With all of the international fixtures now in the books and another international break complete, it's time to turn our attention back to the Premier League and our fantasy teams. Here are our selections for the best fixture for fantasy purposes for the upcoming weekend:
Jason (jasonuk17) - Everton v. Chelsea
Coming off their loss to Man City and draw with Tottenham Hotspur, the Toffees will have an urgent need to claim some points. With a match at home against the wounded champions, they should have an open match against a Chelsea side who will want to claim their second win of the season.
With many of Chelsea's players returning from international duty, we may see some changes to their side, but either way there should be lots of action and lots of points. I will be disappointed to not see at least three goals in this match, a tie that both sides will badly want to win and think that they should. I look to Ross Barkley and Pedro to be standouts when the ninety minutes are through.
Zach (Kellz_86) - Arsenal v. Stoke City
Week 5 stands to be a huge occasion with United hosting Liverpool, Chelsea attempting to stop the rot away at Everton, and Man City looking to continue their stellar start against an in-form Crystal Palace. But the stand out fantasy fixture for me is Arsenal welcoming a suspension-riddled Stoke City to the Emirates. Stoke City will be without Charlie Adam and Ibrahim Afellay, a significant loss of grit and glitter respectively. Arsenal have started to gain momentum and fantasy returns look promising. It wouldn't be out of the question to draft in an Arsenal player to each position this week.
Charles (the orphanage) - Crystal Palace v. Manchester City
The top-of-the-table clash is the match I am most interested in this weekend. Crystal Palace is playing at home and is only one late goal conceded at Arsenal away from their own unbeaten record.
Bacary Sagna had a recent injury during France's international friendly at Serbia and is questionable. This may leave City without a right back as Pablo Zabaleta is not expected back until the end of the month. Could Nicolas Otamendi get his first start at a new position, after being brought in to challenge for a central defender role?
Crystal Palace has defied all expectations, at this juncture, with Alan Pardew guiding them forth. Yohan Cabaye has been a key addition. Can the fast starting Bakary Sako deliver his third goal in as many matches against the as-yet-unscored-upon, impregnable City defense? Are Crystal Palace for real? How good are Man City? More will be revealed this Saturday.
Simon (Stall express) - West Ham United v. Newcastle
Let's start with the Magpies defence. Only Sunderland have conceded more efforts on their goal per game (19.5) than Newcastle (18.8). The Hammers have provided 10 efforts per match which finds them in the league's bottom half but they have faced big name Liverpool and Arsenal away, as well as high-flying Leicester in that period. Even in the Bournemouth game they got caught cold. Of the likely goal scorers both Cheikhou Kouyate and Diafra Sakho have had 8 attempts with Dimitri Payet and Mark Noble 5 each. With Mark Noble suspended we may see Payet earn penalty duties for the week ahead.
In attack nobody has had fewer efforts per game (5.3) than the Magpies. Nobody has had less shots on target (1.5) than them either. To a negative fantasy manager that has the "one shot one goal" loss written all over it but you would have to say that would be unlucky and the clean sheet chance is very much there for West Ham defenders. This Newcastle side is a little better on paper than last year's squad but the early season stats suggest the fans may need patience to see this theory come through. For West Ham, after two surprise defeats at home and two surprise wins away they could go into this one on a high or nervous. A night time home game is always an advantage in my view and the home win looks inviting.
While Payet will be in my Fantrax team as I hold him at 5m perhaps the pick of the week is last season's favourite Aaron Cresswell. Newcastle have the lowest possession in the league with 39.9%, suggesting Cresswell will be able to get forward even more in this game and that suggests he may offer good attacking points to go with his good clean sheet chance. For those of you who missed the Aleksandar Kolarov bandwagon in Fantrax you may find the pounds to have a bash with a favourite from last year.
Chris (Chris_Manfredi) - Everton v. Chelsea
In other circumstances, you might think that Jose Mourinho would be able to take a two week window and fix a beleaguered defense. However, given the glut of international games, there is no time for such magic weaving. John Terry returns from suspension, but the Blues are damned if they do, damned if they don't. If sad-faced Mou keeps faith in Terry and/or Ivanovic, the backline will surely continue to operate in slapstick slow motion. If Zouma, Rahman and/or Cahill play, there will probably be little confidence and cohesion, having to operate in the shadow of failed target John Stones to boot. Either way, you can expect goals from the home side. Romelu Lukaku will be primed for revenge against the team that gave up on him as Ross Barkley and Seamus Coleman look to join in on the fun.
Unlike Chelsea, Everton is no stranger to the clean sheet thus far this season with a pair of donuts against Tottenham and Southampton. However, those results have been all smoke and mirrors, with a suspect Toffee defense allowing 37 shots and Tim Howard making 10 saves--many of the remarkable variety--in those matches. In its other two efforts, lady luck left the building and the Merseysiders allowed multiple goals each time. Given that the problem for the Londoners has come via the defensive end while scoring has not been a trouble, you can expect offense from the visitors as well. Diego Costa and Pedro should wreak havoc on Howard, while Eden Hazard can point to his two goals on international duty as hope for a belated boost to his own score sheet.
Gavin (Gavin Wright) - Manchester United v. Liverpool
As a Liverpool fan who's recently been accused of only writing about United this is surely the expected course of action for me to take this week, but this match is always entertaining and thus impossible for me to ignore. While neither side has been at their best so far, the rivalry is just what is needed for the Reds and Red Devils to kickstart their respective seasons.
There are so many story lines to keep track of. Will we see Wayne Rooney reborn after breaking the all-time scoring record for England? Will Anthony Martial make his Premier League debut? Who will step up for Liverpool in the absence of the suspended Philippe Coutinho? Does Brendan Rodgers continue to trust Dejan Lovren after his shaky performance against West Ham?
Whatever the result, you can bet on a high-octane performance full of fantasy implications. Cracking shots, crunching tackles, perhaps some spectacular goals or heartbreaking cards...This one will have it all, including big-time fantasy points. Guessing where those come from is another matter altogether, though...
Which fixture do you think will result in the most fantasy points? Where will you be investing for your team? Did we skip your top choice? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!