Last week’s 4-star match certainly lived up to its billing! And do we already have the goal of the season from Berbatov, just 5 matches in?
This weekend leads off with a fantastic 4-star match, Man City v Chelsea. Ancelotti’s team finally face a stiffer test, after their Wednesday exit from the League Cup, and they have Marseille and Arsenal visiting Stamford Bridge too before the international break. No tea-time (noon for us on the East Coast) Saturday match this weekend, so Fox Soccer Channel has delayed the showing of the Hammers-Spurs derby til noon (die-hards who need to watch live can see it at 10 on Fox Sports Español, though I’ll wait til noon for the hi-def). Look closely for the staggered kick-off times on Sunday.
**** 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
Also, don’t forget to bookmark the most updated version of the Premier League TV schedule for viewers in the United States.
Matches shown in chronological order:
Saturday, September 25 (all times EDT)
**** Man City v Chelsea, 7:45 am, ESPN2 & espn3.com
I love when the best match of the weekend is the 7:45am ESPN match. We get a proper pre-game build-up and a terrific picture from ESPN with better audio than Fox. I’ve heard no further word of whether Ian Darke has now signed officially to call all these ESPN matches, but it would be terrific to have him for this cracker of a match. There were 9 goals in these two fixtures last year, and City won both matches, with red cards, Terry vs. Bridge, some awful goalkeeping from Hilario, and Tevez, Tevez, Tevez. We get some extraordinary matchups in this one: Tevez v Terry, Drogba v Kompany, Milner v his england teammate Cole, Essien v Toure. It should be end-to-end, with an Italian coaching battle on the sideline too. Get up early, make a proper breakfast, and enjoy!
** Arsenal v West Brom, 10 am, FSC & 12 pm (delayed) FSE
It’s probably a sign of the difference in American support for the Gunners and Spurs that Fox picks this match ahead of the Spurs’ London derby for the live 10 am match on the prime channel.
*** Liverpool v Sunderland, 10 am, FS+ & foxsoccer.tv
There were signs of life for parts of the United match last week, but it still feels like Hodgson is trying to work things out. Gyan has started nicely for Sunderland, but the defense has been spotty. The away side did not score in the two matches last year.
*** West Ham v Tottenham, 10 am, FSE & 12 pm (delayed) FSC
Are things actually looking up for the league’s worst team? A well-fought draw at Stoke last Saturday followed by a mid-week League Cup win at Sunderland have the East London side’s fans more optimistic. This derby has been a fun one over the years, including Tevez’s first ever EPL goal (in a game Spurs won 4-3 in injury time), and, of course, the infamous Canary Wharf lasagna match in 2006 that cost Spurs the Champions League. Last year Spurs won at Upton Park 1-2, and I’m still not sure who can mark Gareth Bale.
** Fulham v Everton, 10 am, foxsoccer.tv & 4 pm (delayed) FS+
* Birmingham v Wigan, 10 am, foxsoccer.tv & 5 pm (delayed) FSC
* Blackpool v Blackburn, 10 am, foxsoccer.tv (no broadcast)
Notwithstanding the Tangerines’ strong start, I think that Fox got this one correct: if there had to be one of the 10 matches shown only on the Internet, this was the match.
Sunday, September 26
** Bolton v Man Utd, 7 am, FS+ & foxsoccer.tv
United has to start beating the minnows handily, like Chelsea has. Last year, it was nil-4 to Sir Alex.
*** Wolverhampton v Aston Villa, 9:05 am, FS+ & foxsoccer.tv
Another week, another Midlands derby, and Houllier’s league debut. Both fixtures ended in draws last season.
** Newcastle v Stoke, 11:10 am, FSC
Joey Barton vs. the dirtiest team in the league? Could be interesting.