The first day of the Premier League weekend is dominated by less-than-enthralling clashes between mid and lower-table sides with a few mismatches thrown in for good measure. We’ll forgive them this time around, because Sunday features two huge games, with United hosting Liverpool and Manchester City traveling to the Emirates to face Arsenal.
Loftus Road; Saturday, 12:45 GMT/7:45 AM ET
Though this particular London Derby is not quite so full of fervor as some of the others, the specifics of this edition make it rather intriguing. With a five-point gap to make up in order to pull themselves out of the relegation zone QPR ought to be desperate to win any game in which they're involved, but there's little doubt that Harry Redknapp would love to knock his former club off of their red-hot stride. Unfortunately for ‘Arry, his team is quite horrible.
Pick: Spurs, 3-1
Villa Park; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET
This is conceivably the most important game of the day, a relegation six-pointer pitting an Aston Villa side fresh off a humiliating first-leg defeat to League Two Bradford City against Southampton, the team directly below them in the table. But just because it's important doesn't mean you have to watch it. Please do not watch it. I beg of you.
Pick: Draw, 2-2
Everton vs. Swansea City
Goodison Park; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET
Swansea will be flying high after taking a huge 2-0 advantage over Chelsea in their League Cup semi final leg on Wednesday, and though their league form has been somewhat uninspiring as of late they're still near enough to the European places that this game counts as an opportunity to pick up some ground. Given Everton's home record however, it's not an especially great opportunity. The Toffees continue to hang around right at the edge of the top four, and their domination at Goodison Park is a big part of the reason why.
Pick: Everton, 2-1
Fulham vs. Wigan Athletic
Craven Cottage; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET
This is another game that's reasonably important for reasons that make it unlikely you'll want to watch. Wigan is trying to escape the drop zone, while Fulham is looking for a win that will erase much of the cause for concern that they will enter it themselves. Almost certainly better than Villa-Southampton, but still. Stay away.
Pick: Fulham, 2-1
Norwich City vs. Newcastle United
Carrow Road; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET
This is another game involving two teams that aren't especially great, but they are at the very least flawed in ways that make them entertaining. Here's to hoping both sides forget how to defend! (The odds seem pretty high.)
Pick: Norwich, 3-2
Madejski Stadium; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET
Reading are in quite a bit of distress with five points between themselves and safety, and the time to make up that gap is growing shorter. With West Brom firmly in the race for Europe this isn't a game from which you'd expect the home side to take anything, but since I am contractually obligated to pick one major upset per week I'm going with this one because most of the other games are between two bad teams or two good teams.
Pick: Reading, 2-1
Stoke City vs. Chelsea
Britannia Stadium; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET
Well, this is pretty much exactly the kind of game Rafa Benitez will be looking forward to at this point in time. Yep, a nice easy contest that's going to allow plenty of opportunity for his side to play the kind of flowing, attacking football that they need to play in order to restore confidence. Ought to be a walk in the park.
Pick: Draw, 1-1
Stadium of Light; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET
Oh my. Oh, good heavens, no. Absolutely not.
Pick: Draw, 0-0
Old Trafford; Sunday, 13:30 GMT/8:30 AM ET
In one of the Premier League's most heated and storied rivalries, neutral fans will all be rooting for the same things: a tense, heated battle with abundant emotion on display from the players and fans alike, the kind of stylish football both sides are capable of playing, some late-game drama, and for Sir Alex Ferguson and Luis Suarez to just get over themselves and kiss already.
Pick: United, 2-1
Arsenal vs. Manchester City
Emirates Stadium; 16:00 GMT/11:00 AM ET
There's little doubt that Arsenal's run of consecutive Champions League appearances is in real danger of coming to an end, and it's likely going to take some major slip-ups from two of the three sides directly ahead of them for the Gunners to finish in the top four. If Arsenal wants to make their hopes less dependant on the failures of other teams, they have to win games like this one. (They are probably not going to win games like this one.)
Pick: City, 2-1