Tuesday 1/12/16 (11:45 AM PT)
Newcastle vs. Manchester United (2)
Manchester United are in terrible shape at the moment, and their struggles were further exemplified during their lackluster FA Cup victory over League One side Sheffield United, in which the Red Devils were once again abysmal on offense and only won on a 93rd-minute penalty. Newcastle is in just as bad of form, having lost three straight fixtures 1-0, and they sit in the relegation zone, so don’t expect a whole lot from the fixture. Both teams desperately need points for different reasons, but that hasn’t proven enough for either side to play competent football.
Palace’s form has slipped recently and the Eagles have just won two points in their last three matches, including a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Chelsea. Tuesday presents them a glorious opportunity to get back on track against Villa, who still amazingly haven’t won since opening day. While it's not impossible for the Villans to escape the position they are in, every opportunity they lose to get points only adds more pressure and stress to the already struggling side. They have a long way to go, but it’s hard to see them righting the ship against a Palace side that’s produced quality all year.
Bournemouth vs. West Ham (4)
At first glance, the fixture might not appear to be a close one, but the Cherries have been improving lately, and even though they cooled down a bit after winning three straight, their recent matches have come against three quality sides (Leicester, Arsenal, and Palace, who are first, second, and seventh respectively) and they still drew two of the three. West Ham are coming back into form and haven’t lost since late November, and, on top of that, are getting back their key cog Dimitri Payet. The Cherries’ squad is also strengthening however, having added Juan Iturbe on loan from Roma. The Hammers will be full of confidence coming off a 2-0 win against Liverpool on matchday 20, but with the fixture being played at Dean Court, the Cherries will certainly feel they have it in them to nab some points.
(11:45 AM PT)
Manchester City vs. Everton (4)
For each of these sides’ aspirations, neither are in the form they would want to be, but this fixture has all the makings of a cracker nonetheless. The teams are first and third in the BPL in goals scored, and both prefer an open game, so there's a good chance the goals will be flying in. At the Etihad, City are certainly tipped as favorites, but both sides have shown some cracks lately, so really anything can happen. It will hopefully be a great watch, but there's a pair of fantastic fixtures starting fifteen minutes later, so choose wisely.
Southampton vs. Watford (2)
Despite being separated by five points in the table,
Stoke City vs Norwich City (1)
Each of these sides has taken some major steps forward of late, but this contest should be nothing more than an average mid-table clash. Stoke took a step back in losing 2-1 to West Brom last weekend and 1-0 to Liverpool in the Capital One Cup before waking up with an FA Cup win over Doncaster, but they need to find some consistency to really make a run at a European place. Meanwhile, Norwich are on something of a reverse path, having won two Premier League games in a row before getting thumped by Manchester City in the cup. This is an important game for both teams, but it’s not going to get anyone else too excited.
Swansea City vs. Sunderland (2)
Now that we’re officially into the second half of the season, games like this one between relegation battlers pick up some major intrigue. Swansea seemed to have righted the ship a little bit under new manager Alan Curtis until an embarrassing FA Cup defeat to Oxford United, but they will still feel confident of getting all three points at home against a side struggling even worse than they are. The Black Cats have lost six of their last seven in all competitions, with the only win in that span coming against lowly Aston Villa. With games coming up against Tottenham, Manchester City, Liverpool, and Manchester United, the time is now for Sunderland to get back within striking distance of safety, and this contest might be their best shot to do so for a little while.
Chelsea vs. West Brom (3)
These are two teams that have struggled throughout the first half of the season, but are playing better at the moment. West Brom have won two Premier League games in a row, while Chelsea have two wins and two draws in their last four and seem to have patched up their sinking ship. A repeat of the first time these sides met, when Chelsea won 3-2 at the Hawthorns, would provide quite a bit of excitement, but in reality the Blues will be the favorites to continue their recovery with a garden variety victory. In this season of insanity, however, who knows what might happen.
(12:00 PM PT)
Tottenham vs. Leicester City (5)
The best games of the matchday unfortunately kick off at the same time, but they are both excellent fixtures. These sides met Sunday in an entertaining FA Cup tie that finished 2-2, and they’ll face off in the replay a week from Tuesday in Leicester. That should add a bit extra bite to what already looks like a phenomenal matchup between squads that can score with the best of them, and a game that could go quite a ways to determining what the top four will look like come the end of the season. This has all the makings of a really interesting game.
While Liverpool will limp into this game without many of their big names, this remains one of the best games of arguably the best matchday of the season so far. The Gunners sit atop the table and have won five of their last six in the league, but they’ll have their hands full with a Liverpool side that’s impressed in games against the top four under Jurgen Klopp. A repeat of the scoreless draw they played to at the Emirates in August is unlikely, and this should be one of the highlights of an excellent Wednesday afternoon of Premier League action.