Steve McLaren’s side come into the game on a high after a solid 0-0 draw against Manchester United last Saturday. Not so for Arsenal, who were desperately poor in the first half of their 0-0 draw against Liverpool – but also saw a good goal incorrectly chalked off. Defense is an issue for the Gunners, with Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny out, and Arsene Wenger indicated he is not close to signing support for Gunners’ misfiring offense either. Georginio Wijnaldum is likely to give Gabriel and Callum Chambers fits, but Arsenal still should have enough to get a result on the road. Pick: Arsenal to win.
Stuart MacFarlane (Arsenal FC) &
Saturday: Chelsea vs. Crystal Palace (10 a.m. ET)
Chelsea finally got a win on the board last week thanks to debutant Pedro and a late, late show from keeper Thibaut Courtois at West Brom last week. But the Blues return to Stamford Bridge to face a tricky Palace side that is good on the road, and Chelsea will be without John Terry – the captain is suspended after he was ejected at the Hawthorns. On paper, this shouldn’t be a contest – Chelsea are loaded with talent and Palace are a side still building – but this is a funny season for the defending champs. Don’t be shocked if Alan Pardew’s men can sneak a point here. Pick: Chelsea to win.
Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Imag
Saturday: Bournemouth vs. Leicester (10 a.m. ET)
Two surprising sides meet with a lot on the line. The Cherries are seeking what would be just their second-ever top-flight win, while the Foxes are looking to continue the hot streak that has them in second place. The teams last met in the Championship in 2013-2014 and the Cherries lost both games that season. Bournemouth followed up their big win at West Ham with a solid League Cup win over Hartlepool midweek. Callum Wilson was the hero in London and all eyes will be on him and Max Gradel again this week. Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez is red-hot, scoring his fourth goal of the season last week to secure a 1-1 draw against Spurs. This could be a fun one. Pick: Leicester to win.
Michael Steele & Justin Setterfi
Saturday: Aston Villa vs. Sunderland (10 a.m. ET)
A clash between two sides sadly heading in the same direction: right into the cellar. Villa have lost their last two matches; Sunderland have but a point from their campaign so far this year. Sunderland also coughed up three goals to Exeter City (!) in a midweek League Cup match, further showcasing their fragility at the back. If the Black Cats have anything going for them it is that Villa went into extra time in their League Cup win over Notts County, meaning they may be gassed. However, Villa can’t score but can defend; Sunderland can’t defend, but can score. It will either be gripping or ghastly. Pick: Draw.
Neville Williams (Aston Villa FC
Sunday: Swansea v Manchester United (11 a.m. ET)
Manchester United got a boost Wednesday when Wayne Rooney snapped his ten-game scoreless drought with a hat-trick over Brugge in the Champions League playoffs. Nevertheless, questions do remain about their unsettled goalkeeping situation, as well as the heart of their defense. They face a stern test in a tough Swansea side that held Chelsea to a score draw. Bafetimbi Gomis has been on fire, and the crafty Jonjo Shelvey has started to come good as a playmaker in Wales. Andrew Ayew and Jefferson Montero have also impressed. But Memphis Depay is making an early case for transfer of the year at United, and if he can get going early, the Red Devils could prove too hot to handle. Pick: Score draw.