As the Premier League returns from another one of this season’s international breaks, England’s top-flight will welcome its first new manager to the fray, as Liverpool hired former Borussia Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp to replace Brendan Rodgers, who was sacked following Gameweek 8.
With an extra week to prepare for his debut, Klopp will get his first taste of the Premier League when Liverpool travels to Tottenham in Saturday’s early match.
While that should make for a juicy curtain raiser to this weekend’s action, two other top-half tussles include a London derby of West Ham at Crystal Palace and Saturday’s meeting between Manchester United and Everton.
All in all, it should be an entertaining ninth round of the season, so let’s preview what may unfold by unveiling the latest Best XI for fantasy owners.
Although the defense in front of him will be without left-back and fantasy star Aleksandar Kolarov (hamstring) and potentially captain Vincent Kompany (calf), Hart’s matchup this weekend is too good to pass up. Manchester City plays host to new boys Bournemouth, who recently lost top striker Callum Wilson (knee) for the remainder of this season. As a result, the Cherries are still adapting their attack in Wilson’s absence, which could cause them to struggle against a Manchester City defense that has posted a league-high five clean sheets thus far.
A player with four clean sheets himself, Bellerin has managed to do so in just seven games. His latest unblemished performance came prior to the international break against Manchester United, which should inspire confidence ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Watford on Saturday. Also seemingly helping Bellerin’s stock is the fact that Watford has scored only six times this season, which is currently tied for the Premier League’s low mark. Furthermore, no team has netted fewer times at home than the Hornets’ lone goal at Vicarage Road to this point.
In playing all 720 minutes for West Brom this season, Dawson has aided Tony Pulis’ men to four clean sheets, three of which have come on the road. This weekend, the Englishman has a favorable chance of improving his record at home, as West Brom is slated to welcome 19th-place Sunderland to The Hawthorns. The Black Cats have failed to score in four of their past six visits to the ground, and have also come up dry in their last two away matches in the league this season. Knowing that, West Brom’s defensive prospects look rather bright for Saturday, and having scored in the Baggies’ most recent home outing, Dawson makes for a fine selection this weekend.
After missing Swansea’s 2-2 draw against Tottenham prior to the international break to attend the birth of his daughter, Naughton could very well return to the lineup for Monday’s match versus Stoke City. Should that transpire, Naughton would have a decent opportunity to build on his two clean sheets and one assist so far this season. Stoke has found the back of the net just eight times this season, which ranks better than only three teams across the league. Additionally, Mark Hughes’ side went scoreless last season at the Liberty Stadium, where the Welsh supporters should in full voice following their country’s historic qualification for Euro 2016 over the break.
Hitting his stride in Arsenal’s center forward role, Walcott’s midfield eligibility should make him an even hotter commodity in fantasy leagues. Prior to the international layoff, Walcott compiled two goals and two assists in his last four Premier League matches, including an excellent display against Manchester United in Gameweek 8. The jet-heeled 26-year-old also scored for England over the break, bringing his tally to an impressive seven goals and three assists across his past nine appearances for club and country. In shining form, Walcott will look to keep the ball rolling this weekend against Watford, whose surprisingly good defensive record figures to be put to the test Saturday.
Kevin De Bryune (C)
Making early returns on Manchester City’s massive summer investment in his services, De Bruyne has notched three goals and two assists in four Premiership appearances for the Citizens, including a goal and two helpers in their 6-1 win over Newcastle prior to the break. From there, the Belgian went on to score a goal in both of his country’s Euro 2016 wins in the last week, putting De Bruyne in fabulous form ahead of Saturday’s game versus Bournemouth. Since the Citizens will be without star attackers David Silva (ankle) and Sergio Aguero (hamstring), De Bruyne will be relied upon to fuel their league-leading offense, a role his recent output suggests he’s perfectly suited for.
Since getting two goals and one assist from Norwich’s first three games of this season, Redmond has somewhat cooled off, only scoring in Gameweek 7. Nonetheless, that start has put the 21-year-old Redmond firmly on fantasy radars, and this Sunday’s matchup at Newcastle makes him an even more enticing option. The Magpies enter this weekend still in last place, and only cross-town rivals Sunderland have surrendered more than their 17 goals thus far. Last time out, Newcastle shipped six goals to Manchester City, so Redmond will certainly hope to capitalize on their vulnerabilities this weekend.
