The Premiership thankfully returned from an international break last weekend and quickly reminded onlookers why it is the best league in the world. Saturday’s opening match of Arsenal versus Manchester City was an endlessly entertaining affair that was tightly contested from start to finish. So much so, that a 2-2 draw seemed a proper result for both sides.
Later, Southampton continued to prove offseason doubters wrong with a triumphant 4-0 win over Newcastle, while Chelsea held off a valiant effort from Swansea City behind summer signing Diego Costa, who has started his Premier League career like a house on fire.
Also, coming out of the gates strongly is Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa, who went into Anfield and robbed all three points while holding the Reds scoreless.
Then, more offseason additions were on display Sunday and Monday, with Manchester United finally putting together the kind of sparkling display supporters have been yearning for under Louis van Gaal. Meanwhile, West Ham and Hull City played out another quality 2-2 draw to end Gameweek 4.
Those results made for a decent performance from the Best XI.
Between the posts, Stoke City's Asmir Begovic continued his quiet start to this season, failing to save Leicester City's only shot attempt on goal in a 1-0 defeat Saturday.
Defensively, Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic had a clean sheet effort undone by teammate John Terry's 11th minute own-goal, which starting the scoring in the Blues' 4-2 win over Swansea City.
Eric Dier of Tottenham also allowed two goals, while being shown a yellow card in the process, but Everton's Leighton Baines came through with a clean sheet and an assist versus West Brom.
Last week's midfield was led by Premier League new-boy Angel di Maria, who scored a flukey long distance free-kick, provided an assist, and earned clean sheet points against Queens Park Rangers in his Old Trafford debut.
Besides the Argentine, Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas continued his prominent return to England by supplying two assists Saturday, bringing his league-high total to six through four matches.
Youngster Wilfried Zaha also helped the Best XI with a clean sheet for Crystal Palace versus Burnley, but his even younger compatriot, Raheem Sterling, curiously only made a second-half substitute appearance for Liverpool.
Leading the line in Week 3's headliner of Manchester City at Arsenal, City striker Sergio Aguero scored for an amazing tenth time in 11 away league matches dating back to last season.
Meanwhile, recent Liverpool signing Mario Balotelli was held in check as the Reds went scoreless versus Aston Villa.
Finally, the Best XI was once again burned by naming a Manchester United striker as captain, since Radamel Falcao was forced to wait until the 67th minute of Sunday's trouncing of QPR before being allowed to make his first Premiership appearance.
Heading into Gameweek 5, last season’s top six will be coming off mid-week play across the continent in Champions and Europa League matches. Additionally, Premiership managers may have to factor in the Capitol One Cup fixtures that loom next week in their roster decisions for the weekend.
Previewing the action, two clubs off to disappointing early season starts begin Saturday’s slate of games, with Queens Park Rangers taking on Stoke City.
Then, a somewhat surprising tussle atop the table pits third-place Swansea City against fourth-positioned Southampton.
On opposing ends of the spectrum, a free-falling Newcastle side hosts a Hull City setup thought to be on the rise, while Sunderland at Burnley conversely features two basement dwellers seeking improvement.
In Saturday’s other mid-day match, Arsenal heads to Birmingham to test Aston Villa’s current second-place standing.
To end the day, Liverpool seeks a rebound from last weekend’s loss at West Ham, who presently sport the league’s worst home record.
The remaining four matches are set for Sunday, with Tottenham hosting West Brom looking a lopsided pairing and Manchester United looking to carry over the joy from their impressive Gameweek 4 showing at a resilient Leicester outfit.
Later Sunday, Everton welcomes winless Crystal Palace to Goodison Park, but the marquee matchup of the weekend takes place in Manchester, where defending Champions Man City await league-leaders Chelsea in an absolutely mouth-watering meeting.
With the stage set for more enthralling encounters, let’s project the potential fantasy standouts from Gameweek 5 of the Premier League.
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)
The Frenchman has a great clean sheet opportunity this weekend at home versus West Brom. For one, the Baggies have not scored since Week 1. Furthermore, they have failed to find the net in their past four away league matches. With new manager Mauricio Pochettino stressing high pressure up the pitch, Lloris could be left with little to do Sunday at White Hart Lane. Finally, Lloris posted a two-save clean sheet against Partizan Belgrade (Serbia) on Thursday.
Seamus Coleman (Everton)
One of the Premiership’s most attack-minded defenders, Coleman scored on Thursday against VfL Wolfsburg (Germany) and should enjoy plenty of time on the ball Sunda since Crystal Palace currently ranks last in the league with just 30 percent possession on the road. Also, Palace finished last in goals among the teams that survived relegation last season. As such, Everton will be looking to make up for lost ground with a very manageable home fixture. Coming off a clean sheet last weekend, the Toffees’ defense could revive the kind of form that allowed the unit to rank third-best in the league last season.
Ryan Shawcross (Stoke City)
The heart of Stoke’s defense, Shawcross will lead his side to London to play a Queens Park Rangers attack that has mustered just one goal this season. What's more, the R’s have gone scoreless in eight of their past 10 Premier League ties and were held at bay both times against Stoke during the 2012/13 season, their most recent campaign in England’s top-flight. Shawcross secured a clean sheet in Stoke’s last road trip - a win at Man City - so the Potters should take confidence into Saturday’s early match.
