FRI, 2:30PM ET
MAR
NAN
FRI, 2:30PM ET
SOC
ELC
FRI, 2:30PM ET
FRE
STU
SAT, 7:45AM ET
WBA
ARS
SAT, 10AM ET
MUFC
HULL
SAT, 10AM ET
SWA
CRY

EPL Weekend Viewing Guide, Gameweek 1

 EPL Weekend Viewing Guide, Gameweek 1

After a terrific summer of World Cup matches, vuvuzela-free Premier League soccer is back! And I will be back too, with your weekly guide to Premier League matches. I intend this weekly column for two different audiences: First, for the person who needs no assistance figuring out which games to watch, they just want to know when and where. Hopefully we’ve assembled the places the US EPL supporter can watch, on the tube or on-line. Second, for those who would like a bit of editing, I’ll try to recommend the must-see matches and why. That might mean introducing you to a great second city derby or reminding you of a rematch of a game that had special import from last year or earlier this year. My ratings system is intended for neutrals; of course, every match is a 4-star must see for someone!

I’ve removed the HD designations this year, as I’m told all matches will be recorded by Sky UK in HD, but, alas, not every carrier has made HD channels available. In NYC, where I watch on Time Warner Cable, we do have HD versions of ESPN2 & Fox Soccer Plus (FS+), but we are told we have to wait til September for an HD version of the main Fox Soccer Channel (FSC). We will typically again get a Saturday 7:45 am (eastern time) match on ESPN2 (and a 10 am ESPN2 match for weeks without an early kickoff), simultaneous 10 am matches on FSC & FS+, and a live 12:30 match on FSC. The 8:30 am Sunday kickoff (no game this week) will again be on FS+ with the 11am on FSC. I think there are only 5 Monday night matches currently scheduled, and they will all be on ESPN2. Then other matches will be shown delayed around 2 pm on FSC & FS+, with one match embargoed all the way til Sunday morning. Fox has been advertising these delayed matches as “debuts.”

Enjoy the matches! Here is my first Premier League viewing guide for the 2010-11 season:

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, August 14 (all times EDT)
****
Tottenham v Man City 7:45 am, ESPN2 & espn3.com
In the reverse fixture that came on last season’s penultimate week, Spurs traveled north and won the 4th-place and final Champions League spot on Peter Crouch’s late goal. No team has more fun-to-watch wingers than Spurs, in Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale, and City’s extraordinary roster of stars (Tevez, Adebayor, new signing Kolarov at left back, Toure, Boateng, and on and on) may make them compelling television all season. Plus a very tough first-team keeper choice for Roberto Mancini: Ireland’s #1 (Given) vs. England’s new #1 (Hart).

*** Aston Villa v West Ham United, 10 am, FSC
Villa’s fortunes have changed markedly with this week’s resignation of Martin O’Neill. Caretaker manager Kevin MacDonald still has some terrific players to work with. And the likes of Agbonlahor and Ashley Young should be reaching their prime. James Milner is still there (for now) and will be tough for West Ham to handle. Meanwhile, the Hammers were simply awful last year, and stayed up only because Hull City, Pompey & Burnley were worse. (Full disclosure: I’m a 20-year West Ham supporter and suffered mightily last year.) West Ham should be better in midfield this year, with Pablo Barrera and Thomas Hitzlsperger joining Parker, Behrami, Dyer, and Collison, and with Avram Grant realizing that Julien Faubert is a winger, not a right back. Goals were at a premium, though, with Carlton Cole struggling with injuries, and Diamanti played in the wrong positions. It will certainly be, ahem, interesting, to see Robert Green’s reception in away matches, and his defense has not improved enough to keep clean sheets.

