Premier League preview and fixtures, Week 28: High stakes North London Derby headlines the action

Clive Rose

It’s always compelling stuff when Spurs and Arsenal do battle, but with positioning in the tightly-contested battle for the top four on the line this North London Derby could be a classic.

Chelsea vs. West Bromwich Albion

Stamford Bridge; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

Less than a week removed from the completion of his heel turn, Rafa Benitez will return to Stamford Bridge with any remaining doubts about the mutual acrimony between himself and Chelsea's fans now erased. There were loud cries for Rafa's head even in the aftermath of Chelsea's 8-0 win over Aston Villa so it's not like anything that happens here is going to change anyone's mind, but if West Brom sneak out of the Bridge with a win the ugliness on display could be a true sight to behold. So let's all hope for that, then.

Pick: Draw, 2-2

Everton vs. Reading

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

Everton's chances of Champions League looked realistic as of a month ago, but a winless February that was capped by back-to-back losses has put the Toffees in danger of falling out of the European places altogether. Reading's thumping at the hands of Wigan last week did no favors for their survival hopes, but the inability of their relegation rivals to string together results has them still within reach of safety. A big game for both sides, but Everton's home record makes this look a daunting task for the Royals.

Pick: Everton, 2-0

Manchester United vs. Norwich City

Old Trafford; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

With a 12 point lead and 11 games remaining, United's only real title competition at this point is themselves. Given that their last loss in the league came on November 17th they'll likely feel pretty good about their odds of holding steady, but that loss came at the hands of --wait for it, you'll see where I'm going here in a second--Norwich City. (Boom.) So clearly that's more important than the form and quality of the respective sides, and Norwich automatically has a chance somewhat better than a snowball's in hell of pulling off the victory. Because that's how this stuff works.

Pick: United, 3-1

Southampton vs. Queens Park Rangers

St. Mary's Stadium; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

With the title all but decided and the Champions League race only interesting to the point of laughing at Chelsea and/or Arsenal, the relegation battle is where the action is these days. It seems like this comes up every week (and it seems that way because it does, there are only so many things to talk about where QPR is concerned) but Harry Redknapp's side has got to start winning games--especially against teams in the relegation battle--pretty much right now if they have any hope of survival. Southampton is oh-so-close to escaping the muck, but last week's loss to Newcastle kept them from breaking free and a loss (or even draw, depending on other results) at home to QPR could potentially draw them straight back into the fire.

Pick: Southampton, 2-0

Stoke City vs. West Ham United

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

Oh my god you cannot be serious with this.

Pick: Draw, 0-0

Sunderland vs. Fulham

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

Since I've already used up my one game that I don't want to talk about, I suppose I can point out that Sunderland isn't really in much of a position to get comfortable, with just two teams and five points between themselves and the drop. It would take a sustained run of pretty poor play for Martin O'Neill's side to find themselves in any real danger, but they've certainly shown themselves capable of just that over the past month. Fulham is a beatable team and playing at home helps, but if Sunderland can't stop the slide this week it could get pretty dicey on Wearside.

Pick: Draw, 2-2

Swansea City vs. Newcastle United

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

Fresh off their only major (sorry, Johnstone's Paint) trophy win, Swansea City are now playing for little else but pride and positioning. They'll be in Europe next season no matter what, but this doesn't really seem like the kind of team that's in any real danger of losing focus. Newcastle's relegation scare seems to be behind them now, and there's still enough time in the season to save some face and secure a comfortable finish. Both sides play some nice football, so if you're going to watch a meaningless game this weekend, make it this one.

Pick: Swansea, 2-1

Wigan Athletic vs. Liverpool

DW Stadium; Saturday, 17:30 GMT/12:30 PM ET

If I'm any team in the Premier League and I see that I'm playing Wigan in the final third of the season, I'm probably cursing my luck. Wigan pulling a tremendous performance seemingly out of nowhere against Reading last weekend should surprise absolutely no one, and neither should anything else they manage to pull off the rest of the way. This isn't uncharted territory here, folks.

Pick: Draw, 2-2

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal

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

The North London Derby is always decent, usually good, often great. In terms of the stakes involved, this one shapes up to be better than most. Chelsea is about as stable as ammonium chlorate, leaving the door wide open for Arsenal to barge their way back into the top four. Spurs are currently sitting third, but if Chelsea somehow manages to right the ship, they're not at all guaranteed a return to the Champions League. Those are three huge points sitting there for the taking, and without the rivalry aspect this would be the game of the week by some margin. Throw the history into the mix and it's must-watch stuff.

Pick: Spurs, 3-2

Aston Villa vs. Manchester City

Villa Park; Monday, 20:00 GMT/3:00 PM ET

Aston Villa hung with Arsenal to the very end last week and have clearly made major strides forward in recent months. It's not that hard to see them pulling a shocker here, especially considering that--hahaha no, I'm kidding. This is going to be a massacre.

Pick: City, 4-1

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