The international break is almost at an end, and football fans can return to Premier League action after catching a breath on what has been one of the most surprise-packed and dramatic opening months ever seen in the Premier League era.
Amidst an ongoing backroom saga, champions Chelsea have arguably produced the worst start to a PL title defence since Blackburn Rovers yielded a paltry three points from a possible twelve back in 1995. While Diego Costa is a threat in any game, fantasy managers are not advised to max out on Chelsea players for GW5.
For many clubs, this weekend will be an intriguing one, as the deadline day signings make their club debuts. Given the quality of talent that changed hands on deadline day, a few landslides are to be expected.
1/2. Nacer Chadli & Clinton N’Jie – vs Sunderland (A)
Sunderland struggled for pace at times last season, and little appears to have changed with the Black Cats still winless and alarmingly inept at the back. Dick Advocaat is also the runaway favourite to be the first managerial casualty of 2015/16, a statistic which can only act as a further detriment to dressing room spirit. Admittedly, there were signs of improvement in the 2-2 draw at Aston Villa, yet the usual problems persisted.
Tottenham are also winless, but they have a few prize assets to help them regain form. With the signing of Clinton N’Jie, ailing striker Harry Kane now has the support necessary to become a productive player once again. The Cameroon international is very attack-minded, claiming at least an assist in every two hours of football during his days at Lyon in Ligue 1.
Likewise, Nacer Chadli is always capable of making an impact on the scoresheet, and another strong game is expected on Sunday against the Black Cats’ porous defence.
3/4. Nathan Redmond & Dieumerci Mbokani – vs Bournemouth (H)
Most pundits agree that the club from East Anglia is the most likely of the promoted trio to survive this season. With Norwich’s top flight absence lasting just a single year, much of the previous PL squad has been retained, along with the fitness levels required to gain results when playing against the elite.
The current AFC Bournemouth side is entertaining to watch but, unlike Norwich, the Cherries lack the Premier League pedigree required to see games through. The Cherries’ sole win to date, at Upton Park, was attained in most nerve-wracking fashion, and a clean sheet at Carrow Road is a nearly impossible outcome to comprehend.
Certainly, if the Bournemouth players perform as they did in the second half against Leicester, then Mbokani will be enjoying a glut of goals on his Norwich debut.
Additionally, Nathan Redmond has re-adapted well to Premier League life and is statistically the best player at the club. Along with his excellent pace, Redmond’s experience is likely to be the decisive factor in a game where some degree of naivety from both sides is expected.
5. Kevin Mirallas – vs Chelsea (H)
Difficult though Everton’s opening ten games once appeared, a back-to-basics approach has worked reasonably well for the Toffees. Of course there is much progress to be made, but a dominant win at Southampton and a creditable draw at Tottenham represent a distinct improvement on last season’s corresponding results.
Following Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho’s failed attempt to lure Everton star John Stones to Stamford Bridge, Saturday’s lunchtime trip to Goodison Park is set to be a real acid test for the Londoners. With the Evertonian masses set to create a hostile atmosphere for the so-called ‘Special One’, it will be a huge testament to the team’s collective character if the points are taken back south.
Kevin Mirallas remains one of Everton’s key talents, and Martinez must surely include him in the starting lineup against Chelsea, as a good start will be of huge importance if the champions are to be plunged into further misery.
The Belgian midfielder is just as effective as support striker as he is winger – not to mention a most accomplished taker of free kicks. Mirallas also usually reserves his strongest performances for matches against the better Premier League teams, and the Chelsea defence is not a reliable one at this present time, making the Belgian a worthy inclusion in your squad.
6. Mark Noble – vs Newcastle (H)
Such has been West Ham’s unpredictability, that I wouldn’t be surprised to see Newcastle romp to a 7-0 win in East London and shorten Slaven Bilic’s odds in the sack race.
However, even the very worst teams in Premier League history have won at least once at home during the course of a season, and Monday night represents a great opportunity for the Hammers to get off the mark in their final season at Upton Park. In the two improbable victories yielded at Anfield and the Emirates Stadium there was one constant element, acting as the catalyst to every positive move from the Hammers – namely, Mark Noble.
As a born and bred east ender, Noble has the ability to scrap and adapt to situations of uncertainty, and the suspension of Newcastle striker Aleksandr Mitrovic will provide the entire West Ham squad with a huge boost.