Premier League 2012, Week 25 Preview And Fixtures: A Particularly Awkward Northwest Derby

Luis Suarez of Liverpool tangles with Patrice Evra of Manchester United during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield in Liverpool, England. Manchester United plays Liverpool on February 11, 2012. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

While everyone is obsessing over a bunch of nastiness that we can only hope is behind all of us (ha!) Spurs, Newcastle, Wolves, West Brom, Sunderland and Arsenal will be playing some pretty important games.

This should be another great week of Premier League action. Handshakes all around, everyone! Hey, hey, I said EVERYONE! You two play nice.

Manchester United vs. Liverpool

Saturday, February 11th; 12:45 GMT/7:45 AM ET

Old Trafford

There is absolutely nothing pleasant that will come of this game. More so than usual, even; the Suarez-Evra issue is one of the more unpleasant stories in the league this season, if not in recent memory; it's the rare issue (okay, maybe not rare but more severely than usual) that is capable of turning thoughtful, grounded, thoroughly reasonable people into blathering, tribalist morons. Piled on top of the usual unpleasantness involved in this rivalry, and it's a powder keg full of ugliness. I'm not even entirely sure that's symbolism. I would not be the least bit surprised to wake to find that England was quite literally on fire. Luckily they've got experience with that kind of thing.

Pick: United, 3-1

Blackburn Rovers vs. Queens Park Rangers

Saturday, February 11th; 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

Ewood Park

QPR sure did do a great job in the transfer window. Yep. Made themselves a whole lot better, oh yeah, can't deny that. Mmhmm. Maybe next they'll win a game.

Pick: QPR, 2-0

Bolton Wanderers vs. Wigan Athletic

Saturday, February 11th; 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

Reebok Stadium

Between the two of them, these teams have given up 98 goals. Just to spite everyone, neither of them will manage to score. Jerks.

Pick: Draw, 0-0

Everton vs. Chelsea

Saturday, February 11th; 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

Goodison Park

Oh dear oh dear, will the Blues on Blues violence ever end?!?

Pick: Chelsea, 3-0

Fulham vs. Stoke City

Saturday, February 11th; 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

Craven Cottage

I don't mean to alarm anyone, I really don't. But I am afraid it turns out that everyone's favorite (phony) proof of how good a team playing the Good Old English Way can be is not, in fact, very good. Despite adding three good players that may as well have been designed by their creator for no purpose other than to play for a team managed by Tony Pulis during the summer window, Stoke has failed to take a step forward; if anything, they've regressed. They'll certainly stay in the league and they'll probably end up somewhere very close to the middle of the table, but the idea that this is a team whose "success" in any way justifies forcing people to endure their games is a myth.

And they're playing Fulham! So this should be fun.

Pick: Draw, 1-1

Sunderland vs. Arsenal

Saturday, February 11th; 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

Stadium of Light

I honestly don't know which of these teams I think is better. Which is completey 100% bathrobe-at-the-Opera insane. Martin O'Neill, you are a tiny, tracksuit-clad, homespun-saying-spouting little wizard.

Pick: Sunderland, 3-2

Swansea City vs. Norwich City

Saturday, February 11th; 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

Liberty Stadium

From a neutral perspective, this is probably my favorite fixture of the season. Swansea are just fun to watch if for no other reason than they're one of the few non-elite top-flight teams in Europe doing something innovative, and while Norwich is a whole lot more traditional they're also quite good at it and a bit of a functional shambles, which is my favorite kind of team. These two are just the best and I am so glad we'll probably get to see this at least two more times next season.

Pick: Draw, 1-1

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Newcastle United

Saturday, February 11th; 17:30 GMT/12:30 PM ET

White Hart Lane

This will be a good opportunity for Alan Pardew to scout all of the players he will be managing next season.

Pick: Spurs, 2-1

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. West Bromwich Albion

Sunday, February 12th; 13:30 GMT/8:30 AM ET

Molineux Stadium

Hey it's the Black Country Derby! Hey these two teams are terrible! Hey!

Pick: West Brom, 3-2

Aston Villa vs. Manchester City

Sunday, February 12th; 16:00 GMT/11:00 AM ET

Villa Park

Can anyone explain to me how Villa can be so boring and negative and still manage to give up so many goals? Oh, right. Alan Hutton and Stephen Warnock.

Anyways, City is probably not going to do much to make the people that participate in a rumored pre-match protest against Alex McLeish at Villa Park rethink their stance.

Pick: City, 3-0

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