Hello and welcome to the final edition of Around the Grounds. It’s been a big pre-season as teams have now finished all their remaining friendlies, lets get into it!
Arsenal 3 Manchester City 0
Arsenal Starting XI: Sczcesny, Debuchy, Chambers, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Ramsey, Wilshere, Cazorla, Sanchez, Sanogo
Manchester City Starting XI: Caballero, Clichy, Boyata, Nastastic, Kolarov, Navas, Toure, Fernando, Nasri, Dzeko, Jovetic
Goalscorers: Cazorla (21’) Ramsey (42’) Giroud (60’)
In the 2014 Community Shield Arsenal prevailed with relative ease as they strolled past Manchester City to record a convincing 3-0 victory. Before the game it appeared Arsenal had fielded a much stronger team and this was evident throughout the game, dominating for the majority of the match. Santi Cazorla got proceedings underway in the 21st minute before last years sensation Aaron Ramsey doubled the Gunners’ advantage before half time. The introduction of Oliver Giroud after half time was a master stroke from Arsene Wenger as the Frenchman scored a cracking goal to sink the visitors, handing Arsenal their first piece of silverware for the season. Sanchez looked good once again without getting directly involved but it was Ramsey who impressed me the most, showing no sign of slowing down from last season’s heroics. For me he’s better value than Sanchez at this stage… That 1.5m could be crucially spent elsewhere! It was also interesting to see that Caballero was handed the number 1 role for Manchester City ahead of Joe Hart, definitely one to watch ahead of their game against Newcastle this weekend in the season opener.
Aston Villa 0 Parma 0
Aston Villa Starting XI: Guzan, Hutton, Baker, Senderos, Stevens, Westwood, Delph, Richardson, N’Zogbia, Agbonlahor, Weimann
The Villains finished their pre-season in a draw as neither side could find the back of the net in a rather dull 90 minutes. Senderos thought he had put the visitors ahead inside 20 minutes but his goal was ruled for offside as N’Zogbia continued to create chances throughout the game. Nothing of much note happened until the 90th minute when Darren Bent let fly from range only to see his strike cannon off the cross bar and out of play, a disappointing but perhaps result in the end.
Chelsea 2 Ferencvaros 1
Chelsea Starting XI: Cech, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Zouma, Luis, Mikel, Ramires, Schurrle, Willian, Torres, Drogba
Goalscorers: Gera (17’) Ramiers (51’) Fabregas (81’)
Chelsea played their second last friendly of pre-season against Ferencvaros and managed to muster a hard-fought 2-1 victory. The home side looked the better of the teams during the first half and this was reflected on the scoreboard, going into the main break with a 1-0 advantage thanks to a Zoltan Gera strike. The Blues then regrouped at half time and started putting in a better performance, before a Ramires volley on his non-preferred sparked them into action. The introduction of Cesc Frabregas after half time proved effective as he weaved his way past the Ferencvaros defence before slotting home to give Chelsea the victory. The only sour note was an ankle injury sustained to Didier Drogba, causing him to be substituted. He is under serious doubt for the season opener against Burnley, wont be expecting him to front up.
Leicester City 1 Werder Bremen 0
Leicester City Starting XI: Schmeichel, De Laet, Konchesky, Drinkwater, Morgan, Hammond, King, Albrighton, Moore, Mahrez, Nugent
Goalscorers: Morgan (7’)
Leicester topped of their fantastic pre-season with a victory against German outfit Werder Bremen, who previously demolished Chelsea 3-0. Skipper Wes Morgan headed the English side into the lead after 7 minutes and from then on The Foxes looked in complete control. The victory was soured though with an unfortunate injury to popular midfield selection, Marc Albrighton, who limped off in the second half. He is under serious doubt to front up against Everton this weekend causing many managers to shop around for another 4.5m midfielder. Unfortunate news.
Liverpool 4 Borussia Dortmund 0
Liverpool Starting XI: Mignolet, Manquillo, Johnson, Skrtel, Lovren, Gerrard, Can, Hendersen, Sterling, Coutinho, Sturridge
Goalscorers: Sturridge (10’) Lovren (13’) Coutinho (49’) Hendersen (61’)
After saying Raheem Sterling will struggle to better his performances last year I tuned in to the Liverpool game expecting to be proved right… How wrong was I…. Raheem Sterling and his Liverpool teammates put in a simply blistering performance as they strolled past a lacklustre Borussia Dortmund. Sterling looked fantastic all game despite not getting on the score sheet but assisted teammate Coutinho for his goal after half time with a precision pass. Sterling’s pace proved unstoppable for the German defence and they simply had no answers. I still cannot justify his 8.5m price tag but if he continues to put in performances like that he might live up to his lofty price. Dejan Lovren scored on his debut thanks to a sublime Stevie G corner and it was good to see Liverpool keep a clean sheet. Good victory for the Reds.
