Monday 1/2/17 (4:30 AM PT)
Middlesbrough vs. Leicester (3)
Leicester jumped over Middlesbrough with a big win Saturday over West Ham, and another on the road Monday could take the Foxes as high as 11th depending on other results. It won’t be easy to come by, though. Leicester have just two points all season away from home, and while Boro aren’t exactly a frightening side, they have the defensive solidity to shut down the Foxes. The winner of this game will take a significant step away from the relegation
(7 AM PT)
Sunderland vs. Liverpool (2)
When these teams met at Anfield in late November, Sunderland put forth a valiant defensive effort before letting in two late goals and falling 2-0. At the Stadium of Light, the Black Cats should be able to pose a few more problems for Liverpool, but they’ll still have a mighty task if they want to get anything from the game. The Reds do enter off a massively taxing 1-0 win over Manchester City, so they could be a little tired, but against a Sunderland side that’s conceded seven goals in its last two games and is now without its starting keeper, Liverpool will be disappointed with anything other than a win.
Manchester City vs. Burnley (1)
This game is important for both teams, but it’s also about as big of a mismatch as will be found all season. City are in need of a win after falling to Liverpool, and a failure to get one could prove costly. That said, Burnley remain the worst road team in the league, with just two goals and one point in eight games away from Turf Moor. It’s hard to see that turning around at the Etihad.
Everton vs. Southampton (3)
If either of these teams wants to break down the door to the top six (and both are capable), this is the type of game they’ll expect to win. Saints got one over on their old manager with a 1-0 win over Ronald Koeman’s side in late November at St. Mary’s, but doing so again at Goodison Park is another animal altogether. Southampton have lost two straight and had a man sent off in each, while Everton saved a point late at Hull on Friday and will have an extra day of rest to prepare. That could prove the difference in
West Brom vs. Hull (1)
There’s a pretty significant gulf in quality between these sides, and while neither of these teams scores goals all that consistently, West Brom have a much better back line than the Tigers. Hull will likely sit back and try to soak up the Baggies’ pressure. That can often backfire, but this has all the makings of either a low-scoring affair lacking in attacking intent or a West Brom blowout. Either way, it’s an easy pass.
(9:15 AM PT)
West Ham vs. Manchester United (2)
United are riding the second-longest winning streak in the league, and while it sits at a measly five games compared to Chelsea’s 13-game run, the Red Devils have started to look like a good bet to work their way into the top four. Though the Hammers have the talent to play with United on their day, given the way their season is going, it’s hard to think they are going to provide much resistance against one of the league’s most in form sides. Still, anything can happen with the likely prospect of tired legs at the end of this tough stretch.
Tuesday 1/3/17 (11:45 AM PT)
Bournemouth vs. Arsenal (3)
The Cherries finished the first half in an impressive 10th place, but the start of the second is going to be difficult with the Gunners paying a visit to Dean Court. Arsenal have rebounded well since back-to-back losses, and with their attack starting to gel behind Olivier Giroud, they are definitely big favorites. If the Cherries want any chance to work their way further up the table, home games against
(12 noon PT)
Stoke vs. Watford (2)
Like the Cherries, both Stoke and Watford have lofty ambitions of being in the top 10, but neither has lived up to expectations this season. Both are also coming in off of poor performances having each conceded four over the weekend, with the Hornets looking especially bad in their home loss to Tottenham. Both are still safe of the relegation zone at the moment and should be able to keep it that way for the remainder season, but each is just one bad losing streak from making its supporters a lot more nervous than needed. A win for either here would be an important result to start what each hopes will be a much better second half.
Crystal Palace vs. Swansea (3)
Speaking of teams who want and need to have better second halves, Palace and Swansea are right at the top of the list. Both teams haven’t won in their last four fixtures and have made managerial changes this month, and while Palace is four points ahead of the last-place Swans, they are only two points clear of safety, and they’re certainly in the midst of a battle. With two new bosses on the sidelines and both teams having played poorly all year, it's tough to know how this will play out. And, even though the clocked just ticked to 2017, this fixture could go a long way to breaking one of these teams’ dreams come May.
Wednesday 1/4/17 (12 noon PT)
Tottenham vs. Chelsea (5)
It’s a cracker of a match and an absolutely massive London derby for both sides to start the second half. Chelsea made Spurs another notch in their W column in late November with a gritty 2-1 come-from-behind victory, so revenge — and the thought of reeling in the leaders — will be on Spurs’ mind at White Hart Lane. Another win for the Blues would be the first of a few big hurdles which stand in their way on their