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Want to know what Premier League games to wake up for this weekend? Look no further.
Here’s the first in a new weekly feature at Footy at Dawn called the Wake-up Report, where we've devised a rating system of 0-5 to let you know whether a game is worth getting up for, or if you should just stay in bed. Because we’re on the West Coast, there will be some emphasis on the time of the game in this report, as the earliest games are only very occasionally worth sacrificing sleep for.
Now, our Wake-up Report for matchday 21, with a few games that feature teams in desperate need of wins and a doozy of a finale.
Sunderland v. Liverpool (2)
Two teams who have been fairly mediocre on the season face off with both badly in need of points. Liverpool still have an outside shot at a Europa League place, while Sunderland need to cement themselves firmly outside of the relegation zone. With such an early kick off for us West Coasters, this is not a terribly intriguing fixture.
(7:00 a.m. PT)
Everton vs. Man City (3)
Everton host joint-top-of-the-table Manchester City in a really big game for the Toffees, who have been poor all season. If they are to make a move up the standings in the second half, they need to make a statement against City, either with points or with their play. Meanwhile, City get back Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, and Vincent Kompany, so they will expect a win. Should be a good battle.
Leicester City vs. Aston Villa (0)
In all honestly, Villa are rarely a team to tune in to. They don’t score goals (11, fewest in the league), and they don’t allow many either (22, fourth-fewest). Against a poor Leicester team that also struggle to score, whichever team takes a lead will likely try to pack it in and hold on desperately. There are a lot of better games than this one during the 7 a.m. period, so this is definitely a stay-away.
Chelsea vs. Newcastle (4)
A reverse of the match which saw Chelsea lose its Premier League unbeaten form, Newcastle has to travel to Stamford Bridge with caretaker manager John Carver in charge, which could prove difficult for the Magpies. If it hadn’t been Newcastle who had ended Chelsea’s run, this matchup would have received a lower rating, but instead, it’s an interesting watch to see if Newcastle can once again give fits to Mourinho’s powerhouse.
West Brom vs. Hull City (1)
While this is a game between to teams who are close in the table, with 15th-place Hull only a point ahead of 17th-place West Brom, neither team has provided much in the way of flair or quality this year. This could be a snoozer given how poor both teams have looked.
Burnley vs. QPR (1)
Maybe the only intriguing factor in this matchup is whether or not QPR will secure their first road point of the season. While this may have some major implications on the relegation battle, it is still way too early to tell. Steer clear.
Swansea vs. West Ham (3)
Two teams who are clinging onto their positions in the top half of the table, West Ham and Swansea both desperately need wins to make a charge on the top five. If either team has any chance, these points will be crucial, as positions 3-9 on the tale are separated by just eight points.
(9:30 AM PT)
Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham (3)
After a few extra days of rest, it’ll be interesting to see if Tottenham can stay hot in another London derby. They were fantastic on New Year’s Day against Chelsea, and they are big favorites against a struggling Palace side. But Alan Pardew’s new club is desperate, and it’s tough to win at Selhurst Park. Spurs could definitely run into problems here.
(5:30 AM PT)
Arsenal vs. Stoke City (3)
A month and five days after Stoke beat Arsenal 3-2 at the Britannia, the Potters head to the Emirates for the rematch. It’s another interesting game between a small team that always give a certain big team a challenge. It’s an early one, but it’s also a really important one for Arsenal given the game that’s after it, so it’s worth setting the alarm for.
(8:00 AM PT)
Man United vs. Southampton (5)
By far the weekend’s best fixture pits the 3rd and 4th place teams who could each have a title push in them. Both have impressive defense records and have only allowed a combined 35 goals in 40 games. This is must-see TV. For this weekend, the Premiership has saved the best for last.
BONUS EUROPEAN GAME OF THE WEEK
Sunday (12:00 PM PT)
Barcelona vs. Atlético Madrid
With all the current mayhem in Spain, fixtures between teams in the top three are even more critical. These points will be massive in either team’s quest to catch Real. Its also the first time these two will have met since Atlético won a point and the league at the Camp Nou on the final day of the season. Don’t miss this one.