Premier League 2012, Week 6 Preview And Fixtures: London Derby bookends of varying quality

Mike Hewitt - Getty Images

The weekend kicks off with Chelsea visiting Arsenal and ends with QPR hosting West Ham. That might seem a bit anti-climactic, but this weekend also features United-Spurs, and could be a rather important early-season run of games.

Arsenal vs. Chelsea

Emirates Stadium; Saturday, 12:45 GMT/7:45 ET

The league leaders head to the Emirates for their toughest test of the young season, fresh off a mid-week 6-0 slaughtering of Wolves in the League Cup. The Gunners have somewhat surprisingly leaned on their defense so far this season, but a 6-1 dismantling of Southampton a few weeks back offers some evidence that their attack still has plenty of destructive capability. Clearly, the match itself isn't the only storyline; the nod there must go to the duel between Fernando Torres and Olivier Giroud and their battle to see who can manage to not score in the most spectacular fashion.

Pick: Draw, 2-2

Everton vs. Southampton

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

Southampton got the win they'd been waiting for in impressive fashion last week, thumping an Aston Villa side that had begun to show some improvement in previous weeks 4-1. The Saints are a side worth keeping an eye on, because despite some embarrassing early-season results, a suspect defense and a lack of experience, they quite simply have too much young attacking talent to be shut-down week after week. Everton has struggled of late, and some might say that the distraction brought on by Maraoune Fellaini stating his intentions to leave the club in the somewhat near future has contributed to their slide. I won't say that though, because that would be a stupid thing to say.

Everton, 3-1

Fulham vs. Manchester City

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

Fulham don't seem to be too bothered by the loss of both Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey to Spurs; 9 points from 5 games is nothing to sneeze at, and the wins have been largely quite impressive. Meanwhile, City has "struggled"; they've managed the same 9 points as Fulham despite the gap in expectations, and they were unceremoniously dumped out of the League Cup by Aston Villa, allowing 4 goals to a side that had managed to score just 5 in the same number of Premier League games. Of course, they haven't yet lost a game and they're still very much Manchester City. I'm sure they'll be fine.

Pick: City, 3-2

Norwich City vs. Liverpool

Carrow Road; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

It's always risky business to call for an upset, but I've never been afraid to go out on a limb. Just remember where you heard it first!

Pick: Liverpool, 2-1

Reading vs. Newcastle United

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

Newcastle entered the year with high expectations, and it's probably fair to say that they haven't quite gotten off to the start they would have liked. Luckily for the Toon, Reading entered the year with absolutely zero expectations, and yet they've somehow failed to live up to them. Calling any one game likely to produce a huge margin of victory is silly, but if you're looking for the best candidate this is your match. (Now watch Reading go and win.)

Pick: Newcastle, 2-0

Stoke City vs. Swansea City

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

This game will prove, once and for all, whether Paula Abdul and that horribly animated cartoon cat were correct in their hypothesis. (If you don't get this reference you're probably too young, so I'd just like to say STOP TRYING TO BRING BACK THE 80s THEY WERE HORRIBLE.)

Pick: Swansea, 2-1

Sunderland vs. Wigan Athletic

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

Do Sunderland know that you're allowed to win games? Or score more than once in any one game? Or just generally not be so boring as to make anyone that happens to even see a highlight package immediately make Rumplestiltskin look like an insomniac? They're playing at home at least, so maybe their defenders will get close enough to settle the argument over whether that's a circle or a sphere way up there in the middle of the field.

Pick: Draw, 1-1

Manchester United vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Old Trafford; Saturday, 17:30 GMT/12:30 PM ET

Let's play "who can better alienate their incredibly talented, incredibly expensive young goalkeeper!" Sir Alex, your move; ah, dropped for an overblown flub against Fulham! Well done. Mr Villas-Boas; out of the squad entirely for a League Cup match behind approximately 758 years worth of goalkeeper? I think we have a winner!

Pick: United, 2-1

Aston Villa vs. West Bromwich Albion

Villa Park; Sunday, 16:00 GMT/11:00 AM ET

West Brom have started the season in excellent form, and if they can continue playing anywhere near this well they'll have a real shot at Europe. It's tough to say what's going to happen in this one however, because anyone that tells you they can predict what kind of performance Aston Villa will turn in is either a liar, a crazy person, or Satan himself. (That being the case, the fact that Robbie Savage predicted their relegation should have Villa fans very worried.)

Pick: West Brom, 2-1

Queens Park Rangers vs. West Ham United

Loftus Road; Monday, 20:00 GMT/3:00 PM ET

Hey, it's a London Derby! Sure, no one really cares that much on either side, but still! Let's schedule it in a high-profile slot despite the fact that these teams are both awful and no one but their fans likes them at all. Relative geographic proximity!

Pick: West Ham, 2-1

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