Premier League, Week 12 preview: The Merseyside Derby and everything else

Clive Brunskill

The Merseyside Derby overshadows everything else on the schedule, but you can find reasons to watch games other than Everton-Liverpool. Arsenal-Southampton and Man City-Tottenham are watchable as well.

Everton vs. Liverpool

Goodison Park; Saturday, 12:45 GMT/7:45 AM ET

As Merseyside Derbys in recent years go, this is certainly a compelling edition; Liverpool once again have the look of title contenders, while Everton seem every bit as good as last season's sixth-place side, if not better. An Everton win could conceivably put them in third and keep things interesting all the way through the top-half of the table, while three points for Liverpool could bring a bit more separation between the highest reaches and the tier just below. High stakes, two very enjoyable teams, as local a derby as there is in the world? You spoil us, Premier League.

Arsenal vs. Southampton

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

If you've been wondering whether or not Southampton is for real, well, you're going to have to continue waiting for a little while because even losing by a fair margin to Arsenal wouldn't be definitive proof that they are not. Likewise, a win at the Emirates doesn't rule out a slide over the next five months. But there's no way the outcome of this game doesn't shift perceptions to some extent; it's far from implausible that by the end of the day the Saints could be top of the Premier League, and that's pretty insane and -- assuming you're not a Portsmouth, Arsenal or Liverpool fan -- pretty awesome.

Of course, things could go the way the cynical and joyless expect and Arsenal could win comfortably, but the thought that a team so recently in the Championship building so steadfastly through youth and smart targeting of undervalued transfer targets challenging for the top spot (even in November) is just too wonderful to root against.

Fulham vs. Swansea City

Craven Cottage; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

Are we still supposed to like Swansea? I can't remember. I know Fulham's on the down-swing right now, their heroic Europa League run seemingly a thing of the past. I can't keep this crap straight. I dunno, change kits are usually pretty hip, so go Swansea I guess.

Oh, dammit, they're basically Welsh Liverpool in that thing. Just change the channel and root for a draw.

Hull City vs. Crystal Palace

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

There's no way anyone outside of the respective metropolitan areas that these two teams call home has anything compelling or interesting to say about this game. I'm not going to pretend to be an exception.

Newcastle United vs. Norwich City

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

Newcastle may actually be competent, which is frankly a rather unwelcome change from the last couple of seasons, assuming you enjoy things that are funny. Norwich are a very frustrating side to try to figure out, because on the face of things they've got more than enough talent to be comfortably mid-table but they are instead on the fringes of the relegation places. Is it Chris Houghton? That's hard to believe. Perhaps it's just chance, and perhaps the Canaries will be just fine come the end of the season. That's not an especially enjoyable narrative, though, so let's blame it on Ricky van Wolfswinkel because why the hell not.

Stoke City vs. Sunderland

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

When I was a kid, my mom seemed to schedule everything that I hated on the same day. Semi-annual physical, eye exam, dental checkup, vaccinations, clothes shopping, pretty much anything you can imagine hating when you were a kid, it happened on the same day. At the time I just assumed it was because she hated me, but in retrospect I'm sure it was just because it was easier for her. We lived out in the middle of nowhere and my mom taught at a school nearly an hour away (which I also attended) and her insurance only covered things close to work. She had to take an entire day off to take care of her sickly son-not to mention my sister, who was slightly older and had even more doctor's visits to make-and all I did was complain about it. I feel bad about the way I acted on those days, and I get it now.

I mention all of this because I think the Premier League needs to know where I'm coming from when I say this: why did you schedule Stoke-Sunderland on the same day as Hull-Palace? Do you think I'm enjoying this? Do you think I ASKED to be born? I hate you, Premier League. I hate you, and I'm going to my room and even though the door doesn't lock you'd better not come in -- EVEN IF YOU KNOCK FIRST -- because I'm listening to the Bauhaus and writing in my journal and I do NOT want to be disturbed.

West Ham United vs. Chelsea

Upton Park; Saturday, 17:30 GMT/12:30 PM ET

London Derby! Sounds like a good game!

Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Etihad Stadium; Sunday, 13:30 GMT/8:30 PM ET

The Premier League upper-mid-table is a pretty happy mess right now, and unless you're partisan in some way you should hope for it to stay that way, because good lord could this league do with a bit of actual parity. Southampton is the current chic pick to provide it, but more realistically a team like Spurs pushing a team like City down the ranks and opening up space for a team like Everton is likely a more likely path to long-term competitiveness. Even a draw in this game would be a major victory for those that want to see a more wide-open Premier League; there would still be a pretty clear dividing line between the haves and the have-nots, but the dividing line would at the very least be creeping downward.

Cardiff City vs. Manchester United

City of Cardiff Stadium; Sunday, 16:00 GMT/11:00 AM ET

The few weeks that United looked to be actively bad were pretty fun, you guys. They still have some serious issues, but they've moved from "disaster" to "club in transition" and that's just not any fun at all. Here's hoping for a stunner of an upset so we can all go back to shaking our heads at David Moyes, who is now a guy we're all supposed to hate and want to fail for some stupid reason.

Aston Villa vs. West Bromwich Albion

Liberty Stadium; Sunday, 20:00 GMT/3:00 PM ET

Well, the weekend began with a storied local rivalry, and the week will end with a ... storied local rivalry, I guess? In fairness, this variation of the West Midlands derby has become significantly more contentious over the past few seasons, and there's a very compelling case to be made that West Brom are currently on top in terms of bragging rights. But the most important thing is that oh god both of these teams are so boring and they both have such exciting players why are they so boring all the time?

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