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Premier League Saturday, Gameweek 18: Open Thread

 Premier League Saturday, Gameweek 18: Open Thread

So many storylines to consider on this Premier League Saturday. First up is the match between Sunderland and Bolton, which promises to be more entertaining this season as both teams have improved tremendously in recent years. Plus, many viewers will be looking forward to seeing if Stu Holden can score another wonder goal like he did last week against Blackburn.

In the other matches of the day, expect a heated game between Arsenal and Stoke City. Both teams have a lot of baggage in terms of previous clashes. I’m expecting Arsenal to come out on fire in this one and to try to teach Stoke City a lesson. Tony Pulis will have other ideas.

Blackburn against West Ham United is a must-win for both teams, for different reasons. Caretaker manager Steve Kean will want to begin his career as temporary boss at Blackburn off to a good start, to have any chance of picking up the full-time position. But Avram Grant is on borrowed time so it’s more important than ever for West Ham to get three points at Ewood Park.

Elsewhere, Newcastle United travel to Birmingham. Alex McLeish will be under pressure if Birmingham fail to get a home victory. Alan Pardew will want to show the critics that the win against Liverpool wasn’t a flash in the pan. Wigan against Aston Villa will be a tough one to predict especially since Wigan is such a yo-yo team. Aston Villa, meanwhile, look like a club coming undone so it’ll be important for Gerard Houllier’s side to get three points to take the pressure off the team.

Last, but not least, is Liverpool against Fulham. Roy Hodgson against Mark Hughes. Both managers who are in a heap of trouble for different reasons. Fulham will feel that they have nothing to lose here since their away record is so bad, so don’t be surprised if Fulham puts the pressure on Liverpool in a match that may feature plenty of ups and downs for supporters of both clubs.

UPDATE: Three Premier League matches have been postponed today due to snow. Wigan against Aston Villa, Birmingham versus Newcastle and Liverpool versus Fulham. In each case, the pitch is fine due to undersoil heating but the authorities have postponed the games due to safety concerns (i.e. supporters getting injured and or slipping and falling on their way to the ground).

UPDATE 7:50am ET: Arsenal versus Stoke also postponed. Only games on today so far are Sunderland v Bolton and Blackburn v West Ham. The game at Ewood Park could get called off, so enjoy Sunderland versus Bolton while you can (great luck for ESPN2 today).

UPDATE 10:55am ET: It’s half-time at Ewood Park for Blackburn against West Ham. Tomorrow’s games between Chelsea v Man United and Blackpool and Spurs have also been postponed. Ugh.

UPDATE 2:42pm ET: West Brom against Wolves is postponed tomorrow, so the only Premier League match left on the cards (right now) is Monday’s Manchester City versus Everton.

Before, during and after the games today, feel free to share your rants, observations and questions in the comments box below.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013. View all posts by Christopher Harris →
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45 Responses to Premier League Saturday, Gameweek 18: Open Thread

  1. all these games being called off surely adds weight to the argument for a winter break?

  2. DGS says:

    Blackburn/West Ham is the only later game still showing as on.

    Now I face the horrific prospect of doing some X-Mas shopping today…

    • Carmello says:

      I’m with you DGS. I’m currently debating watching the Blackburn/West Ham game or brave the stores on the final Saturday before Christmas.

      Hmmm… as I wrote that last sentence, I had a deep sense of foreboding welling up in my stomach at the thought of Saturday at the mall…

      You have helped me change my mind. Thank you DGS, thank you.

  3. Footballfool says:

    Don’t they know that I don’t get every weekend off to watch EPL? *sigh*.

    “Now I face the horrific prospect of doing some X-Mas shopping today…”

  4. SantaClaus says:

    Looks like the only games not yet cancelled for this weekend is Blackburn vs West Ham at 10 today, West Brom vs Wolves at 7 tomorrow and Manchester City vs Everton (Monday at 3). Let’s hope the Blackburn vs West Ham is moved to FSC.

  5. Joe says:

    Games called off because “fans might slip”? The NFL this is not…

  6. SantaClaus says:

    Great news. Blackburn vs West Ham will be on FSC at 10.

  7. Joe says:

    Borussia Dortmund and Frankfurt play on. Eurosport 2 (or any number of online feeds). Good chance to see one of the surprisingly best teams in Europe with English commentary. Check it out

  8. Michael says:

    Dortmund vs Frankfurt is actually on Gol TV (with English commentary worth listening to since it is NOT with the insufferable Phil Schoen).

  9. SantaClaus says:

    Oh no. FSC is not showing the Blackburn vs West Ham game they siad they were going to show during the pregame show. Oh well, it’s back to the mall :) .

  10. Joe says:

    Fox owns the rights to Blackburn vs. West Ham, but they’re choosing to show a replay of Tottenham vs. Chelsea. Live shelved, taped plays.

