Saturday 10/15/16 (4:30 AM PT)
Chelsea vs. Leicester City (4)
The last two winners of the Premier League meet with each looking for a win to vault them up the table. Both teams have four points in their last four fixtures, but the Blues had a much better start overall, although they need a win if they don’t want to lose touch with the early leaders. Leicester will need a miracle to repeat last year's amazing performance, but it’s games like this that the Foxes
(7:00 AM PT)
Arsenal vs. Swansea (2)
There haven’t been many redeeming qualities for Swansea this season, and now, new manager Bob Bradley will be thrown straight into the fire against Arsenal. The Gunners’ defense has come into question early in the season, but Arsenal have performed well given their injuries and lack of depth, and they should get another quality performance this week with the league's third-worst offense visiting the Emirates. It should be a pretty routine victory for the Gunners, but with players trying to impress a new gaffer, Swansea might just put up an unexpected fight, and they did win at Arsenal last season during a poor run of form.
West Brom vs. Tottenham (2)
Speaking of defense, Tottenham’s has been absolutely stellar, having conceded three in their first seven fixtures, and that should be able to carry them to three points this weekend. Another big advantage for the visitors is form, as Spurs are coming off a big win over Manchester City while the Baggies’ last two fixtures were draws with Stoke and Sunderland, who are the bottom two sides in the table. The saving graces for West Brom could be that fewer of their players were on international duty, meaning they should be better rested and focused for the fixture, and the fact that Tony Pulis has had success in the past against Mauricio Pochettino.
Stoke City vs. Sunderland (1)
As was just stated, these two sides are propping up the table, and each badly needs points to get their motors started. The two clubs have combined for five draws, nine losses, and zero wins en route to a combined minus-18 goal differential. The only thing that makes this fixture interesting is that because both sides have been so bad, they might actually be evenly matched, making for a potentially open and desperate fixture. Otherwise, it is an easy pass.
Bournemouth vs. Hull City (2)
Even though each is perched above the relegation zone thanks to decent starts, it wouldn’t be surprising for either of these teams to get dragged back down, and that is what makes this fixture a crucial one. After winning their first two games of the season, Hull have recorded just one point since and need to keep their players on the pitch after seeing men sent off in two of their last three PL fixtures. Bournemouth, meanwhile, have played a couple of impressive games lately, having defeated Everton and drawn a solid Watford side. It’s not the best fixture in the timeslot, but with their leaky defenses, it could be an interesting one nonetheless.
Both City and Everton saw their strong starts to the season end before the international break, with the Citizens suffering their first PL loss of the year to Spurs and the Toffees taking just one point from their past two games. Pep Guardiola’s side will expect to return to winning ways at home, but Everton are more than capable of springing a surprise. Ronald Koeman has claimed some major scalps before, and his squad has allowed just five goals in its first seven games, second-fewest in the league. They’ll be under pressure from City all day, but the Toffees have a chance to win every game they play in, and this one is no exception.
(9:30 AM PT)
Crystal Palace vs. West Ham (3)
This London derby has plenty of intrigue, in large part because these teams aren’t where most expected they would be in the table at this point. After last season’s poor finish, Palace have started the 2016-17 campaign well, sitting in eighth place and having gone unbeaten in their last five games. Conversely, West Ham’s excellent 2015-16 season hasn’t led to more success this year, as the Hammers sit in the relegation zone with a league-high 17 goals conceded. On talent, West Ham probably has a slight edge, but Palace’s form and home-field advantage give the Eagles the upper hand. With a late kickoff time, this should be a good watch Saturday, even if it doesn’t include any of the top teams.
Sunday 10/16/16 (5:30 AM PT)
Middlesbrough vs. Watford (1)
With the early wake up and quality of these teams, there aren’t a whole lot of redeeming factors in this game. Boro started the season decently but have just one point in their last four matches, while Watford are a middle-of-the-road side and not much more. The Hornets do tend to play high-scoring matches, as evidenced by the 25 total goals in their seven contests, but Middlesbrough prefers to keep games tight. There are a few different ways this game could go, but none are exciting enough to make it worth the watch.
(8:00 AM PT)
Southampton vs. Burnley (2)
After starting the season poorly, Southampton have righted the ship under new boss Claude Puel, with seven points and no goals conceded in their past three games. The Saints will be heavy favorites to beat a Burnley side that has scored just five goals so far, but the Clarets also possess a solid defense. There may not be many goals to be had at St. Mary’s, but if there are any scored, Southampton should be the team doing so. Like the above game, though, there aren’t a whole lot of great factors in this contest, with only the kickoff time pushing this one higher.
Liverpool vs. Manchester United (5)
On the other hand, the weekend ends with a bang. This has the potential to be one of the games of the season, and the mid-afternoon kickoff only makes it that much more appealing. These teams don’t like each other, they both have the quality to fight for a title, and each has a manager who only makes the game more intriguing. Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp have differing styles that should make this game fascinating, and with the talent on display, this is basically a must-see for all football fans.
Bonus European Game of the Week: Napoli vs. Roma, Saturday 10/15/16, 6 a.m. PT
If anyone is to surpass Juventus in Serie A, it’s probably one of these two teams. The winner of this game will have the inside track as the side with the best chance to do so. Napoli currently have a one-point edge on a group of four teams in the pack behind Juve, but they’ll have to contend with the potential long-term absence of striker Arkadiusz Milik, who could miss up to six months after suffering a knee injury while playing for Poland last week. Meanwhile, Roma could be in position to make a jump, as they are the Serie A’s leading scorers with 16 goals, although the back line is a bit of a question mark. This will be a fascinating game between two very good sides, and there’s plenty on the line as the teams jostle for position in the battle to unseat the champions.