Newcastle United 1 Real Sociedad 0
Newcastle Starting XI: Krul, Janmaat, Williamson, Coloccini, Haidara, Sissoko, Anita, Colback, Gouffran, Cabella, Riviere
Goalscorers: Sissoko (88’)
Newcastle finished off their pre-season with a solid 1-0 victory over Spanish outfit Real Sociedad. In a strong affair it took until the 88th minute for the back of the net to be found, finally coming through Moussa Sissoko. Both Daryl Janmaat and Remy Cabella performed very well in what is looking like a brand new Newcastle United….Literally… Have you seen there kit?! A good victory for Newcastle as they begin preparations to face Manchester City at St James’ Park. Let’s hope they can cause an upset 😀
QPR 0 PAOK 1
QPR Starting XI: Green, Simpson, Caulker, Ferdinand, Dunne, Wright-Philips, Barton, Faurlin, Mutch, Hoilett, Austin
Goalscorers: Hill (67‘ OG)
QPR slumped to defeat in their final pre-season game as a Clint Hill own goal was enough to separate the home sides. ‘Arry fielded a very strong starting XI, arguably there best (minus Remy) but it wasn’t enough as the Greek outfit proved to strong. Jordan Mutch made his first appearance for QPR while Loic Remy warmed up with the main group but didn’t play any part, suggesting he may find it difficult to be right for the Hull game this weekend. Both Austin and Mutch played well in the first half but proceeded to fade late on and PAOK capitalised albeit through a Clint Hill own goal, focus now shifts to this weekend’s season opener.
Southampton 0 Bayer Leverkusen 1
Southampton Starting XI: Boruc, Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Bertrand, Wanyama, S.Davis, Ward-Prowse, Tadic, Isgrove, Pelle
Goalscorers: Pelle (56’ OG)
After being unbeaten all pre-season Ronald Koeman’s new look Southampton side stumbled against a gallant Bayer Leverkusen. After scoring 50 goals in 57 games for Feyenoord it was summer signing Graziano Pelle who ironically scored at the wrong end to gift the German side victory 11 minutes after half time. Ryan Bertrand recovered from his knock he received in the last game and was fit enough to play but he couldn’t prove the difference as Southampton slumped to their first defeat under new gaffer Koeman.
Freiburg 1 Stoke City 1
Stoke Starting XI: Begovic, Bardsley, Shawcross, Wilson, Muniesa, Whelan, N’Zonzi, Odemwingie, Ireland, Bojan, Diouf
Goalscorers: Krmas (2’) Diouf (39’)
Stoke ended their rather disappointing pre-season with a rather disappointing result. In some decent news however, Mame Diouf scored his first goal for the club and Stoke did fight the game out after being 1-0 down inside three minutes. Stoke are still yet to keep a clean sheet this pre-season in what has been a sensational change since Pulis left. Budget-cutter Geoff Cameron came on with a little over 10 minutes to go, possibly suggesting that Phil Bardsley might be the preferred option at RB. I’d be going one of Begovic, Shawcross or Huth if you want a way into the Stoke defence.
Sunderland 2 Real Betis 0
Sunderland Starting XI: Mannone, van Aanholt, Birdcutt, Larsson, Rodwell, Wickham, Johnson, O’Shea, Giaccherini, Vergini, Roberge
Goalscorers: Fletcher (79’) Wickham (81’)
A late flurry of goals helped Sunderland to a final pre-season victory as the Black Cats strolled past Real Betis 2-0. A rejuvenated and fit Steven Fletcher was once again on the scoresheet as the Scot ran onto a loose ball and fired past the Betis keeper. Last years saviour Connor Wickham then doubled their advantage in as many minutes as he let fly from 25 yards out, topping off a fantastic win. Interesting to see that Mannone was favoured in goals and Pantilimon sat the remainder of the game on the pine, not featuring any minutes at all (the only substitute to do so
Swansea 0 Villarreal 3
Swansea Starting XI: Fabianski, Rangel, Bartley, Williams, Taylor, Ki, Shelvey, Sigurdsson, Montero, Gomis, Bony
Goalscorers: Uche (3’) Bruno (51’) Cheryshev (58’)
Swansea suffered a humiliating defeat in front of their home fans as Spanish outfit Villarreal embarrassed Swansea City, smashing them 3-0. Villarreal took the lead in the third minute through Ikechukwu Uche and remained relatively untroubled for the remainder of the match. Bruno doubled the advantage 6 minutes after half time before teammate Cheryshev topped off a dominant performance with a third goal 7 minutes later. Really embarrassing performance from Swansea, must lift before they face Manchester United at Old Trafford in the opening game of the season.
