Saturday 2/10/18 (4:30 AM PT)
Tottenham vs. Arsenal (5)
With both North London sides sitting outside of the top four, this weekend’s derby represents a crossroads between staying close behind in the race for the Champions League and falling off the pace of the pack. That is the case especially for Arsenal, who are five points off fourth and four behind Tottenham but have won just two of their last six games. Spurs, meanwhile, have done pretty well through their
(7 AM PT)
West Ham vs. Watford (3)
Where in the heck did Watford’s 4-1 win over Chelsea come from? After slogging through the majority of the season, the Hornets exploded and exploited 10-man Chelsea for four goals in their best performance yet. West Ham, meanwhile, are dragging in the relegation race, sitting just three points clear (though Watford are only six clear themselves) and with just two points in their last three contests, the Hammers know they are going to need more production to get some actual breathing room. Neither side is in trouble just yet, but each is one bad run away from the drop zone, so both know the importance of preying on other similarly situated outfits.
Stoke vs. Brighton (2)
Stoke are really starting to feel the pressure. One win in their last seven matches — and just four goals in that span — is certainly a worrisome sign for the 18th-place Potters. Brighton haven’t been much better, but they are coming in following a win against West Ham and have finally woken up on offense, having score more than a quarter of their goals for the season in the last five games. The reverse affair was a lively 2-2 draw, so here’s to hoping the neutrals get more from wherever that came.
Swansea vs. Burnley (2)
Burnley sit in seventh, 10 places higher than Swansea, but you wouldn’t know that based on the teams’ forms. Swansea have not lost in their last four games, and that includes wins over Liverpool and Arsenal; it’s safe to say that Carlos Carvalhal is a magician. Burnley, meanwhile, had the best first half of any team outside of the top six but had been miserable before a draw against Manchester City last weekend, and they haven’t won in any competition since December 12. A month ago, this would have been a heavily tilted contest to the Clarets, but in Wales, Swansea surprisingly enter as the favorites despite the 12-point gap between the sides.
Everton vs. Crystal Palace (2)
Everton and Crystal Palace were each in big trouble to start the season before going on runs to dig themselves out only to be pegged back recently. Now, they meet at Goodison Park, and while this fixture won’t change anything major in the short term, it could mean a lot to placing in a few months time. Neither would want to slip back into its early form, which is surely in the back of their minds as Palace are winless in three while Everton were smacked around for five goals by Arsenal last week.
Manchester City vs. Leicester (3)
Shockingly, City have won just two of their past four games, which qualifies as a major slump for Pep Guardiola’s league leaders. They should be able to get back on track under the lights at the Etihad against Leicester, but it won’t be easy. Claude Puel has his side playing some decent football, but the Foxes have cooled off since the transfer window ended with Riyad Mahrez unhappily still at the club. They’ll be without their Algerian star again Saturday, and unless something unexpected happens, they won’t have enough to get past City.
Sunday 2/11/18 (4 AM PT)
Huddersfield vs. Bournemouth (2)
After starting strong, Huddersfield have hit the skids, and the Terriers have now lost five in a row to stumble into the relegation zone. Meanwhile, Bournemouth are unbeaten in seven Premier League games and have moved into the top half of the table. That difference in form makes the Cherries obvious favorites Sunday, but the long trip and early kickoff might affect that somewhat. Huddersfield are starting to run out of time this season, and their desperation could lead to an open affair at the John Smith’s Stadium.
(6:15 AM PT)
Newcastle vs. Manchester United (4)
Like Huddersfield, Newcastle have cooled off in a big way since starting well, and they’re now well and truly in a relegation battle. The Magpies have played decently of late, but they’re in need of a jolt of energy. At home against Manchester United, they’ll get a big boost from what’s certain to be a fervent crowd. The Red Devils are undoubtedly the favorites even if they
(8:30 AM PT)
Southampton vs. Liverpool (3)
Southampton are quietly unbeaten in four league games and are coming off perhaps their best win of the season, a 3-2 triumph at West Brom last weekend. In that contest, Saints showed off a level of quality that’s been missing from their play for much of the season, and they’ll certainly need to repeat that when Liverpool come to the south coast Sunday. With multiple Reds returning to familiar ground at the St. Mary’s, expect a fiery affair, with the home fans likely giving Virgil van Dijk a hard time. Like in the above contest, the home side will be the underdog, but an in-form Southampton should have a chance to scrape out a result.
Monday 2/12/18 (12 noon PT)
Chelsea vs. West Brom (4)
Chelsea will be huge favorites at Stamford Bridge on Monday, but the game isn’t the most interesting storyline. Antonio Conte is facing increasing pressure after losing to Bournemouth and Watford in the last two matches, and with the backroom consternation is becoming a problem. That makes this game a virtual must-win for the Blues, and they could find themselves under even more stress if they can’t break down West Brom early. From the visitors’ perspective, it’s imperative that the Baggies start getting results as soon as possible, but they should be able to play freely as the underdogs in London on Monday.
Bonus European Game of the Week: Napoli vs. Lazio, Saturday 2/10/18, 11:45 AM PT
With 15 games left in the Serie A season, Napoli currently have a one-point lead on Juventus in the race for the Scudetto. They have plenty of reasons to believe their form can stick, too. Napoli lead league with just 14 goals conceded and have as fearsome an attacking corps as any side in Europe with Dries Mertens, Jose Callejon, and Lorenzo Insigne leading the way. Despite that terrifying trio, Napoli have actually scored eight fewer times than third-place Lazio, for whom striker Ciro Immobile has tallied a league-leading 20 Serie A goals. The Roman side is in a battle with Inter and Roma for Champions League positioning, and although they’ve lost two in a row, Lazio are good enough to beat anyone on their day. With these two loaded teams both in the midst of intense battles at the top of the table, this game promises to be the most entertaining and important one of the weekend in Europe.