Following a one-week hiatus for players to compete in international friendlies and World Cup qualifiers, the Premier League returns this weekend. Not only that, but with the summer transfer window now closed, squads are solidified for the first half of the season. With players being bought, sold, or loaned to teams near and far, there are certainly new considerations regarding fantasy.
Before examining some of the better prospects for this weekend’s run of games, here’s a look at how the Best XI of Week 3 fared:
David De Gea made four saves at Anfield, but was beaten by Daniel Sturridge just four minutes into the match, giving the Englishman three goals in three games, good for a share of the league lead.
In defense, both Seamus Coleman and Angel Rangel held clean sheets, while Gael Clichy was dropped for Aleksandar Kolarov in Manchester City’s 2-0 win over Hull City.
Centrally, David Silva played a part in the Citizens’ winning effort, earning him a clean sheet. Then, both Theo Walcott and Michu recorded assists and clean sheets, with the latter also picking up a yellow card. Finally, Emanuele Giaccherini managed only 60 minutes for Sunderland.
Simply put, the Week 3 strike-force proved ineffective. Wayne Rooney didn’t play because of a head injury, Kun Aguero was substituted after 76 minutes, and Rickie Lambert’s Southampton were shut-out.
On that note, let’s look forward to Week 4. As previously mentioned, international players will be traveling back to their clubs throughout this week, so besides a rest being handed out here and there, a full slate of games welcomes us back to Premier League action. That being said, here are some of this week’s best fantasy options:
David De Gea (Manchester United) – The Spaniard is the choice again this week. Manchester United hosts Crystal Palace at Old Trafford, which could prove to be too big of an occasion for the newly promoted side. Besides the clean sheet possibility, De Gea’s 13 saves through three matches are also encouraging.
Patrice Evra (Manchester United) – With United’s favorable matchup, another one of their defensive players could prove beneficial. The club openly shopped for a left-back in the transfer market, pursuing the likes of Leighton Baines from Everton and Fabio Coentrao from Real Madrid, but no deal was made, leaving little competition for Evra to start on a weekly basis. The Frenchman didn’t play for Les Bleus in their most recent match, so he should be fresh for the Crystal Palace tilt.
John Arne Riise (Fulham) – Riise will play at home Saturday against West Brom, the only scoreless team left in the league. Fulham were outmatched versus Arsenal in their home opener, so this weekend’s West Brom fixture presents a nice opportunity for the Cottagers to get their first victory at Craven Cottage this season.
Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham) – After Gareth Bale’s long awaited move to Real Madrid was completed, the midfielder’s situation is no longer a distraction for Tottenham. Losing a player of Bale’s stature should inspire Spurs to prove their potential without him and with just one goal allowed in three games this season, Vertonghen is a solid clean sheet candidate versus Norwich City at White Hart Lane.
Hatem Ben Arfa (Newcastle) – The left-footed winger scored a splendid goal to beat Fulham in Newcastle’s last match and leads the Toon with 13 shots taken this season. With a goal at Aston Villa last year, Ben Arfa may be able to crack the Villians’ defense once again this weekend.
Santi Cazorla (Arsenal) – Despite playing 90 minutes for Spain versus Chile in Tuesday’s friendly, Cazorla figures to start for Arsenal at Sunderland due to the Gunners’ current lack of reserves to spell their starters. The midfielder has yet to find the back of the net this season and Saturday could be the day he opens his account.
Charlie Adam (Stoke City) – Sure, Stoke takes on Manchester City’s stacked defense Saturday, but the Potters are historically better at home and the only goals City has allowed this season came in their 3-2 loss at Crystal Palace. Of Adam’s eight shots this term, five have been on target, making him a sneaky nominee to score his second goal of the season this weekend.
Peter Whittingham (Cardiff City) – Saturday features the season’s first battle of promoted teams, with Cardiff City visiting Hull City. In their two matches against each other last season, the Championship sides totaled seven goals, so Saturday’s contest could be an open one. Whittingham has looked bright thus far and could add a goal to complement the assist he’s already picked up this season.
Robin van Persie (Manchester United) – The Dutchman’s three goals over the international break helped Holland clinch a World Cup berth. Manchester United has been held scoreless in their last two matches, but a home date against Crystal Palace should see their offense resurface and van Persie is undoubtedly their best goal threat.
Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) – Despite Arsenal’s summer-long pursuit of a top-striker, it appears they may have had one all along, as Giroud’s three goals are as good as anyone in the league thus far. In fact, including the Gunners’ two Champions League qualifying matches, the front-man has netted in four of Arsenal’s five competitive matches this season. Expect Giroud’s goals to keep coming, especially with the newly signed and highly inventive Mesut Ozil now providing the Frenchman service.
Christian Benteke (Aston Villa) – The 22-year-old dished out an assist in Belgium’s win over Scotland last Friday and is a fine candidate to score when Aston Villa host Newcastle on Saturday. Benteke had Villa’s only goal against the Magpies in their most recent matchup and should be a threat once again. This week’s front line is certainly top-heavy, but favorable matchups only increase the potential for goals from some of the Premiership’s best forwards.
Evra – Riise – Vertonghen
Ben Arfa – Cazorla – Adam – Whittingham
van Persie – Giroud - Benteke