Premier League, Week 16: Chelsea, Manchester City in action before Arsenal-Newcastle
The Premier League’s two big title contenders have very winnable games during Saturday’s early slate leading into the day’s headline attraction, Arsenal vs. Newcastle.
The busy holiday period is approaching in the Premier League, and it’s starting to look a lot more interesting. With Southampton on a skid while Arsenal and Liverpool drop points, the difference between 3rd and 10th is minimal. The race for top four appears to be wide open, though Manchester United and Arsenal will probably have it looking uninteresting by March. Still, we can dream right now! West Ham are in 4th again!
This week is a big one for Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, whose job security doesn’t look great at the moment. He followed up a dismal 0-0 draw against Sunderland by getting knocked out of Champions League, and now he gets to go to Old Trafford. A loss to United probably won’t get him sacked on Monday, but it certainly will ensure that John Henry’s start to do their due diligence on potential managerial candidates.
United vs. Liverpool is clearly the big game of the week, but there’s some other entertaining action as well. Newcastle should be considered a legitimate threat to upset Arsenal after the Gunners’ poor showing last week, while Swansea vs. Tottenham is a bit of a top four eliminator.
However, there’s no early Saturday game this week, for no discernible reason.
Saturday, 10 a.m. ET. TV: NBC Sports Network (U.S.), Sportsnet regional (Canada)
Chelsea lost to Newcastle last week. Oh noes, they’re falling back to earth! Except their B-team won in Champions League midweek and Hull City are a really, really bad team right now. Another upset of the Blues would be stunning. They should coast past Hull.
Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET. TV: NBC Sports Network (U.S.), Sky Sports 1 (U.K.), Sportsnet regional (Canada)
As impressive as Newcastle’s performance was last week — and as bad as Arsenal’s was — a repeat would be a bit weird, no? The Magpies aren’t great away from home and Arsene Wenger’s men don’t normally string two bad performances together. This might be one of those false hope games where they play brilliantly, tricking their fans into thinking they’re something more than the fourth-best team in England.
Sunday, 8:30 a.m. ET. TV: NBC Sports Network (U.S.), Sky Sports 1 (U.K.), TSN1 (Canada)
While the conditions appear to be perfect for Liverpool schadenfreude to continue, United still have a whole lot of injuries. They’ll be hoping the likes of Angel Di Maria, Rafael and Phil Jones can go, but they’re all game-time decisions. Chris Smalling, Daley Blind and Luke Shaw are still out at least until Boxing Day. It’s an incompetent Reds attack vs. a Red Devils defense filled with kids and midfielders. Feel the excitement!
Sunday, 11 a.m. ET. TV: NBC Sports Network (U.S.), Sky Sports 1 (U.K.), TSN1 (Canada)
It’s extremely likely that neither of these teams will finish in the top four, but to harbor delusions that it’s possible, they’re going to need to take points off each other. Neither of these teams looks particularly great at the moment, and if they keep losing games against their rivals, they’ll be resigned to 9th or 10th. So, uhh, expect a 1-1 draw.
Monday, 3 p.m. ET. TV: NBC Sports Network (U.S.), Sky Sports 1 (U.K.), Sportsnet World (Canada)
Everton are all the way down in 12th, while QPR are above the drop zone. These teams are only separated by four points! But the Toffees are clearly the better team, they’re still really good at home, and it would be surprising if they failed to win.
Schedule (all times ET, scores updated as they come in)
Burnley vs. Southampton – Saturday, 10 a.m.
Chelsea vs. Hull City – Saturday, 10 a.m.
Crystal Palace vs. Stoke City – Saturday, 10 a.m.
Leicester City vs. Manchester City – Saturday, 10 a.m.
Sunderland vs. West Ham United – Saturday, 10 a.m.
West Bromwich Albion vs. Aston Villa – Saturday, 10 a.m.
Arsenal vs. Newcastle United – Saturday, 12:30 p.m.
Manchester United vs. Liverpool – Sunday, 8:30 a.m.
Swansea City vs. Tottenham Hotspur – Sunday, 11 a.m.
Everton vs. Queens Park Rangers – Monday, 3 p.m.