Sports

EPL Weekend Preview: Aston Villa, Arsenal, Manchester United and More

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One of those weeks, folks, the stars didn't quite align, the genius didn't filter down through my fingers. No sense lying about it, right?

Saturday:

* Newcastle United v. Everton -- (Live, ESPN2, 8:45 a.m.) After the Magpies beat Stoke City on Monday the stories started flying around the web trying to make sense of the team's unbeaten run, in light of losing its most influential (in theory) players from last season. Most everyone chalked it up to extensive scouting, particularly in France. Makes you wonder, who's the next to wash up at St. James Park, a conehead? (Oh, don't roll your eyes, who doesn't love 1977 SNL references?) Eventually Newcastle is going to lose, probably in two weeks against Manchester City, if not then against Manchester United. Still, this team -- at least the core of it -- seems pretty sound. Maybe it's a vanilla 4-4-2 set up with not much flair -- if you created a generic striker in "FIFA 12" he would be Demba Ba -- but it works. Everton looked on the uptick a couple matches ago, and now are hovering above the bottom three. Must be a fun life supporting a club like this. At least the Toffees have authenticity, right? (Not a good job by Ian Darke, but a great job, going from MLS playoffs in Los Angeles on Thursday Night ... Newcastle United 2, Everton 0

* Manchester United v. Sunderland -- (Live, FSC+, 11 a.m.) Wonder if Steve Bruce will try to "tap up" Jonny Evans at halftime? Maybe before the opening kick. After full time, surely. Joking aside, this match might not as easy as it sounds for Manchester United, which is without Ashley Young and Tom Cleverly, meaning more of a creative burden heaped on Wayne Rooney. You have to wonder, a little, why Sir Alex didn't spend a little more time in the last couple months trying to plant an ear in Luka Modric's ear that Old Trafford, not Stamford Bridge should have been his future. Also, it might be recording the commentary for this game to see the announcers lobbing plaudits on Sir Alex for his 25 years in charge at Manchester United. Should be downright Favrian. ... Manchester United 1, Sunderland 0

* Arsenal v. West Brom -- Word I'm hearing is that defensive will be optional in this one. ... Arsenal 4, West Brom 1

* Aston Villa v. Norwich City -- Norwich City is actually ahead of Villa by a point in the table, despite a lack of "big" names on its roster. Also, in the Canaries benefit they actually seem like a team that can be fun to watch, instead of the agony that 90 minutes of Villa usually involve. Even with Darren Bent and a rejuvenated Gabriel Agbonlahor, Villa have been one of my least favorite teams to watch this season. To the surprise of nobody, too, Charles N'Zogbia has been N'visible since moving to Villa from Wigan. ... Aston Villa 1, Norwich City 1

* Blackburn Rovers v. Chelsea -- (Live, FSC, 11 a.m.) If only Fred Savage and Judge Reinhold were somehow involved in this match, then Blackburn fans could chant racist taunts instead of anti-Steve Kean ones, while Chelsea fans could scream about AVB instead of, ya know, being racists and all. Too bad El Hadj Diouf wasn't still around Ewood Park to spit on John Terry. Chelsea can't expect to just throw their boots on the field and expect to win this, either, since Blackburn -- even in last place -- has been scoring goals this season. ... Blackburn 1, Chelsea 2

* Liverpool v. Swansea City -- Big game here for Lucas to try to break up the fast-moving Swansea passing game, because lord knows Charlie Adam isn't tracking back aside from sticking his leg out to trip Scott Sinclair when he isn't looking. Pretty sure this should be end-to-end stuff. Against type, Swansea made Danny Graham its biggest signing in the summer adding him from Watford. He's scored four goals and seems to be getting better. Go figure. ... Liverpool 3, Swansea 2

* QPR v. Manchester City -- (Live, FSC, 1:30 p.m.) Maybe we'll get to see if, in fact, David Silva is City's most important player since he might not play after picking up a back injury on Champions league duty. Guess that means an increased workload for Adam Johnson who's morphed from more of a pure winger this season. City are also without Vincent Kompany, who was the team's MVP last year. Does that open up the door for QPR? Could be better than it sounds. ... QPR 0, Manchester City 2

Sunday:

* Wolves v. Wigan Athletic -- (Live, FSC+, 8:30 a.m.) If you wake up early on Sunday, wherever you might live, I salute thee. ... Wolves 1, Wigan 0

* Bolton v. Stoke City -- If you wake up early on Sunday and try to find an illegal stream of this match ... well ... I might be calling the police, or Interpol. ... Bolton 1, Stoke City 1

* Fulham v. Tottenham -- (Live, FSC, 11 a.m.) Are any Harry Redknapp jokes out of bounds after he had heart surgery to avoid going to the middle of nowhere Russia for Spurs' Europa League match against Rubin Kazan? Do you think Martin Jol dies a little inside every time Gareth Bale scores a goal? Well, maybe not dies, but he probably lights up another cig. Is it wrong to think the other shoe is about to drop on Tottenham, which hasn't lost a league game since August? ... Fulham 1, Spurs 2

Last week: 4-6
Season: 52-47