Saturday 4/14/18 (4:30 AM PT)
Southampton vs. Chelsea (3)
It’s a little surprising that this game matters for Southampton exponentially more than it does for Chelsea this late in the season, but here we are. The Blues sit 10 points back of fourth-place Tottenham with six games to go, and with the FA Cup representing their last chance at silverware this year, Antonio Conte may choose to rest his stars ahead of next weekend’s semifinal. Southampton also have to
(7 AM PT)
Burnley vs. Leicester (2)
Sitting in seventh and eighth, respectively, Burnley and Leicester are both safe and sound in the top flight. The only real stakes on the line surround whichever of these sides will finish in seventh and likely earn a Europa League spot. For clubs of their size, that would be an accomplishment (although obviously less so for Leicester after their Champions League run two seasons ago). Burnley in particular will be eager for European football, so the Clarets will probably have more impetus to go out and take this game. With a six-point gap between themselves and the Foxes, this could either be the match that solidifies Burnley in seventh place or opens the race back up.
Swansea vs. Everton (2)
At home, Swansea will feel confident of getting three much-needed points, but it won’t be easy. The Swans have cooled off recently, scoring just once in their past three games, but they’ve taken two points in those contests as they inch towards safety. Everton, meanwhile, are playing out the string at the end of a relatively disappointing campaign. The Toffees are likely to make major changes in the summer, and with safety assured, they don’t have much reason to stress in Wales. That should open the door for Swansea to get the win they crave, although they’ll need to take advantage of the opportunity.
Crystal Palace vs. Brighton (4)
There’s plenty left to play for in this fascinating derby fixture. Palace are just three points off the pace of the bottom three, while Brighton are in 13th but are winless in three games. With a win, the Eagles would pull to within a point of Brighton while giving themselves some breathing room on the drop zone. A win for Brighton wouldn’t be as vital, but it would put the Seagulls on the precipice of safety. There’s quality within both of these squads; add in the mutual dislike between the sides and the stakes on the line, and this
Huddersfield vs. Watford (3)
Huddersfield too have a big opportunity to put some distance between themselves and the bottom three, and they’ll fancy their chances of doing so at home against a struggling Hornets side. Watford have just one point in their last four games, and they possess the league’s second-worst defense despite sitting in 12th place. That should give plenty of hope to Huddersfield, who rest four points above the drop. Their position is more tenuous than it may sound, though, as the Terriers finish the season with games against Manchester City, Chelsea, and Arsenal. With that daunting run-in looming, this is a huge match for David Wagner’s side.
(9:30 AM PT)
Liverpool vs. Bournemouth (3)
Can anyone stop Liverpool at the moment? The Reds have lost just once in the league since late January, and that was a 2-1 defeat to Manchester United. Better yet, triumphing twice over Manchester City in the UCL will give them all the confidence they need to finish the season out strong, although they’ll probably be putting much of their focus on that competition. Luckily for Bournemouth, they aren’t desperate for points at the moment, as their 10-point gap on the relegation zone is enough for them to feel comfortable. Either way, it should be Liverpool's day at Anfield, even with a second-choice lineup.
(11:45 AM PT)
Tottenham vs. Manchester City (5)
There’s no doubt that this is going to be a cracker, but it has a strange feel to it. City famously missed their chance to win the league last week and now will have to most likely wait until next week at least to complete the trick. Tottenham, meanwhile, have little to play for with their top-four spot almost surely locked up and one eye focused on their upcoming FA Cup semifinal. Both teams should come out roaring,
Sunday 4/15/18 (5:30 AM PT)
Newcastle vs. Arsenal (3)
Arsenal similarly don’t have a whole lot to play for, but they do have the incentive of both holding off a charge from Burnley and trying to catch Chelsea to not be the worst of the top six. Newcastle won’t make that easy, though, as they’ve won three straight –– conceding only once –– and are now sitting in the top half with a chance to push even higher if their form can hold. Arsenal’s talent makes them the favorites, but having to go on the road makes it a much tougher task.
(8 AM PT)
Manchester United vs. West Brom (1)
Aside from the FA Cup, United’s whole season came down to last week, and they passed the test with flying colors in their comeback win over City. After coming off such an emotional performance, it would be easy to see the Red Devils at less than their best and playing down to their competition this week. West Brom have been so bad, however, that even on a big off day, United should still be able to cruise at Old Trafford. As with many other teams this week, both of these sides’ fates are sealed. West Brom are only playing for pride at this point, as it would take an unthinkable effort for them to even get back into the relegation race. The Baggies are going down, and United are moving towards a second-place finish.
Monday 4/16/18 (12 noon PT)
West Ham vs. Stoke (4)
Everything has gone wrong at the worst time for Stoke, who sit in 19th, four points from safety, and come in on four straight loses, tallying twice along the way. It’s been a miserable stretch to end the season for Paul Lambert’s side, and unless the Potters act soon, it will finish in an unforeseen and tough-to-swallow relegation. West Ham provide them the chance to grind out points, but the Hammers themselves only sit six points above the drop zone, so they have every reason to play hard for a full 90 minutes. It’s not going to be pretty; West Ham are having trouble on and off the pitch, and neither side has been particularly convincing all year. Still, it’s the only game on Monday, it’s important, and it’s at a great time, so it’s worth tuning into if you’re not stuck at work.
Bonus European Game of the Week: Benfica vs. Porto, Sunday 4/15/18, 10 AM PT
There are a handful of fascinating contests around Europe this weekend, including a Serie A Derby della Capitale between third-place Roma and fourth-place Lazio, a Bundesliga scrap pitting fourth-place Bayer Leverkusen and fifth-place Eintracht Frankfurt, and a Turkish clash between league-leading Istanbul Basaksehir and a Galatasaray side that trails them by two points. However, none of those have both the title chase and rivalry aspect that Benfica’s home match with Porto brings. The two Portuguese giants are separated by just a point at the top of the Primeira Liga table, with Benfica ahead and holding a two-goal advantage in the goal difference category. There are still five games left, but the top sides in Portugal rarely drop points against lesser clubs, so this contest could very well be the title decider. There will be plenty of talent, intensity, and hate on display in Lisbon on Sunday afternoon.