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.
Everton v. Liverpool (Sat 7:45am ET on NBCSN; Goodison Park)
Is there a chance Everton win this fixture?
Possibly. But it doesn’t feel very likely, does it?
The Toffees have only won the derby once in the last 13 league meetings. What a ‘mare.
Making matters worse, Liverpool always gets up for this fixture. Stevie G puts on his cape and there’s nothing Luis Suarez loves more than winding the Bluenoses up (see – last year’s dive celebration in front of David Moyes).
Then you factor in Suarez’ brother-from-another-mother, Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho’s return to health and the defense’s shoring up and, yeah, things look real promising for the ‘Pool.
So what do Everton have to do to win this fixture?
Well, Romelu Lukakau, Kevin Mirallas, Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu all need to step up. It simply hasn’t been good enough recently. Goalless in two straight matches? That’s crap.
Leighton Baines has to improve as well. The left-back has been a bit sloppy lately. Clean it up, son.
So, no. I don’t think the Toffees have a very good chance at winning this match.
But screw it. The idea of the Lower Gwladys going OFF after a derby win sends chills down my spine. Bliss. Ecstacy. Blue Scouse heaven.
Everton 3 Liverpool 2
Arsenal v. Southampton (Sat 10:00am ET on NBCSN; Emirates Stadium)
My buddy Jeff emailed me this week and said his co-worker is a major Southampton supporter and wanted to know my thoughts on the Arsenal match.
But before I get into it let me just say this: How awesome is it that in New York City – as in, not England – I come into contact with two to three Saints supporters a week.
That’s a lot! Most have Southampton roots but a bunch are new American converts, which stokes me.
I’m a huge admirer of Southampton. I love me some Nicola Cortese. Love Mauricio Pochettino. Love Adam Lallana, Victor Wanyama, Morgan Schneiderlin, Luke Shaw, James Ward-Prowse… The list goes on and on. Total gangbusters, all of them. But none moreso than Artur Boruc, who has that crazier-than-a-bag-of-kittens look in his eye like he might just be carrying a box cutter in his socks. Intimidation. Such a huge part of being a keeper.
Anyway, back to the Arsenal match. Can the Saints win?
If Wanyama and Schneiderlin shut down Arsenal’s midfield, yes. But it’s a huge ask.
Mesut Ozil was sent home to rest by Germany and although he probably spent a decent part of his break getting all bug-eyed in the nightclubs (typical, really), he should be fired up and ready to go in this match. Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey are both back as well, which is a bit scary.
Still, I’m feeling the Saints can nick points here. I think they score early but Arsenal make it honors-even late in the match.
Arsenal 1 Southampton 1
Stoke City v. Sunderland (Sat 10:00am ET on Extra Time; Britannia Stadium)
If Tony Pulis gets hired by Crystal Palace I’m going to be strangely aroused.
That’s when you know you love the Premier League waaay too much.
I can’t help it though. Since word broke that the baseball-capped-wonder is likely to be hired I’ve been counting down the days until Stoke meets Palace at Selhurst Park on January 18th (as of today the countdown is at 58 day, by the way).
As far as this match goes, Stoke will need to channel the tactics of Mr. Pulis if they want to take any points off of Sunderland because they’re already a vastly improved side under Gus Poyet. A win Saturday will be the Black Cats third in their last four league fixtures. Impressive stuff.
Stoke City 1 Sunderland 2
West Ham United v. Chelsea (Sat 12:30pm ET on NBC; Upton Park)
Last year West Ham were blowing bubbles throughout this whole contest. And what a barn-stormer it was!
Momo Diame scoring in the 86th and 91st minute to win the match 3-1. So sick. Diame is such an under-rated player, an absolute beast in the midfield.
This weekend, I think the Hammers revisit at least a bit of last year’s glory.
West Ham 1 Chelsea 1
Cardiff City v. Manchester United (Sun 11:00am ET on NBCSN; Cardiff City Stadium)
Cheeky good one here. I’d love to see Cardiff show up and get the home crowd rocking.
Plus, Gary Medel is one of my new favorite players. He looks exactly like this old, scarred-up pit-bull that lives down the street from me. Plays like it too.
Cardiff City 1 Manchester United 1
SQUEAKY BUM TIME
Fulham v. Swansea City (Sat 10:00am ET on Extra Time; Craven Cottage)
How many games before Martin Jol loses it on Rene Meulensteen? Two? Three matches, tops?
Look, I’m not saying I hope it happens. I’m just saying it feels like an inevitability that, at some point in the near future, it’s gonna hit the fan at Craven Cottage.
This weekend, however, I think the Cottagers pick up a point.
Fulham 2 Swansea City 2
West Bromwich Albion v. Aston Villa (Mon 3:00pm ET on NBCSN; The Hawthorns)
Has everyone seen the Saido Berahino U-21 highlights from the international break?
Silly. That boy is some player.
As for Aston Villa, things are looking bleak.
Paul Lambert’s side come into this match majorly dinged up as Christian Benteke, Brad Guzan, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Wiemann are all potentially out, making this one feeling like a W for the Baggies.
West Bromwich Albion 1 Aston Villa 0
Hull City v. Crystal Palace (Sat 10:00am ET on Extra Time; The Kingston Communications Stadium)
The Hull City owner wants to change the team name to simply ‘Hull’, thereby eliminating ‘City’. Hull Tigers. Sounds terrible to me. Hope that doesn’t happen.
Hull have quality. No issues in this match.
Hull City 3 Crystal Palace 1
Newcastle United v. Norwich City (Sat 10:00am ET on Extra Time; St James’ Park)
Newcastle is sneaky good. Loic Remy is sneaky good. And Norwich hate sneaky stuff.
Newcastle 4 Norwich City 2
Manchester City v. Tottenham Hotspur (Sun 8:30am ET on NBCSN; Etihad Stadium)
Mmmmm, tasty. City has won six straight at home. Of course, that’s probably because they’ve been so poor on the road they’ve felt obligated to play well in front of the home support.
As for Spurs — they’re a hot mess. Dembele’s head looks turned. Eriksen injured. No cohesion in attack. I just don’t see it happening.
Manchester City 3 Tottenham 1