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Player Analysis

Late Fitness Check - Match Week 28

by Neal Thurman
Updated On: March 17, 2021, 10:02 am ET

I’m not sure if we know how to handle this. Week 28 is going to be a traditional Premier League match week. Every team plays once, no one plays more than once. All of the matches in the match week will happen between Friday and Monday. Okay, I guess it isn’t fully “traditional” with the presence of Friday and Monday matches but these days this is about as close as we get.


As you look to make your final tweaks headed into the weekend, here is the latest injury reporting as well as accompanying fantasy analysis.


Newcastle vs Aston Villa

The Magpies are still missing the attacking troika of Callum Wilson, Alain Saint-Maximin, and Miguel Almirón. Their replacements haven’t inspired much in the way of confidence so the play here is the Aston Villa defense. With Matty Cash is fit again and should be an attractive proposition in daily fantasy or as a stop-gap in draft formats if he’s available.


Unfortunately, Jack Grealish remains out so the Villa attack will likely continue to struggle as well. The Villains have only scored three goals in their past six matches despite modest competition across those fixtures. El Ghazi and Traore will likely continue to feature alongside Ollie Watkins and could offer stop-gap fantasy value given Newcastle’s struggles (10 goals conceded in their last six matches).


Leeds United vs Chelsea

Not much to report injury-wise here. Robin Koch is getting closer to a return for Leeds but won’t be ready for the visit of the Blues. For Chelsea, Tammy Abraham and Thiago Silva both remain out. Nothing interesting from Thomas Tuchel’s news conference about potential rotation so fantasy managers, especially those with Chelsea outside backs and wide attackers, will have to wait to see if their players play.

Crystal Palace vs West Bromwich Alboin

Wilfried Zaha is likely to start for the Eagles at Selhurst Park after just over a month out with a hamstring injury. Beyond Zaha’s return, there isn’t much news of note on the Crystal Palace side of this one. The Baggies may get Grady Diangana back from illness but may be without fellow winger Robert Snodgrass who picked up an injury in training this week. Neither are of great fantasy value even if fully healthy and certain to start but the uncertainty puts both of them firmly in the category of being unworthy of fantasy consideration for this weekend.


Everton vs Burnley

Everton will be without do-everything midfielder Abdoulaye Doucouré for up to 10 weeks after he suffered a fracture in his foot during the win over West Brom last weekend. To make matters worse in the center of the park, James Rodriguez is still out and Gylfi Sigurdsson is doubtful. The good news is that Tom Davies could be ready to return to deputize along with Seamus Coleman and Yerry Mina.


As for the Clarets, Charlie Taylor, Robbie Brady, Jack Cork, and Ashley Barnes are all out. While none of them are big names, Sean Dyche’s small squad means that any absences will be felt when it comes to crucial depth as the season wears on.


Fulham vs. Manchester City

Not much injury news to report here. Fulham are almost entirely healthy with Tom Cairney still out but back in training. Manchester City are also almost entirely healthy and highly likely to play musical chairs again with starting spots. Pep Guardiola certainly didn’t telegraph who was going to start but he’s been pretty consistent with his inconsistency recently which should see John Stones and Joao Cancelo return along with Raheem Sterling. Whether Sergio Agüero is risked for what should be a fairly straight-forward win remains to be seen.


Southampton vs Brighton

Some significant absences in this one with Danny Ings missing for the hosts while Tariq Lamptey and Aaron Connolly will be missing for the visitors. Adam Lallana is likely to deputize for Connolly for a second consecutive week coming off of his goal in a losing cause against Leicester City last weekend.

The only questionable player beyond the three definite absentees is Moussa Djenepo who will faces a late fitness check ahead of the Sunday fixture. Nathan Tella was the choice to replace Djenepo in mid-week when he came off and he would hold some value if we knew more about Djenepo’s likelihood of playing. As it stands, he’s worth monitoring in leagues where you can make changes up until a team’s match starts.


Leicester City vs Sheffield United

Perhaps the biggest news ahead of this one is that Chris Wilder has left the club. Having walked the tightrope last season the manager faced significant injuries this season with John Egan, Chris Basham, Jack Robinson, Jack O’Connell, and Sander Berge having missed significant time. At least Phil Jagielka will return this weekend after serving a suspension. Still, there just isn’t much hope for the Blades based on the quality and quantity available to them in their squad.

To make matters worse, Leicester City are getting some reinforcements back for the match. James Maddison and Harvey Barnes are both still out but Jonny Evans, Ayoze Pérez, and Dennis Praet are all expected to be available. Given the injuries to Maddison and Barnes, it wouldn’t be a shock to see one or both of Perez and Praet get a start on Sunday.


Arsenal vs Tottenham

Harry Kane is the only worry on either side of the North London derby. Kane was substituted during the Europa League win over Dinamo Zagreb but is expected to be fit to face his favorite opponents. The home side is, somehow, fully fit for crucial matches in March. It isn’t clear what sort of sorcery this is. Arsenal haven’t removed the crippling mistake from their game yet but so far they have managed to avoid the plague of injuries that has befallen them in most seasons. Emile Smith-Rowe had been out injured but he returned for a substitute appearance in mid-week and should be ready to go if Mikel Arteta calls on him to face Spurs on Sunday.


Manchester United vs West Ham United

Loan star Jesse Lingard is ineligible to face parent club Manchester United which is, perhaps the only way to defend the midfielder who has been on fire since his arrival at the London Stadium. The visitors will also be without Angelo Ogbonna with Arthur Masuaku, Ryan Fredericks, and Andriy Yarmolenko all up in the air with 48 hours to go before kick-off.

The Red Devils will be glad that they don’t have to face Lingard because they will be without significant firepower for the match-up. Anthony Martial (hip), Marcus Rashford, and Edinson Cavani are all expected to miss the match. This could mean that Mason Greenwood, Daniel James, and mid-week goal-scorer Amad Diallo could feature in the attack in front of Bruno Fernandes.


Wolves vs Liverpool

Roberto Firmino faces a race to be fit ahead of the Monday trip to Wolverhampton. The Brazilian forward has a knee injury that kept him out last weekend and he has yet to be cleared to return. If he misses out then former Wolves attacker Diogo Jota might get a second consecutive start.

One of Jota’s replacements, Daniel Podence is hoping for a return but there is no word on whether it will happen this week or not. Given that Podence has been out for more than a month, I would expect that the answer will be “no” and that Adama Traoré and Pedro Neto will continue to start in the wide attacking spots.


Enjoy the week and remember to stay tuned to NBC Sports EDGE for up-to-date injury and performance news as it happens.

Neal Thurman

Neal Thurman manages the NBC Sports Edge's Premier League coverage and contributes to Never Manage Alone which he co-founded. He is also a diehard Arsenal supporter. You can find him on Twitter @NealJThurman.