Match Week 28 is dominated by teams down the bottom of the division and the opening match welcomes a new manager to the league in charge at Leeds United:
Leicester City v Leeds United
Jesse Marsch needs to hit the ground running and gain at least a point in this match, it’s hard to see it happening. I don’t know much about the American but the Leeds board narrative states he has been on their radar for a while and will undertake a variation to Bielsa’s tactics. That’s all well and good but a major factor in the Argentines success at Leeds was the improvement he squeezed from journeyman Championship players or guys who’d never hit the levels expected of them. What has become apparent this season that not just the tactics but the players have been found out. Losing Bamford and Phillips for long spells has of course hindered them but Marsch will need to extract added quality from a squad lacking in that department, which is why they are in this situation. The Foxes themselves have been a massive disappointment for long spells this season but endured countless injuries to key personnel. Having Vardy return in midweek was a major boost, he defends from the front leading the press but the return to form of Tielemens means the ball retention once they have the ball can suffocate the opposition. The carrot for the home side is winning two in a row, building a platform for a positive end to the season. Leeds can only name one real attacking threat in Raphinha while Leicester possess Maddison, Barnes, Lookman, Daka or Albrighton to support their two star man bursting forward.
FPL One to Watch - Youri Tielemens £6.4m
Bet Select - Leicester City Win
Aston Villa v Southampton
Historically this is a tight match up and surely this will not change on Saturday. Southampton have shown this season they are a tough, streetwise team who if they can’t win make sure they do not lose. The heartbeat of this form is the former Chelsea man Oriol Romeu, he protects the backline as well as any defensive midfielder in the league but also possess a array of passing which either retains or positively penetrates. By being out there he allows whoever is playing at fullback to flourish bursting forward, whether it’s Livramento, Walker-Peters or Romain Perraud. The spaces in and around the centre backs will be a key sector in this match as Villa boast Ramsey, Watkins, Buiendia or Coutinho, all love to pick up the ball between lines at speed, driving with the ball at defenders. If the home team can start the game fast it will energise the fans in Villa Park, making the atmosphere electric and producing another issue for the inform Saints. Result wise this is tight to call but I have no doubt goals will flow and this could be a contender for match of the weekend.
FPL One to Watch - Ollie Watkins £7.5m
Bet Select - Over 2.5 goals
Burnley v Chelsea
In the past week Chelsea would have played at Wembley and two of the oldest stadiums in the entire professional level. They scrapped through the FA Cup game on Wednesday at Kenilworth and a equally vibrant fan base will greet them on Saturday. Burnley’s sole success in this fixture was back in August 2017 and not at Turf Moor surprisingly. The West Londoners stewarded by Tuchel have enjoyed so much success, it’s not always spectacular but these types of match ups suit them as they not out off by a battle. Weghorsts size is a difference maker when lining up against many Premier League defenders but Rudiger will thrive on the physicality. With so many games to make up Burnley have bought themselves a chance with two wins on the trot but this current run of games Leicester in midweek and Chelsea were always free hits, the real battle is away from home on the 12th March versus Brentford. The squad depth of the top three sides is now frightening, they can select two top level teams, thus making it hard to name any of them within your FPL line ups with any confidence.
Dan Burn faces his old team who are currently embroiled in their worst run of this form this season, a promising omen for the Seagulls is they have never lost to Newcastle since promotion to the Premier League. At the turn of the year it was inconceivable to think the home side would be favourites in this match up or any in fairness but this is the reality we face. The impressive element to Newcastle’s run of positive results is the fact they’ve beaten teams around them, the next battle will be when they take on top ten sides. Brighton are just about in the top half, despite the current poor results bounce back surely looms. This weekend is too soon for Adam Webster and his return will probably coincide in a turn around. The lack of speed within Brighton’s front line has to be addressed next season, the electricity is lacking majorly when they approach the attacking third. Maupay is the main threat but he relies on being a pest rather than a focus point. It will be enjoyable seeing him taking on his former team mate Burns but I have a feeling the defender will be the one scoring.
FPL One to Watch - Dan Burn £4.4m
Bet Select - Dan Burn to score a header
Norwich City v Brentford
After last weekends disastrous game versus Newcastle this game has become the biggest in Brentford’s short life in the Premier League. They’ve only picked up four points in 2022 and are firmly rooted in the relegation fight. The three game run of winnable results is now two mainly due to the eleventh minute sending off of Josh DaSilva, the match was over when that happened. The Bees cannot afford to lose either of the next two. Norwich seem to have the West Londoners number for a few years now and will not fear the challenge, added spice to this fixture will be the fact former Brentford manager Dean Smith is in charge at a Carrow Road. It has to be questioned though what Smith has offered his team since taking charge, could Farke not have done the same? Hanley and Gibson undoubtably are solid professionals but as a top flight combo they struggle massively and this is where Bryan Mbuemo could benefit. Christian Eriksen will see more minutes than his debut, that cameo offered so much hope for Bees fans and his service will be greatly appreciated by the before mentioned Frenchman and Ivan Toney.