*** Blackburn v Everton, 9:55 am, FS+ and foxsoccer.tv (also 8 pm delayed FS+)

This one would have been two-stars, but I’ve upgraded it to 3 for Everton’s new away kit alone! If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look on Saturday as it gives a whole new look to the Premier League. Not many changes for David Moyes, whose squad got off to a terrible start last year, but were as hot as any team in the league last spring, beating Chelsea, and both Manchester squads. The Landon Donovan effect? Can Jermaine Beckford keep scoring in the EPL as he did for Leeds? A healthy Arteta would give Everton a strong chance for Europe again. Thy should score plenty of goals, even away from Liverpool. Blackburn will have a tougher time scoring again this year, but a Sam Allardyce team will have plenty of strength and guts and power.

* Wolves v Stoke City, 10 am, foxsoccer.tv; 2 pm (delayed), FS+

* Bolton v Fulham, 10 am, foxsoccer.tv; 2:30 pm (delayed), FSC

* Sunderland v Birmingham City, 10 am, foxsoccer.tv; Sunday 10:30 am (delayed), FS+

* Wigan v Blackpool, 10 am, foxsoccer.tv; no television coverage
Fox only had room for 7 of 8 matches, and with the bookies giving Blackpool an 80% chance of being relegated, they appear to have made the right choice. (Wigan are tipped 3rd for relegation.) For the die-hard, available on-line at foxsoccer.tv.

*** Chelsea v West Bromwich Albion, 12:30 pm, FSC
Great to see the Baggies back up so quickly, and they will probably again play attractive, positive soccer. Di Matteo may have a rude return to Stamford Bridge, though, and if Chelsea pick up where they left off in May, they may be pumping in 7-8 goals Saturday afternoon. (Granted, Chelsea have not looked good pre-season.) Chelsea will have far bigger matches than this one, so we’ll reserve more words for the Champions in later weeks. But they start with about as easy a schedule as one could possibly imagine, and Ancelotti will want 15 points from their first 5 (WBA, @Wigan, Stoke, @West Ham, and Blackpool) before their September 25 showdown at Eastlands.

Sunday, August 15
****
Liverpool v Arsenal, 11 am, FSC
What a terrific Sunday tea-time starter for the season, as these two perennial contenders try to retain/regain their Champions League positions and even contest for the title. Fabregas is still Arsenal’s captain but Arsenal has some questions from the back, notably at keeper, where they continue to look for a Champions League caliber #1, and there are question marks about who replaces Gallas. Will Chamakh get time up front immediately? Can Walcott cement a regular spot in the starting eleven? For Liverpool, the bigger changes are in management, with Rafa finally replaced by Hodgson. The near straight-up Joe-for-Yossi switch is their biggest player change, with healthy and productive Torres & Gerrard the key to their season. Aquilani may be set to show the most improvement under new management and it’s hard to imagine Liverpool having the type of bad luck they had last year (e.g., beach balls creating goals).

Monday, August 16
***
Man United v Newcastle, 3 pm, ESPN2 & espn3.com
A tough opening match for the Toon. It will be interesting to see what opening day lineup Sir Alex throws out, with so many options. We don’t get very many Monday games this year, but this should be a fun one.

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25 Responses to EPL Weekend Viewing Guide, Gameweek 1

  1. Yespage says:

    I keep seeing foxsoccer.tv listed as a source for viewing the EPL this weekend, however, their website doesn’t have a schedule set for any football matches at all. Is this an assumption that the games will be broadcasted on foxsoccer.tv… instead of foxsoccer.tv getting a delayed start, only beginning to show games in a couple to few weeks?

    • David the Yank says:

      The site has been up and running, and has offer $5 day-passes to watch, for example, last weekend’s nPower championship matches (leeds v derby, etc.). I have to say given all the complaints we made about the site (notwithstanding the excellent content!) last year, I am a bit shocked that fox’s IT group is waiting til the last possible second to roll out a better-looking, more user-friendly site. I would bet that we will get matches this weekend, perhaps just with weekend passes, or perhaps a first month of the season (aug/sept?) offering, or maybe a full-season pass. As I recommended last year with Setanta, it may be best to just buy by the month as we see how their offering develops.

