As we enter Gameweek 8 of the Premier League season, a new leader now sits atop the table, as Manchester United took advantage of cross-town rivals Manchester City losing 4-1 at Tottenham last round by jumping into first-place thanks to a 3-0 win over Sunderland.
Coming off a midweek Champions League victory as well, Louis van Gaal’s Red Devils should be in good spirits ahead of this Sunday’s match at fourth-place Arsenal, who lurk just three points behind United at the moment.
Sunday will also see another installment of the Merseyside derby, as Liverpool makes the short stroll to Goodison Park to face an Everton outfit just one point ahead of the Reds.
With those two matchups undoubtedly headlining the upcoming round of action, let’s highlight what else could be expected by unveiling the Best XI for Gameweek 8.
With five saves as Stoke City defeated Norwich City last weekend, Butland brought his season tally to a league-high 35 stops. That healthy total includes 21 saves from three road appearances, which puts Butland in superb standing ahead of this weekend’s trip to Aston Villa. With just two goals in their three matches at Villa Park this season, only promoted side Watford has scored fewer goals in front of their home supporters than Tim Sherwood’s men. Villa’s home misfortunate has seen two scoreless outings already this season, offering the in-form Butland a good chance to produce in his first clean sheet of the campaign come Saturday.
The highest scoring defender in the Premier League’s fantasy game, Kolarov has an excellent opportunity to prolong his strong start this weekend. That's because the Serbian and Manchester City will host 19th place Newcastle to the Etihad Stadium, creating a massive mismatch considering the circumstances. To that point, Newcastle has failed to score on the road this season, and has lost eight of their last nine away games dating back to last season. Moreover, Man City has prevented in the Magpies from scoring in each of their last three Premier League meetings at home, making Kolarov a shoo-in to this week’s Best XI.
While Kolarov plays Newcastle, Cresswell will look to capitalize on another tasty matchup against Tyneside opposition Saturday, as he and West Ham travel to Sunderland. Stuck in last-place, Sunderland has managed merely six goals through seven games, leaving only Newcastle with a worse mark. The Black Cats have found it particularly difficult to score lately, as they’ve gone without a goal in three straight matches heading into Saturday’s outing. With two of Cresswell’s three clean sheets this season having come on the road, his Gameweek 8 visit to the Stadium of Light seemingly presents a favorable to shot to clinch another clean sheet.
A statistical darling just beginning his Premier League career, Amavi currently averages the second-most tackles (4.6), third-most interceptions (3.9), and seventh-most attacking dribbles (2.7) per game from his left-back position. While those contributions are especially valuable in some fantasy formats, Amavi’s two assists are almost universally applicable, and the Frenchman also boasts one clean sheet. This weekend, Amavi’s Aston Villa hosts a Stoke City team that has gone winless from their last eight away matches in the league and has scored the fifth-fewest goals this season.
Kevin De Bruyne
Don’t look now, but Manchester City’s latest big money signing seems to be taking England by storm, as De Bruyne has scored in both of his Premier League starts since joining City this summer. The former Wolfsburg wizard supplied City’s lone goal in defeat at Tottenham last weekend, but with a home matchup against Newcastle this time around, the Citizens should enjoy far more scoring opportunities. In fact, Manchester City has incredibly scored at least two goals in 14 of their last 16 matches versus Newcastle across all competitions. With KDB in the midst of the Man City attack, the Belgian’s English revival could continue this Saturday.
Arguably the signing of the summer to this point, Payet has registered three goals and three assists through his first seven Premiership matches, leading West Ham to third-place in the standings. In doing so, Payet has been instrumental in the Hammers’ three improbable road triumphs, gathering two assists and two clean sheets from wins at Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City. This weekend, the former Marseille midfield maestro faces far lighter competition, as West Ham heads to last-place Sunderland, who have also surrendered a league-high 16 goals already this season.
