In an effort to replicate the Best XI of Week 4’s huge outing, Week 5’s side put forth a commendable effort.
Wojciech Szczesny allowed just one goal, a put-back after a ricocheted shot off the post, against Stoke City and made two saves during the match.
Last week’s defense proved outstanding, as Leighton Baines came through with a sensational two-goal performance for Everton, Branislav Ivanovic made five successful tackles as Chelsea kept a clean sheet versus Fulham, and Chico earned points for his part in holding Crystal Palace scoreless.
The midfield was carried by a dazzling display from Mesut Ozil. Arsenal’s record signing picked up an assist on two of the Gunners’ three goals Sunday, giving him three helpers through his first two Premier League matches. Then, Norwich City’s Robert Snodgrass unfortunately missed a sixth minute penalty kick as the Canaries fell 1-0 to Aston Villa, Yohan Cabaye played just 62 minutes for Newcastle, and Adam Johnson’s Sunderland side were thumped 3-0 by West Brom.
Up front, Romelu Lukaku made his Everton debut as a half-time substitute and scored in the 85th minute to propel the Toffees to a thrilling 3-2 win. The young Belgian’s stike partners fared less favorably, with Samuel Eto’o playing 64 scoreless minutes and Wilfried Bony receiving a disappointing DNP.
All 20 Premier League teams are in action this gameweek, but some sides will be coming off tiresome Capital One Cup matches held in the midweek, possibly leading to some squad rotations.
At the top of the table, Arsenal’s increasingly banged-up team travels to play a Swansea side on good form, while second place Tottenham hosts fourth place Chelsea in an all-London affair of intrigue. Conversely, Fulham welcomes Cardiff City to London in a match that pits two struggling teams that have earned a combined three points over their last three fixtures.
This weekend also marks the return of Luis Suarez to Premier League action. The Uruguayan was suspended 10 matches over the end of last season and beginning of this term for his Dracula impression on Branislav Ivanovic, but is now eligible to play for Liverpool, who fared quite admirably in his absence.
Now that the stage is set, let’s take a gander at this week’s Best XI:
Artur Boruc (Southampton) – In five matches this season, Boruc has managed to keep three clean sheets and has allowed just two goals. The veteran keeper has also made 12 saves, which isn’t anything special, but when considering Southampton’s total of three goals themselves this term, one can get a feel for the defensive nature of the Saints’ play thus far. Enter a Crystal Palace team that has not scored in its last two matches and Boruc could hold another team scoreless.
Matija Nastasic (Manchester City) – Since losing 3-2 at Crystal Palace in their second game of the season, Man City has outscored their opponents 14-1 in their last five competitive matches, with the one goal coming in the 87th minute of last weekend’s blowout derby win over Manchester United. City is on a roll and faces an Aston Villa side without the league’s joint-top scorer, Christian Benteke, this Saturday. It seems like a prime clean sheet opportunity for the less-heralded Nastasic.
Patrice Evra (Manchester United) – Evra and United’s defense took a pounding versus rivals Manchester City last weekend and will look to rebound Saturday when they host West Brom, who have only scored against 18th place Fulham and last place Sunderland so far this season.
Jose Enrique (Liverpool) – In their midweek tie against Manchester United, Liverpool utilized a three-man defensive lineup that saw the technically sound Enrique shift to a left-sided midfield position. From there, the Spaniard was able to put in seven crosses, with three landing on target. If manager Brendan Rodgers sticks with the same tactics against Sunderland this weekend, Enrique could earn a clean sheet while featuring more offensively.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea) – With Gareth Bale leaving the Premier League for the sunny Spanish shore this summer, many tipped Hazard to be among the best midfielders in fantasy this season. While the talent is certainly there, the production has eluded Hazard, who hasn’t registered a single goal or assist so far. This weekend, Chelsea goes to Tottenham, who currently lead the league with just one goal allowed this season, so picking Hazard is definitely going against the grain, but maybe this is the sort of occasion the Belgian needs to catapult his campaign.
Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) – For someone not known for goal scoring or playing in an offensive midfield position, Ramsey has started this season feverishly, with three goals and one assist. The Welshman returns to his country this weekend to face Swansea, where his newfound marksmanship could come in handy for Arsenal, who will be without Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla, and Lukas Podolski, among others.
Adam Lallana (Southampton) – After picking up a decisive assist at Anfield last week, Lallana will go against a depleted Crystal Palace this weekend. Southampton should be riding a wave of confidence following their big road victory versus Liverpool, which could help the Saints break the shortage of goals they’ve endured thus far. Lallana will be active along the right wing in looking for his first goal of the season.
Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United) – Since making his move to Old Trafford, Fellaini has averaged 2.5 shots per game while being inserted into the Red Devils’ starting lineup. This weekend’s home game with West Brom heavily favors United, especially given the Baggies’ loss on penalty kicks in the midweek, so the afro-sporting Belgian has a solid opportunity to score his first goal for his new club.
Romelu Lukaku (Everton) – The Chelsea loanee made the difference in his first match for Everton and played a full 90 minutes in their midweek Capital Cup game, so he should be chomping at the bit to make his Goodison Park debut. Along with that, in his two matches versus Newcastle last season, Lukaku scored a goal in one game and assisted in the other, so this weekend’s matchup works in his favor.
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) – While new manager Manuel Pelligrini has flip-flopped between starting Edin Dzeko or Alvaro Negredo as his traditional No. 9 striker, Aguero has started four of City’s five matches, playing just behind either talisman. In that role, the Argentine has produced three goals and one assist. With Manchester City expected to dominate possession at Villa Park this weekend and the Villains coming off a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Tottenham in the Capital One Cup, “Kun” could very well add to his statistical total come Saturday.
Luis Suarez (Liverpool) – The much-maligned striker makes his Premiership season debut against a Sunderland side that currently sits in last place and has allowed the most goals so far this season. Despite fellow striker Daniel Sturridge’s fine early season form, the Reds will welcome back their world-class front-man with open arms and immediately make Suarez the focus of their offensive exploits. Certainly not one to be bashful, the Uruguayan attempted eight shots in Liverpool’s midweek match and many more could follow Sunday.
Nastasic – Evra – Enrique
Hazard – Ramsey – Lallana – Fellaini
Lukaku – Aguero - Suarez