The Premier League remains a mess after Wednesday's play concluded.
As always, much of the focus is on the race for the top four. Although each of those four clubs picked up wins, there were a couple of important results a little lower in the table that could impact the Champions League places.
In his first match against his old club, David Moyes suffered a 1-0 home defeat. It was a dispiriting result and will only fuel critics who argue Moyes isn't up to managing Manchester United. The Red Devils are ninth in the table and five points off the top four.
At least Tottenham Hotspur were able to take some heat off their manager. Spurs came back from a goal down in the second half to win, 2-1, against Fulham and ease the pressure on Andre Villas-Boas. As bad as things have been for Tottenham, they're only three points off Liverpool.
The league as a whole continues to be unpredictable. So many clubs are within a few points of each other, and nobody is safe from week to week.
You could end up seeing a much different table by the time Swansea and Hull City finish up on Monday.
|Home Club||Away Club||Prediction|
|Sat., Dec. 7|
|Manchester United||Newcastle||Manchester United, 1-0|
|Crystal Palace||Cardiff City||Draw|
|Liverpool||West Ham||Liverpool, 1-0|
|Southampton||Manchester City||Manchester City, 2-1|
|Stoke City||Chelsea||Chelsea, 2-0|
|West Brom||Norwich City||Draw|
|Sunderland||Tottenham Hotspur||Sunderland, 1-0|
|Sun., Dec. 8|
|Fulham||Aston Villa||Aston Villa, 3-0|
|Mon., Dec. 9|
|Swansea City||Hull City||Swansea, 2-0|
Schedule via ESPN FC
Here's a look at three of the biggest matches this weekend.
Manchester United vs. Newcastle
This match got all the more interesting when Wayne Rooney picked up a yellow card against Everton. It's his fifth of the season, which means he'll be unable to play on Saturday. That leaves David Moyes without his best player and often the creative spark in midfield.
Playing Newcastle at home isn't a gimme, either. The Magpies may have lost on Wednesday, but they've taken 12 out of their last 15 points. Loic Remy also remains a strong run of form, and if he can open the scoring, United could be in trouble.
As long as the Red Devils don't have to chase the game, they'll be in business. That will ease the pressure on the attack and allow the midfield and defense to control the game.
Getting that first goal will be the key. Whoever gets it will likely be taking all of the points.
Prediction: Manchester United 1, Newcastle 0
Southampton vs. Manchester City
Southampton have now lost three matches in a row, and their push to the top four has been put on hold. It's been a brutal stretch of matches for the Saints, and it only gets harder, with Manchester City coming up.
With as bad as City have been on the road, you have to expect that they'll start playing up to their potential sooner or later. There's too much talent in the squad, and Manuel Pellegrini is too good of a manager for Manchester City to underperform as they have away from the Etihad.
Although Southampton have the kind of midfield that can counter City's, the injury to Artur Boruc may be too much to overcome. His absence was felt against Aston Villa, as the Saints lost 3-2. Without their No. 1 goalkeeper, Saints will be in trouble against that lethal City strike force.
Prediction: Manchester City 2, Southampton 1
Arsenal vs. Everton
This match should be a lot of fun in terms of the chess match between Arsene Wenger and Roberto Martinez.
Arsenal have conceded the fewest goals in the league (10), and right behind them are Everton (13), while the two are also more than capable of scoring goals in bunches. How will the managers approach this match?
Under Martinez, Everton have shed their inability to beat clubs above them in the table, as evidenced by the Toffees' 1-0 win at Manchester United on Wednesday. Part of that is down to the fact that Martinez isn't afraid to play more of an open game, rather than the negative, defensive style often utilized by Moyes.
You wouldn't bet against an in-form Arsenal side, though. If Martinez opens things up too much, then the Gunners will cut Everton apart on the counter.
Prediction: Arsenal 2, Everton 1
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