Premier League, Week 22 preview: Waiting for Sunday's main event

Alex Livesey

Saturday's slate is watchable, but everything is leading up to Sunday's showdown between Manchester United and Chelsea.

Sunderland vs. Southampton

Stadium of Light; Saturday, 12:45 GMT/7:45 AM ET

These clubs are moving in the opposite direction to some degree, with Sunderland managing nearly a month and a half of respectable results and Southampton reeling from the loss of one of the driving forces behind their becoming an up-and-coming Premier League standby. Not an easy time for either side, but the fact that Southampton has been able to do a convincing impression of a competent top-flight side and then some while Sunderland failed hilariously at the same task hands the edge to the Saints.

Arsenal vs. Fulham

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

Most everyone outside of North London's red half has been waiting for the other shoe to drop on Arsenal's title push, but as of yet the Gunners have proven quite unaccommodating. It's rather difficult to see Fulham being the side that deals a decisive blow to anyone's title hopes, and though the Cottagers have found a nice balance between competence and utter despair, but they'll need an uncharacteristic effort in order to maintain the symmetry.

Crystal Palace vs. Stoke City

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

If you're not an invested party, you're not going to be watching this game. If you are an invested party, you probably know more about this game than I do. Does Cameron Jerome still play for Birmingham? He seems like he'd be a good fit for these teams.

Manchester City vs. Cardiff City

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

Teams just really shouldn't have to play City at the Etihad anymore. It's bad for the game. Just call the rest of their home matches 3-0, give them an extra ~15 goals for their troubles, and call it even.

Norwich City vs. Hull City

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

Hull holds the somewhat misleading spot of 10th in the table, which in this year's Premier League means still in the relegation battle but somehow in the top half. They'll face Norwich City, who are doomed to a fight for survival but could theoretically be as high as 12th come the end of the weekend, because the Premier League is chaos.

West Ham United vs. Newcastle United

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

West Ham still appear to be quite vulnerable, while Newcastle to be more than safe and at least an outside contender for the Europe. That's a bit hard to digest when you take a look at the final table from last season, but it makes more sense whenyou realize how much better Newcastle's players are.

Liverpool vs. Aston Villa

Anfield; Saturday, 17:30 GMT/12:30 PM ET

Liverpool are flawed but good and very exciting. Villa are flawed, and also bad, and also horrendous to watch. There's not much else to add here; I'm just giving you a very high level overview of a match you probably don't need to actually to in to.

Swansea City vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Liberty Stadium; Sunday, 13:30 GMT/8:30 AM ET

Spurs are in that terrible place-with which they should be painfully familiar-where they;re still within shouting distance of the top four, but without the squad to feel confident of having a legitimate chance at finishing there. Swansea are likely more comfortable in their mid-table  standing, and there;s a good chance it's a significantly less frustrating place to be.

Chelsea vs. Manchester United

Stamford Bridge; Sunday, 16:00 GMT/11:00 AM ET

This is the clear standout game of the weekend, though anyone that's watched either side will likely struggle to tell you why; Chelsea have their moments of brilliance but seem largely content to strangle the joy out of the game (which isn't a poor strategy by any stretch) while United are almost unbelievably ordinary if still good enough on a base level to beat anyone in the league. There's little chance this game won't be awful, but it will be watched by tens of millions of people, and that's at the very least a little bit depressing.

West Bromwich Albion vs. Everton

The Hawthorns; Monday, 20:00 GMT/3:00 PM ET

Speaking of joy strangling; what Everton's managed so far this season has been impressive, and it's tough to see the appointment of Roberto Martinez as anything but a positive at the moment. But this Everton team is not fun for the neutral-though, even absent of their very strong showing so far it's easy to see how they'd be beloved by the partisan-and their facing off against West Brom isn't much reason to think they're going to suddenly morph into must-see-television.

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