Manchester United vs. Bournemouth (2)
Finally, Manchester United will jump into the top five this weekend if they beat Bournemouth (fourth-place Arsenal and fifth-place Liverpool meet later Saturday). The Red Devils have been excellent over the past few months, unbeaten in 16 straight Premier League games and coming off a trophy win last weekend in the EFL Cup final against Southampton. At home against a scuffling Bournemouth side that’s lost four straight PL contests and hasn’t won in the league in 2017, the Red Devils will feel very confident of continuing their excellent run.
(7:00 AM PT)
West Brom vs. Crystal Palace (3)
As Crystal Palace stare at a stressful battle to avoid relegation, the Eagles will look to take some momentum from their win against Middlesbrough (LINK) to the Hawthorns. To win a second straight game for the first time since September, they’ll have to break down a West Brom defense in solid form. The Baggies have won three and drawn two of their last five games, and they’ve conceded just two goals from open play during that stretch. Palace will play a tight defensive game as they hunt for a road result, so the onus will be on West Brom to go out and earn the three points in a game they should realistically win.
Swansea vs. Burnley (2)
With a home win against Burnley, Swansea can take a sizeable step away from the relegation zone. The Swans have been much more solid at the back since the arrival of manager Paul Clement, and they’ve looked more dangerous going forward as well. The
Watford vs. Southampton (1)
This isn’t a bad game in terms of the quality of the sides, and with the teams separated by just one point in the lower-middle portion of the table, it’s a fairly significant clash. But in all likelihood, both of these clubs will find themselves well clear of danger come the end of the season. Saints will have to quickly move past last weekend’s Wembley heartbreak if they want to get a result, while Watford have been in decent form since the end of the busy holiday period with two wins and three draws in their last six league games. Still, at this point in the season, form and quality only mean so much, and when the stakes aren’t very high, it’s easy to pass on a game like this.
Leicester vs. Hull (4)
Conversely, this is a huge battle in the relegation race, and it’s an intriguing fixture to boot. When these teams met on the opening day of the season, Hull stunned Leicester 2-1, which began the Foxes’ season-long championship hangover. After Claudio Ranieri’s firing last week, Leicester rebounded with their best performance of the season, beating Liverpool 3-1, but the Foxes now need to find a way to sustain that for what is a massive game for both sides. Leicester are the favorites and will bring in a bit of confidence, but Hull have made things tough on many an opponent this season and could well do the same to the Foxes.
At the moment, Boro are desperate to end their current tail slide and put a bit of separation between themselves and the relegation zone, which they are only out of on goal differential. Even on the road, they still have a decent chance to do that against Stoke, who have just one win in their last five, which came against lowly Crystal Palace. With both teams struggling and neither possessing a particularly fiery attack, this should be a tight affair, but that doesn’t generally make for entertaining football.
(9:30 AM PT)
Liverpool vs. Arsenal (5)
Anytime fourth meets fifth at this point in the season, it’s going to be a big match, but with the UCL race as tight as it is, this is an absolute cracker. Liverpool’s busy schedule has taken a toll as the Reds have two wins in their last 12 games in all competitions, with one coming against League Two side Plymouth in the FA Cup. They looked sharp as a tack two weeks ago against Tottenham, but Liverpool’s most recent performance against Leicester showed that may have been a one-off rather than a return to form. Arsenal, meanwhile, have their own consistency issues to deal with, but they are going to be well rested and should be chomping at the bit to get back on the pitch after having last weekend off. Both teams have looked like top four –– or even better –– sides at times this season, but neither has done it consistently, so this could well come down to whichever side shows up to play on Saturday.
Sunday 3/5/17 (5:30 AM PT)
Tottenham vs. Everton (5)
Spurs will walk into White Hart Lane on Sunday afternoon knowing there will be points to be gained thanks to Arsenal-Liverpool, but they cannot look past Everton, who are the league’s hottest team at the moment. The Toffees haven’t lost a league game in 2017, and in those seven matches, they have allowed just four goals –– three of which came in a 6-3 win over Bournemouth –– while scoring 17 of their own. Don’t look now, but Ronald Koeman’s side is only five points out of fifth place, and if their pace continues, they could, unthinkably, sneak into a European position. This should not only be a fantastic match, given both teams are in form, but it could also prove to be a critical one as both sides try to stay tight with the teams in front of them.
(8:00 AM PT)
Sunderland vs. Manchester City (1)
Monday 3/6/17 (12:00 PM PT)
West Ham vs. Chelsea (3)
Finally, finally, finally, West Ham has been able to get some level of consistent play going this season, but they are going to need to step up in a big way at the Olympic Stadium on Monday to peg back the leaders. Chelsea have drawn two of their last four, but those were both on the road (against Liverpool and Burnley, who is notoriously difficult to beat at home), so it’s hard to count those results against their otherwise-brilliant form. The Blues are undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with, but in a local derby on the road, anything can happen, and that is exactly what the Hammers are banking on.
Bonus European Game of the Week: Roma vs. Napoli, Saturday 3/4/17, 6:00 AM PT
After losing 2-0 to Atalanta last weekend, Napoli’s edge in third place on the chasing pack — now headed by Atalanta — has dwindled to just three points. With a tough trip to the Stadio Olimpico on the agenda this weekend, the gap could get eliminated fully. Roma have won their last four Serie A games by a 13-2 margin, and while catching Juventus — who have a seven-point lead atop the table — seems like a longshot, the Giallorossi could put an eight-point gap between themselves and Napoli with a win. These are the two highest-scoring teams in Italy, and with major implications in the Champions League race, this should be an outstanding game.