Premier League 2011, Week 17 Preview And Fixtures: Tottenham-Chelsea And Some Relegation Battles

Tottenham and Chelsea play the biggest match in this round of mid-week fixtures, but there are a number of very watchable games.

Ahh, it's here. The beginning of the Premier League's annual holiday fixtures. While the rest of the world is sensibly taking a break due to the crappy weather, the Premier League flies in the face of convention (and logic) and actually plays MORE games than usual. They take a winter break in Spain, but add fixtures in England during the worst part of the year. Best league in the world!

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Norwich City

Tuesday, 2:45 p.m. ET, 7:45 p.m. GMT

While this could be a relegation six-pointer, at least it's one between a couple of teams that are mildly entertaining. The fact that there are enough negative managers in the Premier League that Mick McCarthy's side isn't among the most boring is pretty incredible. This one features two of the most in-form strikers in the league, Grant Holt and Steven Fletcher. They will be sold to someone for too much money in August after one of these teams is sadly relegated.

Pick: 1-1 draw

Blackburn Rovers vs. Bolton Wanderers

Tuesday, 3:00 p.m. ET, 8:00 p.m. GMT

Unless you're really into schadenfreude, watch the other game. The only thing interesting about this match is that if one team is able to win and take all three points, the losing manager might get canned.

Pick: Who cares, these teams are absurdly irrelevant.

Aston Villa vs. Arsenal

Wednesday, 2:45 p.m. ET, 7:45 p.m. GMT

This game will be awesome purely for reasons of SCIENCE. You will never see a more epic bus parking in your life. Kudos to you, Alex McLeish.

Pick: 2-0 Arsenal, but it's a bigger whooping than the score indicates. No more than two shots on target for the Villains.

Manchester City vs. Stoke City

Wednesday, 2:45 p.m. ET, 7:45 p.m. GMT

Count me among the few who don't mind Stoke. That is, when they're not elbowing my team in the face. Other teams, just fine! Manchester City are really good and will find a way to win this game, but this one be ugly and Stokeish, as usual.

Pick: 3-1 Manchester City

Newcastle United vs. West Bromwich Albion

Wednesday, 2:45 p.m. ET, 7:45 p.m. GMT

After running the gauntlet, Newcastle's season appears to be going down the tubes. They played Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea in quick succession before things eased up. In their two games since that run, they've lost to Norwich and drawn Swansea. Ouch. Their hopes of seventh place are going to be dashed shortly if they don't find their old form. The good news for them is that West Brom are very average.

Pick: 2-1 Newcastle

Everton vs. Swansea City

Wednesday, 3:00 p.m. ET, 8:00 p.m. GMT

This is probably going to be the best game not involving one of the Sky Six. Actually, it might be the best game other than the Thursday game. Everton are still pretty decent despite their financial crisis, while Swansea play much better football than your average relegation fodder team. Both of these teams can play great football or shut up shop when they have to. Likely, a great advertisement for the Premier League.

Pick: 2-1 Everton

Fulham vs. Manchester United

Wednesday, 3:00 p.m. ET, 8:00 p.m. GMT

Fulham are pretty clearly not going to be challenging for the top six or fighting relegation, but they showed signs of being good enough for seventh on the weekend. Bryan Ruiz finally got on track with a sick finish, while Clint Dempsey scored another of his own. Manchester United are second in the table, but with obvious holes in their squad. Could they drop points at Craven Cottage?

Probably not, but they'll get a scare.

Pick: 1-0 Manchester United

Queens Park Rangers vs. Sunderland

Wednesday, 3:00 p.m. ET, 8:00 p.m. GMT

Until Adel Taarabt is playing regularly for QPR and Martin O'Neill has some money to spend, I am boycotting both of these teams.

Pick: The worst 0-0 draw you have ever seen

Wigan Athletic vs. Liverpool

Wednesday, 3:00 p.m. ET, 8:00 p.m. GMT

Liverpool aren't that good without Lucas. Wigan will rise again to defend fortress DW. Believe.

Pick: 1-1 draw

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Chelsea

Thursday, 3:00 p.m. ET, 8:00 p.m. GMT

Every year, the Premier League conspires to put crappy fixtures on during the holidays. The computer that spits out the fixtures is "random", yet we always get great matches when people have better things to do and lame matches when people were going to be watching football anyway. Coincidence? Absolutely not. At least they decided to give us one good match.

Tottenham and Chelsea are, for the first time in the Abramovich era, legitimate rivals. There's little separation between the Sky Six and they're all fighting for the same places. This one is going to be massive. A number of players are injury doubts, so check out our Tottenham Hotspur vs. Chelsea injuries StoryStream for all of that info.

Pick: I'm pulling a Kirk Herbstreit and removing myself from picking 'my game'.

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