West Ham vs. Brighton (2)
Friday football is back, and it returns with two teams who are in search of points to escape the early relegation scrap. Both sides have eight points and neither has yet to go three games in a row unbeaten, though that could change if West Ham can get any result in front of their home supporters. There isn’t really a good calling card for the fixture — neither team is particularly good on either side of the ball — so while the clubs are evenly matched, that doesn’t mean good football will follow.
Saturday 10/21/17 (4:30 AM PT)
Chelsea vs. Watford (5)
Coming in off back-to-back losses in the Premier League (and a midweek draw in the Champions League), Chelsea need to get back on track. Watford are going to make that a lot more difficult than once thought, though. The fourth-place Hornets have been electric lately and are coming in off their best performance of the season in a 2-1 win over Arsenal.
(7:00 AM PT)
Swansea vs. Leicester (3)
Before Craig Shakespeare got the axe this week, this fixture was a lot less interesting, but now, it will be fascinating to see how Leicester’s players react to their new caretaker boss Michael Appleton. The Foxes did brilliantly after the sacking of Claudio Ranieri last year, and if they can produce similar form (which they are clearly capable of), they could quickly vault up the table. Their lack of consistency, both in play and with their manager situation, makes them vulnerable, however, and playing in a hostile Welsh environment gives Swansea a big leg up.
Newcastle vs. Crystal Palace (3)
Newcastle sit in the top half of the table, but they haven’t won in three matches and are still looking to get their gears fully turning. Palace finally won their first game last week (LINK) against Chelsea, but aside from those 90 minutes, the Eagles have shown absolutely nothing this season. If Palace regress to what they were before last weekend, this should be an easy win for the hosts.
Manchester City vs. Burnley (4)
Burnley have been nothing short of brilliant on the road this year, securing wins over Chelsea and Everton while drawing Tottenham and Liverpool. Their biggest test so far (and maybe for the entire season) comes this weekend against Pep Guardiola’s downright frightening side. There’s really no reason (besides not having fully fresh legs) to think that the Citizens won’t keep their roll going, however, and even though Burnley have been giant killers, this one simply looks too big to slay at the moment.
Huddersfield vs. Manchester United (3)
After their stellar start to the season, Huddersfield have hit a snag. The Terriers haven’t won since the second game of the season, and they’ve lost their last two games by a combined 6-0 margin. Their workrate remains impressive, though, and that should serve
Stoke City vs. Bournemouth (2)
Two teams who have gotten off to miserable starts meet at the bet365 Stadium in an important game for both. Stoke have stalled over the past few weeks, losing three of their last four to fall into 17th place with a joint-league-high 18 goals conceded. On the other side, Bournemouth remain trapped in 19th after getting just one point in their last three games following their first win of the season. The Cherries will need to be sharp away from home, and they’ll probably take a draw, but both of these squads could use a momentum boost to try and finally get their campaigns up and running.
(9:30 AM PT)
Southampton vs. West Brom (1)
If ever there was a late kickoff to skip, this is it. Truthfully, both of these sides are capable of pulling off a shock on their day, and neither is anywhere close to bad enough to go down. That’s the problem, though. The stakes of this game are extremely low, and with the defensive tactics both teams tend to employ, this has all the makings of a drab, low-scoring draw. There’s always the possibility of a surprise cracker of a match, but that looks extremely unlikely to happen Saturday evening at St. Mary’s.
Sunday 10/22/17 (5:30 AM PT)
Everton vs. Arsenal (5)
Merseyside versus North London, part I. The opener of Sunday’s regional doubleheader pits a pair of sides trying to turn around worrying starts to the season. Everton have been just short of miserable this season, with just five goals scored, 13 conceded, and eight points through eight games. With his expensive, highly-paid squad sitting in 16th place, Ronald
(8:00 AM PT)
Tottenham vs. Liverpool (5)
Merseyside versus North London, part II. The last game of the weekend is the best as a pair of high-flying Champions League sides meet at Wembley. Both teams enter off excellent results in Europe as Spurs drew at Real Madrid and Liverpool smashed Maribor 7-0, and each is capable of scintillating attacking performances on their day. The difference between these teams is defense, with Tottenham’s back line undoubtedly more impressive than Liverpool’s, but Spurs have struggled with the Reds’ high press since Jurgen Klopp’s arrival. At Wembley, and with the talent spilling over on both sides, this is a toss-up, and it should be an outstanding game of football.
Bonus European Game of the Week: Napoli vs. Inter Milan, Saturday 10/21/17, 11:45 AM PT
With Juventus losing to Lazio last weekend, Napoli and Inter have taken advantage and moved to the top of the Serie A table. Now, the pair match up for what should be a fantastic battle in Naples. Champions League loss to Manchester City aside, Napoli have been arguably Europe’s most impressive side domestically this season, with eight wins in eight games and a whopping 26 goals scored. Inter aren’t far behind, sitting just two points back of Napoli with seven wins and a draw. Both of these teams are dangerous going forward — Napoli’s Dries Mertens and Inter’s Mauro Icardi are two of the most exciting players in the Serie A — and solid at the back, with just five goals conceded apiece. There are quality players on both sides of the ledger, and the winner will make a loud statement about its title credentials. All the pieces are in place for a memorable match.