It’s been a looooong time since the reverse fixtures to these Gameweek 30 matches were played in September. We have two derbies, a top 4 showdown at Stamford Bridge, and the what-will-happen-next drama of another Sunderland-Liverpool showdown. Plus two Europe matches requiring big English comebacks. My star-giving parsimony has ended (for the moment), so forget the early round basketball, and focus in on weekend full of EPL matches!
***: 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, March 17 (all times EDT)
** Man City (0) v Dynamo (2), Europa League Round of 16, leg 2, 2 pm, DirecTV
I don’t think this is the priority match of the week for City.
*** Liverpool (0) v Braga (1), Europa League Round of 16, leg 2, 4:05 pm, GolTV
For Liverpool, on the other hand, they’d really like to advance, and they just might.
Saturday, March 19
*** Tottenham v West Ham, 8:45 am, ESPN2/ESPND & espn3.com [Dean]
The Hammers won the match at Upton Park, even during their bad spell. Now fully out of the other competitions, it’s all about survival, and it would appear Avram has enough quality in his squad to stay up. But tricky matches at White Hart Lane and home to United may allow the other teams around them to move up the table, so the Hammers will be looking to get something from these next two to avoid a very nervy run-in. Spurs still have their dual priorities but would love some help from City Sunday to catch Chelsea.
**** Man Utd v Bolton, 11 am, FSC/FD [Marriner]
Good solid win mid-week without their center halves to advance for the Red Devils. Now it’s about taking care of business at home in the league. The sides finished 2-all at the Reebok. Sir Alex will have to stew upstairs in the box. Let’s hope Bolton keep playing attractive football and they now have a terrific chance to secure a European place next year.
*** West Brom v Arsenal, 11 am, FS+ & foxsoccer.tv [Attwell]
The Baggies won 2-3 at the Emirates, so this is by no means an easy fixture for the Gunners. Plus Hodgson actually has them defending as a team, which they certainly did not do earlier in the year. Arsenal have lacked a killer instinct around the net, notably Bendtner letting them down, but even Arshavin, who’s usually so clinical, had chances to score and could not convert.
* Stoke v Newcastle, 11 am, foxsoccer.tv & 6 pm (delayed) FSC [Mason]
I think Fox erred; this is the one I would have not televised, preferring to show the more important Blackburn-Blackpool match. Stoke are not fun to watch.
*** Aston Villa v Wolverhampton, 11 am, foxsoccer.tv & 7 pm (delayed) FS+ [Dowd]
Should be a great atmosphere for this derby. Villa will breathe a big sigh of relief if they can win this one, but their goal differential is truly one of the worst in the league. Mick’s boys make every game interesting. Villa won at Molineux, 1-2.
** Wigan v Birmingham, 11 am, foxsoccer.tv & Sunday 11:30 am (delayed) FS+ [Probert]
No one scored in their first meeting at St. Andrews. Wigan need points and they need them quickly, though the Latics still have matches against Blackpool, Villa, West Ham and Stoke to decide their fate.
*** Blackburn v Blackpool, 11 am, foxsoccer.tv only [Webb]
Very important 3 points. From the comments on the epltalk article this week, sounds like most of us neutrals will be rooting for the Tangerines. Rovers won 1-2 at Bloomfield Road. Watch on-line only.
* Everton v Fulham, 1:30 pm, FSC/FD [Oliver]
Presumably both are safe, so watch the two most mediocre teams in the league (goal differentials of zero and +1) if you’d like.
Sunday, March 20
**** Sunderland v Liverpool, 9:30 am, FS+ & foxsoccer.tv [Friend]
Yes, this is an absolute 4-star match, based on recent history! The beach ball incident last season, and then the ‘free goal’ off of Michael Turner’s back heel (quick: which was the worst back heel of the season: Turner’s or Fabregas’s? I’d still say Fab’s.) Oh, and then there’s the minor matter of Suarez v Gyan; do you remember what happened when they met last summer?
*** Chelsea v Man City, noon, FSC/FD [Foy]
Could easily be our third 4-star match, but I’m taking one away due to City’s tactics away from home and Chelsea’s unwillingness or inability to score home to Copenhagen. I hope I’m wrong, and I hope Torres opens his account in this vital match.