Gameweek 2 saves the best match for last, one of the rare Monday nighters. Hopefully Martin Tyler will be on the international call again, as he was this past Monday. Man United and Chelsea take to the road, visiting stadiums where they each got pummeled last year, conceding 3 goals apiece.
****: 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 21 (all times EDT)
*** Arsenal v Blackpool, 10 am, ESPN2 & espn3.com
Blackpool are ahead of Arsenal in the league table, thanks to a nil-4 drubbing at woeful Wigan last week. Arsenal will probably control possession in this match, in a way that Wigan couldn’t. Blackpool start with 5 of 7 matches away from Bloomfield Road due to construction at their ground to meet Premier League standards, so at least they get their visits to the Emirates, Stamford Bridge and Anfield out of the way while they are still on their promotion high. Let’s see if they are brought down to earth quickly in this featured match.
** Everton v Wolverhampton, 10 am & 6 pm, FSC
Wolves drew both fixtures last year, and David Moyes’s side look like they might be off to another slow start. Tim Howard had a poor World Cup, and his EPL season is off to a worse start given his 14th minute absolute howler that gifted Blackburn all 3 points. Perhaps Timmy was blinded by 10 men wearing hot pink in front of him. He’ll have the regular blue for their 1st home match.
*** Stoke v Tottenham, 10 am, FS+ & foxsoccer.tv; 8 pm FS+
The fixtures are already coming fast and furious for Spurs, who will at least be happy to be back on natural grass for this visit to the Brittania. This was a good match last year, and let’s face, it, win, lose or draw this Spurs team is fun to watch.
* West Ham v Bolton, 10 am, Fox Sports Español & foxsoccer.tv; 2:30 pm FSC
Bolton won at Upton Park, 1-2 last year, and the Hammers simply can’t beat Bolton. Based on their form at Villa Park last week, they won’t be beating anyone any time soon.
** Birmingham v Blackburn, 10 am, foxsoccer.tv; 4 pm FS+
The home side won this fixture last year by identical 2-1 scores.
* West Brom v Sunderland, 10 am, foxsoccer.tv (& Sunday 10:30 am delayed, FS+)
** Wigan v Chelsea, 12:15 pm & 7 pm, FSC
Although we all remember Chelsea pouring in 8 goals 3 months ago as they hoisted their trophy, how many remember that the Latics pumped in 3 goals to beat Chelsea 3-1 at the DW earlier in the season? Martinez clearly did not work out the defensive problems between May & August, as Blackpool made absolute mincemeat of the Wigan defense. If Wigan could make Marlon Harewood look like an England #1, what will happen with a hernia-free Drogba?
Sunday, August 22
** Newcastle v Aston Villa, 8:30 am, FS+ & foxsoccer.tv
Villa looked terrific at home against an awful West Ham. Now Ireland for Milner changes the complexion. Full stadium expected for Newcastle’s quick return.
*** Fulham v Man Utd, 11 am, FSC
Sir Alex will have revenge on his mind for last year’s destruction at the Cottage, and will field a strong lineup. Dempsey may have earned a start after looking lively as a substitute in game 1.
Monday, August 23
**** Man City v Liverpool, 3 pm, ESPN2 & espn3.com
Certainly the featured match of the week! Each of these sides was fortunate to get a draw in tough openers, and perhaps one will start with 1 point from 2, which would not help Champions’ League causes for the two teams who most want in to that elite club. Will James Milner and Mario Balotelli go directly into the starting eleven? Whoever is on the bench for City, it will be the most expensive bench in EPL history! For 90 minutes, Reina played as well as Joe Hart, who was my player of the week last week, but then fumbled the ball into his own net to give away two points as Arsenal poured forward for the late equalizer.