Premier League, Week 13 preview: Manchester United could oust AVB at Spurs

Stu Forster

Andre Villas-Boas is on the hot seat and Manchester United could get him the sack on Sunday, while the rest of England's top teams should pick up three points.

Aston Villa vs. Sunderland

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

Sunderland have two wins in their last four, but unfortunately for them those are their only two wins of the season and they still sit dead last in the Premier League. If not for a few other truly horrible teams in the league Gus Poyet's side could be in very real trouble even before the end of the calendar year. A team that's struggled this much will never be favored to take points in any game, but an Aston Villa side that's struggled at home and failed to look legitimately impressive in any game since their late September win over Manchester City gives them at least a plausible chance; still, Villa's got much better at finding ways to grind out tough results this season, and with several key players fit after long injury spells, the Black Cats will enter yet another game with a very tough task ahead.

Cardiff City vs. Arsenal

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

Cardiff City's been a pretty respectable team at home this season and they've made something of a habit of getting more than expected from clashes with the league's top sides, but Arsenal just look to be on another level right now. If the home side can manage to find any cracks in the Gunners' armor, they'll be one of the only teams to do so in all of 2013.

Everton vs. Stoke City

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

Everton has continued to play very well over the past month or so, but they haven't been picking up results at the clip they were earlier in the season. They're still a side capable of beating anyone on any given day, but it's difficult to see them mounting a real challenge for Champions League qualification just yet. Where Everton has improved incrementally in terms of quality this season, Stoke has taken a similarly small step forward in terms of tolerability; they're still largely the same team in terms of personnel and they're far from thrilling to watch, but they're less viscerally offensive than they were in past seasons. That's...something, I guess.

Norwich City vs. Crystal Palace

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

Norwich is looking increasingly like a club in real trouble; despite some significant investment during the offseason, the Canaries have been a real mess so far. They've shown themselves capable of putting in strong performances, but more often than not they've been just short of a disaster. Chris Houghton will likely be quite happy to see Crystal Palace coming to town, but if his side don't manage to take full points, there's at least some possibility that it will be his undoing.

West Ham United vs. Fulham

Boleyn Ground; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

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Newcastle United vs. West Bromwich Albion

St. James' Park; Saturday, 17:30 GMT/12:30 PM ET

If Newcastle manage to keep this up, a lot of people (including myself) will probably owe Alan Pardew an apology. Of course, I owe several video rental stores, parking lot management companies, and at least three family members something a lot more tangible than an apology and I don't think any of them are really holding their breath. I wouldn't count on it, Alan.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester United

White Hart Lane; Saturday, 12:00 GMT/7:00 AM ET

Well Spurs, look at it this way; it can't really be any worse than last week, can it? And if it is, at least the end result of AVB going away will probably make some Tottenham players pretty happy.

Hull City vs. Liverpool

K.C. Stadium; Sunday, 14:05 GMT/9:05 AM ET

Despite Chelsea, City, United, and (maybe) Spurs still being plausible title contenders, only Arsenal and Liverpool are teams that seem incapable of blowing games such as this one. And that is so enormously weird that it's causing me to question some of my most fundamental beliefs as a person. Maybe I should pay those parking tickets?

Chelsea vs. Southampton

Stamford Bridge; Sunday, 16:10 GMT/11:10 AM ET

Southampton may have lost 2-0 to Arsenal last week, but it took the world's worst Cruyff turn and a penalty that, while justly given, could probably be handed out three or four times every game. They'll get another chance to prove that they belong in the top quarter of the table with a trip to Stamford Bridge, and hopefully this time Artur Boruc will be instructed to just punt the damn ball down the field for the love of god.

Manchester City vs. Swansea

Etihad Stadium; Sunday, 16:10 GMT/11:10 AM ET

Manchester City is the best team in the world when they're playing at home and worse than West Ham United when playing away. At some point either they're going to realize that the basic nature of the game doesn't change completely once they get on a bus and begin playing well away, or they're going to start playing like garbage at the Etihad. Both are plausible, I suppose, but I'm pretty sure I'd rather be West Brom -- who host City next week -- than Swansea.

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