Saturday 4/8/17 (4:30 AM PT)
Tottenham vs. Watford (2)
Returning home after an epic late comeback win in Wales, it doesn’t seem like much is going to stop the Tottenham Hotspur freight train. Coming off back-to-back wins, the Hornets have as decent a chance as any team outside the top six of doing so, but an upset here seems out of the cards. Spurs are in one of their easiest stretches of the season, and so far they have been able
(7 AM PT)
Stoke City vs. Liverpool (2)
Liverpool are positioned well in third place right now, but if Arsenal and the two Manchester sides make good on their games in hand, the Reds could quickly find themselves in a three-way tie for fourth, so every point is massive. Despite a midweek home draw to Bournemouth, Liverpool should be able to beat Stoke, who enter with three straight losses and just one goal scored in their last four games. That lack of attack is concerning for Mark Hughes, but he will have the offseason to figure it out for the middling side. Jurgen Klopp does not have the same freedom of having nothing to play for, as his side needs to press on for a win or face the prospect of missing the Champions League for the sixth time in seven years.
Middlesbrough vs. Burnley (4)
If Boro don't want to follow Sunderland down to the Championship, it is vital they come up with points this weekend against Burnley. The Clarets have been awful on the road this year with just three points away from Turf Moor, and even coming off a win, their recent form has been shaky. The Clarets still need to confirm their own survival as well, so expected spirited performances from both sides in a game each needs to win.
West Ham vs. Swansea (4)
Similar to the match above, the battle at the London Stadium pits a side in the relegation zone (Swansea) with one perched just above it. The Swans are surely feeling down after their disheartening late defeat against Spurs, but the Hammers probably feel even worse as they enter with five straight losses and two just points in their last seven games. Really, anything could happen in this battle of bottom feeders, and the result could go a long way to deciding who takes the drop.
While both of these teams are in the top half of the table, this is a clash to skip at this stage of the season. Neither the Saints nor Baggies are going to find themselves in a European place, and both are comfortably clear of the relegation zone. These teams don’t score a ton of goals, either. In a game like this with two evenly matched teams, anything can happen, but the lack of importance combined with critical points on the line in other fixtures make this a pass.
Manchester City vs. Hull City (2)
There isn’t much to say here besides Hull are going to need to pull a rabbit out of the hat to defeat City at the Etihad this weekend. The Tigers are in flying form, having won three out of their last four contests, but those were all against teams placed 15th or lower. Conversely, City have just three points in their last four games (courtesy of three draws) and are teetering on the brink of losing their top-four spot. Despite all that, it’s still tough to imagine Hull getting any sort of result here, but that’s why they play the games.
(9:30 AM PT)
Bournemouth vs. Chelsea (3)
Bournemouth have caused problems for some of the Premier League’s big clubs this season, but getting a result against the league leaders is unlikely. The Cherries haven’t lost in five league games, so they bring some momentum, and their tiny Dean Court can be a difficult place to play. That said, Chelsea are still seven points clear atop the league, and while they may start to feel some pressure in the coming weeks, they should have enough firepower to keep rolling in the right direction. Bournemouth are capable of springing a surprise, but they’ll need to be at their best to slow down the Blues.
Sunday 4/9/17 (5:30 AM PT)
Sunderland vs. Manchester United (3)
David Moyes hosts one of his old clubs, but it won’t be an occasion for pleasantries for Sunderland. The Black Cats are sinking fast; they have one point in their last
(8 AM PT)
Everton vs. Leicester (2)
Leicester’s hot streak has taken them to the brink of the top half of the table, and they’ll travel to Goodison Park in fine form with five wins in a row. However, nobody could blame the Foxes for playing with one eye towards Wednesday’s Champions League quarterfinal clash at Atletico Madrid. Craig Shakespeare will likely give some rest to a few of his bigger names, and that should allow Ronald Koeman’s side to get three points at home. The Toffees need them, too, if they’re going to narrow the gap to the top six and embark on a late push for a European place.
Monday 4/10/17 (12 PM PT)
Crystal Palace vs. Arsenal (4)
Palace’s four-game winning streak came to an end against Southampton this week, and the Eagles now need to get back on track. That won’t be easy against Arsenal, even with the Gunners struggling and having to visit Selhurst Park. Arsenal got a big win Wednesday, beating West Ham 3-0, and they are still well within striking distance of the top four. This is a game both sides really need to win, with Palace at risk of dropping into the bottom three and Arsenal needing to pull closer to the top four, so expect a tense atmosphere on Monday.
Bonus European Game of the Week: Lazio vs. Napoli, Sunday 4/9/17, 11:45 AM PT
There are some huge, high-profile games around Europe this weekend with Borussia Dortmund squaring off against Bayern Munich and a Madrid derby between Atletico and Real, but the look of the table in those nations means neither has the importance of the third-versus-fourth battle in Italy. Napoli travel to the capital currently holding Serie A’s final Champions League place, and with a four-point buffer between themselves and Lazio. Both sides lost midweek cup games, but each is hot in league play, as Napoli have won three of four (and the other was a draw with Juventus) while Lazio are unbeaten in eight. This also pits the league’s best attacking side (Napoli) against a defense that’s allowed the third-fewest goals this season. That battle of strength against strength, combined with the vital three points up for grabs, makes this a fascinating clash in the battle for the Champions League in Italy.