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. Manchester City (Sun 9:05am ET on NBCSN; Stadium of Light)
No point in doing these picks without making at least one outlandish call so here it is: Sunderland win this match.
Totally ridiculous, right? Maybe not, my fine feathered friend.
City come into the fixture flying high off a 7-0 drubbing of Norwich City and a 5-2 domination of CSKA, making lil’ old Sunderland the perfect match to overlook. Throw in that David Silva, Vincent Kompany and Stevan Jovetic are all out with injury and that Fernandinho and Matija Nastasic are likely to join them on the sidelines, and the Citizens may be prime for the picking.
Sunderland 2 Manchester City 1
SQUEAKY BUM TIME
Aston Villa v. Cardiff City (Sat 10:00am ET on Extra Time; Villa Park)
Not sure what to do with Aston Villa. Early on they wiggled their way into neutrals’ hearts with stunning victories over Arsenal and Manchester City, but since the latter the Villains have flat-lined. No goals in four straight matches. Blanked. Punked. Shut-out and left for dead.
Injuries, most notably to Christian Benteke, have definitely played a role and will do so again this weekend with Andreas Weimann and Antonio Luna out, and Gabby Agbonlahor a major doubt.
Following their big derby win against Swansea, Cardiff will be susceptible to the let-down game but Malky Mackay’s squad always plays teams close, having only lost by more than one goal once this season (4-1 to Chelsea). Feels like a share of the points.
Aston Villa 1 Cardiff City 1
Southampton v. Hull City (Sat 10:00am ET on Extra Time; St Mary’s Stadium)
Mauricio Pochettino has done wonders keeping his side level-headed throughout their early season exploits and now the squad’s modesty will be tested even more with Jay Rodriguez and Adam Lallana earning calls into the England squad.
If the Saints fail to keep their eyes on the prize Hull City is exactly the kind of side that can send the Saints crashing back to earth. Just not at St. Mary’s.
Southampton 1 Hull City 0
Norwich City v. West Ham United (Sat 12:30pm ET on NBC; Carrow Road)
Um, yeah. So this game is happening.
Norwich City 0 West Ham United 0
Tottenham Hotspur v. Newcastle United (Sun 7:00am ET on NBCSN; White Hart Lane)
Having drawn with Liverpool, lost to Sunderland and beaten Chelsea over the last three weeks, we can officially crown Newcastle United the Jekyll & Hyde of the Premier League.
Spurs, on the other hand, are rather predictable. Defend well, score via penalty.
Tottenham 1 Newcastle 0
Manchester United v. Arsenal (Sun 11:10am ET on NBCSN; Old Trafford)
Hard not to be impressed with Arsenal. Last weekend they shrugged off Liverpool like they were a mid-table club before marching on to the famed Signal Iduna Park in mid-week Champions League play and becoming the first English squad to beat Borussia Dortmund at home.
A win on Sunday would complete an absurd run of form, not to mention it would be the first time since 2006 that the Gunners beat United at Old Trafford in the league. The icing on the cake? An Arsenal win will put them 11 points ahead of last year’s champions.
Without a doubt this will be the most telling fixture so far this season. Tune in or forever hold your peace.
Manchester United 1 Arsenal 2
Swansea City v. Stoke City (Sun 11:10am ET on Extra Time; Liberty Stadium)
I used to believe in Swansea City. I believed in their footballing prowess, in Michael Laudrup as a manger and Michu as a striker. I believed in their Spanish influence, their depth and the extra boost they received when playing in front of the Liberty Stadium. But no longer.
I blame you, Europa League.
Swansea City 1 Stoke City 1
Chelsea v. West Bromwich Albion (Sat 10:00am ET on NBCSN; Stamford Bridge)
It’s been 35 years since West Brom recorded an away league win over Chelsea. The Baggies have never won a Premier League match at Stamford Bridge. And Jose Mourinho’s home league match unbeaten streak currently stands at 65 matches.
Combine these facts with the motivation Chelsea have following the atrocity that was last weekend’s 0-2 loss at Newcastle and even those tricky little Baggies from the West Midlands aren’t putting one over on the Blues.
Chelsea 3 West Bromwich Albion 1
Crystal Palace v. Everton (Sat 10:00am ET on Extra Time; Selhurst Park)
Why are people so high on Roberto Martinez? For one thing, the man specializes in humility and who doesn’t respect that? With regards to the Toffees’ match at Selhurst Park, the Spaniard had this to say:
“Unless we are at our best this team (Palace) can click at any time, we have to be prepared for that,” Martinez said Thursday. “I feel they are very close, they have been very unfortunate, and had a snowball effect in negative results, but they are much better than their points in the table.”
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a manager who will give Crystal Palace that much respect. But that’s how you keep the troops honest when playing the most decimated club in the Premier League. If Everton is to continue lingering around the Top 4, this one is a must win.
Crystal Palace 0 Everton 2
Liverpool v. Fulham (Sat 10:00am ET on Extra Time; Anfield)
Gotta love Martin Jol. Not because he looks like a mob boss, sounds like a Bronx mechanic or has the unique ability to open canned goods with his incisors — but because of his stubborn refusal to show the least bit of concern over his future employment at Fulham. Willful blindness at its very best.
Perhaps the SAS drubbing his side is about to absorb Saturday will snap him out of the fog. But hopefully not.
Liverpool 4 Fulham 1