After stumbling out of the blocks this season, the floodgates have opened for Alexis since breaking his personal deadlock in Gameweek 7. The tireless attacker netted a hat-trick on that day, becoming the first player to ever score three goals in single Premier League, La Liga and Serie A matches. As an encore, Alexis bagged a brace against Manchester United prior to the international break, then preceded to star for Chile as well. On the whole, he has an incredible nine goals and two assists in his past five matches for club and country. Although a slight hip problem poses a small concern ahead of Saturday’s match at Watford, Alexis’ spectacular current form makes him well worth including in any fantasy lineup.
Once again off to a tremendous start to a season, Pelle’s one-goal, two-assist outing at Chelsea last round helped him become the top scoring forward in the Premier League’s fantasy game. An understated star thus far, Pelle totes five goals and five assists through eight matches; however, his most recent exploits have supported his overall success. To that point, three of the Italian’s goals and four of his assists have come over Southampton’s past three games. After stuffing the stat sheet lately, Pelle also scored for Italy on Tuesday, and he will now look forward to a home matchup against Leicester City, who have allowed the fourth-most goals in the Premiership.
As previously mentioned, Manchester City is expected to be without top striker Sergio Aguero (ankle) for the next month or so, leaving Bony to pick up where the Argentine left off. Although Aguero’s insane five goals in Gameweek 8 alone will be next to impossible for Bony to duplicate, his matchup this weekend against Bournemouth still offers encouraging upside. No team has allowed more goals over their past three away games than the Cherries, and Manchester City’s 19 goals scored lead the Premiership. So, after accumulating 25 goals and six assists in 43 league starts for Swansea prior to joining Man City, Bony could finally kickstart his Citizens career in wake of Aguero’s absence, beginning this weekend.
Now eligible after serving a three-match ban for violent conduct, Costa returns to a Chelsea team that failed to win in the league since he was suspended. Fortunately for them, this Saturday’s matchup against Aston Villa shapes up well for a resurgence, as Tim Sherwood’s side remains one of the four teams behind Chelsea in the standings. Additionally, the Blues have banged home a whopping 24 goals in their past six matches against Villa at Stamford Bridge, where Costa found the scoresheet in his team’s 3-0 win last season. Despite the recent chaos enclosing his club, Costa could carry Chelsea to a needed victory by scoring in Saturday’s showing.
GK: Wayne Hennessey
Supplier of two straight clean sheets since taking over Crystal Palace’s goalkeeper position, Hennessey should have plenty of save opportunities against West Ham this weekend while looking to continue his streak of holding opponents scoreless.
DEF: Cesar Azpilicueta
A surefire starter amid Chelsea’s defensive collapse, Azpilicueta takes on an Aston Villa team with six losses from their last seven Premier League games. The Villains have also scored just once from their past three visits to Stamford Bridge.
DEF: Russell Martin
Scorer of three goals already this season from his defensive post, Martin could actually clinch a clean sheet this weekend at Newcastle, who are tied for the unwanted title of the Premiership’s lowest scoring team.
MID: Christian Eriksen
With a brace at Swansea City last time out, Eriksen finally opened his account for this season and will look to carry his rediscovered form against Liverpool to begin Gameweek 9.
MID: Dimitri Payet
With a goal in Gameweek 8, Payet brought his season totals to four goals and three assists, and he has now contributed toward at least one West Ham goal in each of their past four games ahead of Saturday’s visit to Crystal Palace.
FWD: Bafetimbi Gomis
After starting the season with a goal in four consecutive games, Gomis has now gone four games without scoring. However, heading into Monday’s match with Stoke City, Swansea has scored at least two goals in five of their past six home games, which bodes well for a return to form for Gomis.
FWD: Romelu Lukaku
With three goals and an assist in Everton’s two matches before the international break, Lukaku sits in good position to take advantage of a Manchester United defense that was blitzed last time out and has allowed six goals across their three straight losses at Goodison Park.