Sports

EPL Weekend Breakdown: Bolton, Chelsea, West Brom, Arsenal and More

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Hey, it's Thanksgiving week in the States ... meaning the comings-and-goings of the Premier League take a backseat to turkey and gravy, that is unless you're Frank Lampard! (See, get it, he's allegedly 'fat'.)

Wait, let's get a take two on punchline.

Unless you're ... Ronaldo?

Ronaldinho?

Eh, let's just move on.

This is an easy holiday-themed trope.

EPL TURKEYS of 2011.

* Carlos Tevez -- Yep, it's a crime to be getting paid somewhere in the range of $200,000 per week. The indignity of it all!

* Gary Cahill -- Who wouldn't want to buy the England international in January? He's only been at the heart of a defense that's allowed an EPL-high 29 goals in 12 matches.

* Alex McLeish -- Sure he won a Carling Cup, but he also saw Birmingham City get relegated AND has turned Aston Villa to one of the league's most unwatchable teams.

* Adel Taarabt -- How many goals has this allegedly star played scored this season? Zippo.

* John Terry -- ... because.

Saturday:

* Stoke City v. Blackburn Rovers -- (Live, 7:45 a.m., ESPN3.com) Not going to feel too bad if I rage pretty hard on Friday and sleep through it. It's not on ESPN, so I don't feel bad since I won't miss Mr. Darke. ... Stoke City 2, Blackburn Rovers 2

* Bolton v. Everton -- While neither of these two teams can exactly be considered, "good," they do have one thing going for them. Their fans have trust in Owen Coyle and David Moyes. Even if things look bad, there's at least a little hope at the top. ... Bolton 1, Everton 1

* Chelsea v. Wolves -- (Live, FSC, 10 a.m.) Didn't they already play this game? Like last weekend? Sure feels that way. Maybe it's just that I'm sick and tired of watching Chelsea, lately. Think I'm more sick of reading about the imminent demise of Andre Villas-Boas, frankly. (Ever notice the English media just loooooves to put the hangman's noose around a manager?) This is a second guess, but it's hard to say the Portuguese manager's tactics aren't going to work. When he was with Porto he was the biggest fish in a small, small pond. You could get away with a high line, because how many other teams in Portugal could stand toe-to-toe with Porto every week? At Chelsea, you can't get away with it. Plus when you factor in Chelsea's latest roster movements seem to be done by a kid playing "career mode" on FIFA 12, rather than an actual soccer field, you have the mess the Blues currently sit. ... Chelsea 3, Wolves 1

* West Brom v. Tottenham -- (Live, FSC+, 10 a.m.) Game of the weekend, or at least the day. West Brom have face-rubbed its way up to 10th place in the table, despite having a porous defense and having lost two of their last three. Spurs are as hot as a pistol and now Harry Redknapp is thinking about winning the league. Crazy as that sounds, unless the team is beset by more defensive injuries why can Spurs keep the pace? Odds Rafael van der Vaart and Emmanuel Adebayor keep it up, too? ... West Brom 1, Spurs 2

* Manchester United v. Newcastle United -- (Live, ESPN2, 10 a.m.) Sorry Manchester United fans, going to ruin something for you. Chicharito looks, or at least has the same facial expression as Kirsten Stewart from the "Twilight" movies. Believe me, you'll see it next time he's on your television set. You'd have to think, at Old Trafford, off a draw in the Champions League that United is due to kick it into gear and kick some but, however Newcastle's discipline might make this harder than it sounds. Paging Mr. Own Goal or Mr. Penalty Kick. ... Manchester United 2, Newcastle United 1

* Norwich City v. QPR -- Here's my sense with Norwich City. The club, as currently assembled, is good enough to last a year in the Premier League. There's enough players with camaraderie who are on the same page. Prpblem is, it's going to be hard to add to that core on the limited budget and means the team has. QPR has a little more cash and ambition and brought in some reinforcements from its promoted team already, therefore it'll sink or swim right away. The Canaries are 2-2-2 so far at home with 10 goals scored and nine allowed. That might need to improve, like right away. ... Norwich City 3, QPR 1

* Sunderland v. Wigan Athletic -- It's weird how Sunderland built the Stadium of Light ... and basically have zero home-field advantage. The Black Cats are routinely bad at home, which is an anomaly in world club soccer. Everyone is going to say Sunderland should be Wigan at home, but this club seems to be terrible dealing with pressure. However, all that said, I think Steve Bruce's team is due a somewhat decent performance by the law of averages. ... Sunderland 1, Wigan 0

* Arsenal v. Fulham -- (Live, FSC, 12:30 p.m.) Arsene Wenger has lost his touch. Arsene Wener has NEVER lost his touch. You have to hand it to the soccer media for being reasonable and consistent, right? The more realistic assessment, Wenger was a little misguided in the summer, waiting for the last second to replace Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri. Right now the club is stabilized and riding an all-time hot streak from Robin van Persie, who's scoring faster than (timely reference, alert.) 1971 Warren Beatty. Also, are we sure Mikel Arteta is playing for Arsenal, you almost never hear his any, despite playing most games. Fulham have stung Arsenal in the past, doubt it happens here. ... Arsenal 2, Fulham 0

Sunday:

* Swansea City v. Aston Villa -- (Live, FSC+, 8:30 a.m.) Given the chance, McLeish might try to field nine defenders and isolate Darren Bent up top. ... Swansea 1, Aston Villa 0

* Liverpool v. Manchester City -- (Live, FSC, 11 a.m.) Let's see what Kenny Dalglish pulls out of his managerial bag of tricks this time, home at Anfield against the league leaders. There are so many variables for both managers that it's hard to blindly guess what will happen. Liverpool did look susceptible in the second half with Chelsea when Juan Mata moved into a more central position, one where David Silva normally operates. Hard to diagnose City's struggles in the Champions League. Is the reason they might not advance to the knockout stages all because they drew two of the best clubs in the competition in Bayern Munich and Napoli? Maybe it's worth noting the scales at City have tipped more in favor of its offense than it's once very stout defense. ... Liverpool 1, City 1

Last round: 5-5
Season: 64-55