Before anything else: this gameweek 28 preview was written before the final two games of double gameweek 27 were played. These are Brighton’s home encounter with Crystal Palace and Brentford’s visit to Southampton. While these games will certainly have an impact on the final scores of GW27, we don’t expect the involved assets to have a major impact on squad decisions going into blank gameweek 28. Brighton are also one of the six teams blanking this weekend (see overview below), while Brentford’s home game against Leicester on Saturday is likely the only game to attract some FPL attention, out of the four teams mentioned above.
|TEAMS BLANKING IN GAMEWEEK 28|
As far as the upcoming gameweek is concerned, it will probably the biggest blank gameweek of the 2022-23 season with no less than six sides without a fixture, including Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United. Form team Brighton will not feature this week either, after their double in GW27. Fortunately though, DGW28 offers us a few very appealing fixtures as well, on paper at least. Arsenal at home to toothless Crystal Palace looks very good, as does Aston Villa’s home fixture against Bournemouth. Chelsea will be hosting Everton whilst Spurs are preparing for a visit to Southampton, which could both result in juicy returns for the right players, as could Newcastle’s away game at Nottingham Forest.
Don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 28 is set at 18h30 (UK time) on Friday, March 17th, 2023.
Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per March 15th, 2023)
|TRANSFERS OUT||TRANSFERS IN||POSSIBLE REASONS|
|GK||Alisson (LIV), Sanchez (BRI), Ederson (MCI)||Pope (NEW), Kepa (CHE), Raya (BRE)||Blank gameweek 28|
|DEF||Alexander-Arnold (LIV), Shaw (MUN), Estupiñan (BRI)||Chilwell (CHE), Trippier (NEW), Mee (BRE)||Blank gameweek 28|
|MID||Salah (LIV), De Bruyne (MCI), Rashford (MUN)||Almiron (NEW), Maddison (LEI), Martinelli (ARS)||Blank gameweek 28|
|FOR||Haaland (MCI), Darwin (LIV), Mitrovic (FUL)||Watkins (AST), Kane (TOT), Havertz (CHE)||Blank gameweek 28|
Seeing as we label a fantasy asset as “premium” once its price reaches £10.0m or more, there was really very little to choose from for blank gameweek 28. We could, of course, be flexible with our labels just this one time, but there was no need, as one of the premium fantasy picks for GW28 is actually an excellent captaincy candidate as well. Besides his teammate Heung-Min Son, Harry Kane (£11.7m) is the only premium player with a game this weekend, and it’s a promising one. Southampton are bottom of the table at the moment, in part due to their leaky defence. The Saints have conceded a worrying 41 goals in 26 league games, a total only exceeded by Leeds, Bournemouth, Leicester and Nottingham Forest. While Spurs have been very much hot and cold for most of this season, they do have 49 goals to their name so far and 20 of those goals were scored by their Very Own. After his brace and 13-point haul versus Forest in GW27, Kane has now been directly involved in 26 league goals (20 goals + 6 assists). That represents a direct involvement in 54% of all goals scored by Spurs, the highest of any player on any team in the Premier League. With the majority of premium fantasy assets blanking this weekend, Kane away at Southampton looks like a wise call.
Our non-premium fantasy pick for blank gameweek 28 is also a forward, though of a slightly different pedigree than living Spurs legend Harry Kane. Ollie Watkins (£7.4m) is nevertheless having a more than decent season, but perhaps more importantly, he has been on fire since about gameweek 21. From then, Villa played seven league games, all of which saw Watkins starting and then some. Gameweek 26 was the only gameweek during that run in which the 27-year-old did not record any attacking return. In each of the other six games, he recorded at least 1 goal and 6 FPL points. In total, the Villa striker scored 6 goals and provided 1 assist between GW21 and GW27 for a total of 50 FPL points. That comes down to just over 8 points per game, which is simply excellent for a nailed-on striker priced at £7.4m. On top of that, Villa play Bournemouth at home this weekend, followed by a double in GW29 (Chelsea and Leicester, both away) and then a home encounter with Forest in GW30. Watkins is the second-most transferred-in player overall for gameweek 28 and we would not be surprised to see him take the number-one spot before the Friday evening deadline.
The budget enabler
For blank gameweek 28, we have picked a true budget enabler, though Leon Bailey (£4.4m) does come with a disclaimer. As we discussed just above for Watkins, the short- and medium-term fixture list for Aston Villa looks very good on paper. If you’re not convinced by Watkins or perhaps don’t have the possibility to bring him in, Bailey might just be the more budget-friendly alternative for your squad. The Jamaica international is listed as midfielder in the official game, but deployed as a winger in real life by manager Unai Emery. He has not been overly productive this season, scoring 4 goals and providing 3 assists in twenty starts, but his upcoming home fixture against Bournemouth and his bargain price tag could make him the ideal budget enabler for your squad in blank gameweek 28 and beyond. The previously mentioned disclaimer though, is that Bailey looks to be a rotation risk. He was benched in two of the last five games and he came on as a substitute in both of those games for about twenty minutes each time. In the other games over that run, he did not make it past 63 minutes at most before being taken off by Emery. Then again, when you take a bigger sample, you see that Bailey started in nine of the eleven games since the return of the Prem after the World Cup. In other words, the interpretation of the data is up to you, but there is no doubt that Bailey represents serious differential potential for BGW28 and beyond.
A bit earlier, we wrote about the possibility of Ollie Watkins becoming the most transferred-in player ahead of blank gameweek 28. For that to happen, the forward will need to surpass Ben Chilwell (£5.9m), who occupied the top spot at the moment of writing. To say Chelsea have been disappointing so far this season is an understatement (just check their current rank in the Premier League) , but defensively, they have actually performed alright. More than alright even, as only Newcastle, Man City and Arsenal have conceded less than their 26 goals in 26 league games. For blank gameweek, the Blues are hosting Everton and considering Chilwell’s stand-out performances over the last two gameweeks, it’s not a major surprise to see him being transferred in by so many FPL managers. The left-wingback has started each of the last five league games for Chelsea and provided attacking returns in his last two games: 10 FPL points in GW26, courtesy of a clean sheet and an assist against Leeds at home, and 8 FPL points last weekend, thanks to his goal at the King Power Stadium. With opponents Everton the joint-lowest-scoring team in the league up until now (20 goals in 26 games, like Southampton and Wolves), Chilwell offers potential returns at both ends of the pitch in a heavily diluted gameweek.
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Despite six teams blanking, including Liverpool and the two sides from Manchester, blank gameweek is still offering a few very good candidates for the captaincy. We were doubting between Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka and Tottenham’s Harry Kane, and we went with the latter in the end. Where Saka has been a bit underwhelming fantasy-wise in the last few weeks, Kane has kept on firing, scoring 5 goals and giving 1 assist since gameweek 21. Tottenham’s Very Own is our captain for his visit to Saint Mary’s this weekend.
The previously mentioned Saka is an excellent alternative to Kane, as his Gunner team mates Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Martinelli for their home game versus Leeds. Elsewhere, there is Ollie Watkins at home against Bournemouth, while Kieran Trippier could handsomely reward his owners for the visit to Nottingham Forest as well. Very much more differential captaincy picks include Kai Havertz at home to Everton and Ivan Toney at home to Leicester.