      • Yespage says:

        Well, yeah, buy by the season or month or whatever… but that has to be an option first. And as I asked, you showed the EPL matches would be on foxsoccer.tv, but not a single EPL or Championship (or any other football league) match is shown on their schedule. So I was curious if you were assuming they’d be on.

        foxsoccer.tv is perfect at this terrible communication thing. They tease us with awesome coverage and crush our hearts in the process. It’s too bad one can’t subscribe to FS+ and gain access to foxsoccer.tv (even if for a higher fee), because right now, I’m stuck between wondering whether to get FS+ or wait and hope foxsoccer.tv does start up business. I don’t want to miss much football.

        • Guitarearl says:

          Amen to the last paragraph. I really think that someone who forks over $15 for FS+ should be given an automatic subscription to foxsoccer.tv. With the DVR, FS+ is fine, but I can’t say that I would remain a subscriber to FS+ if DirecTV doesn’t bring it forward to HD fulltime. If I’m going to spend $15 for SD, I’d rather spend it on the plethora of games available through foxsoccer.tv . And that’s assuming that, when they roll it out, it will be as advertised from previous seasons.

        • The Gaffer says:

          Yespage, in fairness to David, FoxSoccer.tv has had the Premier League games listed on their schedule for quite some time. But in the updates they’ve been making they’ve removed the games. I believe they’re still planning on showing them this weekend and we hope to hear news from them this week.

          Cheers,
          The Gaffer

          • Guitarearl says:

            This morning, a tweet from FSC claims that they will be relaunching foxsoccer.tv tomorrow.

            ” @fsctv
            Check back tomorrow for the full lineup from FoxSoccer.tv, relaunching for this weekend! 17 minutes ago”

          • Yespage says:

            That was all I was asking. It isn’t listed on there now and I wasn’t aware that it was listed a while ago. Thanks.

  2. Norm says:

    Leaving HD aside and looking at the SD signal, which has the better picture quality – FSC+ or Foxsoccer.tv ?

    • Guitarearl says:

      The thing for me is…it’s not always the picture quality with online broadcasts. Depending on fluctuating bandwidth, the broadcasts can be choppy and difficult to tolerate. I don’t know for a fact, but I’d guess that FS+ and foxsoccer.tv broadcast at 420p with the same source, so if you were to connect your computer to your TV, the online content should appear comparable. Again, the question becomes…will your bandwidth and connectivity be consistent enough to give you a TV-quality broadcast?

      • Norm says:

        My bandwidth is not a problem, FIOS :) 25Meg down, just wondered which picture quality would be better, though I heard reports of bad buffering and slow connects at some big matches from last season, I suppose that is the next question how bad would they be. Or should i just hold out and wait till HD appears on FiOS.

        • Guitarearl says:

          As I put in another comment, Jamie Trecker from FoxSoccer just posted that tomorrow will be their rollout date for Foxsoccer.tv.

          It might not be a bad $5 to spend on a day pass to evaluate its benefits on Saturday.

    • David the Yank says:

      I subscribed to the end of season foxsoccertv pass last Spring, and then afterward Time Warner Cable rolled out FS+ (in SD and HD!!) later in the Spring, so I ended up watching matches on both foxsoccertv and FS+HD, depending on where I was and how big the game was. I never tried FS+SD. So FS+HD was clearly far superior, especially if the game was recorded in HD!! But even the games recorded in SD were/are still shown in widescreen SD versions on FS+HD, and the quality of those was superior.

      foxsoccertv last year was variable. There were matches that displayed perfectly; I would say somewhat below espn3 in quality, but equivalent to, and sometimes better than setanta-i. And then I heard horror stories on this site of people who were kept waiting 20+ minutes. The biggest problem I had (and it was a big problem!) was one day when I was out all day and wanted to catch up to a few matches on-line, on-demand while I did some work on the computer. But they had messed up the timing of the on-demand, and showed the last two minutes of a preceding match at the start of a new match! Thus ruining scorelines for me over and over!

      Hopefully the whole service will be improved, and the “rollout” will not simply be schedule available and pricing announced!

