With another international break in the books, itís back to league play and guessing which players will get rested in Gameweek 8. None of the major names sat after the last one, but itís a month later and players from bigger clubs have seen the field almost twice as much in recent weeks in addition to travel.
Some like Christian Eriksen and Gabriel Jesus started in Gameweek 4, but saw a lessened role, so that will be something to keep in mind. Still, these things are almost impossible to predict, and while Jesus played 90 minutes against Chile on Tuesday, he probably wonít be rested against Stoke with Sergio Aguero (rib) out. Alexis Sanchez was on the other end of that defeat and in addition to tired legs, will be in bad spirits with Chile blowing their chance to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Then again, heís been in a funk for a while.
But enough of the international talk. There are a few matchups that stand out this week with Man City hosting Stoke, Spurs against Bournemouth (at Wembley) and both Chelsea and Arsenal away at Crystal Palace and Watford, respectively. Outside of those four sides, it will be hard to give the armband to anyone else, though Romelu Lukaku at Liverpool is always a worthy candidate, already with seven goals this season.
Harry Kane and Eriksen will undoubtedly be top options and thatís seen in our weekly rankings. My only trepidation is that Kane still hasnít scored at Wembley in Premier League play, while Eriksen has just one assist in three matches there. Thatís definitely something to be afraid of, but Bournemouth have lost all three away matches this season by a 6-1 combined score line. Although, this isnít a true road matchÖ If you want to go the sneaky route, Ben Davies could be just as good of option as he already has one goal and three assists in addition to three clean sheets in his six matches.
The hope for Man City backers is that the break wonít end their form with 22 goals scored and only two allowed through seven games. Stoke have a feisty team, but Iím not sure thereís anything they can do that will stop the juggernaut. Jesus has to be at the top of the list after scoring a brace for Brazil on Tuesday. That may be an easier decision than choosing between an array of midfielders.
Kevin De Bruyne may be the safest pick with two goals and four assists in his last six matches (Champions League included). Even better is his eight shots and 16 chances created in the last four. Leroy Sane may be the trendy pick after one goal and two assists against Crystal Palace a couple matches ago, but as seen in the Chelsea match, his effectiveness can be limited in certain situations. David Silva is still in the conversation, but De Bruyneís been a bigger threat in front of net and that has led to less value for Silva, despite his eight assists. Defensively, Kyle Walker is the best choice and all signs point to another clean sheet City.
For the less heralded, anyone on Chelsea can be considered, unless you think this is the start of the Crystal Palace turnaround. Marcos Alonso is always a good option when a clean sheet is likely, while Eden Hazard will be a favorite of many. But having come off the international break, Iím not sure Hazard will see the field for 90 minutes just yet. The likely absence of Alvaro Morata could also rear its head and show just how important a goal poacher is needed up front for the Blues.
Arsenal have the toughest match on paper, and Watford have actually played worse at home, a lot of that has to do with facing Liverpool and Man City. Itís also worth mentioning the Gunners havenít scored on the road in three matches. If you really like Alexis or Alexandre Lacazette, then go ahead and captain them, but I wonít support it.
For the rest, Jamie Vardy has scored in three of the last four and gets a West Brom side that has allowed four goals in the last two matches. They also lost 3-1 at Brighton about a month ago, so thereís hope for Leicester to do the same. Otherwise, Iím not sure I can consider any other squad. Burnley maybe have the best matchup at home against West Ham, but I already backed Robbie Brady once this season and he didnít do anything. Chris Wood could be more useful with at least one shot on goal in four of his five appearances. Of course, that doesnít mean you should use him over a player thatís expected to get 10 shots off like Kane.