Saturday 12/16/17 (4:30 AM PT)
Leicester vs. Crystal Palace (3)
Two in-form teams that have turned around slow starts meet at the King Power Stadium for an intriguing contest to start off the weekend. Leicester will be heavy favorites, and with good reason; the Foxes have won four Premier League games in a row (and have scored 10 goals in those matches) to move into eighth place in the table. Palace are also hot with two wins and four draws comprising a six-game unbeaten run, and the dynamism of Wilfried Zaha
(7 AM PT)
Arsenal vs. Newcastle (2)
Likewise, Arsenal will expect three points in a home game against a Newcastle side that’s struggled on its travels. The Magpies’ last away win came on September 10 against Swansea, and their last win in any league match came on October 21 against Palace. They’ve now lost seven of eight EPL fixtures, and while Arsenal haven’t been great recently, Newcastle’s issues run deep. After a mini-stumble that’s seen them go winless in their last three EPL games, the Gunners should be able to get back on track without much fuss in front of their home supporters.
Watford vs. Huddersfield (3)
Despite beginning the season strong, both of these sides have fallen off in recent weeks, and that has turned their matchup at Vicarage Road into a vital one for each. Watford still reside in the top half in ninth place, but they’ve lost three of four and have lost the goalscoring touch that keyed their quick start. Meanwhile, Huddersfield are in 12th place, just four points behind Watford, but the Terriers have also been scuffling of late, losing five of their last six in the league. The home-field advantage favors Watford and probably makes the Hornets favorites, but they’ll be without the suspended Tom Cleverley and (likely) the injured Richarlison, which evens the playing field quite a bit.
Brighton vs. Burnley (3)
The relegation zone is beginning to beckon for Brighton. The Seagulls came out of the gates flying, but they’ve gone ice cold during a six-game EPL winless run that’s dropped them all the way down to 13th place, just three points above the drop zone. Their task this weekend is a sizable one as well, asBurnley are red-hot thanks to their highly regarded back line and have been one of the EPL’s best away sides this season. With the Clarets trending up and
Stoke vs. West Ham (3)
West Ham have finally gained some traction with David Moyes at the helm, and they’ll now look to move out of the relegation zone with a win at the bet365 Stadium. It’s still too early to say whether or not the Hammers have turned a corner under Moyes, but they have kept Chelsea and Arsenal scoreless while picking up four points in their last two games. Stoke’s defensive inadequacies will give West Ham belief, and the Potters’ poor form (four losses in five games) will only boost that. This is a relatively even matchup and a fantastic opportunity for West Ham to keep their momentum going in the right direction.
Chelsea vs. Southampton (2)
Southampton’s season so far has been full of fits and starts, and the Saints now have a tough task on their hands as they look to get back into the win column. While Southampton can take solace from the fact that their defense has kept them from slipping too far, the problems at the other end of the pitch are a serious concern. For Chelsea, attacking issues mixed with defensive strength has become a way of life, and so it is again this season. However, the Blues’ problems are much less serious than Southampton’s, and the fact that this game is at Stamford Bridge gives Chelsea a major edge heading in.
(9:30 AM PT)
Manchester City vs. Tottenham (5)
Last weekend’s win over Manchester United knocked down another significant hurdle in Manchester City’s way. Now, the Citizens face what could be their most difficult test yet, but it’ll only be that if Spurs are at their best. Tottenham have been struggling for the past few weeks, but they began to turn things around with a pair of wins over Stoke and Brighton this week. City is obviously another animal, and Mauricio
Sunday 12/17/17 (6:15 AM PT)
West Brom vs. Manchester United (2)
Still, West Brom haven’t won since the second day of the season. However, they’re starting to at least play a little bit better under Alan Pardew, and they’ll hope to continue the momentum from their midweek scoreless draw with Liverpool against United. Jose Mourinho’s side has had a bit of trouble breaking down packed-in defenses this season, and there’s no reason to expect Pardew to do anything different. West Brom will need to put in a dogged display and may need another 0-0 to get a result, but it’s certainly within the realm of possibility.
(8:30 AM PT)
Bournemouth vs. Liverpool (3)
The free-flowing and attacking nature of each of these teams has led to a few thrillers over the past few seasons, most memorably Bournemouth’s extraordinary 4-3 comeback win over the Reds at Dean Court last December. For the Cherries to repeat the feat, they’ll need their forwards to find the touch that’s deserted them during their recent five-game winless run (Bournemouth have scored just four goals during the stretch). Liverpool also have some attacking issues to sort out at the moment, as they’ve been held to one goal and one point in their last two. The Reds do, however, have the depth and quality in their squad to turn that around quickly and put up a crooked number. Doing so is of the utmost importance ahead of a big clash next weekend with Arsenal.
Monday 12/18/17 (12 noon PT)
Everton vs. Swansea (2)
Swansea’s situation is getting more desperate by the day. The Welsh side has scored just nine goals in 17 games this season, and while they did get an important win last weekend against West Brom, the Swans came crashing back down to earth with a 4-0 hammering at the hands of Manchester City on Wednesday. Against an Everton team that’s won three of four under Sam Allardyce, getting back on track won’t be easy. Nonetheless, Swansea are in desperate need of a positive result to build on, and that could lead Paul Clement to open the game up a bit. Whether that happens or not, though, remains to be seen, and even if it does, the Swans are liable to concede at any moment; Everton should feel mighty confident of continuing their good vibes.
Bonus European Game of the Week: Lyon vs. Marseille, Sunday 12/17/17, 12 noon PT
Although Paris Saint-Germain are starting to pull away in the Ligue 1 title race, there’s plenty of intrigue behind the top dogs. At the moment, three teams — Lyon, Monaco, and Marseille — sit in a three-way tie for second place on 35 points, with their next-closest chasers eight points back. The order those sides finish in will be crucial; only the top two teams in France get automatic Champions League berths, while third place enters the playoff round and fourth drops into the Europa League. That makes this clash between a pair of friendly rivals (the only animosity has tended to come from the teams battling for silverware rather than off-field incidents) all the more important. Lyon boast a fantastic array of attacking talent and a strong back line, and they’ve been arguably France’s best story so far. However, Marseille have actually been Ligue 1’s form team for a while, as l’OM haven’t lost in 12 league games. Each team is capable of offensive explosions on any given day, and that — combined with the importance of a top-four battle — makes this a fascinating Sunday watch.