Tuesday 2/2/16 (11:45 AM PT)
Arsenal vs. Southampton (2)
While Southampton ran away 4-0 winners last time these teams met, this game is unlikely to feature the same kind of excitement. The Gunners will have revenge on their minds and need a win to get their title push back on track after last week’s defeat to Chelsea, and they’ll be the strong favorites at home. Don’t count out Saints, however, as they’ve won their last three games and look to have put their
Leicester vs. Liverpool (4)
It's the game of the midweek, and a critical one for both sides, as Leicester continue their improbable march for the title while Liverpool sit just three points outside of a Europa League place. Jurgen Klopp has stated that the Reds are more interested in winning the FA Cup than making the Champions League, but qualifying for Europe in fifth place is still a reasonable goal for the Reds despite their sporting a minus-2 goal differential at the moment. The Foxes' success this year has been well documented, and even though Liverpool is a traditional powerhouse, if Leicester see the fixture as just another stepping stone, which they have done all year, they have a great chance to come out with three points.
Norwich vs. Tottenham (3)
A game that means as much at the top of the table as it does at the bottom, Spurs will try to pull a bit closer to those ahead of them when they visit Norwich. Tottenham won the first meeting 3-0 and have been the much hotter team of late, but Norwich have been decent at home and scored four last time out at Carrow Road, albeit in a loss to Liverpool. Both sides need to win games like this to achieve their goals, so while Tottenham are the favorites, anything could happen in this one.
Sunderland vs. Manchester City (1)
Its an absolute mismatch at the Stadium of Light as the league's worst defense hosts the BPL’s most potent offense. After struggling a bit at the start of the winter, City has righted its ship and hasn't lost a BPL fixture since before Boxing Day, and while Sunderland have surprisingly won two of their last six, those were against Swansea and lowly Aston Villa. Even if they are playing on the road, it's really hard to imagine this going any way but an easy three points for the Citizens.
West Ham vs. Aston Villa (1)
Frankly, Aston Villa are pretty much out of the race for safety. They sit six points off the bottom of the table, 10 away from safety, so they need to win at least one more game to get into position where their games mean something. As for West Ham, top four is a legitimate possibility, as they rest in sixth, just a point behind Manchester United at the moment. They’ll be the heavy favorites to nab all three points against the miserable Villans, and doing so will go a long way towards the Hammers securing a European spot next season.
Crystal Palace vs. Bournemouth (2)
Just a month ago, both of these teams looked like they could make a solid splash in the New Year, but they have since tumbled down the table. Palace will be disappointed with their slide, which has included four straight losses, but they are relatively safe, while the Cherries' slide has dropped them to just four points clear of the relegation zone. Both teams need points to get back on track, but that alone can’t make this a terribly interesting fixture, especially with other higher-quality ones at the same time.
Manchester United vs. Stoke (3)
Neither of these teams is too exciting offensively, so this should be a tight affair at Old Trafford. United are in poor form at the moment, and the rising pressure on Louis van Gaal has reached a boil, and he badly needs a win against a Stoke side that beat United 2-0 at the Britannia on Boxing Day. Consecutive road losses for the Potters have put a damper on their strong season somewhat, but Stoke still have time to turn things around and make a run up the table. They certainly have a chance to start that trek this week.
West Brom vs. Swansea (2)
The Swans seem to be on a mini-resurgence lately, coming off wins over Watford and Everton that have taken them out of the relegation zone. West Brom haven’t been terrible recently either, with two wins and two draws in their last five (though they only have two points in their last three), and the fixture could certainly be spiced up further if they choose to start Saido Berahino again following his brilliant performance in the FA Cup this weekend. Those are all good signs for the matchup, but the big drawback is both teams have only scored 22 goals this year (tied for second-worst in the league) and that lack of offense could turn this into a snoozer.
Wednesday 2/3/16 (11:45 AM PT)
Watford vs. Chelsea (2)
This is a contest between teams on vastly different runs at the moment, as Chelsea haven’t lost in nine games under Guus Hiddink while Watford have just one win in six league games. That win did come the last time out, a 2-1 decision over Newcastle, but the Hornets are struggling nonetheless and need another victory to avoid slipping into the bottom half of the table. They also haven’t yet defeated one of the top
Everton vs. Newcastle (2)
Despite some big wins this year, most notably over Tottenham and recently West Ham, the Magpies have been sloshing around near the bottom of the table almost all season. But it wouldn’t be too far-fetched for them to overcome Everton this week. The Toffees have not been up to their own standards this year, slouching into 12th having not won in their last five. They will be favorites, but at Goodison Park this year, the Toffee’s have just 13 points in 12 games, fourth-worst in the league, so beware the upset possibility.
Bonus European Game of the Week: Lazio vs. Napoli, Wednesday 2/3/16, 11:45 AM PT
There aren’t a ton of options this week, with only Italy and France playing full matchdays, but this contest between league-leading Napoli and Lazio has the makings of a vital one. The Naples side have won six games in a row and haven’t lost in the Serie A since December 6, and with Juventus hot on their heels, they need to keep winning. Meanwhile, Lazio are in almost as good of form as their guests, with three wins and four draws in their last seven league games. These are two sides who know how to put the ball in the back of the net, so there should be plenty of excitement in Rome on Wednesday evening.