After a Week 9 team that lacked firepower, Week 10’s Best XI tallied five goals and three assists, while also keeping a respectable defensive record, despite disappointment at goalkeeper.
Swansea’s Michel Vorm made two saves in the first Welsh Derby in Premier League history, but allowed the game’s only goal after being beaten by a header in the 62nd minute. Then in the game’s closing stages, Vorm raced off his line and piled into Cardiff City’s Fraizer Campbell, leading to a straight red card and bitter defeat for the keeper.
Fortunately, some of last week’s defensive selections helped to counter Vorm’s poor performance. West Brom’s Gareth McAuley found the score sheet with an 83rd minute goal and kept a clean sheet, while Manchester United’s Rafael also put forth a strong effort, holding Fulham scoreless before being substituted off at halftime due to injury. Less fortunately, Southampton’s Dejan Lovren was deprived of a clean sheet after his goalkeeper embarrassingly allowed a first minute goal to opposing keeper Asmir Begovic.
Across the midfield, Oscar’s Chelsea side was surprisingly held without a goal in their loss to Newcastle, while Adam Lallana failed to contribute much offensively for Southampton. Unlike them, David Silva scored in Manchester City’s seven-goal rout of Norwich and Aaron Ramsey also found the goal with a sensational strike from distance versus Liverpool. Additionally, both Silva and Ramsey earned clean sheet points.
Up front, Sergio Aguero continued his strong form and haunting of Norwich by having a hand in three of City’s seven goals (one goal, two assists) Saturday. Similarly, Robin van Persie picked up a goal and an assist in United’s win over Fulham, but Luis Suarez was unable to convert any of his three shot attempts at Arsenal.
In hopes of another successful squad selection, let’s set the stage for Week 11 of Premier League action.
Despite some clubs coming off midweek Champions League or Europa League matches, all 20 Premiership sides play this weekend.
Current leaders Arsenal, coming off consecutive wins against Liverpool and Germany’s Borussia Dortmund, will look to make it three-in-a-row at Manchester United this Sunday, while a number of other games feature teams separated by just a handful of points on the table.
In some matchups that could potentially be exploited, Manchester City travels to Sunderland, Liverpool hosts Fulham, and Everton heads to last place Crystal Palace.
Looking ahead, here’s this week’s Best XI projection:
Artur Boruc (Southampton) – Boruc, who cost his side three points by inexplicably allowing the opposing goalkeeper to score last weekend, should be very eager to put his best foot forward versus Hull City this week. Along with some extra motivation, Boruc’s Southampton defense has kept a clean sheet in each of their last four home games, a streak that could continue considering Hull has scored more than one goal just once this season.
Ashley Cole (Chelsea) – Looking to overcome an unexpected loss at Newcastle last weekend, Cole and Chelsea return to Stamford Bridge this Saturday to play West Brom. The Baggies have held their own this season, earning points in all but one of their last seven league matches, but have failed to score at Chelsea in six of the past seven meetings between the respective clubs.
Phil Jagielka (Everton) – Taking on Crystal Palace this weekend, the cards are stacked in Jagielka’s favor. The Eagles have scored in just two of their past seven matches, while Everton has strung together clean sheets in back-to-back weeks, making the Englishman a solid selection this weekend.
Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City) - While much of City's defensive unit has fluctuated for various reasons throughout the early season, Zabaleta has started at left-back in nine of his team's first 10 matches. This weekend, the Argentine will hope to hold Sunderland's below average attack at bay. Surprisingly, the Black Cats have won each of their last three home matches against City by the score of 1-0, but it would be even more surprising if that trend continued this weekend. Zabaleta and the Citizens, despite being banged-up, still have a decent shot at a clean sheet given the game's disparity in quality.
Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) – Ozil will be vital when Arsenal travels to Old Trafford this weekend. Looking to increase their lead on the Red Devils to a maximum 11 points, the Gunners figure to be able to crack United’s inconsistent defense and Ozil, the team’s most gifted attacker, could provide the cutting edge to do so.
Samir Nasri (Manchester City) – With fellow midfielders David Silva and Fernandinho picking up knocks in City’s midweek Champions League match, Nasri should start Sunday at Sunderland. The Frenchman has four assists in his last three appearances for the Citizens, who, despite a poor away record, should be able to produce scoring opportunities against a far inferior opponent.
Ross Barkley (Everton) – After a strong start to the season, Barkley’s form has dipped a bit of late. However, Saturday’s matchup with Crystal Palace, losers of seven straight, could be just what the 19-year-old needs to get back on track. Also, with striker Romelu Lukaku suffering a knee knock last weekend, Everton may require additional help in attack.
Kevin Nolan (West Ham) - A mainstay in the Premier League, Nolan has only managed a goal and an assist a piece for West Ham this season. However, this weekend the veteran goes against a Norwich City side licking their wounds from allowing seven goals to Manchester City last Saturday. While West Ham certainly doesn’t boast the same firepower as City, the experienced Nolan could still prove problematic for a troubled defense.
Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) – In 10 domestic matches this season, Sturridge has only failed to notch a goal against two of the league’s better defenses, Southampton and Arsenal. This weekend, the striker is pitted against a struggling Fulham team that Liverpool beat in both of their matches last season by scoring a combined seven goals. Expect Sturridge to see his share of scoring chances come Saturday as the Reds look to get back to their winning ways.
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) – Point blank, Aguero has been on fire this season, with 13 goals and six assists in 13 appearances for City across all competitions. The Argentine goes against a poor Sunderland defense Sunday, earning him another Best XI selection that seems a virtual lock to pay off.
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) – Rooney plays Arsenal this weekend, and although that would be a tricky matchup for most, the striker has scored 10 Premier League goals in his career against the Gunners, tied for the most in the division. Along with that, United have lost just once in their last nine league encounters against the North London club, so Sunday’s match should certainly test the current league leaders, with Rooney historically being their most threatening opponent.
Cole – Jagielka – Zabaleta
Ozil – Nasri – Barkley – Nolan
Sturridge – Aguero - Rooney