By Neil Leverett
- Liverpool travel to Watford in Premier League Gameweek 28, needing just four wins to seal their first league title in 30 years
- West Ham face huge clash with Southampton, whilst AFC Bournemouth entertain Chelsea hunting survival points
- Tottenham host Wolves in top six battle, as Norwich look to mount relegation escape act versus Leicester
PREMIER LEAGUE, UK – With just eight fixtures in a shortened weekend of games, who do you need to get ahead of your Fantasy Premier League rivals in Gameweek 28?
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Liverpool’s path to Premier League glory has been an act of academia since the turn of the year, but still with 11 games to go this term – four more wins to seal the league crown – the Reds travel south to Watford this weekend. With the Hornets having hit a fork in the road in their own journey to stay up, Sadio Mane could spell further trouble for Nigel Pearson in Gameweek 28.
Almost caught cold by West Ham United on Monday night, the Merseysiders nevertheless retained their unbeaten league status this season with a 3-2 win at Anfield, as netting for his second game on the bounce, it was Mane that sealed the win late on for Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Only two goals behind teammate Mohamed Salah in the scoring charts, the Senegalese will be seeking a run of form in front of goal for the remainder of the season, with last season’s triple-sharing of the Golden Boot with both Salah and current joint top-scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang still fresh in the mind.
For the hosts, after a run of results that has now set up their survival bid with just less than three months of the season to go, a tally of two points from 15 in their last five outings does not make pretty reading for the Hertfordshire side.
Having conceded three goals to Everton in their last home clash, Watford know that attack remains their best form of defence but that could come at a cost this Saturday evening. Mane has five goals against this weekend’s hosts in a Liverpool shirt and with the Hornets’ right of defence arguably their weakest, the Reds’ forward could cash in.
As the other player in Monday evening’s Merseyside drama, the Hammers were forced to trudge back to the capital empty-handed after a hugely spirited showing. Defeat however, should bring a fair dose of optimism and as Southampton roll up to the London Stadium this weekend, Michail Antonio is set to play a vital role for the hosts.
Clearly now preferred to Sebastian Haller up front, the Englishman continues to provide the muscle in the Irons’ side and particularly at home has in the past proven to be Johnny on the Spot.
In and out of the West Ham XI this term due to injury, Antonio has started the last three games under David Moyes and proved a handful for Liverpool despite failing to register a goal or assist. Still with only a single league goal to his name this season, the versatile midfielder however, is hinting that a big performance is coming.
Whilst the visit of the Saints may not exactly be West Ham’s cup of tea, their Anfield showing cannot be underestimated. The visitors themselves are for the moment clear of trouble, but as a team that do not shirk their attacking responsibilities, they might find themselves coming unstuck here against the Hammers and in particular Antonio.
With their hopes of finishing second in the table dented after a home defeat to Manchester City last Saturday, Leicester City still retain a healthy nine-point advantage over Manchester United in fifth place in pursuit of a top four finish – as it now is pending City’s European ban. That continues in earnest in Gameweek 28 against rock-bottom Norwich City, as former employer James Maddison arrives at Carrow Road in the mood to torment.
Despite Jamie Vardy’s worst top flight run of nine games without a goal, there will be some hesitation to ditch the former prolific Leicester man, but simply put the Foxes striker looks a shadow of himself and with his value plummeting. Maddison could be a safer bet.
As a player who shot to prominence with the Canaries before his switch to the King Power, the England maestro has always found himself at home on the Carrow Road turf and though of late has been left in the background by Harvey Barnes, Maddison is primed to storm back in Gameweek 28.
To their credit, the Canaries prevented a potential Liverpool mauling a fortnight ago, however against the fleet Foxes the Norfolk outfit face a very different prospect here.
Leicester have already proved they can dismantle teams on the road this term, and whilst we aren’t expecting another nine-goal demolition to start the weekend, the Foxes will be on the prowl this weekend after defeat; almost certainly spear-headed by Maddison.
Is there a more in-form player in the Premier League than Diogo Jota right now? That theory is set to be tested once more as Wolves travel to a still transitional Spurs on Sunday afternoon, but we are backing the Portuguese in Gameweek 28.
Having scored back-to-back hat-tricks in the Europa League, Jota then grabbed a brace last Sunday against Norwich – adding a further assist – to see the former Atletico Madrid winger notch five times in all competitions in the space of three days.
Rested in Wolves’ 3-2 loss in Barcelona on Thursday night, the Black Country dynamo is set to be reinstalled in Nuno Espirito Santo’s starting XI at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – possibly utilised in an advanced role.
With Jose Mourinho’s men shipping four times in the last two outings, Wolves are not the sort of side you want to face, given the form his compatriot Jota is in right now either.
The visitors have also scored in every away game since the turn of the year – twice in many instances – and aided by both Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore in attack, Jota may be in the mood for more goals this weekend in North London.
For Gameweek 28’s differential pick we turn to a current member of the Spurs squad in Danny Rose, who after a solid start to his loan period at Newcastle United, the visit of Burnley could finally reap rewards for the former England left-back.
Completing a six-month switch to the North-East at the end of the January window, Rose has stepped into the able boots of Jetro Willems after the Dutchman was ruled out for the season and his confidence has built in adding to the Magpies’ oft-menacing attack.
His value this weekend however could lie with the clean sheet potential, with Steve Bruce’s side having not conceded at home in the last two games at St. James’ Park – with a larger ratio of three in five clean sheets for the Toon.
Whilst Newcastle’s defence is becoming a reliable source of points, predicting which personnel may start each game is not. All three of Ciaran Clark, Florian Lejeune and Fabian Schar have also scored this season from set pieces, but with Jamaal Lascelles and Federico Fernandez set to be given the nod in defence, Rose may just come into his own this weekend.
Premier League Gameweek 28 begins on Friday night as Norwich City host Leicester City, kick-off 20:00 UK time.
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