Tuesday 12/26/17 (4:30 AM PT)
Tottenham vs. Southampton (2)
Spurs seemingly returned to form following their recent loss with a 3-0 away win over Burnley over the weekend, and they’ll feel very confident of keeping the good feelings going Tuesday when struggling Saints visit Wembley. Southampton are winless in six Premier League games, and Mauricio Pellegrino’s side is struggling at both ends of the pitch: they haven’t scored multiple goals in a game since November 26, and they haven’t kept a clean sheet since October 21.
(7 AM PT)
Watford vs. Leicester (2)
These teams have had essentially the exact opposite first halves of the season. The Hornets started well but have fallen off a cliff, and they’ve now lost four EPL games in a row and earned just one point in their last six. Meanwhile, Leicester began the season in troubling fashion, but the arrival of Claude Puel has coincided with a run that’s taken the Foxes into eighth place (although they have a draw and a loss in their last two fixtures). The form table says Leicester should fancy themselves to earn three points away from home, and the fact that Watford have conceded the most home goals in the league only furthers that belief.
West Brom vs. Everton (3)
It’s almost unfathomable just how quickly Sam Allardyce has turned Everton around. After entering the job with the Toffees milling around the relegation zone, Allardyce has led his new team on a six game unbeaten run which includes four wins and two draws, and Everton are now within shouting distance of a European place as the season turns into its second half. With those good vibes propelling them, the Toffees will head to the Hawthorns to take on a team that needs a win more than anyone, as West Brom haven’t tasted victory since August. Expect Alan Pardew to devise a game plan to frustrate Everton, but whether it works or not remains to be seen.
Chelsea vs. Brighton (1)
Brighton earned a much-needed victory over Watford on Saturday, their first in two months, and the three points have given the Seagulls a little bit of separation from the bottom three. That momentum is a nice thing to have ahead of a trip to Stamford Bridge, but realistically, it probably won’t make a difference. Chelsea aren’t in great form at the moment with a draw and a loss among their four most-recent games, but they’re easily talented enough to collect another win against a promoted side here. Chris Hughton will ask his Brighton side to sit deep and defend, but it likely won’t be enough against the defending league champions.
Bournemouth vs. West Ham (3)
This is a bit of a surprising relegation six-pointer at the midway point of the season. Neither of these teams expected to be in the kind of situation they’re in, but with Bournemouth in 18th and West Ham just a point better off in 17th, this is a huge fixture for both. The Cherries are winless in seven while West Ham’s modest three-game unbeaten run came to a disheartening end with a 3-2 home defeat to Newcastle last time out. That means that both will
Manchester United vs. Burnley (4)
Giant-killers Burnley were tamed last time out by Tottenham, but, strangely, a lot of the Clarets’ damage this season has come when they are on the road. Doing so again at the Theater of Dreams certainly is no easy task, but United are also wilting after a heartbreaking draw to Leicester which came on the last kick of the game. This is certainly the most high-profile game in the time slot, but neither Sean Dyche nor Jose Mourinho play particularly aggressive football, and both will have their teams set up to defend first. Simply put, while this fixture is a massive one in the standings, it could produce a total snoozer as well.
Huddersfield vs. Stoke (2)
Huddersfield and Stoke have both done decently well to stay afloat so far, and a few notches in their belts this year have put them above the relegation scrap, at least for now. Neither is particularly safe, however, and both have very leaky defenses, with Stoke having allowed a league-high 40 goals and Huddersfield’s 31 ranking fourth worst. In contrast to the match above, this faceoff of weaker sides could lead to a high-scoring affair, but the football played might not be all that pretty.
(9:30 AM PT)
Liverpool vs. Swansea (2)
Liverpool haven’t lost this month, but with three ties in their last four contests, they are desperately searching for three points. The visit of the Swans presents an excellent opportunity to achieve just that, with their recent sluggish performances dropping them to dead last in the table. The Welsh outfit is desperate in a whole different way, and while that might provide them the motivation to get their season back on track, it is hard to see this as a potential focal point for the Swans’ season given their generally lackluster play thus far.
Wednesday 12/27/17 (11:45 AM PT)
Newcastle vs. Manchester City (1)
It might be the only game on Wednesday, and Manchester City are certainly worth watching, but don’t expect a close fixture at St James’ Park. The Magpies are coming off a much-needed scoring outburst which halted a nasty losing streak, but given the Citizens’ current run, it seems unlikely they will repeat that performance. Pep Guardiola’s men will most likely bring the same high-intensity fixture
Thursday 12/28/17 (12 noon PT)
Crystal Palace vs. Arsenal (4)
Though Arsenal have a huge advantage in talent, this is a clear trap game for the Gunners. On short rest, on the road, and playing a increasingly dangerous Palace side that hasn’t lost in eight will prove no easy task. On top of all that, it’s a London derby, which will give the hosts even more reason to perk up for the contest. Palace have been the comeback kids so far this season, and if Arsenal don’t bring close to a top performance, they could easily be pegged back by one of the league’s streakiest sides.
European Game of the Week: AC Milan vs. Inter Milan (Coppa Italia), Wednesday 12/27/17, 11:45 AM PT
Both of these sides have sputtered two consecutive losses in Serie A play, but the league form goes out the window for a local derby, especially one in a cup competition. For each side, the Coppa Italia represents a real opportunity to win a trophy this season. Inter are undeniably better positioned to do so, especially given AC Milan’s massive issues off the field that are threatening to torpedo the club. Those problems wouldn’t go away with a win over their heated rivals, but AC Milan would certainly feel a lot better about where they stand if they can advance in the competition. It’s a somewhat unfortunate draw for both sides, but for neutrals, this game could provide thrills aplenty from start to finish.