Premier League 2013, Week 23 preview and fixtures: Spurs-Man United caps another big Sunday

Richard Heathcote

Sunday is once again where all of the marquee action lies, with Chelsea hosting Arsenal in a London derby with big Champions League implications and leaders Manchester United trying to build on their advantage at the top against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.

Liverpool vs. Norwich City

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

Liverpool is still within sniffing distance of Europe, but their up-and-down form this season makes it incredibly difficult to predict what they're going to do on any given day. Norwich City, however, has been much easier to figure out as of late. The Canaries' recent run of games has been brutal, but they've still gone a month without a win, and with the bottom half of the table as tight as it is there has to be some concern that this slump could end up causing some real problems should it continue. To say Norwich is in any real danger would of course be premature at this point (especially given the teams below them) but a result at Anfield would be just the kind of thing they need to ensure that this season is one that ends up showing real progress over last.

Pick: Liverpool, 3-2

Manchester City vs. Fulham

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

In terms of being the perfect Evil Villain of World Club Football, Manchester City have done so many things right. They spend sums of money that would make Roman Abramovich blush, they buy the best players of mid-table clubs and put them on the bench, refusing to loan them to any level about the Championship, they're chock full of unlikeable players, they've amassed one of the world's most impressive collections of attacking talent and play some of the most stiflingly boring football imaginable, and they're managed by Roberto Mancini. So much to hate. And yet, they can't quite tick all of the boxes necessary to be the big, bullying machine that everyone wants to hate, because they just aren't nearly as good as they should be.

They can't make it past the group stage of the Champions League, they're seven points behind their most bitter rivals, and they haven't even really taken any hapless and likeable young upstarts back behind the woodshed this season. It's almost like they're purposefully avoiding becoming the monolithic terror that seemed inevitable just to deprive people in need of something to hate and blame for all of the problems in football just for laughs or some-oh. Oh man. That is some next-level trolling, Sheik Mansour et al. A tip of the cap to you.

Pick: City 1-0

Newcastle United vs. Reading

St. James' Park; Saturday, 10:00 AM ET/15:00 GMT

You know who thinks Alan Pardew's eight-year contract extension looks like a good idea right now? Chris Hougton. Chris Houghton thinks Alan Pardew's eight-year contract extension is the best thing he's ever heard of, and he's never been happier about the way anything has turned out in his entire life.

Pick: Draw, 2-2

Swansea City vs. Stoke City

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

I am normally (and this is really going out on a limb here, so please applaud my bravery) not much of a Stoke City fan. Don't like their players, don't like the way they play, really don't like Tony Pulis. In a related vein, I think there's a whole lot to admire about Swansea City. Pretty to watch, incredibly well-run club, Michu. But because I find the whole "right way to play" narrative to be the most tiresome and pretentious meme in sports, I hope Stoke just gives Swansea a complete and total thumping because the reactions would be adorable.

Pick: Stoke, 2-1

West Ham United vs. Queens Park Rangers

Upton Park; Saturday, 10:00 AM ET/15:00 GMT

Another week, another London derby that barely qualifies. QPR has been spending a ton of money again (though to their credit they're actually spending it on good players this time around) but they still have a massive hill to climb in order to reach safety. They've got to win games, and players like Remy and M'Villa will help in that regard, but there are still a lot of teams that are much better than QPR that they'll need to steal points from in order to stay safe. West Ham is one of them.

Pick: Draw, 1-1

Wigan Athletic vs. Sunderland

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

Sunderland is probably far enough out of the muck to call this a relegation six pointer, which is great because I really hate that term. It's still a big game for both sides (especially Wigan) but there's not really any reason for neutral fans to care. Does that sound mean? It sounds mean. I'm sorry.

Pick: Draw, 1-1

West Bromwich Albion vs. Aston Villa

The Hawthorns; Saturday, 12:30 PM ET/17:30 GMT

This is a derby and everything, but given the state of Aston Villa I'm not really convinced it's one that deserves marquee booking. West Brom's recent struggles haven't been nearly so difficult as those of their local rivals, but after blowing a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 to a very poor Reading team for their third straight loss last weekend, they're reeling just a bit. No matter what happens, it will be due to the fact that one team caught the other at the right time. There can be no other explanation.

Pick: Villa, 2-1

Chelsea vs. Arsenal

Stamford Bridge; 8:30 AM ET/13:30 GMT

Hey, here's a change; a London derby people actually care about! Even if it is only for the hope of the schadenfreude to come. This season has been a (relative) nightmare for both clubs, with Chelsea's defense of their Champions League title coming to an end before the knockout stages and Arsenal's stretch of appearances in that same competition looking more in doubt than ever. Both clubs are desperate for a big win over a strong opponent to help build some momentum, but I think we all know what's going to happen: some form of calamity by one or both teams will lead to a draw that no one involved is happy about and everyone not involved thinks is hilarious.

Pick: Draw, 3-3

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester United

White Hart Lane; 11:00 AM ET/16:00 GMT

After last season Manchester United could not possibly feel comfortable of a title until it becomes a mathematical certainty, but with every win the road back gets just a little bit harder for their cross-town rivals. Despite their imperfections, United has steamrolled the league's less competitive teams, and there's little reason to believe they won't continue to do so. That means City's hopes rest almost entirely on games such as this one, where United have to make due with a very good Spurs side. And where Tottenham is concerned, their place in the Champions League is anything but secure and Everton doesn't show many signs of falling off a cliff. Here's hoping this Sunday's showpiece game ends up fulfilling more of its promise than last Sunday's.

Pick: United, 2-1

Southampton vs. Everton

St. Mary's Stadium; 3:00 PM ET/20:00 GMT

Depending on how things go over the rest of the weekend, this could a ho-hum Monday night affair or a game that has major impacts on the state of both the race for the Champions League and away from the relegation places. Wins from any of Newcastle, Wigan or Aston Villa would crank up the pressure on the Saints, while a United win at White Hart Lane could open the door a crack for the Toffees. Given Southampton's decision to sack Nigel Adkins and confirm that football is a horrible, horrible thing that we should all be ashamed of for enjoying, here's hoping they got spanked.

Pick: Everton, 3-1

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