Two high-profile derbies, a few elite teams that should beat up on some bottom feeders and a healthy array of garbage in the English Premier League. Catch the excitement!
Saturday October 1st
12:45 GMT (7:45 AM ET); Goodison Park
It's become something of a trend now to speak of Everton as a "club in crisis" or somesuch these days. I suppose such viewpoints aren't without their merits, but the reality of the situation is that Everton haven't actually been all that bad this season. It's also become something of a trend to talk about the rebirth of Liverpool under Kenny Dalglish, which I suppose has some validity as well but then again he did get about £800 billion to spend and the Reds did just lose 4-0 to Spurs who had been awful to that point in the season.
Pick: Draw, 2-2
15:00 GMT (10:00 AM ET); Villa Park
At some point the Aston Villa fans who were thrilled at the seemingly imminent appointment of Roberto Martinez over the summer will move past it, but to make Villa play Wigan this early in the season - after four consecutive drab, boring, frustrating draws no less - is just cruel.
Pick: Draw, 1-1
15:00 GMT (10:00 AM ET); Ewood Park
Manchester City are absolutely the most entertaining thing about the Premier League at the moment. Certainly not in the way they'd like but still, folks are certainly talking about them. The thing that would make this game hilarious would be if Roque Santa Cruz had gone back to Blackburn on loan instead of Real Betis and had managed to score a winner. But since that would never happen due to the fact that Blackburn is awful, so in this case the fantasy is better than reality.
Pick: Manchester City, 2-0
15:00 GMT (10:00 AM ET); Old Trafford
The good thing about the promotion/relegation system is that teams like Norwich City get to travel to Old Trafford and play in front of an international audience. The bad thing about the promotion/relegation system is that an international audience has to watch teams like Norwich City play Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Pick: Manchester United, 4-0
Sunderland vs. West Browich Albion
15:00 GMT (10:00 AM ET); Stadium of Light
It's probably unfair to point out how terrible West Brom has been so far this season seeing as how they've had to go up against some pretty stiff competition, but then again they've gotten stomped by some pretty awful competition. So far as Sunderland is concerned, well, they're Sunderland-y. So this game should be good.
Pick: Sunderland, 2-1
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Newcastle United
15:00 GMT (10:00 AM ET); Molineux Stadium
Yeah, yeah Newcastle; you may be sitting pretty right now. But when the Joey Barton's flippy-doo-dah-cowlick-led revolution comes, you will NOT be spared. Mick McCarthy will be spared, however, because he is a handsome and charming old rogue.
Pick: Newcastle, 2-0
Saturday October 2nd
1:30 GMT (8:30 AM ET); Reebok Stadium
Stuart Holden is the American soccer version of Achilles, except of instead of his heel his weakness is being healthy. Which is a tremendous bummer, because Stuart Holden is just the bees knees. Meanwhile, Chelsea are very quietly morphing from a team of aging superstars managed by a rotating cast of men so old and fat that they look like they are melting into a team of ridiculously fun team of young, adorable, skillful players led by a funny, attractive young man who is of an age by which people are happy to have opened a savings account. Uh-oh.
Pick: Chelsea, 3-1
15:00 GMT (10:00 AM ET); Craven Cottage
Fulham is the only remaining winless team in the Premier League, which seems wholly out of step with how they've actually performed to this point in the season. They'll face QPR, who are kind of like PSG if PSG were owned by a gas station franchisee instead of an actual oil baron.
Pick: Fulham, 1-0
15:00 GMT (10:00 AM ET); Liberty Stadium
If FIFA 12 contained historic teams ala a lot of American-sport-centric video games, this would basically be the real world, not pretending humans haven't evolved version of 1974 Barcelona-1974 Wolerhampton.
Pick: Stoke, 2-1
16:00 GMT (11:00 AM ET); White Hart Lane
Oh hey, a derby. Oh hey, a derby that the vast majority of Premier League observers would prefer be won by Team Fiery Comet Death From Above.
Pick: Spurs, 3-2