4.5m FPL defender picks ahead of the season. Maupay’s biggest competition, Deniz Undav, opened his preseason account with a second-half strike. Undav was not-too-impressive last week in his time on the pitch and though he got on the score sheet today, Maupay was able to overshadow him.

Chelsea

July 17th Chelsea 2-1 Club America

Chelsea got their preseason going with a win a friendly in Las Vegas two nights ago. It was not the strongest XI named by Thomas Tuchel, but we did see some likely starters begin the match such as Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva and Kai Havertz, the latter playing as the Blues center forward, flanked by fringe options from last season, Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi. Could this mean Havertz is not in the running for a spot in the front three, with Timo Werner, Raheem Sterling and Christian Pulisic the ones reserved for second half play? The second half players certainly did more damage, scoring both of Chelsea’s goals, Werner with one strike and Mason Mount the other. Reece James got on the scoreboard in the second half as well, but not in the way potential fantasy investors want to see, as he scored an own goal for Club America. Marcos Alonso, meanwhile, showed he still has plenty of attacking threat, assisting Mount’s strike.

Crystal Palace

July 15th Crystal Palace 0-2 Liverpool

July 19th Crystal Palace 1-3 Manchester United

The Eagles got their Australian tour under way with two friendlies against two league giants, and they were beaten in both by a combined 1-5 scoreline. Palace were missing some key names in the loss to Liverpool, such as Wilfried Zaha, Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze. When you factor in the loss of Conor Gallagher after his brilliant loan spell, that leaves very little room in the creativity department for the Eagles. What may be the bigger storyline for the club to date so far this summer is certainly a negative one, and that has been their defensive record. They shipped four goals to Milwall before packing their bags for Australia and have averaged three goals conceded now in the last three outings. If Palace had a nice run of opening fixtures in the regular season, this would be a cause of concern for FPL managers, but since they have a tough run, folks are likely not looking for defensive options here anyway. That said, for those in draft leagues, you may want to get at least one more look at Palace’s defending ability before deciding where to draft their backline options.

Everton

July 17th Everton 0-2 Arsenal

Not too impressive a showing from Frank Lampard and his men, and the Toffees have much to prove for the upcoming season after barely escaping relegation a few short months ago. Obviously, the easy job of gushing over goal scorers cannot be done here, as Everton failed to score, but it was, of course, good to see Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the XI. Hopefully for him, an injury-free season is on tap and he can get back to the fantasy relevance he once had. He did not get much service here though, and the experiment of playing Dele Alli and Demarai Gray on opposite flanks seemed to be a failure. James Tarkowski made a second half appearance as he should easily win a starting center back gig. Nathan Patterson, brought in as the hope-to-be eventual replacement for veteran Seamus Coleman, got the nod here and will continue to as long as Coleman is out. There is a change Patterson is in the Week 1 XI and never lets go of the gig, which would create FPL’s second 4m defender option who actually starts regularly, alongside Nottingham Forest’s new toy, Neco Williams.

Fulham

July 16th Fulham 2-0 Nice

July 17th Fulham 1-5 Benfica

Fulham are not going to attract too much fantasy investment until their players begin to prove their worth, with the exception being Aleksandar Mitrovic, who is fresh off of shattering the record for goals in a single Championship season. With two matches in consecutive days, it was always going to be the case of an “A” side and a “B” side and, it has to be said, the stronger side appeared to be side “B” who got spanked by Benfica. That XI featured Mitrovic, Harry Wilson and Andreas Pereira, among others, and those three are certainly thought to be first choice. Andreas was in on some set piece work as well and looks like an easy pick for those looking for a minimum-priced midfield enabler.

That asks the question then - is Marek Rodak going to be the #1 option at the keeper position, who started in Fulham’s “weaker” A side win over Nice. It was minimum-priced Paul Gazzaniga who played with the stronger XI. Gazzaniga was first choice for a stretch at Fulham last season. If a second keeper in FPL is someone you want at the minimum 4m price, and the option is not there for the natural backup to your FPL #1 keeper, then Gazzaniga looks for now to be the closest thing to a potential Ben Foster for the 22/3 season.

Leeds

July 14th Brisbane Roar 1-2 Leeds

July 17th Leeds 0-1 Aston Villa

Along with Palace, Man United and Aston Villa, Leeds are currently prepping for the upcoming campaign with a tour of Australia. They kicked off the tour with a win over local club Brisbane. The biggest news from the opening match was seeing Patrick Bamford back in action. A healthy Bamford is crucial to Leeds bouncing back from a difficult campaign, especially now with Raphinha departed. It was Daniel James who shined in the attack in this one, however, assisting a Joe Gelhardt strike before scoring himself. Two goal involvements before being taken off in a planned substitution only thirty minutes into the match, not a bad shift at all.

