Friday 9/30/16 (Noon PT)
Everton vs. Crystal Palace (4)
Everton’s fantastic form came to a screeching halt last week when the Toffees followed a League Cup loss to Norwich with a Premier League one to Bournemouth, and they’ll need to rebound this week against a surging Palace side. The Eagles enter on a three-game league winning streak, and it looks as if Alan Pardew is finally getting his side on track after nine poor months. Though the season is young, these sides are both sitting in the top seven, and that
Saturday 10/1/16 (4:30 AM PT)
Swansea vs. Liverpool (2)
Liverpool’s early season defensive woes seem to have been quelled, and that could make this fixture even more difficult for a Swansea side that has struggled to score this season. The Swans have tallied just five goals in their opening six matches, and while their defense hasn’t been half bad, their offense needs to show up if they are to get points Saturday at the Liberty Stadium. Liverpool should be a bit wary because the Swans are in the middle of a tough stretch ( their last three PL fixtures have been against Leicester, Chelsea, and Man City, and their next one is against Arsenal), so they could be primed to stun a powerhouse club.
(7:00 AM PT)
West Ham vs. Middlesbrough (1)
Boro have just one point in their last four games, and West Ham have just three all season, so there aren’t many positives for either side coming into their fixture at the London Stadium. The Hammers’ defense has allowed a league-worst 16 goals, and they have a league-worst minus-11 goal differential. However, West Ham still possesses a deadly offense, and if their leaky defense shows up again, Boro could get forward and turn the game into an end-to-end affair. That could make the fixture exciting, but that doesn’t mean it will be a well-played one.
Hull City vs. Chelsea (3)
Both of these sides have gone through a little bit of an roller-coaster ride so far this season. Each has had a couple of big wins and a recent blowout loss, and while the Blues are certainly favorites this weekend, the fluctuating form of the teams makes the match slightly more intriguing than normal. The key could be whichever’s playing style wins out, as Hull’s more open system will clash with Antonio Conte’s classic Italian defensive tactics.
Sitting in last place with just one point, the Black Cats are desperate for a win, but that may not come easy this weekend against a tricky West Brom side. All but one of the Baggies’ games this year (the exception a 4-2 win over West Ham) have been decided by one goal or fewer, and they have certainly made life difficult for their opponents. It’s fixtures like these that will determine if West Brom are on the better side of the table when the season winds down, as it is critical they capitalize against weaker sides. Meanwhile, for Sunderland, this is another test to see if they can eke out a solid result in a tight fixture, something they have struggled to do all year.
Watford vs. Bournemouth (2)
Two sides that impressed last season after being promoted meet in what should be an interesting clash at Vicarage Road. Both sit on seven points and have won two of their past three games, so something has to give. It’s tough to give either a big upper hand, but there are a few stats that skew towards the Hornets. The Cherries have scored just four goals in six games, compared to Watford’s 10, and they have just one point away from home. Thus, it’s hard to pick against Watford, although this game could end up being something of a snoozer, and it could easily go either way.
Sunday 10/2/16 (4:00 AM PT)
Manchester United vs. Stoke (3)
United got back to winning ways last weekend against Leicester, while Stoke were moments away from their first win of the season before a late West Brom equalizer. Still, they’ll take a bit of confidence with them after their first point since the opening day. It’s a huge ask for the Potters to follow that up with another positive result at Old Trafford, but that could work out well, as they’ll have very little pressure on them against a heavily favored United. That said, the Red Devils have a frightening array of talent that should give Stoke’s shaky defense a lot of problems, and while there could be some exciting attacking play in this one, the result likely won’t be in much doubt.
(6:15 AM PT)
Tottenham vs. Manchester City (5)
This has the makings of one of the games of the season. Not only is it a matchup of the first- and second-place sides through six games, it pits Spurs’ stingy defense against City’s dynamic attack. Last year, Tottenham got the better of the Citizens twice, beating them 4-1 at White Hart Lane at the same spot in the season (matchday seven) and 2-1 at the Etihad in February. Each team is at less than full strength, as
Leicester vs. Southampton (3)
Unfortunately, this game will take a backseat to the other with the same start time, but it should be a solid match as well. Both sides have been slightly off in the early going, as each has just two wins from six games. It feels a little more important for Leicester, as they have followed their title win with a trio of losses so far, with their back line struggling noticeably. They do have two wins and a draw in three home games, but Southampton won their last away match 3-0. The Saints aren’t going to have a lot of pressure on them against the defending champs, and that could play a helpful part in them earning a result.
(8:30 AM PT)
Burnley vs. Arsenal (3)
In a weird schedule quirk, this will be Burnley’s fifth home match in their first seven games. They’ve done well to earn seven points from their first four at Turf Moor, but that schedule means they’ll be loaded with tough road games at the back end of the campaign. That makes it imperative for the Clarets to get wins in these early home contests, and while they did so against a Liverpool side that entered after a tremendous result earlier in the season, it’ll be tough to repeat that success against Arsenal. The Gunners have been absolutely on fire over the past fortnight, with 13 goals scored, one conceded, and four wins from four in all competitions in the last two weeks. They’ll be favorites to continue that run on Sunday, but don’t sleep on a Burnley side that already showed it can hang with some of the league’s best teams.
Bonus European Game of the Week 10/1/16 (9:30 AM PT)
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Borussia Dortmund
Each of these clubs comes into this game needing points for different reasons. Leverkusen are sitting on an average 2-1-2 start and need a big win, or at least a good result, to reaffirm the belief that they can challenge the big boys of the league. Meanwhile, Dortmund have already slipped up once this season in an early loss to RB Leipzig, and as ridiculous as it sounds, they do not want to let Bayern Munich open up a six-point lead, as it could be one that they never lose. The fixture could also have an extra twist in it with both sides coming off of difficult midweek Champions League draws, and a fatigue factor could provide a bit of sloppiness, especially late, which could potentially lead to some fireworks.