EPL Predictions: Picks, Top Players for Week 28 Premier League Fixtures

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 19, 2018

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 05: A fan wearing a scarf with the faces of Antonio Conte manager / head coach of Chelsea and Jose Mourinho the head coach / manager of Manchester United before the Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on November 5, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)
Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

Given their recent war of words, there will be a lot of focus on Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho and Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte on Sunday when their teams meet at Old Trafford. 

So much so that some of the players involved, who are among the best in the Premier League, may be a little overshadowed in the buildup to what is a massive encounter in the battle for a UEFA Champions League spot.

With that in mind, here's a look at a couple of players with the potential to swing the match in the favour of their respective sides. Beforehand, here are the Week 28 fixtures in full and a prediction for each game.

        

Week 28 Premier League Fixtures

Saturday, February 24

12:30 p.m. Leicester City vs. Stoke City (2-1)

3 p.m. West Bromwich Albion vs. Huddersfield Town (1-0)

3 p.m. Bournemouth vs. Newcastle United ((3-1)

3 p.m. Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Swansea City (1-1)

3 p.m. Burnley vs. Southampton (2-1)

3 p.m. Liverpool vs. West Ham United (3-0)

5:30 p.m. Watford vs. Everton (1-1)

       

Sunday, February 25

12 p.m. Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham Hotspur (0-2)

2:05 p.m. Manchester United vs. Chelsea (2-1)

          

Selected Players

Romelu Lukaku, Manchester United

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03: Romelu Lukaku of Manchester United  during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Huddersfield Town at Old Trafford on February 3, 2018 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Ima
Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Overall, Romelu Lukaku's debut season at Manchester United has been a difficult one to evaluate, with the Belgium international enduring a number of fluctuations in form.

After a blistering start and a midseason lull, Lukaku has been ticking along nicely in terms of goalscoring as of late. And crucially, the forward has started to improve other facets of his gamehe was United's main threat when the team lost to Newcastle United in their last Premier League outing.

As noted by journalist Liam Canning, the former Everton man has become much more resourceful in the way he uses the ball:

With his back to goal, Lukaku's control is more refined, his movement is more effective and his delivery from wide areas is also dangerous.

Lukaku should be desperate to impress against his former club.
Lukaku should be desperate to impress against his former club.GLYN KIRK/Getty Images

Still, United paid big money to bring him in ahead of this season to make a big impact in the key games, something Lukaku has yet to do since arriving at Old Trafford. As of yet, he's failed to net in any of the matches against Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Arsenal.

There should be a determination driving the former Stamford Bridge man in this fixture, especially after United pipped Chelsea to his signature ahead of this season.

Not only will Lukaku need to provide an authoritative focal point up top, if chances do drop to him, it's imperative he begins to affect these massive matches.

       

Eden Hazard, Chelsea

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 24: Eden Hazard of Chelsea celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 0-1 during the Carabao Cup Semi-Final Second Leg match between Arsenal and Chelsea at The Emirates Stadium on January 24, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Ma
Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

The major threat for United will be Lukaku's Belgium team-mate, Eden Hazard, who has rediscovered his best form in recent weeks.

While Chelsea haven't been consistent at the start of 2018, there aren't many players who have been more prolific than the Chelsea No. 10 this year, as noted by Kristof Terreur of Het Laatste Nieuws:

Hazard was at his best again in the Blues' last Premier League outing, as they eventually overcame West Bromwich Albion 3-0 at Stamford Bridge. He netted twice on the night.

It will be intriguing to see how he fares at Old Trafford on Sunday, as last season his mercurial influence was snuffed out. Mourinho detailed Ander Herrera to do a man-marking job on Hazard, and the United man carried out the duty to great effect.

Herrera man-marked Hazard in this fixture last season.
Herrera man-marked Hazard in this fixture last season.OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

If the same tactics are utilised, Hazard will need to do more to shake off the attention of any United player. But he's been clinical with his opportunities in the Premier League lately, as these numbers from Sky Sports Statto show:

There have been times this season when Chelsea have been too dependent on their star forward, and when he's not been at his best, or been well shackled, their attacking play has suffered.

Whether it's a man-marking job, some rough treatment or a different type of tactical nuance, Mourinho will have a plan for Hazard. For Chelsea, it's crucial their star man can find a way to have his say in the game.

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