Saturday 3/10/18 (4:30 AM PT)
Manchester United vs. Liverpool (5)
Saturday morning presents a tricky game of chess for Jose Mourinho. Three points against Liverpool would strengthen the Red Devils’ hold on second in the table, but a massive midweek Champions League clash with Sevilla is looming. It’s stretches like these — in which managers are forced to effectively tinker with their sides — where the bosses really earn their money, and Mourinho has come up clutch in similar scenarios before. Jurgen Klopp was faced with the reverse scenario, and despite a massive five-goal advantage, the German put out a pretty strong
(7:00 AM PT)
Newcastle United vs. Southampton (4)
They both sit safe for the moment, but whichever side doesn’t win this clash at St. James’ Park is in danger of falling into the drop zone as the Premier League begins its fourth quarter. And, with the stakes growing every week, there’s every reason to expect another tight and nervy game. Both sides have been cautiously effective as of late. Neither has lost more than two in its last six, but neither has won more than one of those. There have been a lot of draws, to say the least, for both, but coming down the home stretch, the difference between a win and a draw, especially against relegation competition, can make all the difference. Give Newcastle the slight edge at home for what could be a battle of teams trying to not make the first mistake.
West Brom vs. Leicester (1)
Back-to-back draws have Leicester sitting safely in eighth, and they have a great chance to put a bow on their position this weekend against West Brom. The Baggies have been awful as of late (and all season really), losing five straight and conceding 12 goals in that stretch. Last week’s loss looks like the fatal blow, so unless they come out with a different level of inspiration than they have all year, the Baggies will wilt away again. Stranger things than a West Brom revival have happened, but the hour grows late.
West Ham vs. Burnley (2)
West Ham are three points clear of the relegation zone, but there’s not a whole lot of reason for optimism after consecutive 4-1 shellackings. The Clarets, on the other hand, finally have a reason to smile after winning their first game of the calendar year last week in late and come-from-behind fashion. The Clarets somehow still sit seventh and are almost locked in for another year of EPL football, something they can just about seal this weekend. It remains to be seen if their win last week was just a solo outburst or if there really are signs of the Clarets returning to their incredible first-half form.
Everton vs. Brighton (3)
Off all the teams battling it out at the bottom, Brighton have done the most recently to distance themselves from the drop. The Seagulls have three wins and two draws in their last five, and their previously anemic offense has scored in seven straight games, putting up some crooked numbers along the way. The two sides sit tied on 34 points, so this game represents a chance for both to really break away from the bottom pack and put a little more
Huddersfield vs. Swansea (3)
With these sides level on 30 points, three above the drop zone, their matchup at the John Smith’s Stadium presents a huge opportunity for either to gain a little bit of breathing room. Huddersfield enter after a 2-0 loss to Spurs a week ago but won the two games before that, and they’ll be eager to get revenge for the 2-0 defeat Swansea handed them in Wales in October. That won’t come easy, though, as the Swans are the form team in the bottom half of the table with just two defeats in 2018. Both of these teams are unpredictable, and with each needing a win that could take it comfortably away from the bottom three, anything could happen here.
(9:30 AM PT)
Chelsea vs. Crystal Palace (4)
It would be hard to find a game that has as much riding on it for both teams as this one. Each has stumbled significantly of late, to the point where a win is imperative for both. Chelsea have lost four of five in the league, and while Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Barcelona looms large, the Blues absolutely need a win to remain in the top-four fight. Meanwhile, Palace’s honeymoon period under Roy Hodgson ended weeks ago; the Eagles are winless in six and have dipped back into the relegation zone. At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea are definite favorites, but they’ll know not to sleep on Palace, who have beaten their London rivals 2-1 each of the last two times they’ve played.
Sunday 3/11/18 (6:30 AM PT)
Arsenal vs. Watford (3)
Man, did Arsenal need their Europa League win over AC Milan on Thursday or what? The Gunners had lost their previous four in all competitions and four of five in the league before nabbing a 2-0 victory in Italy this week, and that will give them a massive boost heading into another big game. They desperately need all three points if they want to stay anywhere near the pace of the top four, but that desperation could have negative effects. Like Palace have against
(9:00 AM PT)
Bournemouth vs. Tottenham (3)
Like the two games above, this contest also has implications in both halves of the table. The difference is each of the two sides involved at Dean Court is in a much better position at the moment than the others doing battle before. While Wednesday’s loss to Juventus was a bitter pill to swallow, Spurs are still unbeaten in 11 in the league and sit in the driver’s seat for a UCL place; they’ll be awfully eager to put this season’s European heartbreak behind them with a good performance at Bournemouth. The Cherries could easily pose some problems for Spurs, as they’ve beaten both Chelsea and Arsenal in the past two months, but sitting in 12th with a six-point buffer on the bottom three, Bournemouth are relatively comfortable. They’ll have nothing to lose, though, and they’ve got more than enough quality to give Tottenham trouble.
Monday, 3/12/18 (1 PM PT)
Stoke City vs. Manchester City (3)
Well, there’s no doubt as to who the favorite is in this one, but there’s also no doubt as to which side has more to play for. With City marching towards the title, their main aim at the moment is to ensure that they have their full complement ready for their next UCL match, so Pep Guardiola could decide to take his foot off the gas a little bit at the bet365 Stadium. That would be welcome news for Stoke, who despite losing just one of their last five sit in 19th (largely because they’ve drawn the other four of those contests). The Potters are still well within striking distance of safety, but they’re going to need to start picking up points soon. Like Bournemouth, though, they’ll have nothing to lose, and that could allow Paul Lambert’s squad to play freely in what must be considered a free shot at the eventual champions.
Bonus European Game of the Week: Inter vs. Napoli, Sunday 3/11/18, 12:45 PM PT
The Italian football world (and, really, the greater football community) remains in mourning after the tragic and stunning passing of Fiorentina captain Davide Astori last Sunday, and for many sides in the Serie A, it’ll be tough to focus on the game this weekend. However, the game will go on, as it always does, and there are some vital points up for grabs across Italy this weekend. The most significant are on offer at the San Siro, where a Napoli side that lost 4-2 a week ago to Roma needs to get back on track quickly if it’s going to challenge Juventus for the Scudetto. That will be very difficult to do in Milan against a well-drilled and organized Inter side that is well and truly in a Champions League battle, sitting in fifth but just a point behind Lazio and two back of Roma with a game in hand on both. Those stakes only add to what’s already a compelling matchup featuring two teams with solid defenses, dangerous attacking corps, and immensely talented players all over the pitch. It might be difficult for many across the Serie A to focus on the football this weekend, but those who tune into this clash are in store for a tantalizing one.