Saturday 11/4/17 (5:30 AM PT)
Stoke vs. Leicester (2)
Both of these teams are starting to trend up in the hopes of a charge up the table. Since the departure of Craig Shakespeare, Leicester have put together consecutive Premier League wins over Everton and Swansea, and with Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez finding their form, the Foxes have every reason to believe they’ll continue to improve. Meanwhile, Stoke have struggled for much of the season under Mark
(8 AM PT)
Southampton vs. Burnley (2)
Thanks to Burnley’s red-hot start and Southampton’s solid one, this is a top-half clash between a pair of sides hoping to remain in the EPL’s top 10. The Clarets have undeniably been the headline-makers so far this season, and that’s been due to their superb road form. They’ve faced four of the top six (and Everton) on their travels and come away with five points, and they’ll like their chances of continuing that run at the St. Mary’s Stadium. Saints have been right in the middle of the pack so far in most respects, and that’s reflected in their league position. However, these teams are smart, stingy ones who don’t concede easy goals, and while that could lead to a tense match, it probably won’t be a wide-open contest on the south coast.
Newcastle vs. Bournemouth (1)
With a strong start to the season behind them, Newcastle have settled back into top-flight life nicely and will look to keep rolling against struggling Bournemouth. While the Magpies have been strong at both ends of the pitch, the Cherries have been porous both in attack and defense. This would be a great time for Bournemouth to get back on track, and they’re certainly capable of doing so. That said, Newcastle’s form and home-field advantage makes them big favorites.
Huddersfield vs. West Brom (1)
In another game that’s light on attacking talent, Huddersfield hosts a scuffling Baggies squad at John Smith’s Stadium. The Terriers clearly have a ton of belief in David Wagner’s message, and while it doesn’t always help against the bigger sides (see last weekend’s 3-0 loss to Liverpool), that can carry them to wins when matching up with bottom-half clubs. At home against a West Brom team that’s winless in eight league games, Huddersfield will be awfully optimistic of keeping their early momentum going. Again, though, that doesn’t mean there will be too many goals in this one.
Swansea vs. Brighton (2)
Like their newly promoted brethren from Huddersfield and Newcastle, Brighton have been a pleasant surprise in the first few months of the season. That’s especially been true over the past month, as the Seagulls have two wins and two draws in their last five games. They won their last away game 3-0 over West Ham, and against another struggling side in Swansea, they’ll back themselves to grab three more points. The Swans need to start creating chances if they’re going to turn things around and move away from the relegation race, and they’d really like to start doing so this weekend in a winnable, albeit a little tricky, contest at the Liberty Stadium.
West Ham vs. Liverpool (2)
If Slaven Bilic wants a chance to save his job, getting a point (or, better yet, three) against Liverpool would be a huge step in the right direction. The Hammers have been disastrous this season, with just a single win in their last six games and only two on the season. Liverpool haven’t been at their tip-top form domestically either, with just one win in their last four, coming last weekend against Huddersfield. Still, the Reds should be able to completely outclass the Hammers, and even on the road, they’ll likely take them game to West Ham.
Tottenham vs. Crystal Palace (2)
It’s a London derby, but besides that mild amount of intrigue, this match doesn’t bring too much to the table. Tottenham are on fire at the moment after their huge win over Real Madrid, while Palace couldn’t be further from that, with just four points on the season. The Eagles have shown signs of improvement (all four of those points have come in the last three games), but they don’t seem to stand much of a chance against rapidly rising Tottenham. Spurs will have to deal with some squad rotation after their midweek clash, but they should still be able to pull out the points with ease.
(6:15 AM PT)
Manchester City vs. Arsenal (5)
Can anybody stop Manchester City? The Citizens have gone out and pounded their opponents since the first game of the season and don’t look to be letting up. Arsenal, however, love to posses the ball, and if they can do so for lengthy periods of time, it could throw off City’s rhythm and slow down their dynamite attack. That would certainly play into the hands of the visitors, who will also need to be clinical in front of goal to have any chance of stealing a point.
(8:30 AM PT)
Everton vs. Watford (3)
Watford were riding high, but back-to-back losses have hampered expectations at Vicarage Road. This weekend, however, presents a golden opportunity to get back on track against a languishing Everton side. The Toffees have been all over the place this year but have six of their eight points at home, so they aren’t by any means a pushover at Goodison Park. Though it’s not as fascinating as the match below, with two leaky defenses, this one could feature a spectacle of goals — if the attacks can take advantage of their chances.
Chelsea vs. Manchester United (5)
The weekend concludes with an absolute cracker and a critical matchup for current top-four placement as fourth-placed Chelsea host Manchester United. The Red Devils gained some ground on the pack by beating Spurs last week, and after another big Champions League win, they will like their odds of nabbing another result, even on the road. Chelsea, meanwhile, are coming off a tough loss to Roma in the midweek and need the points to keep themselves in touch with the race for second. That will put the pressure on Antonio Conte’s side, which will feed into Jose Mourinho’s plan as he returns to Stamford Bridge.
Bonus European Game of the Week: Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayern Munich, Saturday 11/4/17, 10:30 AM PT
Once again, the game of the weekend features two of Germany’s top three doing battle. Both Dortmund and Bayern have hit bumps in the road recently, but in the Bundesliga, they remain the top dogs. After their impressive start, Dortmund have just one point in their last three games, and that’s allowed Bayern to shoot past them into the top spot in the table. Dortmund can pull back even with a win this weekend at the Signal Iduna Park, and in front of their fervent fans, they’ll expect to put in a performance that warrants one. However, Bayern have returned to winning ways under Jupp Heynckes, and after a big win last weekend against RB Leipzig, the Bavarians should be considered favorites against anyone. In Germany, Der Klassiker generally goes a long way towards determining the title; it’s early still, but this looks like no exception.