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EPL Weekend Review: Fulham, Everton, Manchester United, Chelsea and More


(Note, you'll notice a lopsided schedule this week with the only "big" team playing on Saturday being Chelsea. Get used to it, too, with Manchester United and Manchester City playing Europa League games on Thursday.)

* Everton v. Norwich City -- (Live, FSC, 10 a.m.) As documented above, Everton can't score. Norwich, on the other hand, has scored 24 in 15 matches -- better than every club but the top five in the table and six better than Liverpool. ... Everton 1, Norwich City 1

* Fulham v. Bolton -- (Live, FSC+, 10 a.m.) Pity for Fulham, a result at Craven Cottage away from advancing into the Round of 32 of the Europa League, only to piss it away in the final group match in the 93rd minute to Odense. Making it sting all the more is that Fulham began its campaign all the way back on Jun 20 playing against a club from the Faroe Islands. On top of this, Mark Schwarer is out for a couple weeks. Now all Martin Jol's team has to look forward to is another Premier League relegation scrap. Doubly fun, although it's a plight Bolton would likely sign up for after it's miserable campaign. Bolton is simply dreadful and suppose the Trotters are relegated, is there anyone on the roster you'd even want to buy for your team? ... Fulham 2, Bolton 0

* Blackburn Rovers v. West Brom -- Pretty straightforward here for Blackburn. Rovers host West Brom and then Bolton on Tuesday before playing back-to-back matches at Liverpool and Manchester United. The season is one life support as is, so without at least four points here from the two matches at Ewood expect even more Steve Kean protests and wacky transfer rumors in January. Oh, making it better for Blackburn there's new rumors that Venky's are short on money. ... Blackburn 3, West Brom 1

* Wolves v. Stoke City -- Never been a fan of using the term "sexy" as a sports' description, but golly, if this isn't the unsexiest match-up in terms of style of play then what is? That said, it's good to show old blog favorite Mathew Etherington showing signs of a pulse last week. It's a bit surprising, too, that Jamie O'Hara ended up at Wolves considering Stoke seems to be the preferred landing spot for ex-Tottenham players. ... Wolves 1, Stoke City 1

* Newcastle United v. Swansea City -- Here's a fun game, slap a visor on Newcastle keeper Tim Krul and he immediately becomes that kid working behind the counter at McDonald's serving you $1 double-cheeseburgers. Oh right, they took the double-chee off the dollar menu. The horror. The horror. In any event, Swansea can finally prove to the world that emulating the high-possesion, passing system of Barcelona/Spain is more of a defensive strategy. It's one thing to tiki-toc the ball around when you have a magician like Lionel Messi in front of goal, another when it's Danny Graham, as evidenced by Swansea's pedestrian 16 goals scored. By contrast, the Swans have only allowed two goals in eight matches at home, part of the reason they might stick around another season (coupled with the atrocity of teams like Bolton, Blackburn and Wigan).

* Wigan Athletic v. Chelsea -- (Live, FSC, 12:30 p.m.) This clip, from Wigan's first-ever Premier League match, six years ago vs. Chelsea has gotten so much better with age and a good reminder why people liked Martin Tyler. Brilliant call. Less brilliant, the rumors of Chelsea wanting to sell of Fernando Torres in January for a cut rate. Hard to see the club doing that with Nic Anelka already out the door and Didier Drogba away on African Cup of Nations duty. ... Wigan 1, Chelsea 3


* QPR v. Manchester United -- (Live, FSC+, 7 a.m.) One of my favorite follows on Twitter is this guy @Vincent_Vega_ namely because you just never know what he's going to tweet about, aside from some stuff about MUFC. Anyway, he's a humungous Manchester United fan who lives in California, meaning he's getting up to go to the pub at 3 a.m. to watch this match. That's dedication, holmes. This is probably a match worth getting up for since QPR has proven a very cagey side, beating Chelsea and playing both Manchester City and Liverpool very tight. Problem is, QPR has only one win at Loftus Road, which is a recipe for long term disaster. Manchester United, laugh if you want, do have a hole to fill with Darren Fletcher deciding to miss the rest of the season with IBS. Say what you will, but Fletcher was one of Sir Alex's "glue guys" seemingly always at the right place at the right time. Missing him and Nemanja Vidic leaves a large leadership void, meaning the team is going to have to take its on-field cues from guys like Rooney and Patrice Evra. Yikes. One other thing to say here, Joey Barton proclaimed a love for Bon Iver on Twitter. Believe me, if I'm putting a cigar out in somebody's eye, I'd love for "Holocene" to be playing in the background. ... QPR 2, Manchester United 3

* Aston Villa v. Liverpool -- (Live, FSC+, 9 a.m.) Okay, let's see ... via Alex McLeish logic Liverpool was great 20 years ago, so he ought to basically wave the white flag at Villa Park before the game even kicks off, right? As much as I rag on Villa, the boring, middling tactics of the team are good enough for ninth place, essentially purgatory since you don't even get the thrills of a relegation battle. And now that Brad Guzan is playing there's at least a tangental reason to care about Villa, right? Liverpool? Maybe it's because I linked to a clip with Martin Tyler and Andy Gray, but are we ever going to see, Steven Gerrrrrrrrrarrrrdddddd, ever again? Or better yet, who comes back first Gerrard or Luis Suarez via his impending ban from the FA for his alleged racial slur against Patrice Evra. ... Aston Villa 2, Liverpool 1

* Tottenham v. Sunderland -- I've lost track of how many times I've tried to explain the Europa League/UEFA Cup to people after Tottenham's elimination on Thursday, I officially yield. It's impossible to tell Americans how, in the mind's of many, it's better to crash out of a competition a team could feasibly win to focus on trying to finish third or fourth in the Premier League in order to qualify for the Champions League ... and likely get knocked out in the Group Stage in that competition a year later. Also, Lee Cattermole and Nic Bendtner, great job! ... Tottenham 2, Sunderland 1

* Manchester City v. Arsenal -- (Live, FSC, 11:10 a.m.) City finally lost and now, apparently, Arsenal can't lose. Quick, somebody dial up Corin Nemic. It's interesting to see how we all lampooned Roberto Mancini for this uber-defensive approach at the start of last season, now City haven't kept a EPL clean sheet since Oct. 1, then again that stat is misleading since the club's goal difference is still +34 and they did blank Arsenal 1-0 in the League Cup. This should be a good one since it's a real test if Arsenal's run up the table is for "real" or another false spring under Arsene Wenger. Chances are, after scrapping with Michah Ricards on the training ground, Mancini might have to bench Mario Balotelli, which is a shame for everybody watching. ... Manchester City 3, Arsenal 2.

Last round: 5-5
Season: 77-72


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