There’s no real common theme across the Sunday fixtures that come to us tomorrow, as those at the bottom, middle, and near the top of the table all have different goals.
We get a relegation six-pointer, a mid-table matchup, and a top team trying to hold serve.
The slate starts early and goes all morning. Here’s what will come to our television screens, computers, tablets, smartphones, or futuristic hologram device.
Burnley vs West Bromwich Albion – 7:00am ET, live on NBCSN or live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.
Burnley will see their prospects boosted by close losses for QPR and Leicester underneath them in the relegation zone, and a win at home against West Brom would be huge, pulling them out of the relegation zone and above a trio of teams in front of them. One thing on Sean Dyche’s side is consistency, as he’s named the same starting lineup for the last nine straight games and that doesn’t appear to be in jeopardy.
There will be new faces on the other side, as Darren Fletcher could make his West Brom debut after signing from Manchester United at the transfer deadline and the extra day to prep could see him in to the lineup. We could see Saido Berahino pulled from the starting 11 after saying he “hopes to move on to bigger things” a few days ago. Tony Pulis won’t be happy about that. A win would see West Brom put a healthy five points between them and the drop, while a loss would force the Baggies to see Burnley jump them in the table.
Newcastle United vs Stoke City – 9:05am ET, live on NBCSN or live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.
Both these teams have to fight one of the hardest there is as the Premier League season winds through winter in to spring: trying to resist fading into mid-table obscurity. You could run out of fingers trying to count how many times mid-table teams shut off as the season drags on for teams not in the limelight. With Stoke sitting in 10th and Newcastle in 11th, these two sides are 10 points above the drop and 11 off a European position, and they’ll have to fight off the doldrums of the season’s final third.
Stoke has won two of its last three Premier League games on the road, plus an FA Cup date at Rochdale earlier this week, but they’ll be without captain Ryan Shawcross for the next three games after suffering a back injury, but they’ll get Senegalese striker Mame Diouf back from international duty. Newcastle, though, has not gotten Ivory Coast midfielder Chieck Tiote back with his country into the tournament final.
West Ham vs Manchester United – 11:15am ET, live on NBCSN or live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.
Manchester United will try to keep pace with Tottenham, and jump back into third after Southampton took the early advantage with their win over QPR. It’s pretty amazing what Louis van Gaal has done this season, given the general thought that he would have to rebuild a broken squad, and the understanding that he still likely doesn’t know his best 11 yet. And still, they’re in a Champions League place and have won nine of their last 13. Van Gaal hasn’t had much chance to figure that out given the injuries from the get-go, and the Dutch manager will be without midfielder Michael Carrick but could have Ashley Young back on the injury front.
West Ham, meanwhile, is clinging to the top half of the table by a thread but could leap Liverpool into 7th if they should pull out the win at Upton Park. They could be without dynamic frontman Andy Carroll, however, which would leave a big hole at the front of their attack. The Hammers are walking wounded, also without defenders James Collins and Winston Reid.