English Premier League 2011, Week 12 Preview And Fixtures: Is Newcastle For Real? We'll Find Out. Kind Of. Maybe.

The league's only remaining unbeaten teams face off on Saturday, Chelsea and Liverpool take center stage on Sunday and Aston Villa ensures an entire nation will get to bed early on Monday night.

Saturday November 19th

Norwich City vs. Arsenal

12:45 GMT (7:45 AM ET); Carrow Road

Everyone's favorite club-in-crisis has done their best to throw cold water on the dominant meme of the early Premier League season over the past few weeks, first by embarrassing Chelsea on the Blues' home pitch, then by easily dispatching a respectable West Brom side at the Emirates. Despite an absolutely catastrophic start to the season the Gunners are well within reach of the Champions League places and if one of the Premier League's elite teams don't start sucking it up soon a whole lot of neutrals are going to be really disappointed. You'd think they'd be used to it by now. The Canaries look like a team that's going to be sticking around for another go at the top level, but unless Arsenal's defense decides to go all wonky (never a possibility that can be discounted) they simply don't have the firepower necessary to hang with Arsenal.

Pick: Arsenal, 3-1

Everton vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers

3:00 GMT (10:00 AM ET); Goodison Park

Things are not good for Everton right now. Even a quarter of the way through the season and holding a game in hand, a point above the drop is not a good place to be. Wolves are off to a respectable start and they've got enough talent that beating them is never going to be an easy proposition (at least go in) but the Toffees have got to win games like this one if they hope to pull themselves up the table before things go from annoying to legitimately terrifying. It sounds alarmist, but the belief that Everton going down is preposterous (a belief that I share, for the record) is based in large part on the assumption that they will pick up three points at home against teams like Wolves. Everton is better than their record, but at a certain point they've got to play like it.

Pick: Everton, 2-1

Manchester City vs. Newcastle United

3:00 GMT (10:00 AM ET); Etihad Stadium

If I'd told you in August that City-Newcastle would be the highlight of Week 12, you'd probably have laughed at me. I wouldn't have told you that though, because even now it seems quite silly. Yet, here we are; the only two unbeaten teams remaining in the Premier League square off, and though the distaste for City is fairly universal (outside of their fans of course) there's also the sense that this will be the week that Newcastle is "found out" for lack of a better term. It probably is, to some extent; Newcastle has come a very long way this season and they're a legitimately good team, but City is absolutely absurd. They'll probably lose at some point but it's hard to see it coming at home to Newcastle. If the Toon can emerge from this one with a point, that would be a pretty tremendous boost to their legitimacy.

Pick: City, 2-1

Stoke City vs. Queens Park Rangers

3:00 GMT (10:00 AM ET); Britannia Stadium

Is Stoke the most universally disliked mid-table club in the world? I'm genuinely struggling to remember the last time I heard someone say something nice about the Potters that wasn't tinged with at least a touch of back-handedness. When their style of play is getting results it's a bit easier to defend, but Stoke hasn't been very good this year so far and people seem to be getting tired of defending Tony Pulis' right to bore and kick his way to the top half. QPR are at the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of the entertainment factor, but there's also the Neil Warnock/Joey Barton factor. They're also not especially good. Let's face it, nothing I say will convince you to watch this game which probably speaks well of you.

Pick: Draw, 2-2

Sunderland vs. Fulham

3:00 GMT (10:00 AM ET); Stadium of Light

These are the exact same team, right? I'm waiting for a statue of Prince to pop up outside of the Stadium of Light.

Pick: Draw, 1-1

West Bromwich Albion vs. Bolton Wanderers

3:00 GMT (10:00 AM ET); The Hawthorns

Given that Roy Hodgson is almost universally regarded as one of the more decent men in football, it's tough to say what he went through at Liverpool was a good thing, but in reality it worked out quite well because West Brom is the most Woyingest team that's ever Woy'd. The two are such a perfect fit that it's not even the least bit funny, but it is kind of adorable. Bolton's last Premier League result was their 5-0 whipping of Stoke City, arguably the most surprising result of the season so far (and that includes the first Manchester Derby.) Bolton has underperformed more than any team in the league so far; perhaps that result will help to move them in the right direction.

Pick: Bolton, 2-1

Wigan Athletic vs. Blackburn Rovers

3:00 GMT (10:00 AM ET); DW Stadium

This is a hugely important battle in the war of Not Being the First Team to Be Officially Relegated.

Pick: Wigan, 3-1

Swansea City vs. Manchester United

5:45 GMT (12:45 PM ET); Liberty Stadium

"Swansea Shocks Defending Champs!" "Welsh Minnows Land A Whale!" "Sir Alex Stunned In Swansea!" are all headlines that will not be appearing anywhere on Sunday morning.

Pick: United, 3-0

Sunday November 20th

Chelsea vs. Liverpool

8:00 GMT (3:00 PM ET); Stamford Bridge

City-Newcastle is the biggest game this weekend in many ways, but this one is way bigger from a standpoint of pure spectacle. Both clubs have been slightly below the standard they set for themselves and both clubs have had some embarrasing  moments, but these are still two of the biggest clubs in the world and both have designs on the Champions League. If Newcastle stumbles Chelsea can pull themselves into the top three; a win for Liverpool could put them into the top four. Big stakes for a game so early in the season.

Pick: Chelsea, 3-1

Monday November 21st

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Aston Villa

8:00 GMT (3:00 PM ET); White Hart Lane

All signs point to Harry Redknapp being on the touchline for this match after undergoing a minor heart operation a few weeks back. That's clearly great news; it's wonderful that 'Arry has made what appears to be a full recovery from what has to have been a scary procedure. Along those same lines, this is the perfect soft-landing because there is zero chance Aston Villa will do anything interesting enough to hamper his recuperation.

Pick: Spurs, 2-0

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