EPL Weekend Viewing Guide, Gameweek 23

Well, Happy New Year everyone.  The festive fixtures came fast and furious, I was traveling, and while I posted the viewing times throughout, I had no time for comments.  So I’m back with both for Gameweek 23, which are the 10 reverse fixtures from Halloween weekend.  Only 15 more of these to go!  By now, we have a handle on the pattern for Fox’s choices.  On Saturday, after ESPN chose the Chelsea home match, Fox went with Man City live on the channel, and Stoke on FS+, with the two relegation-zone matches delayed until the early evening on the East Coast.  Sunday, due to no desire to pre-empt the wonderful infomercials, they had to choose 3 out of 4 of the amazing Sunday fixture list to show live.  So at 7 am we get the Toon-Tyne rematch on FS+, with the 2nd city derby delayed until 11 am on the same channel.  We also get a double-header on the channel, with the Liverpool derby followed by the pick of the weekend, with Spurs furious to get a result against Sir Alex and his boys after what happened last time to Gomes et al at Old Trafford.

Alas, I’ll be skiing all weekend, so will have to pick a few to watch on my DVR when I get back Monday night!  Also, please note that after watching the 90 minutes of what City did at the Emirates, along with getting myself geared up for what ended up being a horrendous derby they played against United a few months’ back, I have permanently removed one-star from all Man City matches.  I love watching Tevez, but what Mancini is doing makes their games so unwatchable…

I’ve added the referees assigned in brackets.  It’s interesting how the ‘name’ referees line up with my stars.

:  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, January 15 (all times EST)

*** Chelsea v Blackburn, 10 am, ESPND & espn3.com
Chelsea need to concentrate on finishing in the top 4; this season would be an utter disaster if they don’t qualify.  Simply a must-win game for this aging side.  [Atkinson]

** Man City v Wolverhampton, 10 am, FSC/FD
Hopefully we’ll see the attacking version of City at some point.  The topsy-turvy Wolves beat City 2-1 in October.  [Mason]

** Stoke v Bolton, 10 am, FS+ & foxsoccer.tv
Bolton won 2-1 at the Reebok.  [Oliver]

West Brom v Blackpool, 10 am, foxsoccer.tv & 5 pm (delayed) FSC/FD
Another great win in the midweek battle of the ‘pools.  They’re certainly not safe yet, so any points away from Bloomfield Road would go a long way for the Tangerines.  Blackpool also won 2-1 in October.  [Attwell]

* Wigan v Fulham, 10 am, foxsoccer.tv & 6 pm (delayed) FS+

*** West Ham v Arsenal, 12:30 pm, FSC
What a confounding season for Wenger and the Gunners.  After deciding they had to lift a trophy this year, with 4 options, this past week, they had huge difficulties with Championship sides, almost crashing out to Leeds on Saturday, and succumbing 1-nil at Portman Road Wednesday night in the League Cup first leg semifinal.  Now they face an unneeded further midweek fixture Wednesday in a tricky visit to Elland Road for the 3rd round replay (DVR alert:  3 pm EST on FSC).  And in the first version of Saturday’s derby they barely beat the Hammers 1-nil.  I suppose they’ll probably play a strong side and thrash Ipswich Town 7-nil to get to Wembley next month, but they sure have made the journey a more difficult one.  Meanwhile, Grant survives due to his being as good in Cups as he is awful in the league.  And Wayne Bridge arrives in the nick of time as the Hammers have no left back who can mark Theo Walcott.  They’ve used center halves in the full back spot repeatedly this season, including in their midweek league cup semifinal win at home over Birmingham.  [Marriner]

Sunday, January 16

*** Sunderland v Newcastle, 7 am, FS+ & foxsoccer.tv
I suppose I could give 4 stars to all 4 matches Sunday, and I know if I were home, I’d be up early watching this one.  The Black Cats will be looking for some serious revenge after the thrashing they took against their arch-rivals at St. James’.  I think Sunderland will win this by a couple of goals.  [Clattenburg]

