Saturday 9/25/15 (4:45 AM PT)
Tottenham vs. Manchester City (5)
The teams have flipped from their early forms, as Spurs come into the fixture having won twice in a row while City shockingly lost to West Ham last week. This could very well be a tight defensive affair, as the teams have conceded the fewest goals in the league, City with just two (both last week without Vincent Kompany in the squad) and Spurs with four, and none in its last three BPL fixtures.
(7:00 AM PT)
Liverpool vs. Aston Villa (2)
With a combined two points from the past three matchdays, both of these sides are desperate for a win at Anfield. Liverpool are certainly the more talented side, but they’ve had serious offensive problems, with just four league goals thus far, and will be without former Villain Christian Benteke due to a hamstring injury. Benteke was a big reason why Villa hasn’t lost a league game at Anfield since 2010-11, but Tim Sherwood’s side will feel like they can nab a result there again following a Capital One Cup derby win midweek over Birmingham. Still, with the relative ineptitude of these two attacks (10 goals scored in 12 BPL games between the pair), this one is definitely skippable.
Southampton vs. Swansea (3)
Despite vastly different starts, this pair of seemingly upper mid-table sides became closer in the last couple of fixtures. Swansea came out of the gates flying, while the Saints were miserable up until a few weeks ago. Despite coming off a loss, Southampton put in one of their best efforts of the season last weekend against United, while Swansea limped to a goalless draw with Everton. It could be a closer affair than previously thought, and these are the kind of home fixtures that will tell if the Saints can get back on track and into the top half of the table.
Manchester United vs. Sunderland (1)
It's a huge mismatch, to say the least, and with the game being played at Old Trafford, it's far-fetched to think Sunderland have much of a chance in this one. The Black Cats have been the worst side in the league so far, with two points and a league-worst minus-7 goal differential. Meanwhile, the Red Devils have begun to click in recent weeks, and United look dangerous sitting just two points behind their crosstown rivals. If you want to watch a game played in one half of the field, this one's for you, but if a more competitive affair interests you, tune elsewhere.
Leicester vs. Arsenal (4)
The best game of the time slot pits the current fourth- and fifth-placed teams in the table. Though Leicester have cooled somewhat, the Foxes have been the league’s most exciting team thus far, with three wins, three draws, and 13 goals scored. They’ve also yet to keep a clean sheet, which means Arsenal will have its chances to score. Given the talent and tactics these teams possess, expect an open and thrilling contest at the King Power Stadium, one that will certainly be worth tuning in for.
Third-place West Ham have been the shock of the season so far, and coming off a win against Manchester City at the Etihad, they should be encouraged that three points are well within reach against Norwich. The Canaries’ defense has been porous early in the season, conceding 10 in their first six games, and they will need to shore up their back line in order to stop Dimitri Payet, who has been one of the league's best new additions. It's not a terrible fixture by any means, but there are surely better options in the time slot.
Stoke City vs. Bournemouth (1)
Both of these squads have been pretty lifeless in the early going, but their previous results will give some encouragement to this week’s fixture. Bournemouth attacked and defended solidly in a 2-0 win last week, albeit against Sunderland, but that will hopefully kick-start the engines for the Cherries. Stoke will be disappointed in throwing away a two-goal lead to Leicester, but for the first time all year, their offense looked potent. It’s fixtures like this that will go a long way in the relegation race come may, but it's just too early to get excited about this one.
(9:30 AM PT)
Newcastle vs. Chelsea (3)
After the fireworks from last weekend’s win over Arsenal, Chelsea will be without Diego Costa when they invade St. James’ Park, but they’ll still be the favorites. With Newcastle in shambles, this game is either a great opportunity for the Magpies to pull themselves out of a slump or to sink deeper into the
Sunday 9/26/15 (8:00 AM PT)
Watford vs. Crystal Palace (3)
Two weeks ago, this game would’ve been heavily tilted toward Palace, but these teams’ scripts have flipped. Watford have won two consecutive games, while Crystal Palace have lost twice in a row, and a Watford win could take them into the top five, depending on results elsewhere. Alan Pardew will see this as a great opportunity for his Palace team to get back on track, but the Eagles need to be careful not to overlook the Hornets and in-form striker Odion Ighalo, who has scored all three Watford goals in the past two games.
Monday 9/27/15 (Noon PT)
West Brom vs. Everton (3)
Everton will expect to get three points at the Hawthorns on Monday afternoon, but it might not be that simple. Since the international break, West Brom have earned seven of a possible nine points and haven’t conceded a goal. The Toffees have given up just one during that span, so this is likely to be a tight, low-scoring affair to finish off the weekend. With the good kick-off time, though, it’s a decent game to tune in to.
Bonus European game of the week: Napoli vs. Juventus 9/26/15 (11:45 AM PT)
Sitting in 11th and 13th is not where you would expect to find this pair of Italian giants. But lackluster starts to both of their seasons have left the squads needing points to stay on pace with Inter, who are a perfect five for five in the early going. The champions look a shadow of the UCL finalist we saw a year ago, and the depletion of their midfield in the offseason certainly has something to do with it. Napoli smacked Lazio 5-0 a week ago, but that is their only win in the Serie A this season, and they followed that up by tying 19th place Carpi 0-0 in the mid-week. Both teams need something to build momentum, and this is the perfect fixture to get either side going.