  3. Gaz Hunt says:

    It’s a shame that Foxsoccer.tv is my only options since Comcast does not have FS+ yet.

    I may just have to miss those games (and listen to the live commentary for Liverpool games on the web site) because I just can’t emphasize how garbage Foxsoccer.tv has been over the last year of me using it. Right up to problems with the England game yesterday.

    What makes it worse it that you have a platform like ESPN3 sitting right next to it and blowing it out of the water.

    • Yespage says:

      Seriously? There were issues with the England game this week?

      I still ponder whether there may be a complete re-release of their setup tomorrow. Time will tell. Definitely makes a good argument to pay by the month in the beginning. Don’t want to put down a large chunk of change and get disappointed.

  4. Ian H. says:

    Were replays of the FSC matches available on foxsoccer.tv, last season?

    • David the Yank says:

      Yes, but they were sequestered until the next day. So Saturday’s matches were not available til Sunday, and Sunday’s on Monday. That’s one of the things I am hoping (but not confident) they will fix this year. The espn3.com change, assuming Fox sticks with the status quo at least, will at least mean that ALL EPL games will be available on-line on demand, which would be a big upgrade from last year.

      • Sir Guy says:

        Let’s just remember that when talking about ESPN3, not everyone can get it. No one with Time Warner, among others, has access.

  5. Sebastian L. says:

    I agree that foxsoccer.tv was garbage last season. Unless they roll out a much better product this season I’ll skip them and try audio commentary online. I’m not holding out much hope for them being better this season since the same company, rayv, that managed the site last season will be doing so again. I just wish Cox in New England would add FS+ so I wouldn’t have this problem.

  6. eplschedule says:

    Does anyone think the opening one is slightly fixed towards champions/top four against promoted teams? I’m sure United played Birmingham City last season in the opening day and Arsenal a few seasons back also had West Brom, or am i reading something into nothing.

    http://www.eplschedule.com

  7. Alex Sorokin says:

    Can’t wait to see Liverpool – Arsenal. Arshavin’s gonna upset the home side at Anfield again?

  8. Dave C says:

    Fox Soccer Channel became available in HD as of yesterday on Time Warner in NYC. This is from their site:

    “The previously scheduled additions of the following HD simulcasts will now occur on August 11, 2010. As a reminder, these simulcasts cannot be accessed on CableCARD-equipped Unidirectional Digital Cable Products purchased at retail without additional two-way capable equipment:

    Gol TV HD on ch. 469, Big Ten 2 HD on ch. 473, Big Ten 3 HD on ch. 474, Big Ten 4 HD on ch. 475, Big Ten 5 HD on ch. 476, Fox Soccer HD on ch. 485, Showtime Beyond HD on ch. 670, Showtime Women HD on ch. 671, Showtime Next HD on ch. 673, DIY HD on ch. 688, CMT HD on ch. 694, National Geographic Wild HD on ch. 696, Nickelodeon HD on ch. 706, VH1 HD on ch. 719, Discovery Kids HD on ch. 722 and Cooking Channel HD on ch. 751.”

  9. Jason Gatties says:

    Fulham is always 5 star viewing for me.

  10. Mike says:

    like this feature. a bit odd to see question marks used as a rating symbol? dont have a * key? lol …

  11. Christian says:

    David, love the article. New to the site through your podcast which I love as well. I live in the NYC area as well and switched over to RCN at the end of the winter and now I see TW gets FSC in HD? Ah, fml. Any word on RCN catching up? I switched to them because they were cheaper and had the NFL Network which of course TW never will.

  12. Family Man says:

    Does anyone know why the HD logo is not showing on ESPN2 on DirecTV channel 209-1 for the Tottenham-Man City match and the Man United-Newcastle match? I have HD but for some reason on those games, it doesn’t appear to me they will be in HD. I just got DirecTV a few weeks ago and am still learning my way around so maybe I am missing something? If they are not brooadcast in HD on DirecTV and I DVR on channel 209-1, am I going to have the black bars down the side of the screen? If so, I assume 209-2 is better?

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