*** Birmingham v Aston Villa, 7 am, foxsoccer.tv & 11 am (delayed) FS+
I thought the final May derby they played last year was an amazing match, but I have been less impressed by these teams this season.  And the first derby in October saw no goals at all.  And you’re certainly not going to switch away from Spurs-United to watch this one, unless you support one of these sides.  But worth recording and if it’s a good match, watching the last half hour or so straight through. [Webb]

**** Liverpool v Everton, 9:05 am, FSC/FD
Dalglish’s home debut, and what a way to start!  He’s learned quickly this isn’t your father’s Liverpool.  Rafa inherited a great side and pretty much decimated it, with Hodgson making no improvements.  And how many times in the last 5 years have Liverpool played poorly but been saved by a solitary play by their skipper (see FA Cup 2006 and many others)?  Well, a missed penalty and a sending off against their other arch-rivals and there appear to be fewer heroics from Stevie.  Everton was dominant at Goodison and Dalglish will need the sublime Torres who opened the midweek scoring against Blackpool and not the petulant one we saw the rest of the match.  The tackles will be flying!  [Dowd]

**** Tottenham v Man Utd, 11:10 am, FSC/FD
Let’s presume this will not be a Mark Clattenburg match!  (No surprise, it’s actually the dean of England Referees:  Mike Dean.)  This is an important one, for the title race, for Spurs’ desire to return to Champions League.  If Spurs win at home, City could take another (temporary) lead in the title race.

14 thoughts on “EPL Weekend Viewing Guide, Gameweek 23”

  1. I get that West Ham sit at the bottom of the table, have under performed all season and lack harmony. But I would like to point out that its a derby game, West Ham and Arsenal have the same points over the last 5 matches (8), and West Ham always play the gunners well.

    Yet even with it being the highlighted evening game you give it two stars.

    Two teams that play with an open attacking style easy on the eyes…

    just sayin.

    1. I saw this too and was amazed, both big London teams should at least be a 3 star. If chelsea against blackburn is a 4 star match west ham arsenal should be a 5.

    2. Tricky, you are right. I am a big Hammer fan and was at the infamous match at Highbury when Sol Campbell went walkabout at halftime! What a great win that was. I was also at Highbury when Seaman gave us the finger. I also watched the match at the Emirates when Zamora and Green combined to beat Arsenal. Unfortunately, I fear a Newcastle-style shellacking, but read my comments. Arsenal did fantastically well against Chelsea and created terrific chances they almost converted against City’s ridiculous defensive tactics, but then look how they did against Leeds & Ipswich this week! We Hammers fans unfortunately know that we are capable of conceding 6 to a team like Arsenal. I think the possession stats for this match will be something like 25-75!

      1. I guess ESPN needs to show a meaningless Big East contest. I mean, they have a conference tournament that nearly every team earns the right to play in at the end of the season, and then >50% of their teams end up in the NCAA Tournament. One of those sports that has made their regular season mean absostinking nothing. And that preempts Premier League soccer.

        Thanks a lot, dorks.

  2. Chelsea vs. Blackburn is a “Must-see, cancel all other activities” game?

    Why don’t you put 4 stars by every game in that case?

  3. As a Liverpool fan, I know all the reasons Liverpool vs Everton should be a four start game, but sadly I just can’t envision it being that good of a game. Maybe the season is finally taking its toll on my optimism. Hoep you’re right though!

  4. ” Rafa inherited a great side and pretty much decimated it”

    Well unless you are using the original definition of decimiated in terms of killing one in ten (nobody ever did see Biscan again) that is a plain redonkulous statement.
    Really is taking a team that finished 30 points off the title winners to a team that lost 2 games all season and spanked Real Madrid and Man U in their own backyards really ‘decimation’?
    Benitez certainly deserves his share of the blame for the current Liverpool prediciment, but statements like that really do make it hard to take this site seriously.

  5. FYI: Chelsea vs Blackburn will be on ESPN3.com and ESPN Deportes ONLY. ESPN2 will NOT be available due to an early College Basketball game tipping off at 11am ET.

  6. I was unfortunate to never have seen le tissier play live.
    But his collection of top 10 goals are breathtaking and i think
    each one of those deserve to be in best english goals of all time.
    It would be great if Gaffer could feature him in epltalk so that we
    can know more about him and his exploits..

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