Premier League, Week 26: This league/cup thing is backwards

Michael Regan

This week's Premier League schedule doesn't make a ton of sense, but at least we get a marquee midweek game out of it.

The FA Cup takes place over the weekend, with the Premier League taking off. To account for that, we get a set of league games in the middle of the week. But most of the teams remaining in the FA Cup are from the Premier League, so the Championship and other lower divisions will play league games over the weekend.

Can anyone explain why the FA Cup isn't played mid-week, with the weekend being left to the league? No? Didn't think so.

Cardiff City vs. Aston Villa

Tuesday, 7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET

It feels like Aston Villa choke every week, but they've managed to pick up enough points to stay well clear of the drop zone. Still, they're only four points ahead of West Bromwich Albion and they're coming up a Cardiff side who will be desperate to save their season after getting hammered by Swansea. Judging by his side's awful performance in that game and their negative-25 goal differential, the Red Dragons/Bluebirds are going to have a tough time fighting their way out of the drop zone.

Even though they're only three points from safety. Wow, the bottom half sucks.

Hull City vs. Southampton

Tuesday, 7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET

Southampton are the league's ultimate purgatory team. They have absolutely no chance of qualifying for Europe, but they might be able to avoid relegation on their current point total. Meanwhile, Hull City have kept themselves well out of the relegation race all season and have a surprisingly strong home record. Expect a minor upset.

West Ham United vs. Norwich City

Tuesday, 7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET

If you hate football, this is the game for you!

West Bromwich Albion vs. Chelsea

Tuesday, 7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET

Since West Brom have fallen even further since firing Steve Clarke, slipping into the relegation zone, their managerial change appears ill-advised. As do the signings of ... all the strikers they signed this season. Everyone's favorite former yo-yo team is back!

Chelsea should snatch a win given their current form, though West Brom have snatched a couple of home draws against good teams this year.

Arsenal vs. Manchester United

Wednesday, 7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET

This week's marquee matchup is the Who Can Stop Their Season From Being Completely And Utterly Destroyed Derby. David Moyes has finally publicly admitted that his team is crap after they dropped two points at home against Fulham, while Arsenal turned in one of their worst performances in the entirety of Arsene Wenger's reign on Saturday. The Gunners now look very much third favorites for the title, while Manchester United's top four hopes are now minimal. A loss for either would be devastating, given what happened over the weekend.

Everton vs. Crystal Palace

Wednesday, 7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET

Personally, I enjoy games like this. The home team has a reputation for playing pretty football and the away team has a reputation for playing a rigid defensive system with nine or 10 men behind the ball. Everyone knows what kind of game is going to be played, it's just a matter of who executes their obvious gameplan more effectively. Expect a difficult 1-0 Everton win, but don't be too stunned if Palace snag a draw.

Manchester City vs. Sunderland

Wednesday, 7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET

Chelsea destroyed the magic of Eastlands, but they're Chelsea. This is Sunderland.

Newcastle United vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Wednesday, 7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET

Newcastle are the other purgatory team, except they sold their best player, so they'll probably finish well behind Southampton on points. They're also without Cheik Tiote in this match, so they're looking pretty thin in midfield. Predicting Tottenham games has become an utter crap shoot at this point, but they'll like their chances against a thin Newcastle side.

Stoke City vs. Swansea City

Wednesday, 7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET

Maybe firing Michael Laudrup was a good idea after all? Garry Monk's angling for a permanent gig after his side pulled out a 3-0 win in the South Wales Derby, but trips to the Britannia are hard for anyone. A relatively dull 1-1 draw is probably on the cards.

Fulham vs. Liverpool

Wednesday, 7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET

Fulham got a great result at Old Trafford on Sunday, but it was just the first tough game in the gauntlet they're currently running. They have this game on Wednesday, followed by a trip to the Hawthorns in 10 days, a home game against Chelsea on March 1 and a relegation six-pointer at Cardiff City Stadium seven days after that. The way things are going, that game against Cardiff could be a relegation eliminator that dooms one of the teams to their eventual fate.

Liverpool haven't been terribly impressive on the road this season, but if the Cottagers get anything but a beating out of this game, it's a miracle.

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