Gameweek 6 of the Premiership starts with a bang, as Chelsea and Arsenal face off in a rematch of this year’s Community Shield in Saturday’s opening fixture.
While Arsenal won that glorified preseason fixture 1-0, the Gunners are reeling from a midweek European letdown, losing 2-1 in Zagreb on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Chelsea are fresh off dismantling Maccabi Tel Aviv 4-0 at Stamford Bridge.
With those results, Saturday marks a ripe opportunity for an at-home Chelsea to begin turning their league campaign around.
However, that London derby is hardly the only headline-worthy matchup of the weekend, as the West Midlands derby will follow Saturday when Aston Villa hosts West Brom in what should be a tightly contested clash.
Come Sunday, Crystal Palace at Tottenham represents yet another local rivalry set for Gameweek 6, which projects plenty of close matchups that could make decisions difficult for fantasy owners.
Nonetheless, let’s take a stab at projecting this weekend’s top performers in the latest installment of the Best XI.
With 25 saves this season, Krul currently ranks second among goalkeepers in the category, which helps compensate for the fact that Newcastle’s defense has posted just one clean sheet. However, this weekend, Krul has a good chance at securing his second clean sheet of the campaign, as he and the Magpies will host Watford at St. James’ Park on Saturday. Through five matches, the Hornets have managed just three goals and have failed to find the scoresheet on three occasions.
Along with teammate Aleksandar Kolarov, Sagna surfaced from this season’s first five weeks as a top fantasy defender. That’s largely due to Manchester City having yet to concede a single goal, but Sagna has also recorded an assist in attack. Although City captain Vincent Kompany will miss this weekend’s game against West Ham, one of the league’s hotter teams, Sagna and the Citizens can take comfort from the Hammers’ zero goals across their last three visits to the Etihad Stadium. For an already accomplished defense, West Ham’s recent hardships in this fixture make Sagna an even more enticing option.
A player whose team hasn’t exactly been stout in defense, Francis still seems a solid fantasy bet this weekend due to his home matchup against Sunderland. The Black Cats are presently placed in 19th on the table and their 9.2 shot attempts per game are the second-fewest in the league so far. Enter Francis, who in starting at Bournemouth’s left back position has provided two assists already, helping his stock in spite of the Cherries’ defensive deficiencies to date.
Tied for the Premiership lead with 4.4 tackles per game and fourth league-wide with 3.6 interceptions, Amavi has been excellent along Aston Villa’s left flank through his first handful of English outings. In addition to his defensive presence, the 21-year-old also has an assist and trails only one player with 3.2 dribbles per game. This weekend, Amavi’s first Midlands derby makes matters difficult to predict, but West Brom’s mere three goals thus far favors Aston Villa’s home defense.
An early season development that bears repeating, Mahrez has arguably been the Premier League’s best player so far. Although only West Brom has held a lower percent of possession than Leicester City, Mahrez’s four goals remain tied for the league-lead, and he also places in the top 10 in dribbles per game (4.4, first), shots per game (3.4, tied for sixth) and assists (two, tied for sixth). In doing so, the Algerian has fired the Foxes into second in the standings, making this weekend’s match at 18th Stoke an uneven pairing for Mahrez to capitalize upon.
A rival of Mahrez for form, Silva has supplied one goal and four assists as Manchester City has claimed England’s top spot early on. While the midfielder missed the Citizens’ most recent league match due to an ankle injury, he returned for Man City’s midweek Champions League loss to Juventus, playing the full 90 minutes. As a result, Silva should be fine for Saturday’s game against West Ham, an opponent he’s scored against in both of the last two league campaigns.
Expected to return to his usual starting position after being suspended for last weekend’s loss at Manchester United, Coutinho should relish Sunday’s matchup against Norwich City. That’s because Liverpool has overwhelmed the Canaries in recent times, scoring an outstanding 22 goals from their past six meetings. Moreover, Norwich has gone winless in 12 of their past 13 road Premier League matches, furthering the odds in favor of an Anfield assault in which Coutinho could be the catalyst.
After fluffing a couple easy chances early on last weekend, Walcott opened his account by scoring Arsenal’s first goal against Stoke City. Then, the Englishman netted Arsenal’s lone goal in this week’s Champions League loss, when his chief competition to start at striker, Olivier Giroud, was stupidly sent off. Given that contrast in recent contributions, Walcott will almost assuredly spearhead the Gunners’ attack for Saturday’s match at Chelsea, whose 12 goals conceded rank dead last to this point.
Among the trio of players currently pacing the Premiership with four goals scored, Wilson’s tally also includes one of only two hat-trick performances so far, with Everton’s Steven Naismith notching the other last weekend versus Chelsea. Those accomplishments evidence Wilson’s knack for finding the back of the net, which he stands a superb shot of doing this weekend against Sunderland. Along with Saturday’s tie being played at Bournemouth, Wilson’s outlook is improved by Sunderland’s 11 goals allowed this season, the second worst record across the league.
Sergio Aguero (C)
Last season’s top scorer, and widely considered the Premier League’s best striker, an injured Aguero played just 25 minutes at Crystal Palace last weekend and only seven minutes in Man City’s midweek Champions League defeat. Nonetheless, those brief cameos figure to have the Argentine ready to start this weekend against West Ham, who have struggled mightily in their recent visits to the Etihad Stadium. In fact, the Hammers have lost six straight there, shipping 17 goals over that span. Scorer of four goals in City’s last six games against West Ham overall, Aguero earns this week’s captain’s armband.
Although his team was second best in last weekend’s all-important match at Manchester United, Benteke scored what can already be considered as a front-runner for goal of the season. With a thundering bicycle kick, the Belgian brought about his second goal for Liverpool, whose attack is gifted with an awesome matchup in Gameweek 6. As previously mentioned, the Reds take on Norwich City, an opposition that has offered little resistance to Liverpool in recent seasons. Benteke’s new outfit has racked up at least three goals in five consecutive games against Norwich, creating a contest that Benteke could produce further highlights from.
Goalkeeper: David de Gea
After only being beaten by Benteke’s wonder strike in his return to the fold last weekend, de Gea is now slated to play a Southampton side that has gone scoreless in three of their past four games across all competitions.
Defender: Craig Cathcart
Saturday’s matchup between Watford and Newcastle pits two of the league’s lowest scoring teams against each other and only Man City, Man United and Arsenal have allowed fewer goals than Cathcart’s side.
Midfielder: Ross Barkley
Boasting three goals and four assists from his past seven starts across all competitions for club and country, Barkley’s shining form is worthwhile to consider despite this weekend’s 50/50 matchup at Swansea City.
Midfielder: Bakary Sako
Ahead of Sunday’s game at Tottenham, Sako has not only scored twice and assisted once this season, but Crystal Palace have also scored at least twice in five of their past six away matches.
Midfielder: Nathan Redmond
Paired against a Liverpool defense that has allowed three goals in two straight Premier League matches, Redmond is Norwich’s best candidate to take advantage of the Reds’ spotty defense Saturday.
Midfielder: Jeremain Lens
If Sunderland is to score Saturday at Bournemouth, who are tied for the top-flight’s third-worst defensive record, look for Lens to make a contribution on a goal. The summer signing has scored once and assisted three times to begin his career with the Black Cats.
Forward: Diego Costa
Removed from his starting position for Wednesday’s Champions League win, Costa still came on to score for Chelsea, which should allow him to reclaim a first XI place versus Arsenal, who he scored against at Stamford Bridge last season.