Now that we have extraordinary choices in the US with the ability to watch most, if not all 10 weekly matches live, and many of them on-demand at foxsoccer.tv, let me give you my views for these last 3 weeks as we watch the battles for the league, 4th place/Champions League, Europa League and relegation.
My ratings system:
Must-see. Cancel all other activities. Do not even DVR as even in America you might hear the score!
Strong match. Worth watching live; DVR a must if you can’t see live
Flip through quickly — to see the goals, red cards, injuries, and perhaps watch the last 5 minutes + injury time if close
Only if you’re a die-hard
Matches shown in chronological order:
Saturday, April 24 (all times EDT)
Man Utd v Tottenham 7:45 am, ESPN2 HD
Massive implications for both sides in this important match. United can go top of the table again and put heavy pressure on Chelsea with a win. Spurs are now in the driver’s seat for the Champions League run-in, but can they really get 9 from 9 against the top 3? The green and gold of Old Trafford will be in full voice for this one. Spurs will be back to Manchester again in 10 days for the probable CL decider.
West Ham v Wigan, 10 am, FSC
Last weekend, both teams started horribly, Wigan down 2-nil home to Arsenal, and West Ham with the same score at Anfield. The difference was Wigan had the energy and skill to score 3 in 10 minutes to pick up 3 vital points, killing Arsenal’s title chances in the process. And the Hammers barely put up a fight losing 3-nil to Liverpool. Wigan guarantees survival with a win, and the Hammers probably do too, due to goal difference. A draw would be far better for the away side, but the Hammers will take every point they can get.
Hull v Sunderland, 10 am FS+ & foxsoccer.tv
Having earned only 1 points of a maximum 6 in their double-game week, Hull City is now approaching must-win territory to stay in the Premier League next season. A Hull City loss combined with a Hammers win over Wigan would all but relegate Hull.
Wolves v Blackburn, 10 am, foxsoccer.tv, 5 pm FSC delayed
Two stars only for the relegation scrap. Wolves are not yet safe, and any point could be vital.
Bolton v Portsmouth, 10 am foxsoccer.tv, 4 pm FS+ delayed
One to skip ; yes, in theory Bolton could still be dragged into the relegation fight, but they appear to have done enough
Arsenal v Man City, 12:30, FSC (HD where available)
Man City also control their own destiny for Champions League due to their mid-week clash with Spurs back in Manchester on the 5th of May. But even without Champions League implications, this one has been circled in my calendar as 4-stars all year, due to the return of Adebayor. He won the game in Manchester, and who can forget his 70 yard goal celebration sprint to the Arsenal away fans and subsequent suspension? Expect a very hostile reception for the Togoan at the Emirates!
Sunday, April 25
Aston Villa v Birmingham, 7 am, FS+ & foxsoccer.tv
Villa still have an outside shot at Champions League, and will be playing hard for Europa. Birmingham has done very well to stay up.
Burnley v Liverpool, 10 am, FS+ & foxsoccer.tv
The Liverpool and Fulham matches both moved to Sunday due to Europa league matches Thursday. Burnley cannot be relegated before this match kicks off, but it is almost certainly a must-win to have any hope. Do they have any remaining magic like in the home wins against Man Utd & Everton way back in August?
Everton v Fulham, 10 am, ESPN2 HD
Two good sides with nothing to play for.
Chelsea v Stoke, 11 am, FSC (HD where available)
Chelsea were outplayed in the London derby at White Hart Lane last week, and will be desperate to hold on to their title hopes by beating a solid Stoke City side. Tony Pulis’s group have done really well with their mid-table finish. Chelsea will have to defend a dozen or more long Rory Delap throws without their captain in central defense, as John Terry is banned for 2 games for his red card last week.