Well, we were waiting all year for this weekend, only for Arsene’s men to melt quickly over their last 10 matches. The only sides the Gunners beat in these last 10 were Blackpool and Leyton Orient! Now they can hold out some hope for 2nd and play the role of spoiler so that next week’s showdown becomes the match of the season at Old Trafford. Meanwhile, Spurs still have a chance to return to the Champions League, but will have to beat Chelsea at the Bridge, something they haven’t done in decades, to have a realistic hope. In the Black & White world of the relegation zone, it’s likely 3 from 6, with the B’s in better position than the W’s. There are only 4 showdown matches remaining involving the B’s and W’s, with the first this weekend a must-see cracker of a West Midlands derby at St. Andrew’s.
****: 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, April 30 (all times EDT)
, 10 am, ESPN2/ESPND & espn3.com
Atrocious choice by ESPN. You have to question their judgment given Blackpool v Stoke was available. Remember, ESPN will spoil all the other scores too, so I’m not sure who will be watching this live.
, 10 am, FS+ & foxsoccer.tv
The Latics have the ‘easiest’ run-in, wiith Villa, West Ham & Stoke to come, but they’re going to have to win 1 or 2, probably 2, to stay up.
** West Brom v Aston Villa, 10 am, FSC/FD [Dowd]
Upgraded to 2 stars only because it’s a derby. I think Fox got this one wrong and should have shown Blackpool or Blackburn live.
, 10 am, foxsoccer.tv
& 2 pm (delayed) FS+ [Clattenburg]
Stoke are safe but still have a part to play in the remaining races. They thrashed Wolves, and still have Wigan after this one. They also play City. The Tangerines have not been shut out at home. It’s looking dire with 2 of their last 3 against Spurs & United, though they may get bailed out by the United match on May 22 having no meaning for the soon-to-be-crowned. But 3 points here would be absolutely vital.
*** Blackburn v Bolton, 10 am, foxsoccer.tv & Sunday 1 pm (delayed) FS+ [Dean]
Bolton can play splendidly or they can wilt, as they’ve done recently against Fulham & Stoke. This one means more to Blackburn but they have really struggled.
**** Chelsea v Tottenham, 12:30 pm, FSC & 4 pm (delayed) FD [Marriner]
This one still has everything: a derby, the chance for Chelsea to catch United and repeat, Spurs desperate to avoid joining the Thursday-Sunday crowd next year, and some terrific players. They finished 1-1 at White Hart Lane in December.
Sunday, May 1
, 7 am, FS+ & foxsoccer.tv
Get up early, make a fresh pot of coffee, and get ready for 6 terrific hours of football, starting with perhaps the most meaningful match of the week. At least it will almost certainly be the hardest fought. The Blues should ensure safety with a home win, though Wolves won the match down the road in December on Stephen Hunt’s goal. Mick’s boys simply did not show up for their mid-week match @ the Brittania, and he has got to get them absolutely flying out of the gate for this one.
** Liverpool v Newcastle, 7 am, FSC [Walton]
If there weren’t three other strong matches on today, I’d recommend this one. But record and check the highlights during the various halftimes.
**** Arsenal v Man Utd, 9:05 am, FSC/FD [Foy]
With Wednesday probably a formality, Ferguson shouldn’t need to worry about resting anyone. A draw would allow Chelsea to believe they have some hope as United’s final two matches are against relegation sides Blackburn & Blackpool. So United should not be parking the bus. What a horrendous finish to this season for the Gunners; let’s hope they regain some form and make this a contest.
*** Man City v West Ham, 11:10 am, FSC/FD [Webb]
City is just barely doing enough to hang on to their coveted 4th. And they can add some silverware in 2 weeks as well. West Ham have reverted (and reverted badly) to their form through most of the year. They desperately need Parker back, and must defend better if they want to stay in the league. Grant appears to have few ideas and remains resolutely optimistic even after conceding 12 goals in their four April matches.
Tuesday, May 3
*** Barcelona (2) v Real Madrid (nil), Champions League semifinal leg 2, 2:45 pm, FSC/FD
No Pepe, no Ramos, and no Jose maybe means 2-stars, but any chance to watch Messi is probably worth 4, so I’ll compromise on 3. There’s nothing I love more than second-leg away-goal-rule Champions League soccer, but I’m not holding my breath this year in either match.
Wednesday, May 4
** Man Utd (2) v Schalke 04 (nil), Champions League semifinal leg 2, 2:45 pm, FX & foxsoccer.tv
Hard to imagine this is going to be worth watching after Schalke’s display on Tuesday in Germany. Remember, it’s on FX.