Picking Premier League matches is hard work and quite frankly, I’m crap at it. Nevertheless, I enjoy the banter and figure at the very least I can provide you all with some fodder to tear me up with in the comments. So without further ado, let’s get it on.
LOCK IT UP
Norwich City vs. Aston Villa (Sat. 7:45 am ET on NBCSN; Carrow Road)
It’s been three straight losses for Paul Lambert’s side, quite the downfall following their 3-1 triumph over Arsenal during the opening weekend of play. Losing to Chelsea and Liverpool was understandable but dropping points to Newcastle at home last weekend came as a shock to many. Now the Villains must find their way back on track and Carrow Road is one of the more difficult places to make that happen.
The Canaries got run over last weekend by a high-powered Tottenham squad and will see this as a match where they must take points. Vegas has Chris Hughton’s side as favorites to win at 7/5 but this is a match Christian Benteke and Gabby Agbonlahor can’t let slip. Villains snatch their second win of the season.
Liverpool vs. Southampton (Sat. 10:00 am ET on NBCSN; Anfield)
Humbled by Swansea City in Monday’s 2-2 draw, Liverpool returns to the friendly confines of Anfield to face a Southampton team struggling to score goals. The last time these two squads met, the Saints strolled to a 3-1 victory behind goals from Morgan Schneiderlin, Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez. This season, however, goals have been much harder to come by for the Saints, who have hit pay dirt only twice in their first four Premier League matches.
The loss of Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho will hurt the Reds but they’ll need all three points to keep pace with the top of the table. And as 5/9 favorites to win, I think they get it.
Newcastle United vs. Hull City (Sat. 10:00 am ET on NBC Live Extra; St. James’ Park)
Hull City are a side with surprising quality – they work tremendously hard as a group, have a number of talented players and know how to grind out points. But they’re thin. And this weekend Robert Koren is out with a fractured foot while Robbie Brady and Maynor Figueroa are doubtful as they recover from unspecified knocks.
For Newcastle, it’s a golden opportunity to crack the Top 5. As 4/5 favorites to win look for Papiss Cisse to break his duck and for the Magpies to cruise.
West Ham United vs. Everton (Sat. 10:00 am ET on NBC Live Extra; Upton Park)
Everton finally got their first win of the season last weekend with an impressive 1-0 victory over Chelsea. This weekend the Toffees look to make it two straight as they travel to West Ham, a club Everton took all six points from last season.
For West Ham, this is a fixture they’ll be hard pressed to earn a point in given their lack of striking options. With Andy Carroll out injured indefinitely and Modibo Maiga failing to impress, goals won’t come easy for the Hammers. On the defensive side, Sam Allardyce’s side have been solid allowing only one goal but will face a whole new challenge when Romelu Lukaku shows up.
Everton prove why they are 5/4 favorites to win and makes it six points in two matches.
Chelsea vs. Fulham (Sat. 12:30 pm ET on NBC Live Extra; Stamford Bridge)
Chelsea followed up last week’s 1-0 loss to Everton with a frightful 2-1 loss to Basel during mid-week Champions League action. Fortunately for Jose Mourinho’s “beautiful, young eggs,” Fulham should pose little problem for the Blues. Chelsea, as heavy favorites at 2/7, will roll.
Arsenal vs. Stoke City (Sun. 8:30 am ET on CNBC, Emirates)
With three straight league victories and another dominant performance in Europe during mid-week action, Arsenal are arguably the hottest team in the BPL. At 4/11 the Gunners are heavy favorites to take care of business on Sunday but it won’t be so easy as the big boys from Stoke City always pose a challenge.
But a victory here, coupled with a Liverpool draw or loss, would send Arsene Wenger’s side top of the table and that should be all the motivation they need to grab the three points.
SQUEAKY BUM TIME
West Bromwich Albion vs. Sunderland (Sat. 10:00 am ET on NBC Live Extra; The Hawthorns)
Nothing quite like a bottom of the barrel clash to get the juices flowing as 20th place Sunderland trek down to The Hawthorns to face the 19th place Baggies. An injury-time header from Gareth McAuley helped West Brom take a point at Fulham last week and will be a boost to Steve Clarke’s men, as will the presence of playmaker Stephane Sessegnon whose work permit to play for Albion was cleared this week.
A loss for either squad could put their respective manager on the hot seat. This could be a cheeky good barn-burner but one that I think ultimately will end in a share of the points.
Crystal Palace vs. Swansea City (Sun. 8:30 am ET on NBC Live Extra; Selhurst Park)
At full strength, this is a match Crystal Palace would be primed to take. Unfortunately, the loss of Kagisho Dikgacoi (whose middle name, ‘Evidence’, needs to become part of everyday BPL parlance) to suspension for last week’s red card leaves a gaping hole in the Palace midfield.
Swansea, as slight favorites to win at 27/20, will be tired following their trip to Valencia on Thursday but Michael Laudrup should have enough fire-power in rotation to claim all three points.
Cardiff City vs. Tottenham Hotspur (Sun. 11:00 am ET on NBC Live Extra; Cardiff City Stadium)
This weekend’s fixture list doesn’t have a very upset-prone look to it and if one match stands out it’s this one. With their shock win over Manchester City in Matchweek Two, Cardiff City have already proven themselves dark horses and Sunday provides yet another opportunity to nip points from top competition.
Tottenham have plenty of quality, and it appears to be slowly coming together, but Thursday night’s Europa League match will leave them worn enough to be prime for the plucking. At 16/5 the Bluebirds are super long shots, but I think they get a result.
Manchester City vs. Manchester United (Sun. 11:00 am ET on NBCSN, Etihad)
Discussed at length in my Manchester Derby Preview, United will march into the Etihad and even as 12/5 long-shots, get the job done.