    I’m just glad I steal that channel off the internet rather than paying for this crap

  11. Gary says:

    Ruining. my. life.
    Does anyone know when these matches will be replayed?

  12. Andrei says:

    Looks like they simply don’t know how to deal with snow in the UK. They are not able to clear the roads with just 10 inches of snow? Here in Minnesota we took 22-25 inches last weekend and another 5-6 inches midweek. This coupled with sub-zero temperatures (Fahrenheit). And the roads were in a decent condition within 24 hours after each snowstorm. Vikings are playing Bears this Monday outdoors with thousands of volunteers working on clearing UofM stadium from snow. Why don’t EPL do the same?

    • Chris S says:

      In England if there is any snow on the ground then health and safety brigade come out. So the pitch might well be clear of snow due to under soil heating, but if there is any snow on the paths around the stadium, and I mean any snow then the game will be canceled because it’s to dangerous.

      • Joe says:

        Why do they overreact like that?

        • Dave C says:

          Local authorities are bad at dealing with snow (even relatively mild snow) compared to Minesota and such places simply because they don’t get it as often. These snowstorms in the UK are almost a freak occurrence.

          So they’re (a) financially unprepared for it (eg they don’t set aside money in the budget for snow plows, etc etc), and (b) they even lack the technical know-how in some cases.

          Also, as Chris S implied, the whole culture of litigiousness and nanny-statism is probably worse in the UK than in England. So if there’s any risk of someone falling and breaking an ankle, local councils get panicky.

          • The Gaffer says:

            Dave, worse than in the US, do you mean?

            Cheers,
            The Gaffer

          • Dave C says:

            Well I think the whole Nanny-statism is worse in the UK. Litigiousness is probably worse still in the US (where people sue McDonalds for making themselves fat, after all!).

          • Dave C says:

            D’oh, my mistake….yes, I meant England is worse than the US in that respect (not the UK).

          • Andrei says:

            Perhaps I’m falling for stereotypes here but aren’t British supposed to be a nation of outdoorsy people willing to deal with the elements? Is it changing?

            Besides, Chelsea MU game is on Sunday. They have plenty of time to deal with the snow. Call in volunteers to help. If you are a true fan you would jump at the opportunity to make one of the biggest games for your team happen. Last Sunday Bears Patriots game was played outdoors in blizzard like conditions with close to zero visibility at times.

    • yeah says:

      Your stadium’s roof collapsed, chief. There’s not much you rough and tumble Minnesotans can criticize.

      • Andrei says:

        It is the roof not the people. The roof can be rebuilt… I find it puzzling that fighting spirit and toughness attributed to the English football disappear so quickly off the pitch in the face of a little bit of snow and minor inconveniences.

  13. Tom says:

    Joe
    Why do they overreact like that?
    They’re English. :)

  14. Sam says:

    It would be nice if they played these games on Wednesday of this coming week. I’m off from Wednesday and that would make my day. Any idea of how they go about rescheduling postponed games especially with so many postponed at the same time? Usually when one game is postponed they reschedule it for later during the FA Cup games provided both teams are not in the tournament then. Sometimes that can be a month or two later.

    Gaffer, any idea as to the procedure?

  15. canyid says:

    The right fantasy team could make a killing this week.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Average points for today across Fantasy Premier League is four. So if you have a few Bolton, Sunderland, West Ham and Blackburn players, count yourself lucky.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

    • Joe says:

      I just remembered my fantasy team! God dammit!

      Maybe they’ll cancel the game week or something?

    • Carmello says:

      The guy with the highest score this week is 41. What a lucky sod. I’ve got a massive 11. YEAH for the one bonus point given to Kevin Davies!

    • C Dub says:

      I think its total BS to be awarded a win or a loss for fantasy on weeks like this. There should have to be a minimum of games played to count in the standings. Not to mention the “fantasy cup” starts this week. Totally lame if you get knocked out. Not a true representation of the best team. I think they should eliminate half the teams who “qualified” and take the top half to start next week. IMHO. But we all know its better to be lucky than good. Anyone else gonna miss the Chelsea/MU game? Im sorry but, in America if its snowing, we get to the stadiums just fine. Ive lost some respect for the “toughness” of the English. Sack up and leave early to make it in time. I mean, I wouldnt want you to slip if you were hurrying to get in to the game. What a joke this is.

  16. Brian says:

    I think the games may also get made up during FA Cup weekends when both respective teams have been eliminated, otherwise they schedule the makeup games during an open weekend or weekday.

    Also for the US fans on here, and also just as a really amazing feat, Charlie Davies has been named to the Sochuax squad to play tomorrow

    • The Gaffer says:

      Sochaux versus Bordeaux will be shown live on Fox Soccer Channel at 11am ET Sunday instead of Chelsea versus Man United, which was postponed. Could be a great opportunity to cheer on Charlie Davies as well as to watch a rare treat of French soccer.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  17. The Gaffer says:

    Barcelona derby between Barcelona and Espanyol is starting right now on GolTV.

