Saturday 9/19/15 (4:45 AM PT)
Chelsea vs. Arsenal (5)
Despite Chelsea’s early season struggles, this fixture is as good as it gets. It’s a London derby, with two teams, fanbases, and managers who hold a ton of animosity toward each other. Additionally, Chelsea are desperate for a league victory, and Arsenal need to bounce back after a poor Champions League performance Wednesday. It may not hold as much luster as it did at the beginning of the season with both teams coming in cold, but that makes each of
(7:00 AM PT)
Swansea City vs. Everton (4)
Both of these sides have shown a ton of promise early in the season and sit together on eight points. But the pair have taken vastly different approaches this season, as Swansea revamped their squad in the window, while Everton have improved with a similar group to the one which finished fifth two seasons ago. The pair of squads are great candidates to shock the BPL and sneak into a UCL spot should one of the traditional powerhouses slip up, so expect a feisty fixture in Wales this weekend.
Aston Villa vs. West Brom (1)
It’s a derby, and that’s about the only positive that can be said about this match. These teams certainly don’t like each other, but neither looks like a threat to the top half of the table this season. It’ll be an important contest for each of the sides, who have one win apiece, as they try to get a leg up on the relegation race, but neither team is intriguing enough for us to recommend this fixture over a few of the others in the time slot.
Stoke City vs. Leicester City (2)
Leicester have been flying early in the season, and there’s little reason they cannot snatch up three more points at the expense of Stoke this weekend. The addition of Xherdan Shaqiri was supposed to bolster the high expectations the Potters had going into the season, but Stoke has fallen flat so far, with just two draws and three losses in their opening five. The Foxes are unquestioned favorites, but Stoke certainly have the talent to challenge
Bournemouth vs. Sunderland (1)
Another matchup with potential relegation implications pits a pair of teams with six points between them thus far. They won’t be favorites often this season, but Bournemouth should expect to get three points at home against a poor Sunderland side. This is the kind of game both teams need to win to stay up, but the quality won’t be up to scratch with others this weekend. Like the Villa-West Brom contest, this one’s critical for each of these clubs, but it’s not a great watch.
Newcastle vs. Watford (1)
It's been a rough go for both of these sides early in the season, and each will need to get points against weaker opposition (like they are facing this weekend) to stay out of the relegation scrap. The two teams have only scored five combined goals this year, so offense could be on the back burner when they meet at St. James’ Park. Despite their new BPL status, Watford will be tipped as slight favorites, simply because Newcastle have barely shown a pulse so far. Given the other games in this time slot, this one is only for the fanatics of the teams involved.
(9:30 AM PT)
Manchester City vs. West Ham (3)
The Citizens suffered their first setback of the season this week, losing to Juventus in the UCL, but they still look to have a major advantage over the rest of England. If Sergio Aguero is fully fit (he played the final minutes on Tuesday) and Vincent Kompany can shake off the knock he took against Juve, West Ham’s task becomes a lot more difficult. But don’t sleep on the Hammers, as their up-and-down start has led them to fifth place and a perfect road record at this juncture, and they have scored five goals while conceding zero in their last two fixtures.
Sunday 9/20/15 (5:30 AM PT)
Tottenham vs. Crystal Palace (4)
Fresh off a first BPL win of the season, Spurs get the honor of hosting one of the best road teams in the league. Palace are one of four teams yet to drop a point on their travels, with impressive away wins over Norwich and Chelsea, and they’ll feel that another three are there for the taking against Tottenham, who have two league draws at White Hart Lane so far. Both of these teams are aiming high, and with the form Palace brings to North London, this has all the makings of a cracker of a match.
(8:00 AM PT)
Liverpool vs. Norwich City (2)
There’s no Luis Suarez this time, but Liverpool will still be fully expected to get all three points at home against the Canaries. Suarez scored five goals in two games against Norwich in his final Liverpool season, and the Reds have failed to find consistent scoring since his departure, with just three goals this season. Meanwhile, Norwich have been excellent on the road since the arrival of Alex Neil midway through last season, but they face a monumental task in getting a result at Anfield. Liverpool needs to be careful not to take the Canaries lightly, but they should be walking away with three points Sunday.
Southampton vs. Manchester United (3)
The last time these sides met, Saints secured a famous victory at Old Trafford, but it will be tough for them to produce another win against the giants considering their lackluster start. United haven’t been terribly impressive either in the early going, but they have found an uncanny ability to get results (at least domestically). Both teams desperately need points for different reasons, as Southampton need to stay relevant while the Red Devils cannot let their cross-town rivals continue to slip away. United also have to deal with fatigue — as they played in Holland in the UCL mid week — and replacing Luke Shaw, who suffered a nasty injury in that loss to PSV, so it could be a tighter game than initially meets the eye.
While Dortmund have started the season on a tear, with 12 points out of 12 and a plus-12 goal differential, Leverkusen are languishing in 13th place four games into the Bundesliga campaign. Still, these two teams will likely be among the select few competing for second place (sorry, Bayern’s too strong) in Germany, and this fixture will provide a glimpse of which side is better equipped to nab it. Both sides are coming off confidence-boosting European victories midweek, and while Leverkusen certainly need this one more, Dortmund are eager to prove themselves against one of their top-four rivals. This has the potential to be one of the games of the season in Germany, and it should be treated as such.