Saturday 4/29/17 (7 AM PT)
West Brom vs. Leicester City (2)
Since their late-season resurgence after the dismissal of Claudio Ranieri, Leicester have cooled off a bit and are now sitting only six points above the relegation zone. They should be safe regardless, but a win here would all but confirm their place in the Premier League next year. West Brom, meanwhile, have nothing to play for at all and are ripe for the taking, but they’re cold at the moment with three draws, a loss, and no goals scored in their last four games. It’s not a
Southampton vs. Hull City (2)
Southampton are also playing for final placing only, but Hull City have plenty on the line this weekend as they sit just two points above the relegation zone. The Tigers have been toeing the line all year, and this would be an unfortunate time to fall back into the bottom three. Expect a dogged effort from Hull, who desperately need points, although Southampton still have an edge in overall quality.
Stoke City vs. West Ham (2)
Stoke are ice cold at the moment, with just three points in their last six fixtures, which came by way of a win over lowly Hull. They are playing one of the most inconsistent teams in the league, however, in West Ham, who are actually riding a good run of form which has seen them shore up their leaky defense. Again, there is little to play for besides pride here, but the Hammers would like another three points to ease their slight relegation fears, as they are only seven points above the drop zone.
Sunderland vs. Bournemouth (2)
The Black Cats are almost surely taking the drop, and a loss this weekend combined with any point from Hull would confirm it. Unless they win at least four out of their last five, though, they’ll fall down regardless, so this matchup is essentially nothing short of academic. Nothing much is going to change their sad fate, but once in awhile, teams have put up great displays with their backs against the wall. Bournemouth are coming off a big win against Boro but are certainly there for the taking should the Black Cats unexpectedly find their stride.
Crystal Palace vs. Burnley (2)
Burnley are another one of the sides just safe enough for the moment (five points clear of the bottom three), but they could easily drop back into the relegation race at the bitter end if they lose focus. Palace, meanwhile, are just about safe after defeating some top competition, and even though they lost to Spurs midweek, the Eagles are still red hot and not to be taken lightly. An in-form Christian Benteke can cause nightmares for defenses, so expect his involvement one way or another to go a long way in deciding this one.
Sunday 4/30/17 (4 AM PT)
Manchester United vs. Swansea City (4)
After United’s scoreless derby draw with Man City on Thursday, the Red Devils are behind the eight ball. They missed their opportunity to jump over City and now must count on other teams to take points off the Citizens if they’re to jump into the top four. At home against sputtering Swansea, United will be confident of getting all three points, but the Swans won’t make things easy. Swansea will be fresh with eight days between their 2-0 win over Stoke and their trip to Old Trafford, and they’re desperate for points, so expect a spirited performance from the Welsh side in a game where little is expected of them.
(6:05 AM PT)
Middlesbrough vs. Manchester City (3)
City remain in the top four by a point after drawing United, and they too will face a desperate side this weekend at the Riverside Stadium against Middlesbrough. The difference is that Boro look doomed to take the drop, compared to a Swansea squad still scrapping for its Premier League life. Boro picked up some crucial momentum with a 1-0 win over Sunderland in the midweek, but their first PL win since December 17 almost definitely came too late to salvage their top-flight status. City will be under pressure to get a result, and Boro will undoubtedly try to defend deep, which may make things tough on the Citizens, but there’s probably only one winner here.
Everton vs. Chelsea (4)
In the last four PL meetings between these sides, there have been a combined total of 24 goals scored, and there’s every reason to believe that another high-scoring clash will unfold at Goodison Park. Everton will be well and truly up for a shot at the league leaders, and they’ll be both rested after a full week off and eager to put last weekend’s poor performance in a scoreless draw with West Ham out of mind. Of course, motivation alone isn’t enough to beat the Blues, who had some problems in Tuesday’s 4-2 win over Southampton but remained clear of Tottenham atop the table with the victory. There will be plenty of pressure on Chelsea in this one, and the Toffees will certainly be able to provide a stern test for the Blues. That said, this is the toughest game remaining on Chelsea’s charge to the title, and a win would be a significant step towards the trophy.
(8:30 AM PT)
Tottenham vs. Arsenal (5)
The last time Tottenham finished above their North London nemeses in the Premier League, Arsene Wenger was still managing Monaco, and Mauricio Pochettino was 22 and had just signed with Espanyol. A win for Spurs in the final derby at White Hart Lane on Sunday would confirm that there will be no St. Totteringham’s Day in 2017. Truthfully, on form, it looks extremely likely to happen; Arsenal have been on a mediocre run since the end of January, while Spurs have won eight consecutive league games after their
Monday 5/1/17 (12 PM PT)
Watford vs. Liverpool (3)
Watford are safe with 40 points, so they hypothetically don’t have anything to play for, but revenge could certainly be a factor at Vicarage Road. The Reds beat the Hornets 6-1 when the teams met in November, so Watford would love to punctuate their successful season by putting a dent in Liverpool’s Champions League hopes. Jurgen Klopp’s side benefitted massively from the Manchester Derby ending in a draw, but they could still sit behind both City and United by the time they kick off Monday. If that happens, the Reds will feel the pressure, and while they will be the favorites to get three points, they could be ripe for a surprise against a Watford team with plenty of talent.
Bonus European Game of the Week: CSKA Moscow vs. Spartak Moscow, Sunday 4/30/17, 7 AM PT
This Moscow derby will either throw the Russian Premier League title race into chaos or end it entirely. With five games to play, Spartak lead second-place CSKA by seven points, meaning a home win would close the gap to four points. A CSKA loss, however, would possibly allow third-place Zenit St. Petersburg to jump into Russia’s second UCL position. Spartak have shown a few signs of weakness in recent weeks, so they may be feeling the pressure of the race as they try to secure their first league title since 2001. With the rivalry aspect on display as well, this game could prove to be a thriller between two very good sides with Champions League aspirations.