FPL One to Watch - Christian Norgaard £5m
Bet Select - Over 3.5 goals
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Crystal Palace
Wolves seem to be regressing to the norm lately but even in defeat they are not conceding loads of goals which bodes well as they are always in the game. Palace look to be more negative to avoid goals going in while hoping Zaha, Olise or Gallagher can offer some threat. Wanderers are more of a unit all over the pitch and their issue is placing the ball in the net when they enjoy sustained periods in attack. The fear of losing could engulf both teams this Saturday plus they are fairly well matched so the draw seems very likely. The head to head supports this theory too as they are all square in Premier League past meetings. Podence has impressed me lately, his good play has not been rewarded with goals or assists. When Wolves took on Arsenal at the Emirates he was the stand out man in gold. This match has last in MOTD written all over it.
FPL One to Watch - Daniel Podence £5.5m
Bet Select - Draw
Liverpool v West Ham United
The Reds dominate this fixture but surprisingly it’s only seven years since West Ham last won at Anfield. Only three men from the home side remain from that day (Gomez, Milner and Firminho) the same can be said for the visitors but two of those scored, Noble and Lanzini. Despite the win in November it’s hard to visualise a win for The Irons this time as Liverpool are on fire! They’ve picked up the first domestic trophy available and are on for the quadruple. It may not happen but surely they win something else as only Manchester City are their equals in Europe right now. Diaz could well be the long term replacement for either Salah or Mane, he’s hit the ground running though making it hard for Klopp to drop him already. The fluidity of the front three regardless who plays there is impressive and will enable them to push on all fronts. Bowen for England calls will be strengthened if he can cause Van Dijk problems, could he be the first man in years to perform a successful dribble past the Dutchman?
FPL One to Watch - Luis Diaz £8m
Bet Select - Liverpool Win and Over 2.5 goals
Watford v Arsenal
Sunday funday commences with two teams battling at different ends of the table, if Watford had the away sides defence they would be higher up in the table and if Arsenal had the hosts forwards they would be firmly in the top four. The Hornets purchasing any Arsenal defender this summer is very unlikely but Emmanuel Dennis going to the Emirates seems like a sensible, possible move. Tom Cleverley scored the winner when Watford last beat Arsenal at Vicarage Road in 2017, he is likely to be on the field again this time but it would be a shock if he even scored this time let alone the winner. Odegaard surely is playing the best football of his career currently and it’s hard to see who can stop him within the home teams ranks. With willing runners like Smith Rowe, Martinelli and Saka around him it creates space for him to conduct proceedings. A key battle within the match will be Kiko Femenia attempting to halt Martinelli as even if he can put the brakes on the young Brazilian Kieran Tierney joins in constantly down the left creating a nightmare double act for right side players across the league.
FPL One to Watch - Gabriel Martinelli £5.3m
Bet Select - Arsenal Win and Over 3.5 goals
Manchester City v Manchester United
The excitement levels for this derby game are low compared to previous seasons, the fear factor is if Utd play like they have done so offer this year then it will be a procession for Champions City. Players like Ronaldo, Pogba Fernandes and Rashford should be the equals to their city rivals but currently it’s reputation rather than form in their favour. Former City academy graduate Jadon Sancho is one of the few players to shine under Rangnick, he decided to leave the Etihad but will still look to show his former team what they could of had if the first team door wasn’t barely open for him. Another home grown talent though is most likely to be the match winner, Phil Foden has come on leaps and bounds this term, individual PFA honours must come his way. A win for the away side gives them bragging rights but another bitter rival hope in their pursuit to win back the league title! Like Spurs a few weeks ago it would be typical United to win this one after the dominating draw against Watford last week.
The two biggest disappointments in the Premier era, so often promising so much but delivering pretty much nothing. Monday Night Football returns with what should be a cagey encounter, both sides have their own agendas for the rest of the campaign and like so many other games this weekend either club cannot afford to lose. The hosts possess the greater quality in front of goal and that fact should see them grab the three points. History supports Spurs too, this is one of their favourite opponents. As I’ve wrote before I do not rate Frank Lampard as a Head Coach, facing off with Conte is a big task for him. It will be either sides benches which will enable their team to win, neither squad is deep in quality but the best of the rest will lead them past the line. Anthony Gordon always plays well when I see him, technically astute with a devastating burst of pace, it’s a shame to read negative comments about him online from his own supporters. Within FPL his price means he is great value as a squad player who plays most matches so if someone is injured he will step in possibly positively.
FPL One to Watch - Anthony Gordon £4.5m
Bet Select - BTTS
The Matchweek concludes next Thursday with four games, relegation threatened sides are prominent in every fixture.
Norwich City v Chelsea
FPL One to Watch - Reece James £6.2m
Bet Select - Chelsea Win
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Watford
FPL One to Watch - Pedro Neto £6.4m
Bet Select - Wolves Win
Southampton v Newcastle United
FPL One to Watch - James Ward Prowse £6.5m
Bet Select - Southampton Win and BTTS
Leeds United v Aston Villa
FPL One to Watch - John McGinn £5.7m
Bet Select - Aston Villa Win
I’ve split my Bet Select into three, combining all picks for one Acca and then separating the weekends games and Thursdays. The odds with SkyBet are as follows:
Weekend Games - 20,445,52/1
Thursday Night - 15.2/1
Combined - 331,232.68/1
As always good luck if you follow my picks and if not just enjoy the football weekend. If your travelling to a game please give the All Out Football podcast a listen this week I have appeared on it alongside the excellent Will Luker.