Premier League Weekend Preview: At Least It's Not An International Break

The international break is over and now we're back to real football, where we watch exactly the same players play in entirely different colours! How exciting is that? Anway, four out of the five contenders for the top of the table are in action on Saturday, with Manchester City bringing up the rear with the late Sunday game. If any of those teams slip up, things will get very interesting at the top of the table.

Of course, they're already very interesting at the bottom of the table - five points separate tenth place Stoke from eighteenth place Wolves. If 'parity' involves absolutely terrifying every single side below the European qualification slots, frankly I'm all for it.

Saturday

West Ham United vs. Manchester United

Time: 12:45 PM GMT (7:45 AM EST)

West Ham seem to be doing the impossible in coming off a miserable start to the season to surge up the table, inspired, apparently, by vice-captain and minor deity Scott Parker and his lustrous mane. Right now, they're in fairytale mode, but the bad news is that Manchester United feature at least one ogre and a man who drinks minced elf milkshakes for breakfast in Sir Alex Ferguson. Time for the Hammers to fall back to earth.

Pick: 3-0 Manchester United.

Birmingham City vs. Bolton Wanderers

Time: 3:00PM GMT (10:00 AM EST)

Just two years ago this game would have been a dire long-ball fixture, the kind that's an instant turnoff to people who don't live and die by the Premier League. Now... well, it's still not going to be great, is it, but at least Bolton try to play good football.

Pick: 1-1 Draw.

Everton vs. Aston Villa

Time: 3:00 PM GMT (10:00 AM EST)

David Moyes vs. Gerard Houllier. If this were a fight, Moyes would have his Villa counterpart down faster than he could say 'Garcon! Je voudrais l'escargot s'il vous plait'. Since it's not a fight, Everton are going to have trouble scoring which is slightly made up for by Aston Villa having a defence unfit for the Championship.

Pick: 2-2 Draw.

Newcastle United vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers

Time: 3:00 PM GMT (10:00 AM EST)

Today, Wayne Routledge apparently fell for an April Fools' joke that Portugal sold Cristiano Ronaldo to Spain for £160M, which just goes to show... something. Mostly that Wayne Routledge isn't very clever, I suppose. Meanwhile, these teams are boring. Be less boring!

Pick: 1-0 Newcastle.

Stoke City vs. Chelsea

Time: 3:00 PM GMT (10:00 AM EST)

Time for Chelsea to royally screw something up again, I'm thinking. It's been way too long.

Pick: 2-1 Stoke.

West Bromwich Albion vs. Liverpool

Time: 3:00 PM GMT (10:00 AM EST)

It's a Roy Hodgson reunion. Will West Brom's manager show his old side he's more than just a hyperactive guinea pig, or will Kenny Daglish's men demonstrate otherwise. The answers: No, yes.

Pick: 3-1 Liverpool.

Wigan Athletic vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Time: 3:00 PM GMT (10:00 AM EST)

The reverse fixture at White Hart Lane was probably the biggest upset of the season so far, and Wigan's home form hasn't actually been all that terrible. And with virtually none of Tottenham's defensive line fit and Gareth Bale a doubt... who are we kidding, Spurs to win easily.

Pick: 4-0 Tottenham.

Arsenal vs. Blackburn

Time: 5:30 PM GMT (12:15 PM EST)

Arsenal's shattered confidence will try to pick itself off the floor against Blackburn, who are liable to knock it down again and hit it with bricks. And I don't mean in the metaphorical sense, either. Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas might be back from minor knocks, but if history is any indication that'll only be for this match.

Pick: 2-1 Arsenal

Sunday

Fulham vs. Blackpool

Time: 1:30 PM GMT (8:30 AM EST)

Another April Fools' joke making the rounds today was that Fulham players would be forced to celebrate goals by doing the moonwalk due to their owner's love of Michael Jackson. If you believed that, you're an idiot. Fulham don't score goals.

Pick: 2-0 Blackpool.

Manchester City vs. Sunderland

Time: 4:00 PM GMT (11:00 AM EST)

So it turns out that Sunderland are kind of bad. The chance to get an easy win over a relatively weak team at home should be enough incentive to get Roberto Mancini's side to play aggressive, interesting football, and we should expect a thoroughly interesting game with bags of goals.

April Fools'!

Pick: 1-0 City.

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