Saturday 4/7/18 (4:30 AM PT)
Everton vs. Liverpool (4)
The weekend kicks off with a Merseyside Derby that promises a lot of intrigue, even if the stakes aren’t quite as high as they usually are. After their incredible 3-0 throttling of Manchester City in the Champions League, Liverpool are flying high, and with 10 points separating them from fifth-place Chelsea, the Reds
(7 AM PT)
Stoke vs. Tottenham (3)
Like Liverpool, Spurs have opened up a nice gap between themselves and Chelsea; after beating the Blues at Stamford Bridge last weekend, Tottenham have an eight-point buffer on their top-four challengers. Their reward for that performance is a matchup with their favorite opponents. In the last four meetings between the sides, Spurs have outscored Stoke 17-1, including a 5-1 trouncing at Wembley in December. This is a much bigger match for the Potters than it is for the Lilywhites, as Stoke sit in 19th place, three points from safety, and haven’t won a Premier League game since January 20. Still, the recent history, current form, and talent disparity all point to a relatively simple task for Spurs, even away from home.
Watford vs. Burnley (1)
This is a decent matchup between two solid sides, but there are no real stakes on the line. Watford aren’t quite officially safe yet, although one more win should do the trick; Burnley, meanwhile, are completely safe, sitting in seventh place and with three straight wins at their backs. In fact, the Clarets might just have one eye trained on Arsenal, who sit just five points ahead of them. Many sides would rather miss out on the Europa League, but for a club of Burnley’s stature, a berth in the competition would be a dream; that motivation should help them as they try to extend their winning run to four.
Brighton vs. Huddersfield (2)
By the general standards of promoted teams, all three top-flight newcomers have had successful campaigns thus far, and Brighton and Newcastle seem to be on the verge of cementing that as they close in on safety. The story is a little different for Huddersfield, who have cooled off significantly following a good first half and now sit just three points away from the bottom three. The Terriers have shown both their quality and their gritty mentality at times this season, but it’ll be the latter they’ll have to rely on over the coming weeks as they try to maintain their Premier League status. With those high stakes on the line (and a bit of desperation brought on by a four-game winless run), expect Huddersfield to bring everything they have with them to the Amex Stadium.
West Brom vs. Swansea City (3)
After the departure of Alan Pardew last week, caretaker manager Darren Moore takes over as West Brom boss with his side virtually down. If the new boss is to pull off perhaps the most unlikely miracle in recent top-flight history, it must start Saturday against Swansea. At the Hawthorns, West Brom could get a slight boost, and they’ll need it, but the odds are nearly impossible. Their struggles should provide a lift for Carlos Carvalhal’s Swans, who are just three points out of the drop zone at the moment. They’re huge
Bournemouth vs. Crystal Palace (3)
With six games to go and a nine-point buffer on the relegation zone, there’s little intrigue for the Cherries this weekend, but that is not the case for their visitors, who are precariously perched in 17th. The good news for Palace is that they have a run of mostly bottom-half teams — and none in the top six — to finish the season. They can’t rely on those fixtures, however, as it could be a two-edged sword of giving their nearest competitors important points. Expect Palace to bring everything with desperation setting in.
Leicester vs. Newcastle (1)
With both the Foxes and Magpies safe in the mid-table, there’s just about nothing to play for here. Newcastle aren’t fully safe yet, but a couple more points down the stretch should do the trick. Both teams enter on good form, too, with each having lost just once in its last six games. It might not be the most interesting game, but it could feature some solid football from a pair of teams who will be amongst the 20 that are top-flight representatives next season.
(9:30 AM PT)
Manchester City vs. Manchester United (5)
Almost two months ago, the calculations regarding this game were done, and the math has held up. A win at the Etihad for City would see them crowned champions, and even though that title will eventually come regardless of result on Saturday afternoon, it would be extra sweet for the Sky Blues to clinch it against their bitter rivals. United’s task is simple: do everything they can to make sure that City have to
Sunday 4/8/18 (6:15 AM PT)
Arsenal vs. Southampton (3)
Despite the Gunners having won their last two games, this is surely a good time for Southampton to match up with Arsenal. The Gunners have nothing to play for and will be on short rest after their Europa League contest with CSKA Moscow in the midweek. Arsene Wenger will certainly be looking towards the second leg next week, too, as the UEL represents the Gunners’ only chance to qualify for the Champions League. Southampton are desperate for points, sitting in 18th and needing three points to boost themselves out of the drop zone (assuming other results go their way as well). A few weeks ago, it would have been tough to believe in the Saints, and with three losses and two draws in their last five, it’s still difficult, but the visitors have a glimmer of hope.
(8:30 AM PT)
Chelsea vs. West Ham (3)
Last week’s loss to Tottenham was devastating for the Blues as it all but eliminated them from UCL contention. They have a pretty easy run-in but would almost surely need max points in every fixture and a lot of help to get back into the top four. The Hammers won’t make it easy in this London Derby, however, as they need points to feel a bit more secure in their bottom-half placement. At Stamford Bridge, the Blues should roll, but after taking their first loss at home to Tottenham since 1990 last week, there might be a crack in the Blues’ armour that the Hammers can exploit.
Bonus European game of the week: Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid, Sunday, 4/8/18, (7:15 AM PT)
In the grand scheme of things, this should be a pretty tame Madrid derby. Both Real and Atletico are locked into top-four places in Spain, and each has European ambitions bookending the match. But let’s be real here; these teams absolutely despise each other, and even with nothing on the line, this is about as far as it gets from a friendly. Even if they don’t play their top sides, it’s still worth the watch for the expected fireworks alone.