The only player with more fantasy points in the Premier League game than Payet, Mahrez’s five goals and three assists have also catapulted his team to an unlikely early season standing, as Leicester City’s 12 points trail only four teams. To highlight Mahrez’s brilliance thus far, consider that among players in Europe’s top five leagues, only Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski (10 goals, one assist) and Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (nine goals, one assist) have more combined goals and assists than Mahrez. In sensational form, Mahrez will be out to prove he’s no flash in the pan this weekend at Norwich City, who are tied for the fourth-most goals allowed to date.
At last, Alexis broke out of his early season slump with a hat trick against Mahrez and Leicester last weekend, when Arsenal outfoxed Claudio Ranieri’s side 5-2. As an encore, the Chilean scored and assisted during Arsenal’s midweek Champions League match as well, but in disappointingly losing that match, the Gunners face significant pressure to perform this Sunday against Manchester United. Certainly a man for the occasion, Alexis’ return to form is a fantastic development for an Arsenal attack that leads the Premier League with 21.2 shot attempts per game, and could seek to exploit a potentially reshuffled Man United defense in wake of right-back Antonio Valencia’s poor Champions League showing this week.
Sergio Aguero (C)
Somehow, after his tormenting of Tottenham in recent seasons, Aguero failed to find the scoresheet last weekend. Nonetheless, the Argentine should be plenty primed to pounce this time around, as Manchester City’s home matchup against Newcastle looks largely lopsided. An abysmal away team, Newcastle has shipped an unflattering 16 goals in their past four Premier League meetings at the Etihad Stadium, with Aguero scoring one goal in both of the Magpies’ two most recent visits. With the Citizens aiming to rebound from last weekend’s letdown, Aguero is trusted with the Best XI captain’s armband again in Gameweek 8.
While it’s pretty surprising that Vardy currently leads the Premiership with six goals, it’s even more astounding that he’s managed to do so while playing with a broken right wrist. Obviously, Vardy isn’t allowed to use his hands, but even injury hasn’t been able to slow him down this season. Fresh off scoring a brace versus Arsenal last weekend, Vardy now looks forward to a matchup at Norwich City, who Leicester City has scored fairly freely against in recent history, with 11 goals from their past four meetings. Riding a four-game scoring streak himself, Vardy is a fine selection for fantasy owners this weekend.
In finding the back of the net last weekend against Norwich, Sakho has now scored in consecutive weeks and in three of West Ham’s last four Premiership matches. Overall, West Ham has scored at least two goals in all but one of their league games, putting them level with Leicester City’s high of 15 goals this term. As Sakho embarks on a road trip to Sunderland this weekend, there are many reasons to believe his success will carry on. Not only has Sunderland fielded the top-flight’s worst defense this season, but Sakho scored against them last season, and has scored at Liverpool and Manchester City in his last two away appearances.
GK: Boaz Myhill
Averaging over three saves per game and accumulating four clean sheets without allowing an away goal this season ahead of Saturday’s trip to Crystal Palace.
DEF: Simon Francis
With his lone clean sheet coming in Bournemouth’s most recent home match, Francis could double his tally against the league’s joint-lowest scoring team, Watford.
DEF: Allan Nyom
While the Hornets have struggled to score, their defense has been beaten just six times through seven matches, tying for the third-best record. A regular at right-back, Nyom goes against a Bournemouth attack severely handicapped without Callum Wilson (knee) moving forward.
MID: Erik Lamela
Has scored twice in the past week in advance of Sunday’s game against Swansea City, who allowed three goals last weekend and have lost seven straight matches to Spurs.
MID: Theo Walcott
Now entrenched as Arsenal’s starting center forward, Walcott has scored four goals and assisted another his last six appearances for Arsenal across all competitions ahead of Sunday’s visit from Manchester United.
FWD: Wayne Rooney
Some players just love going against certain opponents, and Rooney against Arsenal is a perfect example. His seven career goals against the Gunners include his first ever Premiership goal, his first league goal for Manchester United and his 100th EPL goal.
FWD: Bafetimbi Gomis
After starting the season with a goal in four straight games, Gomis has failed to score in his past three outings, but he could turn things around at home against a Tottenham defense that has overachieved thus far.