Hive FPL - Preview Game Week 28

With just 7 fixtures in Game Week 28, managers are going to be stretched for options particularly considering that 3 of the top 4 point scorers in this season's FPL, Haaland, Rashford and Salah will not be playing. With other popular picks such as De Bruyne, Mitoma and Shaw also unavailable, it might be a scramble for some teams to find 11 players who will score points this weekend.

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Will managers be tempted to use a chip in GW28? I'd imagine that given what's around the corner in GW29 when we have a bumper 16 fixtures to choose from that a lot FPL regulars will be happy to write this particular game week off as an exercise in damage limitation and wait for better point scoring opportunities to come.

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Forest at home will be a completely different animal from the side that went down with a whimper against Spurs last weekend. They have the 11th best home record in the Premier League this season, having been defeated just 3 times on their own patch.

At the same time, they come up against a Newcastle side that has been difficult to beat on their travels and who have conceeded the lowest number of goals away from home this season (9 equal with Arsenal). That being said, Newcastle have scored just once in their 4 away Premier League games in 2023 so I doubt that this is going to be a high scoring affair with lots of points on offer for the attacking players.

Alexander Isak (FWD) got his 4th goal of what has been a very stop start first season in the Premier League during GW27. On the face of it, a goal every 132 mins for a player who costs just £6.6mil looks appealing but the fact that he has only played 90mins in a game once since the autumn does limit that appeal. Definitely one to keep an eye on if he can begin to get regular minutes under his belt.

For Forest, Brendon Johnson (FWD) has scored 5 goals in his last 5 home appearances while Morgan Gibbs-White (MID) has 3 assists in the same period. Those however have come primarily against the leaky defences of Leeds, Everton and Leicester. Will they get the same opportunities against a far better organised Newcastle team? I doubt it...

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Cast your mind way back to GW1 at the beginning of August and you'll remember that this was the opening fixtures of the season for both these clubs, a game in which Bournemouth ran out 2-0 winners.

Bournemouth come into the game fresh off a priceless victory at home to Liverpool and having put in some generally good performances over the last few game weeks to suggest that they aren't quite finished yet. Villa similarly are unbeaten in their last 3 having had a bit of a post-Christmas wobble.

Ollie Watkins (FWD) is arguably the form striker in the Premier League at the moment. Only Erling Haaland has a higher number of expected goals since the start of February but while he's netted just 3 times, Watkins has scored 5, no other player listed as a forward has been as prolific over the same period.

A major area of concern for Bournemouth this season has been defending set-pieces. They've conceded a record high 15 so far but they come up against a Villa side that has struggled to score from dead ball situations with just 5 themselves.

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Just when you think that Leicester are going to pull themselves together and move away from the relegation zone they go through another collapse. 4 defeats in a row means the Foxes could find themselves in the bottom 3 come the end of the weekend.

Brentford meanwhile continue to collect points. They've been beaten just 5 times this season, the 4th best record in the league and they'll fancy their chances of adding to their 26 points won at home this season against a Leicester side who have shipped 29 goals on their travels so far (3rd worst record).

Ivan Toney (FWD) continues to be a valuable asset, primarily because of the number penalties that Brentford seem to be awarded. They've had 6 this season, equal first with Man City but while City's high penalty count can be attributed to the fact that they have both the highest % of possession overall and the highest % of possession in the opposition's final third, there is less obvious reasons beyond simple good fortune as to why Brentford continue to get so many chances from the spot this season.

Leicester are in desperate need of James Maddison (MID) getting back to form. The midfielder has delivered just 5 points in the last 4 game weeks but his underlying stats are still quite strong. Expected goal contribution of 0.50 against Chelsea last week and 0.89 against Southampton the week before that suggest the barren run can't last much longer.

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Southampton are a poor side, arguably the weakest in the Premier League, but they still don't seem to want to lay down and die just yet. 7 points in their last 5 matches including a win against Chelsea and a point against United keeps them in touch with what is fairly extensive pack at the foot of the table and they'll hope to cause another upset against an unpredictable Spurs side.

Usually you'd say that this is a fixture that sees plenty of goals but Spurs forward line has been misfiring of late and Southampton have significantly improved at the back in recent weeks.

Still, with so many big name players missing from GW28, you'd imagine that Harry Kane (FWD) will be both a popular pick and could well wear the captain's armband for a lot of FPL managers. He has 19 goal involvements in 19 previous matches v Southampton including a career high 8 assists against this opposition. Usually it's Son Heung-Min (MID) who benefits from that statistic and there are signs of life from the South Korean who has scored twice in his last 4 games.

With Emerson Royale (DEF) an injury doubt, then new signing Pedro Porro (DEF) who has delivered 11 points in his last 2 matches could be an option particularly with the likes of Luke Shaw and Estupiñán unavailable in GW28.

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A big game towards the bottom of the table, a Wolves win could put them top of the mini-league that has developed between the 9 teams who are realistically battling relegation while Leeds are chasing a 6th victory of the campaign, no side has won fewer games this season.

Wolves main problem at home this season has been scoring goals with the 10 that they've registered at Molineux the fewest at home by a Premier League team this season. They do however, come up against a Leeds side who have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last 8 away trips in all competitions.

It's difficult to really pick out many players that managers might want to add to their side but for Leeds, their are signs that Jack Harrison (MID) and Patrick Bamford (FWD) are enjoying working under the new management and their attacking play will be key if Leeds are to escape the drop.

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Having failed to win a game in any competition during February, Chelsea are now 3 for 3 in March and will hope to continue that record against lowly Everton. The Toffees, however, are not likely to be easily beaten and have taken 7 points from their last 4 games too.

In fact, a look at recent results between these 2 clubs suggests that this will be a tight game. There haven't been more than 2 goals in any of their last 6 Premier League meetings but you do have to go all the way back to 1994 for the last time Everton won a match at Stamford Bridge thanks to a Paul Rideout goal.

Chelsea's main problem remains finding a consistent goal threat but Kai Havertz (FWD) has at least scored in his last 2 outings having failed to find the back of the net since January.

However, defenders seem to be the more popular pick for this game and in particular Ben Chilwell (DEF) whose return to fitness has been a major reason for Chelsea's improvement of late. Chilwell is the most transferred player in for GW28 at the time of writing with managers banking on the fact that Everton have only scored in 3 away games since September while at the other end, Chilwell's creativity stats are on par with most of the top full-backs in the league.

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Just the one fixture on Sunday sees high-flying Arsenal entertain a Crystal Palace side that can't buy a win at the moment. Patrick Viera will of course get a warm welcome at the Emirates but might not be so popular should his side derail the Gunners title bid by taking something from this fixture.

Arsenal of course had a long and ultimately and unsuccessful night in the Europa League on Thursday but will be looking to bounce back with a win here. They'll also be fully aware from their last home match that complacency against weaker opposition can prove dangerous in the Premier League. In fact, Palace have been a consistent thorn in Arsenal's side in recent seasons and are unbeaten in their last 4 visits to the Emirates scoring 7 times in the process.

Bukayo Saka (MID) was given the night off against Sporting on Thursday and again with so many other big name players unavailable this week, he will appear in most teams and is a viable option as captain. Gabrielle Martinelli (MID) has been reviling in a slightly different role of late and over the last 4 games has the highest threat level on the ICT rankings. Unlike Saka, he of course played the full 2 hours against Sporting and with the return of Jesus you wonder if he might be rotated out for this game.