Saturday 3/3/18 (4:30 AM PT)
Burnley vs. Everton (2)
Burnley still sit seventh in the table, but the Clarets are winless in all competitions since December and are there to be picked off every week. Ninth-place Everton should be licking their chops, but after their surge in the middle of the season, the Toffees have won just two of their last 11. The form of both could make this an interesting affair, but it’s more likely that lack of consistency will make it average at best. With a brutal kickoff time on the West coast and little on the line, this is an easy pass.
(7:00 AM PT)
It’s an almost identical matchup to the one above, with two mid-table sides battling it out for table positioning. The sole difference is that Bournemouth, despite sitting in 11th, are just five points clear of the relegation zone and could be dragged back into that race. The Cherries have been in solid form lately, though, so there’s no reason to think they can’t challenge for three points on the road. Leicester, who could move clear into seventh with a win, won’t make it easy, however, in what should be a good game between two solid sides.
Southampton vs. Stoke (4)
The race to get off the bottom is well on, and this is nothing short of a massive matchup between the barely-safe Saints and Stoke, who are currently two points from safety. Stoke have been decent lately with a win and three draws in their last five, but the Potters have been the worst road team in the Premier League all year with league-worsts in both points (seven) and goal differential (minus-21). Saints have the same record in their last five as Stoke and too are relatively poor in the venue this one will be played in, sitting second-worst in the league in home points (15). In short, the numbers should be thrown out the window for what is probably the most meaningful fixture in the time slot.
Swansea vs. West Ham (3)
With West Ham on 30 points, three clear of the drop zone, this isn’t as huge as the matchup above, but it still carries major weight in the relegation race. Swansea are sitting in 18th after watching their magical run under Carlos Carvalhal come crashing down last week with a 4-1 loss to Brighton. The Swans are still miles ahead of where they were before Carvalhal took over, but his new-manager magic could be fading. Now, it’s time to find out if the Swans are really up to the survivalist test. They will certainly get a massive boost from the home support, where they have won three straight, all against top-seven sides, and that could just push them out of the relegation zone while throwing the Hammers under the bus.
Tottenham vs. Huddersfield (3)
With their own fate in peril, David Wagner and his side have responded brilliantly with two wins in a row against fellow relegation fighters. This week will be a much bigger task, as the Terriers visit Wembley to take on a hot Tottenham side that hasn’t lost in any competition since a mid-December bout with Manchester City. Better yet for Spurs, their Wembley woes have completely subsided with 12 wins and two draws in their last 14 in front of their home supporters.
Watford vs. West Brom (2)
This is a huge game for both sides, but with West Brom drowning at the bottom of the table, it should be one that host Watford come away with three points from. The Hornets have won two of their last three games and sit in 10th despite possessing the fourth-worst defense in the league. Meanwhile, the Baggies have won just three games all year and are seven points from safety. West Brom are desperately looking for any positives to cling onto, but a great escape is looking less likely by the day, and they don’t seem like they’re going to start one any time soon.
(9:30 AM PT)
Liverpool vs. Newcastle (3)
Two teams in solid form meet in a game with meaning at both ends of the table, but there’s only likely to be one winner in Saturday’s late kickoff. Newcastle have pulled out some impressive results against top-six opponents this season (including a 1-1 draw with Liverpool in October), but they’ve all been at home. They’re unbeaten in four league games (albeit with three draws), so they’ll have some confidence at Anfield. With that said, Liverpool are also unbeaten in four — with three wins — and have scored 11 goals in that span. The top four is in Liverpool’s sights; they won’t want to let those around them pick up ground this weekend.
Sunday 3/4/18 (5:30 AM PT)
Brighton vs. Arsenal (4)
As Brighton rise towards the mid-table, Arsenal are stagnating as the definite sixth-best team in the league. The Gunners have been porous of late, with three losses in a row in all competitions and three defeats in their last four league matches. Arsene Wenger’s side looks bereft of confidence at the moment, a feeling that was underscored by another abject performance Thursday in a 3-0 loss to Manchester City. On the other side of the ledger, Brighton have been playing very well in recent weeks, with a four-game league unbeaten run that stretches to six when counting two FA Cup victories. In front of what’s certain to be a boisterous Amex Stadium crowd, the Seagulls will have a jump in their step, and it could be enough to propel them to a huge win that would inflict even more damage on Arsenal.
(8:00 AM PT)
Manchester City vs. Chelsea (5)
Manchester City are uncatchable, so this game only matters for one team. But it is a vital one for Chelsea. The Blues have lost three of four in the league to fall behind Tottenham and into fifth place, and the situation around Stamford Bridge is getting close to toxic. Antonio Conte is under immense pressure, and while few will expect Chelsea to take three points from the Etihad, the Blues are have to try to go out and win the game. That could open up holes in their defense similar to the ones that City have used all season to devastating effect. This might not be the same head-to-head battle that it’s been in the past, but it’s a huge game nonetheless in the fight for the top four.
Monday 3/5/18 (Noon PT)
Crystal Palace vs. Manchester United (4)
While City simply keep plugging away, Manchester
Bonus European Games of the Week: The Serie A
Lazio vs. Juventus (9:00 AM PT)
Napoli vs. Roma (11:45 AM PT)
Atalanta vs. Sampdoria (6:00 AM PT)
AC Milan vs. Inter Milan (11:45 AM PT)
Your eyes do not deceive you; all of the top eight Serie A teams play one another this week, and there are massive implications across the races for the Scudetto, Champions League, and Europa League. The two biggest games take place Saturday as the two horses in title race — Juventus and Napoli, who currently have a four-point lead on the Old Lady with one more game played — each play against capital sides, with Juve visiting Lazio and Napoli hosting Roma. Lazio sit third, and while they are far from the pace of the top two, they are trying to fend off both fourth-place Inter and their cross-town rivals Roma, who are one and two points back. One of those three sides is going to be left out in the cold and will begrudgingly taking part in the Europa League come fall. On Sunday, an in-form, eighth-place Atalanta side opens the day six points back of sixth-place Sampdoria, who occupy the second and final Europa League spot. In short, if Atalanta want any chance of playing in Europe next year, three points from their home clash with Samp are a must, but similar holds true for Sampdoria, who are only in the position ahead of red-hot AC Milan on goal differential. And that brings us to the massive derby, Italy’s biggest, that will conclude the weekend. As mentioned, Inter are in the thick of the UCL race, while AC are just out of a Europa League place. The game is obviously huge in the standings, but so too in the balance of power in Milan football. AC Milan has been spiraling for a couple of years now, but Gennaro Gattuso has changed the course for the club, and the Rossoneri are streaking up the table with 11 wins and no losses in their last 13. This also serves as the grudge match for the year between the two sides, with Inter taking their first league meeting and AC piping them in the Coppa Italia. That’s some way to finish off what will be a wild weekend. It’s time to buckle up.