The Premier League hops back on the treadmill in hope of burning off some of those Christmas cookies.
Didn't we just do this? Like a few hours ago? Playing more games just seems so extreme. These guys are going to get tired!
Monday January 2nd
15:00 GMT (10:00 AM ET); Villa Park
Just over a month since playing what might have been the most boring game in the Premier League this season, Villa and Swansea will do battle again. Villa has more firepower, but both sides have gotten fairly similar results in nearly polar-opposite ways this season. Both also had promising results this past weekend. This would be an intriguing game, if not for the fact Alex McLeish were involved.
Pick: Villa, 2-0
15:00 GMT (10:00 AM ET); Ewood Park
Blackburn pulled off the stunner of the season this weekend, defeating Manchester United at Old Trafford. In the process they're now just three points shy of pulling themselves out of the relegation zone. If they hope to continue their climb, they'll need to defeat the team Sam Allardyce always wanted them to be when he was at the helm, Tony Pulis' Stoke.
This is seriously the least attractive fixture on the entire calendar. At least the reverse is at the Britannia.
Pick: Stoke, 2-1
15:00 GMT (10:00 AM ET); Loftus Road
After a surprisingly strong start, QPR find themselves in some real trouble as they hover just two points above the drop zone after a terrible strong of results. Norwich continues to hum along nicely, but the there's plenty of reason to believe that this battle of promoted sides will end up having a pretty major impact on who sticks around for the next Premier League season.
Pick: Draw, 2-2
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Chelsea
15:00 GMT (10:00 AM ET); Molineaux Stadium
Things are getting bad for Chelsea (relative to expectations at least) and though it's hard to imagine Roman Abramovich cutting bait on Andre Villas-Boas so early on, it's also important to remember that Roman is at least mildly insane. At any rate, Chelsea could really do with not only three points but a dominating performance against a Wolves side that they should be capable of dispatching with ease. If there's anything that will disrupt confidence it's losing at home to an Alex McLeish managed side by multiple goals; the Blues will be looking to rinse that taste out of their mouths.
Pick: Chelsea, 3-1
17:30 GMT (12:30 PM ET); Craven Cottage
Does this count as a derby? I don't know. It seems like there has to be at least a bit of acrimony for something to be a derby, and I just don't think anyone has any active dislike for Fulham. And though they're both from London, London is a pretty big place and Craven Cottage is on the complete opposite side of Emirates Stadium. There's got to be a more appropriate term, right? Well, whatever.
Pick: Arsenal, 3-1
Tuesday January 3rd
19:45 GMT (2:45 PM ET); White Hart Lane
Spurs hit a bit of a bump in the road dropping points to Swansea, and though they managed to gain ground on the title contenders things would look much better for them now had they taken all three. It's not going to be often that United and City slip up on the same weekend, and Tottenham four points behind with a game in hand makes for a slightly more interesting outlook than six points behind with a game in hand. Spurs didn't deserve the points though, and even though they'll be at home they need a better effort against West Brom than the one on display against Swansea.
Pick: Spurs, 3-1
Wigan vs. Sunderland
19:45 GMT (2:45 PM ET); DW Stadium
Sunderland continues to enjoy the Martin O'Neill bump, and with some luck ahead of them could find themselves in the top half of the table by mid-week. That's an impressive turnaround, but let's not get too excited; MON still hasn't been through a transfer window and Emile Heskey has been bumped to second-choice at Villa.
Pick: Sunderland, 2-0
20:00 GMT (3:00 PM ET); Etihad Stadium
This is the big game of the weekend, and with City looking far from invincible after a few uninspiring displays, Liverpool look to have a decent chance of becoming the first team to take away a point (or more) from Etihad Stadium this season. The Reds have some pretty serious problems, but they continue to keep within striking distance of the Champions League places. A result here could set the stage for a pretty compelling second half of the season.
Pick: City, 2-1
Wednesday January 4th
20:00 GMT (3:00 PM ET); Goodison Park
Bolton sure does look doomed, and that's a real bummer because there are so many other teams I'd rather see relegated. There aren't a lot of games on their schedule (especially away from home) that they look capable of winning, but this is one of them. Not because Everton is a bad team (they aren't) but because Everton has had their troubles scoring and Bolton is actually pretty decent in that department. It's a long shot, but at some point they'll need to start cashing a few of those in.
Pick: Everton, 2-1
Newcastle United vs. Manchester United
20:00 GMT (3:00 PM ET); Sports Direct Arena
You know how people say "one player doesn't make a team"? While technically correct, those people are idiots.
Pick: Man United, 2-1