Premier League 2012, Week 8 Preview and Fixtures: Spurs-Chelsea Get All Of The Interesting Out Of The Way Early

Shaun Botterill

The marquee matchup of the weekend will be over before any of the other action is underway, but the Tyne-Wear Derby and eight other games could keep the rest of the weekend from being a total waste.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Chelsea

White Hart Lane; Saturday, 12:45 GMT/7:45 AM ET

It's always a bit annoying when the most appealing game of the weekend is the first game of the weekend. The odds are of course quite good that at least one or two of the other contests will be pretty wonderful and there's a decent chance this game will turn out to be a complete bore, but it's just a shame that once this game is out of the way the pundits won't have anything to build up for the entirety of the weekend, prattling on about AVB's quest for revenge...

Actually. maybe this game being first isn't the worst thing.

Pick: Chelsea, 3-2

Fulham vs. Aston Villa

Craven Cottege; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

Fulham have been a bit uneven this season, but they've got nothing on Aston Villa. If you wager money on this game you really ought to seek help. This is like the homemade everclear of sports gambling.

Pick: Fulham, 2-1

Liverpool vs. Reading

Anfield; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

Reading could conceivably draw even with Liverpool in this game which is clearly quite amusing, but it's also ultimately meaningless. Liverpool will end up somewhere near the upper-mid table, probably qualify for Europe, have a deep cup run, etc. But have you ever considered what it would be like if they didn't? If Liverpool ended up in an honest-to-god relegation battle, I don't think the schadenfreude would be anywhere nearly as entertaining as people seem to think. At a certain point pity would overtake humor-at least for non-partisans-and Being Liverpool: The Second Tier would just be depressing beyond belief. But that will of course never happen, because Liverpool are so annoying that they'll manage to tread the line of maximum obnoxiousness.

Pick: Liverpool, 3-1

Manchester United vs. Stoke City

Old Trafford; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

This game seems like it's going to be boring and awful, but I can see it being the kind of thing where United actually play some pretty enjoyable stuff and Stoke keeps it close by virtue of their being Stoke, and then RVP does something ridiculous that makes everyone forget how insufferable he is for five minutes or so. Of course it could also be like 90% of the other games in which Stoke play a part, so don't come crying to me if it's awful.

Pick: United, 2-1

Swansea City vs. Wigan Athletic

Liberty Stadium; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

Look everyone, it's Sam Allardyce's vision of hell!

Pick: Swansea, 2-1

West Bromwich Albion vs. Manchester City

The Hawthorns; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

I wonder if City will win in completely uninspiring fashion, wasting a core of attacking talent that is the envy of nearly every other club on earth in order to play the kind of football you'd expect from a team whose squad's talent is weighted towards the other end of the game.

No, of course I'm not implying anything. Just thinking out loud is all.

Pick: City, 2-0

West Ham United vs. Southampton

Upton Park; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

How do I put this delicately, without offending either set of supporters...

This game is going to be awful, in a way that's not dissimilar than watching a gang of escaped prison inmates go to town on a petting zoo with a sack full of doorknobs.

Pick: West Ham, 2-0

Norwich City vs. Arsenal

Carrow Road; Saturday, 17:30 GMT/12:30 PM ET

So it took a year, but Norwich City is now playing about as well as everyone expected when they won promotion. They just do not look long for this league, and given the way Arsenal has been playing this one has the potential to get quite ugly. Luckily, traffic cones tend to be bright in color so if you squint real hard it might just look like training.

Pick: Arsenal, 3-0

Sunderland vs. Newcastle

Stadium of Light; Sunday, 13:30 GMT/8:30 AM ET

So I know I talked about Spurs-Chelsea as being the only game worth caring about earlier, but in all honesty it's just because it made the headline easier. This is the game everyone should be looking forward to, and with both sides struggling to live up to expectations in the early going it gives an already nasty derby a bit of an added edge. With the history here and way these sides match up, this one has the potential to be pretty great.

Pick: Newcastle, 2-1

Queens Park Rangers vs. Everton

Loftus Road; Sunday, 16:00 GMT/11:00 AM ET

QPR can't be this bad, right? I mean, Mark Hughes isn't elite or anything, but he's certainly not a bad manager. And the way they've gone about building their squad is kind of dumb, but it isn't as though they're a side devoid of quality players. It's just difficult to see how they could genuinely be the worst team in the Premier League, but that's where they are for now. And with Everton looking very good so far this season, it's tough to think QPR won't be in the same place when next week rolls around.

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