Marcos Rojo (Manchester United)
The Argentine should be pleased by his Premier League debut last weekend, as he earned a clean sheet at home and looked assured in venturing forward as well. Rojo and Manchester United’s ability to retain the ball could make matters very difficult for Leicester City this Sunday. While Louis van Gaal’s men lead the league with 62 percent possession, Leicester ranks last with only 37 percent. Moreover, the Foxes attempt the second-fewest shots per game. With Man United coming off two straight clean sheets, Rojo could be in line for his second in as many Premiership appearances.
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)
Another South American signing to grace the Premier League this season, Sanchez has taken little time to make his mark. The Chilean has scored in his past two Premiership outings and is Arsenal’s most dangerous man in the final third. Considering the Gunners currently sit behind only Chelsea with 50 scoring chances created, Aston Villa’s league-best defense (one goal allowed) will be put to the test. In accumulating such a strong defensive record, Villa has attempted the Premiership’s fewest number of shots and is next-to-last in time on offense. That contrast to Arsenal’s creative attacking style should allow the electric Sanchez plenty of opportunities to operate in front of goal.
Christian Eriksen (Tottenham)
The dynamite Danish midfielder opened his scoring account at Sunderland last weekend and was rested in Spurs' mid-week Europa League tie. Entering Sunday's home game with West Brom, Eriksen carries confidence from having scored in the corresponding fixture last season. He is also tied for Spurs' team lead with 2.8 shot attempts per game and has created nine chances through three Premiership outings. Bringing West Brom back into the equation, the Baggies have conceded at least two goals in five of their past six league games.
Angel di Maria (Manchester United)
A tireless runner and innovative attacker, di Maria is the perfect fit for manager Louis van Gaal's possession-based system, which should endear him to United supporters in short order. As previously mentioned, the Red Devil should dominate the proceedings at Leicester this weekend, when the Foxes will likely rely on counter-attacking to keep United honest from a tactical standpoint. Since United failed to qualify for European competition last season, di Maria will have a full extra week of training with his new teammates ahead of Sunday's match. All of that bodes well for di Maria - the top assist man across Europe's top five leagues last season - in his quest to provide supreme service for any combination of Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, and Falcao to finish off.
Yaya Toure (Manchester City)
Remember this guy? While Toure certainly advanced his reputation by leading eventual champions Man City with 20 goals last season, the Ivorian has flown under the radar to begin this term. In large part, that's because Toure doesn't have a goal or an assist yet this season, even though he leads the Citizens with three shot attempts per game. City boss Manuel Pellegrini will surely remind his players that although they hoisted the trophy at season's end, Chelsea did do the double over them during 2013/14. Knowing that, Sunday at the Etihad Stadium could inspire Toure to rise to the occasion against one of City's rivals for the title.
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
So with Manchester United now boasting a trio of top-shelf strikers, fantasy owners (and Louis van Gaal) are tasked with attempting to identify who will start each game. However, with Rooney being the club captain, one would expect the Englishman to be one of the first names on the Red Devils' team sheet on a weekly basis. That train of thought should definitely prevail this weekend versus Leicester City, since Rooney scored last Sunday, as well as in his most recent outing for England. On the heels of a four-goal outburst with all additions aboard in Gameweek 4, it'll be interesting to see if United can follow that performance with another offensive assault versus a promoted side this time around.
Diego Costa (C) (Chelsea)
Joining in the midst of England's most expensive summer transfer period, Costa has undoubtedly been the best buy thus far. He's slotted straight away into an already loaded Chelsea attack to provide the finishing touches the Blues have been lacking in recent seasons. In fact, through four games, Costa has scored a sensational seven goals from 14 shots attempts (10 on goal). That conversion rate has the hitman on pace for about 67 goals this season! Costa probably won't score even half that amount, but it does illustrate the point that he's been scoring for fun since arriving at Chelsea. That being said, the 25-year-old has been carrying a hamstring ailment lately, which forced him out of the starting XI of Chelsea's mid-week Champions League game. Additionally, Costa travels to Manchester City this weekend, providing his stiffest Premiership test to date. Nonetheless, Chelsea has bagged at least two goals in five straight league matches dating back to last season and besides the Blues, only three teams have outscored Costa through four matches this season. As a result, Costa claims this week's captain's armband.
Romelu Lukaku (Everton)
Once thought to be Chelsea's talisman of the future, but apparently not by Blues' boss Jose Mourinho, Lukaku scored his first goal as a permanent Everton player last weekend. Now, Lukaku and the Toffees return home to play Crystal Palace having scored at least two goals in an excellent eight consecutive league showings at Goodison Park. Additionally, in Crystal Palace's most recent away match, they conceded three goals to current last-place side Newcastle. Given those considerations, Lukaku stands a favorable chance of doubling his goal total this Sunday.
Coleman - Shawcross - Rojo
Sanchez - Eriksen - di Maria - Toure
Rooney - Costa (C) - Lukaku