Premier League 2012, Week 15 Preview And Fixtures: West Brom-West Ham Is Weekend's Biggest Game, Sun Likely Exploding

Michael Regan

This week's two biggest games include West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United and Swansea City. They also have nothing to do with the relegation battle.

Newcastle vs. Manchester City

St. James' Park; Saturday, 12:45 GMT/7:45 AM ET

It's all going pretty terribly for Newcastle right now; a season after just narrowly missing out on Champions League qualification, they find themselves just two points above the relegation zone and losers of 5 of their last 6. Things are sure to improve with a no-longer-undefeated Manchester City heading to town, since they won't be in a bad mood at all or anything.

Pick: City, 3-1

Liverpool vs. Aston Villa

Anfield; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

For a few weeks this summer, it seemed as though Paul Lambert was bound for Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers was being pursued quite heavily for the Villa job. Whether there was ever much truth to those rumors is anyone's guess, but as one that doesn't have much choice but to pay near-constant attention to the gossip mill it's somewhat amusing that things ended up as they did. Villa have begun to show signs of real improvement over the past month while Liverpool continue to chug along in what all but the most optimistic fans knew all along would be something of a rebuilding year.

The Reds are still clear favorites, but if the same Aston Villa side that stunned Norwich in the League Cup show up to Anfield, this could actually be something much better than the snore-fest most are expecting. Of course, it could very well end up being a snore-fest. Football! So unpredictable!

Pick: Liverpool, 2-1

Manchester United vs. Sunderland

Old Trafford; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

Sunderland managed to score 3 goals against Reading on Tuesday, which qualifies as a minor miracle given the way this season has been going so far. Can they use that momentum to stun the league-leading United and get their season headed back in the right direction?

Nope. They're still bad.

Pick: United, 2-0

Norwich City vs. Wigan

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

Wigan seems to be doing things backwards this season; after getting of to a (relatively) hot start, the Latics have hit a rough patch and find themselves back in the relegation zone. They're Wigan, so the odds that they'll end up going on a tear towards the end of the year and achieving safety are pretty high; still, it seems a safe bet that Roberto Martinez would like to avoid such a thing for once.

Norwich has been flying high of late, but their 10-game unbeaten streak across all competitions came to a screeching halt thanks to a 4-1 League Cup drubbing by Aston Villa on Tuesday and how they respond will likely say a lot about whether or not their mid-table form is truly sustainable.

Pick: Norwich, 2-1

Queens Park Rangers vs. Fulham

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

Every single team that's looking to offload medium-priced talent in the January window will be pulling for QPR as often as possible until the window closes, but they've dug themselves such a ridiculously deep hole and looked so atrociously bad doing it that it's likely wishful thinking at this point. It's a stretch to say that this team needs a miracle to avoid the drop, but some semi-rare scientific phenomenon that people in the 8th century would have mistaken for a miracle may very well be in order.

Pick: Fulham, 3-1

Stoke City vs. Everton

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

Stoke has won 4 of their last 6 and are unbeaten over that stretch.

They are still terrible.

Pick: Draw, 1-1

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Swansea City

White Hart Lane; Sunday, 13:30 GMT/8:30 AM ET

We've reached that point in the year where we genuinely have to consider; is Swansea City actually good? And not in the "good for a team that was playing in the Championship two years ago" sense, but genuinely good as a Premier League team? This game won't give us a definitive answer, but it could very well be illuminating. So could any game though, so we'll all just have to keep pretending like our subjective opinions have real weight and meaning no matter what happens.

Pick: Draw, 2-2

West Bromwich Albion vs. West Ham United

The Hawthorns; Sunday, 16:00 GMT/11:00 AM ET

If we're genuinely wondering whether or not Swansea is a legitimately good team, isn't it only fair that we do the same where West Brom is concerned? Probably, but the world is an unfair place.

Pick: West Ham, 2-1

Reading vs. Arsenal

Madejski Stadium; Monday, 20:00 GMT/3:00 PM ET

Good to see another Monday night game that features two evenly matched opponents rather than a cynical pairing of one big club and another side that absolutely no one but partisan fans care about.

Pick: Arsenal, 2-0

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