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Premier League 433 43 Barclays Premier League: April 6-8 31674675 Eyes on Manchester Eyes+on+Manchester Premier League

It’s been a busy week of Champions League and Europa League action, and it’s not going to slow down over the weekend, with a full slate of Barclays Premier League matches to enjoy. The weekend's fixtures culminate on Monday, when Manchester United and Manchester City face off in the Manchester derby. Buckle up for a wild ride:


Rob Stone

Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images - Getty Images
Premier League 433 43 Barclays Premier League: April 6-8 31674674 Man of the moment Man+of+the+moment Premier League

FOX Soccer’s March Madness #BPLFAVES bracket is down to the Final Four, and I want to weigh in on my favorite from the last selections.


There are goal scorers and then there are guys who get it done outside of the box, which to me takes it to a much more extreme level. Gareth Bale’s goals are appetizing to the eye and to the tactician. Everything he’s doing belongs on an instructional DVD right now.


If you’ve got a kid who’s growing up wanting to prosper in this game, they should be watching Bale. We can only hope that the injury he suffered in Thursday’s Europa League match won’t keep him off the pitch for too long.

Rob Stone

Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images - Getty Images
Premier League 433 43 Barclays Premier League: April 6-8 31674676 Manchester United vs. Manchester City (live, Monday, 3 p.m. ET) Manchester+United+vs.+Manchester+City+%28live%2C+Monday%2C+3+p.m.+ET%29 Premier League

Monday’s big Manchester derby will decide once and for all who will win the 2012-13 Premier League title. It’s a six-pointer: a win increases United’s lead to 18 points, if City wins, the deficit is down to 12. Twelve points is still a pretty daunting number to try and chip away at.


But this is an absolute must-win for City, a team that still has their FA Cup hopes alive. United is at home, and although they have been in a funk, I think this is when they break out and reclaim their dominance in the league. I expect big things from a healthy Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie.


Rob Stone

Michael Regan/Alex Livesey/Getty Images - Getty Images
Premier League 433 43 Barclays Premier League: April 6-8 31674673 Chelsea vs. Sunderland (live, Sunday, FOX Soccer 2Go, 10 a.m. ET) Chelsea+vs.+Sunderland+%28live%2C+Sunday%2C+FOX+Soccer+2Go%2C+10+a.m.+ET%29 Premier League

This will be a politics-free talk about Sunderland. The team is in desperate straits and a new manager always infuses new passion. I think the effect from controversial new manager Paolo Di Canio is going to fade quickly, but that’s alright. They just need a burst to get them through the end of the season and remain up with the big boys.


It’s a desperate move but the good news for Sunderland right now is that they’re still above the drop zone. Chelsea will be buoyed big time by their FA Cup result on Monday, but there is also the sense that they’re starting to feel the pressure placed on them by the Tottenham, Everton and Arsenal, who are all fighting for those valuable Champions League spots.


Rob Stone

GRAHAM STUART/AFP/Getty Images - Getty Images
Premier League 433 43 Barclays Premier League: April 6-8 31674670 Tottenham vs. Everton (live, Sunday, FOX Soccer, 9 a.m. ET) Tottenham+vs.+Everton+%28live%2C+Sunday%2C+FOX+Soccer%2C+9+a.m.+ET%29 Premier League

If you’re a Toffee, this is it. We talked about the six-point swing game in the Manchester derby, and it’s the same case here, but with a Champions League spot on the line. The Toffees have been trending in the right direction lately, and they been doing it with a quiet Marouane Fellaini (who is suspended for this match) on top of that.


Spurs’ attack took a blow on Thursday when both Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon came off with injuries in their Europa League clash with Basel. It looks like Clint Dempsey is the guy who is going to need to start providing the offensive spark for Tottenham.


Rob Stone

IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images - Getty Images
Premier League 433 43 Barclays Premier League: April 6-8 31674671 Liverpool vs. West Ham (live, Sunday, FOX Soccer Plus, 8:30 a.m. ET) Liverpool+vs.+West+Ham+%28live%2C+Sunday%2C+FOX+Soccer+Plus%2C+8%3A30+a.m.+ET%29 Premier League

Sitting seven points out of a top four spot for Liverpool is not an insurmountable gap, but I’m thinking they’re getting closer and closer to realizing that it’s time to plan for next year without European play. That means getting in some fresh blood, using other players as the season winds down, and preparing for a proper run in the league next year which can get them back into Europe.


There was too much reliance on Luis Suarez and in the end I think it was kind of their downfall. But Liverpool fans have a bright spot, as Philippe Coutinho has been a great addition to the squad since joining the Reds in January. He’ll surely continue his recent run of form and put his stamp on being the midfield general of this team, along with Steven Gerrard of course.

Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images - Getty Images
Premier League 433 43 Barclays Premier League: April 6-8 31674672 West Brom vs. Arsenal (live, FOX Soccer, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET) West+Brom+vs.+Arsenal+%28live%2C+FOX+Soccer%2C+Saturday%2C+10+a.m.+ET%29 Premier League

We knew when the season began that Arsenal was always playing for a top four spot – a European place is the equivalent of a title for them. They have a chance to get into that position if results go their way this weekend. A lot of people have dumped on the Gunners for having the “top four spot is a trophy” mentality.


I think it’s fine – it’s a big fat paycheck that can keep your club going and heading in the proper direction, which is pursuing titles. And let’s be frank: Arsenal desperately needs a top four finish. Everyone at the club realizes it, and I think they rally and are able to sneak in this season, somehow, some way -- and I think it begins this weekend.


Rob Stone

Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images - Getty Images
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