Saturday 10/22/16 (4:30 a.m. PT)
Bournemouth vs. Tottenham (2)
Despite mediocre performances in their last two games, a pair of draws at West Brom and Bayer Leverkusen, Spurs will expect to get three points this weekend. It won’t be simple, though. The Cherries have won their last three home games, the most recent of which was a 6-1 demolition of Hull, and they bring a ton of confidence into the fixture having climbed to 11th in the table. Still, they’ll be the underdogs against a Tottenham side that’s yet to lose a Premier League game and has conceded just four goals this year.
(7:00 a.m. PT)
Arsenal vs. Middlesbrough (2)
After winning their second game back in the top flight, Middlesbrough haven’t won any of their past six. It’ll take a small miracle for that run to end this weekend. Arsenal have won six PL games in a row since starting the season with a loss and a draw, a streak that’s brought the Gunners level with leaders Manchester City. They’ve scored eight goals in their last three home games, and 11 in their last four overall, and while Boro have a decent enough backline that’s conceded just 11 goals overall, they’ll have a very difficult time slowing down the Gunners.
Leicester vs. Crystal Palace (2)
The Foxes surprisingly have more points in three Champions League games than they do in eight PL ones, and they really need to solve their leaky domestic defense if they want to challenge for a European place again. Leicester has conceded 14 goals while scoring just eight, and they’ve been outscored 7-1 in their last three contests. Granted, those have been against good opposition, but Palace have proved they’re no slouches early this season with 11 points so far, good enough for ninth place. On talent, the edge in this clash probably belongs to Leicester, but Palace enters on better form, which ultimately makes this game a toss-up, albeit one that isn’t quite as interesting as it would have been a year ago.
West Ham vs. Sunderland (1)
West Ham’s crucial win over Palace a week ago takes some of the sting out of what looked like it was going to be a massive matchup in the relegation race. This is still an important game at the bottom of the table, but the Hammers will enter with confidence following their second win of the season and should be able to continue their recovery act after their miserable start. Meanwhile, Sunderland have just two points in eight games, and they’re going to have a huge task ahead of them if they are to avoid relegation. Neither of these teams has anything resembling a solid spine, so there could be plenty of goals in this game, but it doesn’t have the quality on either side to make it an intriguing watch.
Hull City vs. Stoke (1)
This, too, is an important game in the bottom third of the table. Stoke are fresh off their first win of the season, a 2-0 victory over Sunderland that’s brought them to the precipice of safety. They won’t have things quite as easy against Hull, but the Tigers are in the midst of an awful stretch in which they’ve been outscored 17-1 over four games. Since their outstanding start, Hull have reverted to the form most expected from them this season in large part due to a horrendous run of fixtures which has now come to an end, so facing a struggling Stoke squad could provide them a boost, but they’ll still have a tough time getting three points.
Swansea vs. Watford (1)
Since they eked out a win against Burnley on the opening day, nothing has gone right for Swansea, and it’s hard to think they are going to get back on track this week against Watford. The Hornets are seventh in the league in scoring, and though they have yet to get Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney really clicking, that has allowed others to step up, most notably Etienne Capoue, as Watford have shown they have more than just two goal-scoring threats. That said, this isn’t the most entertaining fixture, and
Burnley vs. Everton (2)
Barring a recent loss to a surging Bournemouth side, Everton have been taking care of business handily against the bottom of the table, and that is exactly what they’ll expect Saturday at Turf Moor. Burnley’s attack is tied for worst in the league with just six goals so far (Romelu Lukaku alone has equalled that) and if that doesn’t fix itself, the Clarets will slowly be sucked back towards the relegation zone. Though the Burnley defense hasn’t been half bad, allowing 12 goals, Everton’s offense needs to spark a bit of a resurgence, so expect the Toffees to be on the front foot from the opening kick.
(9:30 a.m. PT)
Liverpool vs. West Brom (4)
Since an opening-day loss to Everton, West Brom had not had a major test until last week, which they passed with flying colors, playing Tottenham to a well-earned point. Tony Pulis has a way of getting the best out of his sides with the deck stacked against them, and given the wave of confidence they are riding having not lost in their last four, the Baggies are in good position to nab some more points. Liverpool certainly won’t make thing easy, especially at Anfield, and they are riding an even better run of form with only one loss on the season and zero in their last eight in all competitions. Jurgen Klopp will most likely be walking away with three more points in his pocket come Saturday evening, but it could be a much closer match than expected.
Sunday 10/23/16 (5:30 a.m. PT)
Manchester City vs. Southampton (5)
After a characteristically slow start to the season, Southampton have been lighting up their competition lately, coming in on a run of three wins and a draw while allowing only one goal during those four fixtures. City, meanwhile, have staggered as of late, drawing with Everton following a thorough beatdown against Tottenham. Worse, the Citizens got pummeled in the midweek by Barcelona, and while it is hard to expect City to get a quality result against one of the best sides in the world, their defense was abysmal in the contest and needs a lot of shoring up. If that doesn’t happen, Saints, who have also tallied seven in their recent run of form, could exploit a tired, out-of-sorts backline.
(8:00 a.m. PT)
Chelsea vs. Manchester United (5)
One of the classic derbies in the Premier League era will be renewed this weekend at Stamford Bridge, and tensions will be high with each team having hit a bit of a recent skid. Though the Blues have won their last two, the teams have just three wins combined in their last eight fixtures. And, while United come in on the heels of a quality draws against Liverpool and Stoke, they could have gotten more in each fixture
Bonus European Game of the Week: AC Milan vs. Juventus, Saturday 10/22/16, 11:45 AM PT
A little over a month ago, we featured Juventus on our game of the week as they faced off with Inter Milan, stating that the underdogs needed to do the rest of the league a service and stall the champions from again running away with the title. They did so perfectly, but that has proven to be the Old Lady’s only loss of the season in all competitions (they also have only one tie, against Sevilla in the Champions League) and now Inter’s crosstown rivals must again try and peg back the consensus favorites. Showing resilience since the loss, Juve have opened up a five-point lead again in the Serie A, though Milan, who are tied for second, could more than chop that in half with a win at the San Siro. A loss, however, even this early, could be a major blow to Milan’s revitalized title hopes given just how solid Juve have proven to be in this run of five titles in as many years.