The short shift allowed James to be match fit to start three days later in the loss to Aston Villa and Patrick Bamford got another shift in as well, though Leeds could not muster much attacking threat against Villa. New signings Tyler Adams and Rasmus Christensen both started here as well, in defensive midfield and right back, respectively, and look like certain starters when Week 1 arrives. Illan Meslier made a save of a penalty taken by Philippe Coutinho. Somewhat overlooked due to Leeds’ horrific defensive record last season, now at only 4.5m, and with a kind run of opening fixtures, Meslier may be an FPL option currently under the radar.

Leicester City

July 16th OH Leuven 3-3 Leicester City

The Foxes managed to erase a two-goal deficit and earn a draw with Leuven a couple of evenings ago, in a match that went 120 minutes, allowing pretty much everyone in the squad a chance to play 60 minutes apiece. Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall opened Leicester’s scoring with a strike from long range and, along with Leon Bailey, looks like a potential cheap 5m midfield option for FPL. He is probably one of the better late round picks in draft leagues as well, depending on league size. James Maddison’s free kick exploits led to another goal, as he found Patson Daka for a header. The third goal came from the Fantastic Mr. Fox himself, Jamie Vardy, set to be the main goal-supplier for yet another season. The usually industrious Youri Tielemans, whose future with the club currently up in the air, provided Vardy with the assist. We still need to see who will become the regulars in Leicester’s carousel of a defense from last season, but for what it is worth, the starting backline in this one included Ricardo Pereira, Jonny Evans, Wesley Fofana and James Justin.

Liverpool

July 15th Liverpool 2-0 Crystal Palace

After opening their summer tour in Thailand and soon heading to play a couple of friendlies in Germany, Liverpool made a stop in Singapore last week to take on and overmatch a depleted Crystal Palace side. The Reds had a mostly second-unit side in the starting lineup themselves, with only Joel Matip, Luis Díaz and Jordan Henderson as expected regulars this season to start the match. Henderson would be the one to score the Reds opener, Harvey Elliot providing the assist. The second half saw more of Liverpool’s major weapons and, probably their two very best, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mo Salah, would connect just a minute into the second half. To no surprise, it was the fullback setting up the winger. Early reports on Darwin Nunez have not been too positive and Diogo Jota remains unavailable with a hamstring problem. The current situation would seem to point to a lock for starts for Diaz (and, of course, Salah), but even Roberto Firmino may be hanging on to a gig, at least when the season starts, based on how things stand as of right now.

Manchester City

Preseason begins July 20th

Manchester United

July 15th Melbourne Victory 1-4 Manchester United

July 19th Manchester United 3-1 Crystal Palace

After a 4-0 thrashing of Liverpool the previous week in Bangkok, the Erik ten Hag era continues to try and instill a winning attitude in early doors, and so far, the results are showing it. Through three games now, the Red Devils have outscored their opponents 11-2. While Cristiano Ronaldo’s future (and likely unwanted drama for ten Hag) lingers, Anthony Martial got on the board again against Melbourne. Also making the scoresheet - Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay, with the final goal of the “OG” variety by Melbourne. Assists were dished out by Anthony Elanga, Eric Bailly and Tahith Chong.

The second game against Palace saw Martial score for the third time in three games, and he provided an assist as well. Could their be a renaissance for the Frenchman? ten Hag may be able to make it happen. Rashford scored again, and we actually expect him to start more often than not, so as a 6.5m option in FPL, his bandwagon is beginning to grow. On the opposite flank, Jadon Sancho found the net, an encouraging sign after a pretty lackluster debut season for United. Defensively, Lisandro Martinez is on the verge of joining the club and will likely push for a starting gig straight away. Fellow summer signing Tyrell Malacia is racking up minutes but it’s a tough call with both Luke Shaw and Alex Telles in the left back conversation. However, at right back, where Diogo Dalot is only 4.5m in the FPL game, appears to be driving a wedge between him and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, as Dalot looked sharp in this one and assisted that opening Martial goal.

Newcastle United

July 15th Newcastle 3-0 1860 Munich

July 18th Newcastle 0-1 Mainz

Think of the makeover the Magpies have gone under since new ownership took over. In a window and a half, they have nearly added a starter at every position. No one signing seems to be as crucial though as Bruno Guimaraes. Brilliant in his half-season debut to start 2022, his attacking returns felt like something of a fluke, at least, the frequency. But here he is, in his first summer appearance in 1860 Munich, playing for just half an hour, and he scored a goal while assisting another. He may not be the typical FPL midfield option you seek, as a box-to-box midfielder, but he clearly has the engine to enter the attacking frey often and make a contribution. Joe Willock and Sean Longstaff scored the other two goals in this one.

With only a three day turnaround, the Magpies attack looked rather flat, as they failed to find the net against Mainz. New center back signing Sven Botman had a standout performance and lends credence to the notion that Newcastle may be worth looking at for defensive option in fantasy. The clear top pick among that crop would of course be Kieran Trippier, who not only will be sending his fair share of crosses in at right wingback, but he is also the right foot of choice for free kicks when on the pitch so far this summer. Odds are, Newcastle are not close to being done shopping for players in this window, with the only real question mark in terms of who will start being at the striker position. Callum Wilson seems to have the edge on Chris Wood when both are fit and Eddie Howe could start the duo in a 3-5-2 setup, but that would leave Allan Saint-Maximin left holding his hat. Saint-Maximin is more likely to be a regular either alongside Wilson or Wood in that look, or on the wing in a 3-4-3.

