A number of English Premier League teams have already begun playing preseason friendlies this summer and most have performed admirably well. Many of the big name international stars have yet to come back from the FIFA World Cup, so the squads were not be the same as they will be on the opening day. The teams all have many young players, as well as established journeymen, trying to impress their managers and prove that they are capable of earning a place on their club’s first team team-sheet.
Arsenal began their preseason against Borehamwood of the sixth division in English football. The Gunners started a rather weak line up with only Ramsey, Szczesny, and Monreal playing regularly last year. The game ended 2-0 in favor of Arsenal after Rosicky, who came on in the second half, supplied a delicate pass to Olsson, another substitute, which the Swede finished with a beautiful chip over the charging keeper. Manager Arsene Wenger made eleven substitutions in the second half, with Benik Afobe scoring the second goal from the penalty spot.
Aston Villa will be pleased with their effort against Mansfield Town, where they were 3-1 victors after a Darren Bent brace in the second half. Andreas Weimann had two assists in the match, and new signing Gary Gardner had the other goal. Paul Lambert will be happy that Bent and Weimann are hitting form early, and that both Jores Okore and Charles N’Zogbia featured in the match, after both suffered long-term injuries last season.
Newcomers to the Premier League, Burnley started their campaign well with an 8-0 drumming over FC Grossklein of Austria. New signings for the promoted club, Lukas Jutkiewicz from Middlesborough, and Marvin Sordell from Bolton, both bagged a brace in the game with Ashley Barnes also scoring twice for Burnley. Manager Sean Dyche will be pleased with the defense keeping a clean sheet. Burnley had 18 clean sheets in 46 matches last year in the Championship and will need to have a solid defensive performance this year if they hope to avoid relegation.
Chelsea has already played two preseason friendlies and began well in preparation for their Premier League title fight. Their first game was against League Two side Wycombe. The Blues youngster Izzy Brown netted a brace, with Patrick Bamford, John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic getting the other three goals in a 5-0 rout. Their second game was against the League Two side AFC Wimbledon where Chelsea went down 2-0 early. Captain John Terry scored two goals with Mohamed Salah a third between them, to sneak past their opponents 3-2. Jose Mourinho will surely want to see more from his young squad against such weak competition.
Crystal Palace won 13-1 against GAK Graz in Austria. Clearly, it was not much of a competition, but it will give the club a lot of confidence heading into their North America tour where they will face tougher opposition. Stephen Dobbie scored four for Tony Pulis’ side, while Jonny Williams, Joe Ledley and Glenn Murray each got two. Marouane Chamakh, Jerome Thomas and Yannick Bolasie rounded out the score sheet.
Hull City fielded two separate teams yesterday against North Ferriby United and Harrogate Town. Shane Long struck from the penalty spot in a 1-1 tie in the first match. In the second match against Harrogate Town, Hull City was easy winners with Brady and Boyd scoring twice and Jahraldo-Matrin getting one in a comfortable 5-0 victory.
Liverpool have already played two preseason friendlies winning once against Preston North End, but losing to Danish Premier League side Brondby 2-1. In the first match against Brondby, Swedish youngster Kristoffer Peterson scored the lone goal in the Red’s defeat. He followed up that performance with the go-ahead goal in a come from behind win against Preston North End. Suso had equalized earlier in the match after Preston went up 1-0. Both Emre Can and Rickie Lambert, new signings for Liverpool, made their debuts for the club.
Defending English Premier League Champions Manchester City also started off their preseason campaign with a loss to Dundee 2-0. The club bounced back on their Irish tour, winning 2-1 against Hearts. Alvaro Negrado set up Scott Sinclair for the team’s first goal, but then had to come off injured with what is reported to be a broken metatarsal, which will keep the striker out for a few months. Aleksandar Kolarov then netted a penalty with ten minutes remaining to seal the victory for the Sky Blues. Manuel Pellegrini’s side will be heading to North America next, to play in the Guinness International Champions Cup.
Newcastle began their preseason poorly with a 2-1 loss against Oldham Athletic, but then bounced back with a win against Sydney FC. New signing Siem de Jong had the lone goal in the loss, and followed that up with another in the 4-0 win against Sydney. Another new signing, Emmanuel Riviere scored early, as well as, defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Adam Armstrong. Alan Pardew has completed some fast work in the transfer market, and will be happy to see two of his new signings getting on the score sheet so quickly.
Southampton have begun their new season in the Premier League under Ronald Koeman well, with three straight victories in their preseason friendlies. They began by beating EHC Hoensbroek 4-0 with McQueen, Chambers, Sharp and Davis all finding the net. Next the Saints cruised to victory 6-0 over KSK Hasselt with new striker Pelle scoring twice and McQueen, Gallagher and Mayuka all on the score sheet in additional to an own goal by the Belgian side. Southampton’s most recent game was a hard fought 1-0 victory over Swindon Town with Hooiveld getting the lone goal of the match.
Stoke City began their German tour with a 1-1 draw against Borussia Monchengladbach with Peter Crouch getting the lone goal. Sunderland will be excited with their 5-1 victory over Darlington. Guy Poyet’s favorite striker Steven Fletcher got a brace and Connor Wickham added a further. Debutant Jordi Gomez and the Italian winger Emanuele Giaccherini rounded out the scoring. Swansea City’s North American tour did not go as planned, and the Swans leave the States without a win. In their first game they tied Chivas Gaudalajara with the lone goal by Nathan Dyer, and in the second they were shutout 2-0 by Minnesota United, from the second division of American soccer.
Tottenham Hotspurs began their MLS tour with an exciting 3-3 draw against the league leading Seattle Sounders. The match featured three penalty kicks, two of which went the Spurs way. Soldado and Falque both converted from the 12-yard spot, while Lewis Holtby opened the scoring with a clever header from a beautiful floated pass by Harry Kane.
Westbromwich Albion has won both of their friendlies so far. Their first game was against Bury with Dorrans and Berahino scoring in a 2-0 victory. Two different scorers led them to victory against Shrewsbury with Anichebe and Mulumbu providing the goals. To round out the preseason friendlies West Ham United began their campaign against Stevenage in a 2-2 draw. Jarvis and Downing provided the goals. The second game was an uneventful 0-0 draw with Ipswich Town. Four teams from the Premier League have yet to begin their preseason friendlies. Those teams are Everton, Leicester, Manchester United and Queens Park Rangers.
Commentary by B. Taylor Rash