Well, I think I got the *s about right last week. Some of you were wondering why United v Birmingham only got 2 * whereas Blackpool v United got 4, but I think you saw which was the match worth watching!! Remember, these ratings are for neutrals. With the FA Cup on the weekend, we have two fixtures apiece this week. I’ve written my customary notes about the first (mid-week) set of matches, and may have time (we’ll see) to do a regular viewing guide for the weekend, but at least you have the times and channels listed below.
For the mid-week matches, as best I can tell, for Tuesday, we get all of the matches, with FSC, FS+ & ESPN2 all going head to head in the 3 pm time slot, with Arsenal, Chelsea, and United all in action. For Wednesday, however, it seems ESPN gives Fox 2 matches, and then takes all the rest for itself, with most shown on espn3.com only. So you’ll need that internet connection to get all 10 from Gameweek 25.
I’m going to go out on a limb and call the Sunderland v Chelsea match the pick of the mid-week games. Ordinarily that would be United-Villa or Arsenal-Everton, but let’s see what the Black Cats have up their sleeve for this one.
***: 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:
Tuesday, February 1 (all times EST)
*** Arsenal v Everton, 2:45 pm, FSC/FD [Mason]
They’re pretty much all must-win if Wenger has any hope of landing that trophy. The Cup ties have certainly not been easy for the Gunners, but they are finding a way to advance. Everton has disappointed this year but can still climb into the top 10. Arsenal won the prior match 1-2.
**** Sunderland v Chelsea, 2:45 pm, FS+ & foxsoccer.tv [Halsey]
Chelsea was absolutely walloped at Stamford Bridge by the Cats, nil-3. They are playing better now.
*** Man Utd v Aston Villa, 3 pm, ESPN2/ESPND & espn3.com [Foy]
The first match was a terrific 2-2 affair.
* West Brom v Wigan, 3 pm, foxsoccer.tv & 5 pm (delayed), FS+ [Dowd]
Too early to call these 6-pointers?
Wednesday, February 2
** Birmingham v Man City, 2:45 pm, ESPN2/ESPND & espn3.com [Friend]
This one could be another ugly nil-nil, though Birmingham have made a habit of scoring goals late and often, though not against sides as defensive as City.
*** Liverpool v Stoke, 3 pm, FSC/FD [Taylor]
Did the Reds bite off more than they can chew with their recent signings? Who will be assigned to handle Suarez? Kenny will fight to get them a spot in Europe, and maybe even Champions League.
*** Bolton v Wolverhampton, 3 pm, FS+ & foxsoccer.tv [Walton]
Bolton’s strong start has faded, but this match was a terrific one the last time out, won 2-3 by the Wanderers, so let’s hope that we get another good one.
*** Blackburn v Tottenham, 3 pm, espn3.com only [Marriner]
6 goals in the reverse match at White Hart Lane. Spurs need to keep going (and improve from Sunday’s disaster in the Cup) to hold the Champions League spot.
** Blackpool v West Ham, 3 pm, espn3.com only [Attwell]
For teams that pride themselves on playing attacking football, this reverse fixture was exciting, but no one could score. The finishing was brutal. Have the Hammers improved at all?
** Fulham v Newcastle, 3 pm, espn3.com only [Jones]
Fulham has been one of the big disappointments this season, and they need to start showing the kind of soccer they played Sunday against Spurs. While they are probably going to be safe, 3 points here would go a long way in not seeing them dragged into the relegation battle.
Saturday, February 5
** Stoke v Sunderland, 7:45 am, ESPN3.com
** Man City v West Brom, 10 am, FS+ & foxsoccer.tv
*** Newcastle v Arsenal, 10 am, FSC/FD
*** Everton v Blackpool, 10 am, foxsoccer.tv & 4 pm (delayed), FS+
*** Tottenham v Bolton, 10 am, foxsoccer.tv & 5 pm (delayed), FSC/FD
** Aston Villa v Fulham, 10 am, foxsoccer.tv & 6 pm (delayed), FS+
* Wigan v Blackburn, 10 am, foxsoccer.tv only
*** Wolverhampton v Man Utd, 12:30 pm, FSC/FD
Sunday, February 6
** West Ham v Birmingham, 8:30 am, FS+ & foxsoccer.tv
**** Chelsea v Liverpool, 11 am, FSC/FD