How the Premier League big six’s new signings have fared in pre-season

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There have been headaches for Premier League managers following a shortened pre-season and an unwelcome international break on the eve of the 2020-21 season. 

There’s not been a lot of time for summer signings to adapt to their new clubs, but there have been a few friendlies and a chance to see them in action.

Here’s how six of this year’s most high-profile additions for the ‘big six’ have performed in pre-season.

Kostas Tsimikas

Competition for Andy Robertson at left-back, the summer signing from Olympiakos will miss this weekend’s opening fixture against Championship champions Leeds United after testing positive for COVID-19.

But he’s had some early experience for the Reds, playing the second half of a 3-0 win over Stuttgart and the final half-hour as Liverpool came from two goals behind to draw 2-2 with Red Bull Salzburg, with Rhian Brewster scoring both goals.

He might be the new boy, but there were no kid gloves from James Milner.

“Ahh Kostas, f****** hell,” the Yorkshireman shouted, frustrated at not receiving the ball back during Tsimikas’ debut against Stuttgart. 

Timo Werner

On the scoresheet in his first friendly appearance against Brighton, in truth there was little special about Werner’s effort, a simple tap-in.

But the Germany international caught the eye with his movement and all-round work-rate.

“I thought Timo was really sharp and bright,” said Frank Lampard.

“He got his goal really early in the game, he showed some of the qualities that I know very well he has so I am very excited about having him in the squad.

“I thought his work rate and everything about him was a great little start for him.”

He followed that up with a goal for Germany in their 1-1 draw against Spain, and looks in fine form coming into the new season.

Hakim Ziyech

The former Ajax forward will miss Chelsea’s opener Premier League fixture away at Brighton, but we were given a hint how he might have fared against the Seagulls in the friendly down at the AMEX last month.

He impressed Lampard by making a decisive contribution in the 1-1 draw, splitting Brighton’s centre-halves with a ball lofted into Callum Hudson-Odoi, who laid it on a plate for Werner. 

“Some of his contributions and passing and quality levels were great,” assessed the Blues boss, before Ziyech suffered the knee twist that will rule him out of the trip back to the south coast.

William Saliba

The highly-rated 19-year-old Frenchman was signed by Arsenal last summer before being loaned back to Saint-Etienne. He was an unused substitute in the Community Shield penalty shootout victory over Liverpool, but Gunners fans finally got a taste of what to expect a few days before, in a 4-1 victory over MK Dons.

Saliba started and played the first half at the Stadium MK, featuring in a back three alongside Kieran Tierney and Rob Holding, who put the ball in the back of his own net.

He received rave reviews from Arsenal fans for his composure and ability to play the ball out from the back, while Arteta hinted he may be bed in slowly as he looks to adapt to a new environment.

“Certainly he has the right qualities for this football club as well the right attitude to keep improving and showing the player he can be for our future,” the Gunners boss said.

READ: ‘Reminds me of Varane’ – Eight quotes on Arsenal prospect William Saliba

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg 

Away with Denmark for the Nations League on the eve of the season, Jose Mourinho’s top target hasn’t had a lot of time to bed in at his new club.

But he featured in a few friendlies before going away, starting alongside Harry Winks in central midfield in a 3-0 win over Ipswich and in a double-pivot with academy starlet Harvey White against Reading, a 4-1 win.

He was keen to get forward and play a box-to-box kind of role according to reports, giving a hint of how he’ll be utilised at Spurs. He may not be the pure No.6 midfield destroyer that the club have lacked since Victor Wanyama’s best days.

Joe Hart

Having arrived on a free after being released by Burnley, former England goalkeeper Joe Hart looks set to battle Paulo Gazzaniga for the back-up spot behind club captain Hugo Lloris.

With the potential of nine games in three weeks, pending progress in the League Cup and Europa League, Hart will hope for opportunities as Jose Mourinho looks to use his squad to the fullest.

He’s featured fairly prominently in pre-season, playing halves against Ipswich, Reading, Birmingham and Watford. He kept out Ipswich and Birmingham, couldn’t stop Reading’s George Puscas scoring a penalty, and conceded twice against the Hornets – with question marks over his dealing with Domingos Quina’s powerful 25-yard strike.

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