Pre-Season Friendlies – Beware False Prophets
As the pre-season friendlies and randomly named international pre-season tournaments continue, the excitement around the build up to the new Fantasy Premier League season is inevitably starting to simmer away.
The more hardened FPL managers have been busy analysing every aspect of every pre-season friendly match that involves a Premier League club and Twitter is a testament to this.
BUT… How much does pre-season really tell us and can we use it as reliable form going in to the new season?
Beware False Prophets
Nothing was ever won in pre-season. If it were then Louis Van Gaal would have been hugely successful at Manchester United and Liverpool would have won the league if they had continued last season’s friendly form. As it was, both of the managers who were at the helm for those two clubs lost their jobs last season and nether finished in the top 4.
In contrast, Watford had a pretty decent pre-season last season and then went on to perform well in the Premier League, whilst Chelsea had a very poor end to their pre-season – form that continued in to the new season.
With teams still bringing back players from the Euro’s and trying to give game time to a squad of players rotation is inevitable. This is a major factor that leads to skewed results. Lack of match sharpness and the arrival of new manager philosophies adds another aspect that can lead to more open games than usual.
Smaller squads will find it easier to get their players up to full fitness for the start of the season (and by fitness I mean being fully match sharp) and there have been some notable performances in pre-season that have caused many FPL managers to take notice.
FPL Players Who Are Performing In Pre-Season 2016/17
With many new recruits to the Premier League we have been keeping a very close eye on many of the friendly games… and whilst we are doing so we an element of trepidation, there have been some tantalising performances that just have to be taken heed of.
Andre Gray - Burnley
Burnley have won all of their pre-season games with the exception of a 1-1 at Morecambe on 19th July. The performances of Andre Gray in the Championship last season had already given plenty of hope for how he will transition to the Premier League and having scored in all 5 of Burnley’s pre-season games he promptly stepped up with a hat-trick against Rangers to cause Twitter to explode with FPL manager excitement.
Another player who we have been waiting to see in the colours of a Premier League club is Man United’s latest recruit Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He opened the scoring on his debut against Galatasaray after just four minutes with a stunning overhead kick in his homeland.
If you can stomach the price then Zlatan will most likely reward you and he has all the attributes to be a success in the Premier League. The game against Everton will be a good pointer and then the Community Shield against Leicester will provide another good opportunity to watch the Swede in action. These two games will provide a good benchmark for the new season.
Liverpool have looked pretty decent in pre-season but have had a lot of rotation taking place. With one of the biggest squads in the Premier League, all eyes will be on their remaining 4 games to see who cements their place in the team. Firmino scored from the bench against AC Milan and looks to be finding his way back to match fitness whilst new goalkeeper Karius finds himself out for up to 10 weeks following pre-season injury.
Klopp has told the press that he is happy with his squad and that he takes full responsibility for the fortunes of Liverpool this season – as it stands, they remain a puzzle and they are one that we want to figure out before August 13th.
Chelsea have had a pretty decent pre-season and had won all of their games prior to a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Real Madrid on Saturday 30th July. With injury to Diego Costa and the introduction of new man Batshuayi not coming until half time, Chelsea fielded a pretty full strength side with the exception of the striker role. Finding themselves 3-0 down with less than 30 minutes on the clock they did well to fight back to 3-2 and that was down to Eden Hazard who scored twice in what was an impressive performance for the Belgian.
Chelsea have played some tough games in pre-season and their final game against AC Milan will be an interesting watch. Eden Hazard is suddenly looking good value at £10m.
It is a minefield trying to pick out the true pre-season form from those games that are literally just a fitness exercise. Sunderland have been very good in pre-season but will this continue in to the league campaign? Swansea have scored 16 goals in 4 games and then failed to score in one – I can’t see that sort of scoring form continue in the Premier League.
So, the message here is to treat pre-season with a lot of caution. Don’t get carried away but at the same time take notice of the tougher games with decent team sheets.
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