Tottenham 2 Schalke 1
Tottenham Starting XI: Lloris, Naughton, Dier, Kaboul, Rose, Bentaleb, Holtby, Lamela, Erisken, Lennon, Adebayor
Goalscorers: Adebayor (29’) Soldado (66’) Boateng (80’)
Tottenham cruised to a routine 2-1 win over Champions League side Schalke despite a shaky remaining 15 minutes. The Spurs took the lead thanks to an Emmanuel Adebayor finish, which involved pre-season starlet Erik Lamela, and then doubled their advantage in the second half as Roberto Soldado headed in with a touch over 20 minutes to play. Spurs seemed to have wrapped things up with 20 minutes to go but let Schalke into the game when Kevin-Prince Boateng tucked home on 80 minutes. Spurs kicked into gear though and well and truly shut up shop, eventually running away winners. New signing Eric Dier made his debut while summer signing Ben Davies was forced to watch on from the bench, causing concern for his owners hoping he’ll play against West Ham this weekend
West Brom 1 Porto 3
West Brom Starting XI: Foster, Wisdom, Dawson, Olsson, Pocognoli, Baird, Mulumbu, Gardner, Dorrans, Brunt, Berahino
Goalscorers: Casemiro (22’) Olsson (40’) Martinez (51’) Martinez (54’)
West Brom suffered a defeat in their final game of pre-season, losing to Portuguese outfit FC Porto 3-1. The away side deservedly took the lead with the Brazilian Caesmiro tapping in from close range. West Brom drew level however as Jonas Olsson rose highest to head in a Chris Brunt corner, drawing the two sides level at half time. Jackson Martinez was most inspired during half time however and came out brightest, scoring twice in three minutes to see off West Brom at The Hawthorns. If it wasn’t for a string of Ben Foster saves it could have been worse for West Brom, not an ideal performance so close to the opening game against Sunderland.
West Ham 3 Sampadoria 2
West Ham Starting XI: Adrian, Reid, Cresswell, Nolan, Tomkins, Kouyate, Zarate, Downing, Noble, Collins, Cole
Goalscorers: Okaka (16’) Noble (45’ Pen) Eder (61’) Diame (77’) Burke (90’)
After remaining winless all pre-season West Ham reverted to an unfamiliar 3-5-2 formation as Allardyce’s decision proved pivotal as the Hammers ran away 3-2 winners in a great game. West Ham went behind inside 20 minutes as Okaka notched home for the visitors before a penalty on the stroke of half time allowed skipper Mark Noble to draw level. Sampadoria came out the stronger of the two teams and this proved to be the case as Portuguese striker Eder scored to give the away side the advantage. West Ham weren’t done with yet and Senegal midfielder Diame scored as The Hammers drew level for the second time of the afternoon. History would suggest it was Sampadoria’s turn to score but 17-year-old Reece Burke wanted a different story, smashing home the winner in stoppage time, handing Big Sam his first win of pre-season.
Chelsea 2 Real Sociedad 0
Chelsea Starting XI: Courtois, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Ake, Ramires, Matic, Fabregas, Schurrle, Costa, Hazard
Goalscorers: Costa (1’) Costa (7’)
Chelsea finished their pre-season with a comprehensive win over Real Sociedad thanks largely to a Diego Costa brace inside the first 10 minutes of the game. Chelsea looked in control for the entirety of the match, this being the case after they took the lead inside the first minute of the game, thanks to a Diego Costa strike. Costa then doubled his tally as Andre Schurrle let fly from just outside the box only to see his shot cannon off the post but luckily for Chelsea Costa was there to tuck home the rebound. Chelsea continued to dominate the game and Courtois remained untested for the majority of the 90 minutes, adding more speculation as to who will get the nod against Burnley in the season opener. Fabregas played in an attacking midfield role until the introduction of Oscar in the second half, where the Spaniard tucked into a deeper role alongside Matic. This is probably where he’ll spend the majority of his time when Oscar is playing. If Oscar does miss the game against Burnley though because of the World Cup Fabregas might find himself in that attacking midfield role to start the season. Nonetheless he looked fantastic all game.
Manchester United 2 Valencia 1
Manchester United Starting XI: De Gea, Jones, Smalling, Blackett, Young, Fletcher, Herrera, Mata, James, Rooney, Hernandez
Goalscorers: Fletcher (49’) Rodrigo (71’) Fellaini (90’)
Manchester United finished their blistering pre-season form in unfamiliar fashion, as they put in their worst performance of the season. Van Gaal spoke after the game saying that this was United’s worst performance of their six pre-season games, despite getting the win 2-1. Manchester United left it late to snatch a winner and it was through transfer flop Marouane Fellaini who controlled nicely and finished with relative ease to make it 6 wins from 6 pre-season games from Van Gaal’s men. Darren Fletcher opened the scoring just after half time before Valencia struck back through Rodrigo. It appeared as it was heading for a draw before Fellaini popped up with the winner, much like Manchester United of old, always managing to find a winner even when they’re not performing well. Van Gaal confirmed after the game that Luke Shaw, Jonny Evans and Antonio Valencia all missed the game through injury. When asked whether they will be right for the game against Swansea he responded with “we have to wait and see if they can play on Saturday”.
Well that wraps up the final edition of Around the Grounds. My team reveal will be up on Thursday and my weekly article, the News Wrap, will return once again on Saturday morning. Until then, cheers!