With Europa league continuing, plus FA Cup delayed fixtures and the long-awaited Chelsea v Man United midweek match, we get 15 matches this week involving EPL teams. Only Spurs sit back and relax this week as the Gunners’ visit to White Hart Lane, to have been the featured ESPN2 match, is postponed as Wenger tries to lift a trophy Sunday at Wembley.
***: 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:
Thursday, February 24 (all times EST)
** Liverpool v Sparta Prague (nil-nil), Europa League leg 2, 5 pm (delayed from 1 pm) GolTV
** Man City v Aris Salonika (nil-nil), Europa League leg 2, 3:05 pm, [can’t find any listings]
Not the most scintillating first legs, but the English sides should be favored to advance with home matches.
Saturday, February 26
** Wigan v Man Utd, 10 am, FSC/FD [Clattenburg]
Surely this is 3 points for the visitors, with their designated referee to boot.
** Everton v Sunderland, 10 am, FS+ & foxsoccer.tv [Attwell]
Only 7 points separate these teams, but Sunderland still have an eye towards Europe, while Everton are not yet out of the relegation battle.
** Aston Villa v Blackburn, 10 am, foxsoccer.tv & noon (delayed) FSC/FD [Atkinson]
There are certainly 4 worse sides than Villa, but they’ve been dragged down into the muck, and need to win matches like this one!
*** Wolverhampton v Blackpool, 10 am, foxsoccer.tv & noon (delayed) FS+ [Swarbrick]
2nd premier league start for Swarbrick who has yet to see a goal or call a penalty. This one should be entertaining!
*** Newcastle v Bolton, 10 am, foxsoccer.tv & 5 pm (delayed) FSC/FD [Foy]
Sunday, February 27
** West Ham v Liverpool, 8:30 am, FSC/FD [Halsey]
The Hammers thought they would be playing a couple of hours later at Wembley Sunday, but they blew a big lead at Birmingham. Now they need points any way they can get them. Ba & Hitz have looked good in their first matches.
*** Man City v Fulham, 10 am, ESPN2/ESPND & espn3.com [Walton]
After losing the Saturday 7:45 am North London derby to the Carling Cup final, ESPN2 gets a rare Sunday 10 am kickoff, and I expect a strong match. Fulham have not been particularly good this season but they have had entertaining matches and this will certainly be one Mark Hughes will want to win on his return to Eastlands.
**** Arsenal v Birmingham, Carling Cup Final, 11 am, FSC [Dean]
There’s maybe only one side I would have wanted to see less than Birmingham City in a Wembley final, but I still give out all 4 stars for Wembley finals. Will a hobbling Fabregas actually get to lift a trophy? Arsenal feel they have a realistic shot at 4!
Monday, February 28
* Stoke v West Brom, 3 pm, FS+ & foxsoccer.tv [Oliver]
If you must…
Tuesday, March 1
** Everton v Reading, FA Cup Round 5, 2:30 pm, FS+ & foxsoccer.tv
**** Chelsea v Man Utd, 2:45 pm, FSC/FD (and repeated at 8 pm) [Atkinson]
Notwithstanding the blues’ troubles, they are the holders, so this is still the one we’ve been waiting for. Martin let-em-play Atkinson on the whistle, and, like Sargent Schultz, he saw notheeng that now rules Mr. Walcott out of small matches at Wembley (and perhaps Barcelona). For once, all of London will be rooting for Chelsea!
Wednesday, March 2
*** Man City v Aston Villa, FA Cup Round 5, 2:45 pm (and repeated at 8 pm), FS+ & foxsoccer.tv
Should be a fun cup tie.
*** Arsenal v Leyton Orient, FA Cup Round 5 replay, 2:45 pm, FSC [not confirmed]
It’s been a strange run of constant matches for the Gunners, and the injuries are piling up. I guess we’ll know by Wednesday if the “Quad” is still a possibility, but I expect the reserves squad again, especially at home.