Saturday 1/14/17 (4:30 AM PT)
Tottenham vs. West Brom (4)
A week of fantastic fixtures gets off to great start with Tottenham hosting a surging Baggies side in an important game for both clubs. West Brom have proven they are not slouches this year, and they will make life difficult for Spurs, who need three points to close in on Chelsea as well as hold their own position in the very tight race for Champions League spots. It’s not as important from a table position standpoint for the Baggies, who will almost definitely finish outside the top six, but it’s a good opportunity to show they can hack it with the elite group after their
(7 AM PT)
Swansea vs. Arsenal (2)
Arsenal have been off their sizzling form we saw in late November. and they will walk into a bit of an unknown with Paul Clement taking charge of Swansea City for the first time in the Premier League. Whether the Swans respond well to their new gaffer remains to be seen, but there were some signs of life last time out in the PL, when Angel Rangel shocked Crystal Palace with a critical late winner. If the Gunners can stay their course, however, it’s tough to think that Swansea can compete for a full 90 minutes, even in Wales, with Arsenal’s stacked squad that’s now well-rested.
West Ham vs. Crystal Palace (2)
We might finally get an idea this week of just how far Palace can fall as a loss or draw could see them drop into the relegation zone and potentially as far as 19th place. The Hammers are no surefire favorites, though, as their struggles this year have been well-documented. Worse, without Dimitri Payet in the lineup, who looks to be on the move, West Ham are without their best playmaker and the biggest difference between the two squads. Both of these sides have severely underachieved, however, and neither looks like breaking out of it anytime soon, which could produce an even, though lackluster, match.
Watford vs. Middlesbrough (2)
Like Palace, Boro are also flirting with a potential drop into the relegation zone, so every matchup they have in the second half with a fellow bottom-of-the-table team is critical. Watford have played slightly better football so far this season, but they only have three more points to show for that and are entering with just one point in their last five games. With each side's recent ineptitude, this should actually be a pretty close match, but that doesn’t necessarily make it exciting.
Sunderland vs. Stoke City (2)
Stoke have been in a bit of a free fall lately having only won one PL game since early December, and they limp in on the back of a bad FA Cup defeat at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers. Meanwhile, a brief bit of excitement surrounding Sunderland has cooled, but the Black Cats are just a win –– or maybe even a point –– away from scraping out of the relegation zone (for the time being), so expect them to have a ton of fight even if they are outclassed. The Potters have the edge in talent, but visiting the Stadium of Light should be a nice equalizer in an
Burnley vs. Southampton (1)
On talent, this isn’t the worst game, but it also has the makings of a potential snoozer. Both of these teams seem pretty comfortable in the midtable, although Southampton are underperforming while Burnley are overperforming. Each has solid enough defenses, though, as well as poor attacking groups, as both sit in the bottom five in the league in goals scored. With low stakes and few superstars on display, this is a pretty easy pass.
Hull City vs. Bournemouth (2)
Although this may not be the flashiest of matchups, this could be an interesting game. Neither of these teams has a very good back line, which means there could be goals aplenty. This is also the kind of contest Hull needs to get three points from to survive the season. Bournemouth are relatively safe sitting in ninth place, and while they’re definitely talented, they’re also the kind of team the Tigers could take advantage of. Even so, Hull won’t be the favorite against any top-half side as the Tigers try to stave off a drop that’s looking more and more likely by the week.
(9:30 AM PT)
Leicester City vs. Chelsea (4)
In the past, when the two previous PL champions have clashed, it’s usually been a highly anticipated contest. This year, and this weekend with all of the other top-quality matches, that’s not the case. Leicester have been much better at home than on the road and will take some confidence into this matchup after their FA Cup win over Everton, but they’re still huge underdogs. Even after their loss to Tottenham, the Blues are playing better than
Sunday 1/15/17 (5:30 AM PT)
Everton vs. Manchester City (4)
These are two sides that could really use a big win. City enter this fixture in fourth, but level on points with third-place Tottenham and just one ahead of fifth-place Arsenal. Meanwhile, Everton are on a three-game unbeaten run and have just one home loss all season, but the Toffees are nine points back of sixth-place Manchester United and will need to be close to perfect to nab a European spot now that they’ve been eliminated from both cups. In terms of importance and talent, City probably has an edge here, but don’t discount Ronald Koeman getting his team up for a home game against one of the league’s strongest teams.
(8 AM PT)
Manchester United vs. Liverpool (5)
All the pieces are in place for this to be an awesome game. There’s the rivalry aspect of it, the fact that these are two of the hottest teams in the Premier League, and the managerial battle between two of the game’s best minds. Liverpool haven’t lost in six league games, while United haven’t in 11. At home, the Red Devils will have to come out of their shell a little, and that could lead to an open and fascinating affair.
Bonus European Game of the Week: Sevilla vs. Real Madrid, Sunday 1/15/2017, 11:45 AM PT
What a fantastic way to end the weekend of football. Sevilla were leading Real Madrid by two in their Copa del Rey fixture on Thursday (though they were always behind on aggregate) only to blow the lead and fall to a 3-3 draw which saw Los Blancos break Barcelona’s record with 40 games unbeaten. The rematch is a much bigger deal, however, as Sevilla currently sit four points behind Madrid in second place in the La Liga table. A win by the underdogs would go a huge way towards reeling in Real (especially because the capital side has a game in hand on the league) and could throw the table into complete pandemonium. This is the closest Sevilla has been to potentially putting their hands on the title, so expect them to come very prepared for what, at this point, is the game of the season in La Liga. It will be nothing short of a raucous crowd at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium as Sevilla look to end Real’s amazing streak and keep their own dreams of a title alive.