Premier League, Week 28 preview: Life without Manchester United

Ian Walton

Manchester United doesn't play this weekend, but there's still plenty to laugh at in the Premier League.

Everton vs. West Ham United

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

After hanging with the Champions League contenders for much of the season, Everton's chances of a top-four finish have been all but snuffed out thanks to losing three of their last four-including their last two in a row. The Toffees are well insulated from the mess that is the lower half of the table and increasingly falling out of the race for any European competition, making the final few months of the season largely without pressure; you can actually learn a few things about a team when they're in such a position, and a West Ham side that's unbeaten since mid-January should prove a pretty interesting challenge in the early days of Everton's playing out the clock.

Fulham vs. Chelsea

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

We're all okay with not pretending like this is a game that's in any doubt, right? Good. Thought so.

Hull City vs. Newcastle United

K.C. Stadium; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

Of the teams in the bottom half, only a few seem likely to fight their way out of relegation danger anytime soon. Hull are one of those sides, but that could change pretty quickly; 11th place and a six-point cushion are both pretty significant, but the Premier League is quite stratified at the moment and the Tigers haven't yet leveled up. Newcastle do reside in the comfortable but largely stakes-less tier that established Premier League teams seem to dread but newly promoted sides would love to reach; they're not a side that's looked all that convincing for much of the year and they have some pretty significant problems, but it's hard to argue with their results given their finishing order last season.

Stoke City vs. Arsenal

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

These two sides reside on opposite but equally uncomfortable sides of the table, the Gunners sandwiched between teams that appear to be better and the Potters just ahead of a pack of teams that don't really seem to be too much worse. In a bizarre way there's probably less pressure on Stoke, who would likely be thrilled with a point while Arsenal would view anything less than a win as a pretty major disappointment; both sides need all the points they can get, but that number should be significantly higher for the Gunners.

Southampton vs. Liverpool

St. Mary's Stadium; Saturday, 17:30 GMT/12:30 PM ET

Remember when Southampton were the next big thing? Well now they're hiring guys that used to run the Edmonton Oilers. That should really necessitate a points deduction.

Aston Villa vs. Norwich City

Villa Park; Saturday, 16:30 GMT/11:30 AM ET

This has somehow turned into one of the more compelling rivalries in the Premier League, with Birmingham and Ipswich both out of the Premier League picture and plenty of animosity still in the air over Paul Lambert's departure, there's more than enough narrative fodder to make things pretty compelling. This is one of several hundred thousand remaining games that could end up having a pretty major impact on the relegation battle, but it's still just way too early to care about a match between two teams as bad as this.

Swansea City vs. Crystal Palace

Liberty Stadium; Sunday, 16:30 GMT/11:30 AM ET

Swansea City took one of Italy's best teams to the wire in the Europa League in mid-week, but ultimately fell short. Now they'll play Crystal Palace, which is pretty much the exact same thing as playing Napoli in the sense that there is a ball and two goals and 22 guys, two of which can use their hands.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Cardiff City

White Hart Lane; Sunday, 16:30 GMT/11:30 AM ET

Cardiff need points, as the tightly packed bottom half of the table give the basement teams a chance to pull themselves to safety but still leave them at a pretty significant disadvantage. There's not much reason to think Cardiff are that much worse than most of the teams within striking distance, but there's not really any reason to think they're any better either; they need to pull out a result or two from games they shouldn't be winning, but the problem with that predicament is that these are games they shouldn't be winning.

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