Thursday, December 8, 2011
Updated: December 9, 12:11 PM ET
City vs. Chelsea highlight of Round 15
By Rachel Ullrich
Round 15 of the Premier League season will feature the return of Martin O'Neill, a chance for Spurs to continue an impressive start to their campaign and a major clash between Chelsea and Manchester City on Monday evening.
Arsenal vs. Everton, 10 a.m. ET
Arsenal will be feeling good after a 3-1 loss to Olympiakos, which sounds ironic but isn't, since the Gunners still made it through to the knockout round (unlike two other Premier League teams that will be discussed later). Everton, meanwhile, will still be feeling pretty terrible after last week's loss to Stoke. Hard to imagine its luck turns around this weekend.
What won't happen: Robin Van Persie doesn't score.
What will happen: Arsenal wins.
Bolton vs. Aston Villa, 10 a.m. ET
Bad news for Aston Villa, which lost keeper Shay Given and striker Jermaine Jenas in a 1-0 loss to Manchester United last week. Good news for Aston Villa is that it's playing Bolton this week, so Alex McLeish's side should salvage a point.
What won't happen: Tim Cahill celebrates his successful appeal of last week's red card by slide-tackling Darren Bent in the first 10 minutes.
What will happen: Draw.
Liverpool vs. QPR, 10 a.m. ET
Liverpool, Liverpool, Liverpool. Luis Suarez is being charged for recent hand gestures and insults and seems to be under investigation for basically just existing, while manager Kenny Dalglish is complaining that the FA let Wayne Rooney appeal his Euro ban. Probably more pertinent to the Reds' fans and fortunes would be focusing on QPR, which wouldn't seem the most dangerous opponent, but then neither did Fulham.
What won't happen: Rooney shows up and slide-tackles Dalglish for talking smack.
What will happen: Fergie shows up and slide-tackles Dalglish for talking smack. OK, maybe not, but seriously, that would be great. Scot versus Scot!
Manchester United vs. Wolverhampton, 10 a.m. ET
Hey guys, remember when Manchester United didn't qualify for the knockout round? For only the third time in 17 years? Even though the Red Devils were in the finals in three of the past four years? If the whole of Manchester isn't too depressed to come to Old Trafford this weekend, it should at least see Ferguson's side hop back on the win wagon against Wolves.
What won't happen: Captain Nemanja Vidic playing. United was dealt a huge blow when it center-back was ruled out for the season Friday.
What will happen: Another 1-0 win to United.
Norwich vs. Newcastle, 10 a.m. ET
Newcastle's defense is in trouble, and not just because it gave up three goals to Chelsea. Both central defenders, Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini, limped off the field last week, and midfielder Danny Guthrie joined them on the injury list after the game. Manager Alan Pardew is blaming David Luiz for all those injuries, even though he went nowhere near any of the players.
What won't happen: On his off day, Luiz skips over to Norwich and begins poking Newcastle players in the eye, just for fun.
What will happen: Norwich salvages a draw.
Swansea vs. Fulham, 10 a.m. ET
Clint Dempsey became the highest-scoring American in Premier League history with a goal (his 37th) in the win against Liverpool on Monday. He and his teammates likely still will be on a high after that late win, while Swansea has won one of its past seven league matches.
What won't happen: Brian McBride announces he's coming out of retirement to stick it to Dempsey, replacing him in FulhAmerica's starting lineup.
What will happen: Dempsey remembers that his competition for highest-scoring American is really not all that fierce.
West Brom vs. Wigan, 10 a.m. ET
Wigan ended its run of semi-successful results (a win and a draw) with a 4-0 drubbing by Arsenal last week, and suddenly those nine consecutive defeats seem much more ominous than that win at Sunderland. West Brom, meanwhile, started out well but has struggled more recently -- y'know, when all of a sudden it was playing Arsenal and Liverpool and teams like
What won't happen: A good game.
What will happen: Draw.
Sunderland vs. Blackburn, Sunday, 8:30 a.m. ET
Martin O'Neill gets his first chance in charge, and a loss will see his new team drop down into the dreaded bottom three (to be fair, it's one spot out as it is). So welcome back, Martin! But Blackburn, despite a 4-2 win last week, isn't exactly the heaviest of competition. It's the battle of the final bottom three spot.
What won't happen: One of these teams goes on a 24-match win streak and finishes top of the table.
What will happen: Sunderland wins.
Stoke vs. Tottenham, Sunday, 11 a.m. ET
The last time these two teams met (in the Carling Cup), it took a 7-6 penalty shootout to settle it. Harry Redknapp is going for his fourth straight away win -- a mark Spurs have never hit before (which is kind of sad, as that's not really that many away wins in a row). And he should get it, although Stoke, now eighth in the table, has been on an impressive run of its own.
What won't happen: A penalty shootout of any kind.
What will happen: Tottenham wins.
Chelsea vs. Man City, Monday, 3:30 p.m. ET
The Prem saved the best for last this round -- the league leaders against four-time champions. Chelsea already has proved it can do one thing City can't: qualify for the Champions League knockout rounds. Whether City lets its frustration at not qualifying out in a positive or negative manner is yet to be seen, and will have a huge impact on the result of this match.
What won't happen: Man City playing in the Champions League knockouts (last one, I swear, the column's almost over).
What will happen: Chelsea playing in the Champions League knockouts. Other than that, too close to call.