In Week 6 of the Premier League campaign, the Best XI saw its share of ups and downs. To start with the bad news, two players picked up dreaded DNPs, while another only played around 20 minutes. However, despite not fielding a full team, last week’s squad still managed to produce two clean sheets, five goals, and three assists.
In goal, Southampton’s Artur Boruc did not need to make a single save to hold Crystal Palace scoreless, marking the keeper’s fourth clean sheet in six league games this season.
Then, last week’s defense suffered from picking a player from each respective Manchester club, especially since United and City both lost to seemingly inferior sides. City’s Matija Nastasic surprisingly conceded three goals to an Aston Villa team without top striker Christian Benteke, while Patrice Evra was dropped for youngster Alexander Buttner as Manchester United shockingly fell 2-1 to West Brom at Old Trafford. To round out the group, Liverpool’s Jose Enrique played as a left-sided midfielder, as anticipated, but failed to keep a clean sheet.
The midfield yielded mixed results, as Eden Hazard failed to contribute to the score-sheet against Tottenham, keeping the Belgian without a single goal or assist on the season. Conversely, Aaron Ramsey continued his spectacular start to the campaign by picking up both a goal and an assist in his home country of Wales versus Swansea. Along with Ramsey, Adam Lallana assisted in Southampton’s win and added a clean sheet to his name as well. Finally, Marouane Fellaini disapprovingly began United’s game on the bench and only featured as a 68th minute substitute.
Last week’s strike force featured some big names and big performances, but also one hiccup. Romelu Lukaku and Luis Suarez each scored two goals and Lukaku also picked up an assist, but Sergio Aguero was held out of City’s weekend match as a precaution to preserve the striker for an eventual midweek Champions League loss to Bayern Munich, leaving the Best XI with a goose egg from the talented Argentine.
Looking ahead to Week 7, some rather enticing matchups see all 20 teams in action, with some of the league’s better sides with more favorable ties, as evidenced by this week’s top-heavy Best XI. To highlight some of the better fixtures, Man City looks to rebound from last weekend’s loss against an Everton team that is undefeated on the season, while rivals Man United face an easier bounce-back effort at league-worst Sunderland. Additionally, two teams expected to compete for the Europa League this season, Southampton and Swansea, square off and two London teams, Tottenham and West Ham, play in Spurs’ second derby in as many weeks.
Another consideration entering this weekend’s slate of game is the fact that last season’s top four, Tottenham, and Swansea will be coming off midweek European tussles.
With that being said, here’s this week’s projected Best XI:
Simon Mignolet (Liverpool) – In his first six matches as Liverpool’s No. 1, Mignolet has made an impressive 29 saves and allowed just four goals. This weekend, the Reds host a Crystal Palace team that hasn’t scored in its last three matches.
Kyle Walker (Tottenham) – Spurs are currently tied for the league-best goal record, allowing just two goals so far this season. West Ham travels to White Hart Lane this weekend coming off two consecutive losses to promoted teams, leaving Walker a decent opportunity to notch a clean sheet and possibly his first assist of the season.
David Luiz (Chelsea) – The Brazilian impressed in Chelsea’s midweek Champions League win and figures to have earned a starting position alongside John Terry for this weekend’s match at Norwich City. After some early season speculation that he could leave the club, Luiz seems to be returning to top form, which bodes well for fantasy owners when considering his rare offensive prowess for a defender.
Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal) – After needing penalty kicks to defeat West Brom in the Capital One Cup just over a week ago, the Gunners will surely be wary of the threats players like Morgan Amalfitano and Stephane Sessegnon pose. Couple that experience with a stellar midweek Champions League performance in holding Napoli scoreless and Gibbs enters this weekend’s match with his eyes on another clean sheet, while providing his usual service along with left flank.
Erik Pieters (Stoke City) – In his first Premier League season, Pieters has been outstanding for Stoke, fitting seamlessly into their historically tough defense. On Saturday, the Potters travel to Craven Cottage to play a Fulham team that has struggled immensely so far this season.
Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) – Ozil, since arriving from Real Madrid on deadline day, has sparked Arsenal to the top of the league and inspired confidence throughout the team. With one goal and five assists in all competitions since joining the Gunners, the German is already one of the Premiership’s most lethal offensive weapons, which should have West Brom on red alert.
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) – Despite Liverpool’s strong form to start the season, their skipper has failed to find the score-sheet through six games. With a home date versus Crystal Palace, Stevie G could turn back the clock and end that scoreless streak, while also adding a clean sheet.
Frank Lampard (Chelsea) – A player synonymous with Gerrard, Lampard is one of the first names on Jose Mourinho’s team sheet and he has shown little signs of aging this season. The Englishman is coming off a midweek Champions League goal and has a great chance to make it two-in-two versus Norwich City.
Hatem Ben Arfa (Newcastle) – Manager Alan Pardew’s offense relies heavily on the unprecedented dribbling ability of Ben Arfa to wreak havoc and the Frenchman has responded with a team-high 19 shots, including seven on goal, this term. Premiership new-boys Cardiff City have gotten off to a commendable start to the season, but Ben Arfa is likely to continue his strong play nonetheless.
Robin van Persie (Manchester United) – United and van Persie, by their standards, have struggled to start this season under new skipper David Moyes. The Dutchman has just three goals and no assists so far, so he’ll be eager to add to his total against last-place Sunderland, who have allowed a league-worst 14 goals, three more than any other team.
Luis Suarez (Liverpool) – The embattled striker returned from suspension with a brace against Sunderland last weekend and faces another tasty matchup at Anfield versus Crystal Palace on Saturday. The Uruguayan’s talent is undeniable and he will look to prove that in winning back his home supporters this weekend.
Walker – Luiz – Gibbs – Pieters
Ozil – Gerrard – Lampard – Ben Arfa
Van Persie - Suarez