Saturday 2/3/18 (4:30 AM PT)
Burnley vs. Manchester City (2)
In the first half of the season, the dogged Burnley side that was taking down elites regularly really had a chance in this fixture. Instead, they fell 3-0 at the Etihad, and given their recent change of form — the Clarets are now winless in nine in all competitions — there’s little reason to think this result will be much different, even at Turf Moor. City hit a slight bump at the start of January, but that has become ancient history, and their march to the title got a boost in the
(7 AM PT)
Bournemouth vs. Stoke (2)
In a similar vein to the match above, red-hot Bournemouth host a languishing Stoke side at Dean Court. The Cherries, too, will really be feeling good after their midweek 3-0 rout of Chelsea. That’s part of a larger run of excellent form that stretches back six games unbeaten (three wins, including one over Arsenal), and it could be the stretch that ultimately saves Bournemouth from the relegation scrap. Stoke, meanwhile, just need to get any kind of a lift, as the Potters sit just one point above the relegation zone with one win in their last six. However, it looks like those points will be hard to come by here for the Potters.
Brighton vs. West Ham (3)
It’s still a little early, but with the relegation race as tight as ever, these bottom-of-the-table contests are becoming very relevant very quickly. West Ham sit three points above Brighton and four above the relegation zone, so both are within one bad run of tumbling towards the bottom. This fixture could well be a battle of the Hammers’ lekay defense (fourth-worst in the league) against Brighton’s inept offense, which ranks dead last. For each team to survive this year, it will need to shore up its weaker end of the pitch, and this will be a good test for both to see if that really is a possibility.
Leicester vs. Swansea (3)
All of a sudden, here come Swansea. The Swans have three wins and a draw in their last five games — including monumental and memorable victories over Liverpool and Arsenal — and new manager Carlos Carvalhal is loving life in Wales. Leicester will provide a significant challenge, but it’s nothing this re-energized Swans team can’t handle, and given their form, they probably enter the contest as only slight underdogs, if not equals. Leicester have been their typical inconsistent selves as of late, but they have played some high-quality football this season and have moved comfortably away from the drama below them. If both teams bring their A games, this could be a fascinating fixture.
Manchester United vs. Huddersfield (2)
After being outplayed by Spurs on Wednesday, Manchester United need to get back on track fast, and Huddersfield’s lackluster second-half form could be just the catalyst they need. The Terriers have been awful as of late, coming in with four straight losses and just a single goal scored in that period. The Red Devils’ back line is already tied for best in the league, so it doesn’t need any help from an inept offense across the pitch. Unless David Wagner’s side wakes up soon, it will be gasping for air until the last day.
It’s a big-time relegation six-pointer as the last-place Baggies play host to 18th-place Southampton. West Brom are now the team at the bottom positioned to make the mystical run multiple others have this year to shoot out of the relegation zone, but where that inspiration will come from is anyone’s guess. Saints haven’t been terrible recently, but they also haven’t converted their chances and come in on the heels of three straight draws. It is going to take wins down the stretch for either side to sneak its way to freedom, and both need that to start here.
(9:30 AM PT)
Arsenal vs. Everton (4)
Arsenal are spiraling towards trouble at the moment as they seem to lose further ground on the top five every week. Two losses and two draws in their last five have left the Gunners well on the outside of the Champions League race, and they need to spark a major run of form if they want to close the gap with real intent. The additions of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang help, but both need to hit the ground running. Sam Allardyce’s Everton squad seems to have stabilized recently with former Gunner Theo Walcott making an impact, but their wishy-washy campaign has been all over the map. It is impossible to guess which version of each side will show up at the Emirates, but given their home-field and talent advantages, Arsenal do have a slight edge headinging into Saturday’s show-piece.
Sunday 2/4/18 (6:15 AM PT)
Crystal Palace vs. Newcastle (4)
The third and final massive bottom-half clash this week pits a pair of old minds in Newcastle’s Rafa Benitez and Palace’s Roy Hodgson. With very similar numbers at both ends of the pitch (the teams have scored the same number of goals, with Palace having conceded three more), the sides are pretty evenly matched. When they met in late October, Newcastle ground their way to a tense 1-0 late win that saw just 17 combined shots. Expect more of the same as the two clubs defend first and try to force the opposition into mistakes.
(8:30 AM PT)
Liverpool vs. Tottenham (5)
Here we go again for Tottenham. Spurs are in the midst of a crucial stretch of fixtures which contains consecutive league contests against United, Liverpool, and Arsenal. Tottenham passed their first test with flying colors by smacking United around 2-0 on Wednesday and now match up with a Liverpool team that has lost just once in its last 16 league contests. The Reds not only have the motivation in the table (a win for Spurs would vault them above Liverpool and
Monday 2/5/18 (12 noon PT)
Watford vs. Chelsea (2)
It is hard to tell exactly what is happening within Antonio Conte’s camp at the moment. The Chelsea boss has been rumoured to be on the way out of Stamford Bridge in recent weeks, and his side has simultaneously taken a dip in form that has produced just a single win in four games. Now, Chelsea must travel just outside of London to face a Watford side trying to scrape its way up the table. The Hornets are safe for now in 11th place, but life in the bottom half is cruel, and the hosts won’t want to miss out on an opportunity to get some much-needed points. With Chelsea wavering, that chance will definitely present itself under the lights Monday.
Bonus European Game of the Week: Monaco vs. Lyon, Sunday 2/4/18, 12 noon PT
For the second straight week, two members of France’s chasing pack charge into battle. There will only be two Champions League spots available for Monaco, Lyon, and Marseille to fight over, and after Lyon wasted a chance to pick up points in the race last week (losing to Bordeaux while the other two drew against each other), they need to find a way to get a result in the principality. The games between all of the top-four teams in Ligue 1 have been generally tight this year, and this one should be no exception. Come May, this fixture could be one of the ones that decides who will be sitting at Europe’s most exclusive table and who will be wasting away in the Europa League while wishing they were somewhere else.