Nottingham Forest

July 16th Barnsley 0-0 Nottingham Forest

Forest still have four preseason fixtures to play after this goalless draw against Barnsley, so don’t worry, this side is far from finding what will be its eventual shape. Of those who certainly looked destined for regular playing time, two summer signings made their respective debuts here as Neco Williams, naturally fitted for a role at right wingback instead got his first appearance on the left hand side, while Dean Henderson played 30 minutes between the sticks before being replaced with apparent stiffness. Henderson’s health is of the utmost importance for Forest’s chances of staying up this season. Think about how well Sheffield United were able to do in their first top flight season with Henderson compared to how badly they tanked in their sophomore effort without him. Forest are hoping summer signing Taiwo Awoniyi can successfully partner Brennan Johnson at the spear of the attack, but this match did not show much evidence of it and Forest have a rough run of fixtures to begin their campaign.

Southampton

July 16th Southampton 1-3 RB Leipzig

July 18th SK Austria Klagenfurt 0-0 Southampton

The Saints took a loss and a goalless draw from their two matches this previous week as we begin to see some of their new signings get pitch time. Gavin Bazunu looks poised to take the #1 shirt after a solid shift in the loss to Leipzig. Armel Bella-Kotchap was also in the XI, playing as one of a back three as Ralph Hassenhutl begins to tinker with formations. The Saints have a reputation for pursuing young, budding talent, and in their top-flight history, have plenty of examples of star players to have moved on, but it has to be said, it looks like they are one of the non-newly promoted sides that will face the challenge of avoiding relegation last season unless some of these young players begin to level up. Take in case Adam Armstrong. He was a major signing for the Saints last summer, and thought to be the heir apparent to Danny Ings, but Armstrong struggled to make the first team for much of the season. With a clean slate, he looks to be back in the hunt for regular playing time and did himself well by scoring the lone goal against Leipzig, but then had to feel the pain of missing a penalty chance in that 0-0 result against Austria Klagenfurt. Expect some loan options to come in much like last season, as the Saints look for this season’s versions of Tino Livramento and Armando Broja.

Tottenham

July 13th Team K League 3-6 Tottenham

July 16th Tottenham 1-1 Sevilla

Spurs kicked off their preseason with a stop in South Korea for a pair of friendlies, the first coming against Korea’s club All-Star team. It was the Harry Kand and national hero Heun-min Son show over the course of both matches. In the goal-heavy first game, the Tottenham duo did not get on the pitch until the second half but that is when Spurs did the bulk of their damage, with Kane totalling four goal involvements (two goals, two assists), while Son had a goal and an assist to his name. Its worth noting that Son’s goal came from the spot while Kane was on the pitch, which would typically raise the question whether there’s been a changing of the guard for spot kick duties, but the likely case here is just allowing Son to score in front of his home country.

In a much tighter affair against Sevilla, the Song remained the same. The pair to hook up for the lone goal of the match was…Kane assisted by Son. Of note, the attacking stars of Spurs started in this one, and the winger on the right to join them was Richarlison, not Dejan Kulusevski. Both have massive potential when starting regularly, but we may find that the two rotate in and out of the XI a little too much for our liking as fantasy managers. Another major takeaway here is the continued delayed debut of Ivan Perisic. Massively popular as an FPL pick in the early days since the game launched for the season, Perisic is still not fit enough for even a cameo in Tottenham’s first two friendlies. This calls into question how certain he will be to make the Week 1 XI.

West Ham

July 16th Reading 1-1 West Ham

July 19th Rangers 3-1 West Ham

David Moyes appears to be pretty set on who his best XI is, as he appeared to roll them out for both matches this past week, including last night. Nikola Vlasic scored the lone goal in the draw against reading. He is likely going to be another bench weapon for the upcoming campaign much like he was last season, but the encouraging news was that Jarrod Bowen supplied the assist, teeing up the Ukrainian international with a pinpoint cross.

The second match may have Moyes looking at some position battles however as the Hammers followed up their draw with a loss to Rangers last night. Save for Vladimir Coufal, who was absent with Ben Johnson deputizing, West Ham lined up with what could be their Week 1 arrangement. Lukasz Fabianski appears to be holding the #1 shirt away from Alphonse Aréola for the time being. Summer signing Nayef Aguerd was partnered with Kurt Zouma in central defense, Cresswell wide left. Declan Rice was left to boss the midfield alone while Tomas Soucek would not appear until the second half (and would be the scorer of West Ham’s lone goal). While Said Benrhama, Pablo Fornals and Michail Antonio joined the ever-present Bowen in attack.

Wolves

No matches this past week, play next on the evening of July 20th.