Manchester City vs. Everton (4:30 AM PT, NBCSN)
Tottenham vs. Burnley (7:00 AM PT, NBCSN)
Wolves vs. Bournemouth (7:00 AM PT, NBC Sports Gold)
Huddersfield vs. Newcastle (7:00 AM PT, NBC Sports Gold)
Crystal Palace vs. Leicester (7:00 AM PT, NBC Sports Gold)
Watford vs. Cardiff City (7:00 AM PT, NBC Sports Gold)
Fulham vs. West Ham (9:30 AM PT, NBC)
Brighton vs. Chelsea (5:30 AM PT, NBCSN)
Southampton vs. Arsenal (5:30 AM PT, NBC Sports Gold)
Liverpool vs. Manchester United (8:00 AM PT, NBCSN)
Top Three Games
3. Wolves vs. Bournemouth
When it comes to finishing in the top half, games like these provide a major boost. Both Bournemouth and Wolves currently sit in the top 10, and both have shown this year the ability to stay clear of the relegation battle. Now, the story is about how the best of the rest gets figured out, and each has a good claim to be just that. Despite sitting in eighth, the Cherries are on a miserable run of form with five losses in their last six trips out, albeit against some pretty stout competition. Wolves, too, were slumping, but back-to-back wins have Nuno Espirito Santo’s
2. Manchester City vs. Everton
After suffering their first league loss of the season last weekend at Stamford Bridge, Pep Guardiola and Manchester City will be eager to get back to winning ways at home Saturday against Everton. However, it won’t be simple. The Toffees are on a solid run of form which includes five wins and just two losses in their past 10 games, and with the likes of Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson pulling the strings in the attack, they’re capable of scoring on anyone, including City. They’ve also got some history on their side, as Everton have earned draws on each of their past three league visits to the Etihad. City will be confident that they can put that trend to bed, but they’ll need to be sharp nonetheless in order to avoid a second straight sting in the tail. This could be much tighter than most expect.
1. Liverpool vs. Manchester United
It’s really time for Jose Mourinho and Manchester United to step up, and what a chance they get to do so this weekend against the new leaders. In truth, however, no one really expects them to get the job done at Anfield, and the storyline is probably pretty clearly cut: Mourinho’s defensive tactics against the Reds’ rampant offense. Expect waves of Liverpool attacks to be (hopefully for Mourinho) repelled by an organized, defensive side looking to counter attack for the majority of the 90 minutes. United will look to take the air out of the ball, and it’s hard to blame them given the team that will be on the other side of the ball. The Red Devils, however, are eight points adrift from Arsenal and losing touch with the top six fast. This could be a statement result in the making, but more realistically, it looks like another march on for Jurgen Klopp and his retrofitted Liverpool outfit coming off a massive midweek Champions League win over Napoli.
Huddersfield vs. Newcastle
It’s still too early to call any game a relegation six-pointer, but this one is close to meeting the criteria. Both the Terriers and the Magpies have been struggling for the majority of the year, but one decent run of form apiece has given supporters belief that survival is possible. But it’s a long ways off. Huddersfield have lost three straight since a modest three-game unbeaten run, and with the lowest-scoring attack in the league, they face a significant climb to springtime safety. Meanwhile, Newcastle are also scuffling in the final third with just 13 goals scored (Huddersfield are the only team with fewer), and they too are now winless in three after a three-game winning streak. The Magpies have actually accrued more away points than home ones this term, while Huddersfield are the worst home side in the league, so Newcastle won’t be too upset about having to travel for this one. Regardless of location, though, the three points that are up for grabs Saturday at the John Smith’s Stadium could prove critical to whoever is able to grab them come season’s end.
European Games of the Week
Hoffenheim vs. Borussia Monchengladbach (Saturday, 12/15/18, FOX Soccer Plus, 6:30 AM PT)
Through 14 Bundesliga matchdays, Borussia Monchengladbach are undeniably exceeding expectations, sitting in second place as the nearest challengers to Borussia Dortmund, albeit with a seven-point gap to close. The task could get more difficult this weekend if the Foals fail to win at Hoffenheim, who sit in seventh place but haven’t lost a league game since early October. Hoffenheim won’t
Istanbul Basaksehir vs. Galatasaray (Saturday, 12/15/18, 8:00 AM PT)
Istanbul Basaksehir have completely flipped the Turkish table and are set to break up the Galatasary, Fenerbahce, Besiktas stranglehold on the league. Just 28 years old, the upstart club has come agonizingly close to doing the deed each of the last two years, but a flying start to this campaign sees them sitting top by seven points, with two games to go before the halfway mark. However, all roads to the title go through those three teams (or, this year, two, with Fener wildly underperforming and shockingly sitting in the relegation zone), and Basaksehir will need to overcome a major hurdle this week in Galatasaray, who despite being tied for fourth, are only one point behind second and eight behind the leaders. A win for the visitors could shrink the hosts’ lead to four, but if Basaksehir can hold their ground, it would be a statement win on what could be the first title-winning season outside of Turkey’s big three since Bursaspor won in 2010 –– and to show just how rare that feat was, before that, it hadn’t happened since Trabzonspor won in 1984. Yes, it is just that hard to shakeup the big three in Turkey.