    Cheers,
    The Gaffer

  18. David says:

    With Blackburn v West Ham as the only 3pm kick-off to watch I sat through a match which I normally wouldn’t have chosen. What a miserable encounter and wretched quality of football. Am I alone in finding the habit of Dean Sturridge, the color commentator, to add “isn’t it?”, “wasn’t it?” etc at the end of every other sentence a real annoyance?

  19. olivert says:

    EPL goes into overdrive between Boxing Day and New Year’s weekend when the Italian, French, and German leagues go on winter break (La Liga takes Christmas off but will resume on New Years day.)

    ==

    English Premier League

    Monday December 20

    2:55pm ET – Manchester City vs Everton – ESPN2 HD, ESPN3.com & ESPN Deportes

    ==

    Sunday December 26

    6:55am ET – Fulham vs West Ham United – FS+ HD & FOXsoccer.tv
    9:55am ET – Manchester United vs Sunderland – FSC HD & FOX Deportes
    9:55am ET – Blackpool vs Liverpool – FS+ HD & FOXsoccer.tv
    9:55am ET – Everton vs Birmingham – FOXsoccer.tv (SDD 12noon ET on FS+ HD)
    9:55am ET – Newcastle vs Manchester City – FOXsoccer.tv (SDD 2:30pm ET on FSC HD & FOX Deportes)
    9:55am ET – Blackburn vs Stoke – FOXsoccer.tv (TBC)
    9:55am ET – Bolton vs West Brom – FOXsoccer.tv (TBC)
    9:55am ET – Wolverhampton vs Wigan – FOXsoccer.tv (TBC)
    12:25pm ET – Aston Villa vs Tottenham – FSC HD & FOX Deportes

    Monday December 27

    2:55pm ET – Arsenal vs Chelsea – ESPN2 HD, ESPN3.com & ESPN Deportes

    ==

    Tuesday December 28

    9:55am ET – Manchester City vs Aston Villa – FSC HD & FOX Deportes
    9:55am ET – Tottenham vs Newcastle – FS+ HD & FOXsoccer.tv
    9:55am ET – Stoke vs Fulham – FOXsoccer.tv (SDD 5pm ET on FSC HD)
    9:55am ET – West Brom vs Blackburn – FOXsoccer.tv (SDD 12noon ET on FS+ HD)
    9:55am ET – Sunderland vs Blackpool – FOXsoccer.tv (TBC)
    12:25pm ET – West Ham vs Everton – FSC HD & FOX Deportes
    2:55pm ET – Birmingham City vs Manchester United – ESPN2 HD, ESPN3.com & ESPN Deportes

    Wednesday December 29

    2:30pm ET – Chelsea vs Bolton – FSC HD & FOX Deportes
    2:40pm ET – Wigan vs Arsenal – FS+ HD & FOXsoccer.tv
    2:55pm ET – Liverpool vs Wolverhampton – FOXsoccer.tv (SDD 4:45pm ET on FOX Deportes & 5pm ET on FSC HD)

    ==

    Saturday January 1

    7:30am ET – West Brom vs Manchester United – ESPN2 HD, ESPN3.com & ESPN Deportes
    9:55am ET – Manchester City vs Blackpool – FSC HD & FOX Deportes
    9:55am ET – Liverpool vs Bolton – FS+ HD & FOXsoccer.tv
    9:55am ET – Tottenham vs Fulham – FOXsoccer.tv (SDD 2:30pm ET on FSC HD & FOX Deportes)
    9:55am ET – West Ham vs Wolverhampton – FOXsoccer.tv (SDD 2pm ET on FS+)
    9:55am ET – Stoke vs Everton – FOXsoccer.tv (1DD Sunday 2pm ET on FS+)
    9:55am ET – Sunderland vs Blackburn – FOXsoccer.tv (TBC)
    12:25pm ET – Birmingham City vs Arsenal – FSC HD & FOX Deportes

    Sunday January 2

    8:25am ET – Chelsea vs Aston Villa – FSC HD & FOX Deportes
    10:55am ET – Wigan vs Newcastle – FSC HD & FOX Deportes

  20. Samuel says:

    With the EPL having such a hectic winter schedule instead of a winter break like the other leagues it must be a conspiracy to hold the Qatar World Cup in 2022 in winter. England never wanted to host the World Cup to begin with since they would have to play it in the summer and we know how tired and useless they are by then. Their only chance of winning the WC is if it’s held in the winter since they’re used to playing hard then. Now it all makes sense. You heard it here first, England favorites to lift the cup in 2022 :) .

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