Saturday 12/10/16 (4:30 AM PT)
Watford vs. Everton (3)
They have been playing some tough teams lately, but Everton are on a run of bad form to say the least, as the Toffees enter with just two points in their last four matches. Watford, meanwhile, haven’t been much better, stumbling in on the back of losses to Stoke and West Brom. Given each team's struggles, the points are well up for grabs, and both could desperately use them to vault their way a few spots up the table.
Swansea vs. Sunderland (1)
It’s hard to think of a match in this league with fewer redeeming qualities at the moment than this one, but there is still plenty to play for in Wales this weekend. A win for either team would most likely take it close to or all the way out of the relegation zone for the time being, which could certainly go a long way as the busy stretch approaches. It isn’t worth tuning into given the season still hasn’t reached its halfway point, but each side knows that a fixture like this is a massive opportunity to nab the points that may just save their skins come May.
Burnley vs. Bournemouth (2)
A little further up the table, Burnley were looking like they would avoid the relegation scrap this year, but after being outscored 8-1 in their last three fixtures, the Clarets have slowly been pulled back down. They still have a buffer zone, but nothing will come easy this weekend as they host a Cherries side which is coming off a massive 4-3 come-from-behind win over Liverpool last weekend. If Bournemouth can find half that form for the rest of the year, they will be well suited to stay in the middle of the table, and while that isn’t any great prize, it would certainly qualify as a good year for the Cherries.
Arsenal vs. Stoke (4)
Arsenal have been flying lately, with big wins in their last two games and a Premier League unbeaten run that still stretches back to the opening day. Their fantastic form has rightfully boosted the Gunners to second in the table, and while they are pipped for another three points this weekend, Stoke will present a quality challenge. The Potters have been the league's streakiest team so far this season, with recent unbeaten runs cancelling out an early run of defeats, but as of now, they are riding high with only one loss in their last nine games (and 15 points in their last seven). It is certainly the best fixture in the timeslot and well worth waking up for Saturday morning.
Hull vs. Crystal Palace (1)
Palace finally got off the schneid last week by beating Southampton, but this week still presents a massive opportunity for Hull to get a big three points against a skidding Eagles team. The Tigers haven’t been great recently, but do have four points in their last four games, the kind of form that could certainly take them out of the danger zone if it continues. It remains to be seen if that does happen, but playing at home this weekend, they will feel that the points are there for the taking, and they undoubtedly are.
(9:30 AM PT)
Leicester City vs. Manchester City (4)
While it’s not the same top-of-the-table clash it was last season, this is nonetheless a big game for both of these teams. With Leicester struggling to get their feet under them in Premier League play, the Foxes need to start winning games if they want to pull away from the relegation battle. It won’t be easy to start that run against City, but Pep Guardiola’s side will be without Sergio Augero and Fernandinho as the pair begin suspensions for their actions in last weekend’s loss to Chelsea, so the door is open for Leicester. Either way, both of these sides need a win to get on track, and this would be a big one for either. With the late kickoff time, it’s a great Saturday watch.
Chelsea vs. West Brom (4)
Few are surprised by Chelsea’s early-season form, and they’ll be heavy favorites at Stamford Bridge to get all three points against West Brom. But the Baggies are not slouches right now. Tony Pulis has his team on an outstanding run with 10 points from its last four games, and West Brom are playing some excellent football of late. Chelsea are a different animal, but Pulis is quite adept at finding a way to get a result against tough teams, so sleeping on the Baggies would be a mistake for Antonio Conte’s men.
(6:15 AM PT)
Southampton vs. Middlesbrough (2)
This game gets dinged a bit by those around it, but it’s an intriguing matchup nonetheless. Both of these teams rely on their defenses to earn points, which could lead to a tight affair at St. Mary’s. While they sit next to each other in the table (interestingly with the same number of goals scored and conceded), Southampton have a higher ceiling and will consider themselves favorites. Expect Boro to pack things in and try to play compact, counter-attacking football as they search for a point against a Saints team with more quality.
Manchester United vs. Tottenham (5)
Both of these sides have struggled at times over the first few months of the season, and each will feel like a win at Old Trafford could jumpstart the campaign. United are trapped in a string of 1-1 draws, with three straight PL matches finishing with that scoreline. Considering that Spurs are tied with the Red Devils (and Middlesbrough) for most ties in the league with six, this could easily end up going down that same route. However, Spurs have won their last two games in impressive fashion, and with Toby Alderweireld set to return to the starting lineup, they’ll get a big boost
(8:30 AM PT)
Liverpool vs. West Ham (3)
In past years, these teams have played some outstanding games, but that doesn’t necessarily look to be on the cards again for Sunday. Simply put, West Ham are in dire form after a crushing 5-1 defeat to Arsenal, and they are hovering just a point above the drop zone at the moment. Liverpool are coming off just their second loss of the season, but the high-flying Reds have still scored 15 goals in their last five games. Liverpool will be big favorites, especially considering West Ham’s defensive frailties. The Hammers did pull out a surprising 3-0 win at Anfield last season, but their miserable campaign thus far makes a repeat performance seem unlikely.
Bonus non-European Game of the Week: MLS Cup Final, Toronto FC vs Seattle Sounders, Saturday 12/10/16, 5 p.m.
It is very rare that the MLS gets a shoutout on this site, but heading into the league’s final on Saturday, there has rarely ever been a game with such high stakes. Neither Toronto nor Seattle has ever captured the crown jewel of the MLS, although both have had chances in the past, so one much-maligned fanbase will finally reach the pinnacle. Toronto has a slight advantage as, due to having a better regular season record, they will get to host the fixture. But the Sounders have overcome a lot to get to the championship game, including a coaching change, a health issue that’s kept captain Clint Dempsey out for the past few months, and facing the top two seeds in the West so far in the postseason. Seattle has netted eight times in its last five games, and while that is a solid total for the playoffs, Toronto has an unreal 17 goals over the same stretch, so even though nerves will be high, expect a lot of offense in what promises to be an exciting one for all involved.