There were no games, then there were games. It was a slow schedule, it was a crowded schedule. With most leagues taking a break at least for the weekend (including a more extended break for the Bundesliga), there is a slower schedule this weekend. But then, there is the English Premier League, which is pushing ahead full steam with a very busy fixture list that includes teams like Chelsea and Manchester City playing two games in three days. Everyone has Christmas Day off on Friday and then things kick into gear on Saturday with the Boxing Day fixtures. Let’s get right to it.
Arsenal v Chelsea - 12:30p on NBC
Christian Pulisic started and played 84 minutes in Chelsea’s 3-0 win over West Ham United on Monday as he started back-to-back matches for just the second time this season. The result snapped a two-game losing streak, and now the club will look to build some positive momentum when they face a struggling Arsenal side on Saturday afternoon. Arsenal are winless in their last seven league games and are coming off a 4-1 loss to Zach Steffen and Manchester City in the EFL Cup on Tuesday and a 2-1 loss to Everton last weekend.
- DeAndre Yedlin started last week’s 1-1 draw with Fulham and again midweek for Newcastle in their 1-0 loss to Brentford FC. His start against Fulham was his first start of the EPL season and just his second appearance. The team plays Manchester City this Saturday at 3p on NBCSN.
Looking through the paywall:
- Antonee Robinson has started fourteen straight matches across all competitions for Fulham and leads the team in minutes since he broke through. Tim Ream is on the opposite end of the spectrum, having not made it off the bench in the club’s past seven matches. The team has drawn their past three games and face Southampton at 10a on Peacock.
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Tottenham Hotspur - 2:15p on NCBSN
Owen Otasowie received his first EPL start on Monday in Wolverhampton’s 2-1 loss to Burnley. The Wolves are now in 11th place in the table and will face a Tottenham side that was recently top of the table but has fallen to sixth place after back-to-back losses to Liverpool and Leicester City. Monday’s match was the first start but second straight appearance for Otasowie, who looks to be building his way into a regular role with the club and should have additional opportunities with the congested schedule. The team will play again Tuesday after just a day off, so there should be minutes to go around.
Chelsea v Aston Villa - 12:30p on NBCSN
Chelsea will need to rest quickly on Sunday, as they have just one day off between their Saturday match with Arsenal and Monday’s matchup with surprising Aston Villa. Villa will be coming off a Saturday matchup themselves, as they face Crystal Palace on Boxing Day. Aston Villa are currently ninth in the table, but with two games in hand, they could climb as high as second place. It seems likely that Pulisic will start one and come off the bench in one this weekend, so Saturday’s lineup should be a barometer for how closely you want to pay attention to Monday’s matchup from a USMNT perspective.
- Manchester City also have two games within three days this weekend, as they face Everton at 3p on Peacock. While keepers aren’t typically rotated like field players it wouldn’t be shocking to see Zach Steffen get his EPL debut.