Dec 21, 2013, 6:41 AM EDT
Picking Premier League matches is hard work and frankly, I’m crap at it.
But I love the banter and figure at the very least I can provide you with some fodder to tear me up with in the comments.
So let’s get it on.
Sunderland v. Norwich City (Sat 10:00am ET on Live Extra; Stadium of Light)
Sunderland enter this match flying high having knocked off Chelsea 2-1 in midweek League Cup action. Now, they’ll look to get it done in the league where they haven’t won since the 1-0 victory over Manchester City on November 10th.
It won’t come easy, with Norwich taking seven of a possible 12 points in their last four matches and looking a bit more dangerous with the appointment of Gary Hooper as lead striker.
Huge match for the Black Cats to keep the relegation race tight.
Sunderland 2 Norwich City 1
Southampton v. Tottenham Hotspur (Sun 8:30am ET on NBCSN; St Mary’s Stadium)
Tottenham are a shambles. AVB is out, Tim Sherwood (pictured) is deputizing and so far it doesn’t seem to be making a difference as Spurs blew a one goal lead to concede twice in the last ten minutes and lose to West Ham in the League Cup. Not good.
The Saints have their issues as well, namely injuries as Victor Wanyama, Artur Boruc and (possibly) Nathaniel Clyne are all out. That said, the Saints have managed their injury issues impressively over the last few weeks and I expect the same on Sunday.
Southampton 2 Tottenham 1
Arsenal v. Chelsea (Mon 3:00pm ET on NBCSN; Emirates Stadium)
Both teams are in a weird space.
Looking a bit ragged, Monday’s match marks the end of a ridiculous 12 match span for the Gunners. Not having won in three matches and at risk of relinquishing their hold on first place, Arsenal will be desperate to win.
Although he’s not a threat to lose his job, Jose Mourinho’s misunderstanding of his midfield is strikingly similar to that of the recently fired Andre Villas-Boas. How long does it take to figure it out?
This one could go either way but the Blues owned Arsenal when they beat them 2-0 in the Capital One Cup back in October. That tips the scales for me.
Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1
SQUEAKY BUM TIME
Crystal Palace v. Newcastle United (Sat 10:00am ET on Live Extra; Selhurst Park)
Four matches into Tony Pulis‘ managerial reign at Selhurst Park and things have improved drastically. The Eagles have moved up two spots to 18th in the table, one point from safety, but even more impressive is they haven’t lost or conceded a home goal in three matches.
It’s a run of form that Newcastle won’t be too bothered by. The Magpies enter the match winners of five of their last seven, with the only loss a throw-away game at Swansea. Alan Pardew‘s side are healthy, mentally sharp and dreaming of contending from the outside.
Crystal Palace 1 Newcastle United 2
Manchester United v. West Ham United (Sat 10:00am ET on Live Extra; Old Trafford)
United’s 2-0 away win at Stoke in the League Cup was telling of this team’s transformation. Without Rooney and Van Persie, they showed a courage and attitude that I have yet to see from them this season. The weather was awful – wind, driving rain and hail – and Stoke looked up for it but Moyes’ men were fearless in their approach. Could be a turning point for United.
Manchester United 3 West Ham United 2
Stoke City v. Aston Villa (Sat 10:00am ET on Live Extra; Britannia Stadium)
It’s an American party going down in the Midlands this week with Stoke’s Geoff Cameron – possibly the most improved player in the Premier League this year – taking on one of the league’s most sought after netminders, Villa’s Brad Guzan. This one will entice.
Stoke City 3 Aston Villa 2
West Bromwich Albion v. Hull City (Sat 10:00am ET on Live Extra; The Hawthorns)
Following Steve Clarke‘s sacking, caretaker head coach Keith Downing will take charge of Albion for visit of Hull. Fortunately for Downing he’ll be able to call on Ben Foster, who returns from injury to help boost the Baggies.
Hull are a quality home side unfortunately they’ve won only once away, and have lost four of their last five games on the road.
West Brom 3 Hull City 2
Liverpool v. Cardiff City (Sat 7:45 ET on NBCSN; Anfield)
Seeing how this Malky Mackay/Vincent Tan situation will pan out is like watching a car accident in slow motion. I feel for Cardiff fans. How could you not? My hope is that the turmoil will motivate the Bluebirds to come out firing but I fear for them against this in-form Liverpool side.
Liverpool 3 Cardiff City 1
Fulham v. Manchester City (Sat 10:00am ET on NBCSN; Craven Cottage)
With eight-straight unbeaten, the road worries of Manchester City appear to be well in the rearview.
Fulham 0 Manchester City 4
Swansea City v. Everton (Sun 11:00am ET on NBCSN; Liberty Stadium)
As Everton continues to lurk in the shadows of the title favorites they travel to Swansea City on Saturday where they’ve never lost. It’s a favorable match-up for the Toffees but it’s hardly a foregone conclusion. Roberto Martinez‘ side needs to continue to prove that it can dispose of lesser competition, especially when a few of their best players (Michel Vorm, Nathan Dyer and Michu) are out injured.
Everton has character. They’ll get this done.
Swansea City 0 Everton 2
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