The Best XI returned in Week 4 and unleashed a team that included five goals and four clean sheets. Production like that is exceptional, but considering only nine of the selected players actually featured in last weekend’s games, there was potential for an even better team.
Let’s take a look at the individual performances from last week’s side:
David De Gea and Manchester United were hardly troubled by Crystal Palace at home, winning 2-0. It was a comfortable game for De Gea, who didn’t need to make a single save to secure his second clean sheet of the season.
Defensively, both Patrice Evra and Jan Vertonghen earned clean sheet points, while John Arne Riise was not part of the Fulham team that conceded a 90th minute goal in Saturday’s match.
In the middle of the park, Hatem Ben Arfa proved to be quite active in Newcastle’s 2-1 triumph at Aston Villa. The winger scored in the 18th minute of Saturday’s tie and took four shots throughout the match. Along with Ben Arfa, Norwich’s Peter Wittingham found the back of the net this past weekend. Charlie Adam didn't score, but he led Stoke with three shots taken in the Potters’ clean sheet effort against Manchester City. Finally, Santi Cazorla did not play Saturday because of an ankle injury that has since ruled him out for at least the next couple weeks.
The front-line carried last week’s team, with Robin van Persie, Olivier Giroud, and Christian Benteke all scoring goals. Additionally, the Arsenal forward chipped in an assist.
Looking ahead to this weekend’s slate of games, all 20 Premier League teams will be in action, with Chelsea and Fulham squaring off in a London Derby and Manchester City hosting Manchester United in a more high-profile rivalry. Besides the matchups, the Big Four, Tottenham, and Swansea will be coming off mid-week Champions League or Europa League contests. With the stage now set, here’s the Best XI for Week 5:
Wojciech Szczesny (Arsenal): After a shaky first game of the season, Szczesny has recovered to allow just one goal from open play in Arsenal’s last six competitive matches. The Gunners host a Stoke City side that has scored just two goals so far this season, giving Szczesny a fine clean sheet opportunity.
Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea): While Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho tinkers with his central defense combinations, it seems Ivanovic has made the right-back position his own. The Serbian is pitted against a Fulham attack that has generally disappointed this term, so Ivanovic and Chelsea could avenge last weekend’s loss with a strong showing at Stamford Bridge.
Chico (Swansea City): Traveling to Crystal Palace on Sunday, Chico and Swansea will try to hold the home side to their second scoreless performance in a row. The Swans tend to play more conservative on the road, which could trouble Crystal Palace’s offense.
Leighton Baines (Everton): Baines, who registered five goals and five helpers last season, has not scored or assisted yet for Everton this campaign. With questions over his future with the club at rest for the time being, look for Baines to make a meaningful contribution versus West Ham, hopefully in the form of a clean sheet and assist.
Mesut Ozil (Arsenal): Ozil dazzled in his Arsenal debut by setting up a Gunners goal just 11 minutes into his Premier League career. All eyes will be on the German in his first home appearance this weekend, so Ozil should be eager to justify his worth against a Stoke team that is usually more susceptible on the road.
Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle): Before signing Ozil, Arsenal looked at acquiring Cabaye to bolster their midfield, but after no deal was reached, the Frenchman remains Newcastle’s midfield maestro. With Cabaye in the starting lineup for the first time of the season last weekend, Newcastle looked much more dangerous offensively, which could carry over to their home date with Hull City on Saturday.
Robert Snodgrass (Norwich City): Snodgrass and Norwich have not scored away from Carrow Road this season, so they will be relieved to welcome Aston Villa to their home park this weekend. The Villains have conceded six goals in four matches thus far, giving Snodgrass a prime opportunity to make his presence felt.
Adam Johnson (Sunderland): Johnson enjoyed his best display of the season in last Saturday’s match and has a favorable matchup at West Brom this weekend. The left-footed player is among Sunderland’s most utilized attacking options, which could enable him to pester a West Brom outfit looking to earn its first home points of the new season.
Romelu Lukaku (Everton): Much was expected of Lukaku heading into this season. 17 goals while on loan at West Brom last year had Lukaku pegged by some to become Chelsea’s starting striker, but the youngster will once again spend this season away from his parent club to add polish to his game. At Everton, the towering Belgian will be surrounded by more talent than he was at West Brom, which could make for an improvement on his return from a season ago, especially with the aforementioned Leighton Baines curling in crosses for him to connect with.
Samuel Eto’o (Chelsea): Chelsea’s signing of the veteran Eto’o made Lukaku expendable because the Cameroon international offers manager Jose Mourinho a more proven and experienced option up front. If his six shots last week are any indication of things to come, Eto’o could flourish while playing with Chelsea’s stable of creative players, starting this week in his home debut for the Blues.
Wilfried Bony (Swansea City): In Swansea’s four matches so far, Bony has become more involved in each game. He scored in his first Premier League game against Manchester United as a substitute, but now seems to have won a starting forward position for Swansea, which could allow him to double his goal total this weekend versus Crystal Palace.
Ivanovic – Chico – Baines
Ozil – Cabaye – Snodgrass – Johnson
Lukaku – Eto’o - Bony