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EPL Weekend Viewing Guide, Gameweek 30

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!

****:  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:

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 & [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+ & [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, & 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, & 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, & 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, 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+ & [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.

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    March 18, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Anyone in San Diego having issues with FSC? The lines on the field look like an old atari game.

    • Robert

      March 18, 2011 at 12:05 pm

      Cox cable of course

  2. Terry

    March 18, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Jake, a win for Sunderland will move them only a point behind Liverpool. Liverpool seem to play well against the top teams but falter against the other teams. I agree that Bolton have a great chance of finishing ahead of Sunderland. Will Bolton pay more attention to the FA Cup? That’s their best chance of getting into Europe. I can see Bolton concentrating more on their FA Cup semi-final showdown with Stoke than their league fixtures.

    The next couple of games will be very important because if the top 5 teams consolidate their positions in the top 5 then all the European spots will be taken since the 6th place team will not make it into Europe as that spot will go to either Bolton or Stoke. Will Liverpool, Sunderland or Bolton take their foot off the gas at that point? Possibly since they won’t have much to play for.

    We could then see a fight for the title and the fight for survival as the only remaining games of interest.

  3. Jake

    March 18, 2011 at 7:47 am

    “Sunderland vs Liverpool will determine who gets 6th”

    I somehow doubt that sunderland will finish 6th, they are four points behind liverpool who are 6th at the moment, i still would right of bolton if i were you, bolton are currently 2 points behind liverpool placed 7th and are on good form.

    My predition for 5, 6, 7 and 8 this season is:

    5. Tottenham
    6. Liverpool
    7. Bolton
    8. Sunderland

  4. Nick

    March 18, 2011 at 6:05 am

    Kind of bullsh*t that you’re finding alternative 4 star matches just cause yr not keen on the way City play. It’s still a hugely important match for both teams and a meeting between two of the league’s current giants. Plus City have not been nearly as terrible as you make them out to be, remember their match against Wolves? Blackpool? even Man United? they can play attacking football and have even more recently against another premier league giant than they have done their drawn schenanigens, this is kinda bs to me, and I don’t even like/support City or Chelsea.

  5. Terry

    March 17, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Chelsea vs Arsenal winner will get a top 4 spot while the loser will end up 5th. So this is a big game for both teams. Not sure if either team will go for it but we live in hope. A draw won’t surprise me.

    Sunderland vs Liverpool will determine who gets 6th. Liverpool have reverted to their early season drab display with a terrible performance today in the EL where they got booted out. Sunderland have home field advantage and the edge. Something to look for will be how the Ghanains in the Sunderland squad, 4 of them I think, will treat Luis Suarez after his world cup antics. Could be a good one to watch but I think a rested Sunderland will win easily. Ghanains will get their revenge.

  6. Brian

    March 17, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    Agreed on Everton v. Fulham. The odds for a draw must be really high

    • Matt

      March 17, 2011 at 6:21 pm

      the odds of a draw are about 12/5 and the red sh*te just as mediocre, if not more so, this season

  7. Andrei

    March 17, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    “…I don’t think this is the priority match of the week for City.”
    Sounds like a microcosm of the season for City.

  8. Jake

    March 17, 2011 at 11:55 am

    “How can you give Man United vs. Bolton 4 stars and Chelsea vs. Man City 3 stars?? Mancini beat Chelsea away 4-2 last season. It wasn’t boring”

    neither was the bolton v united game that finished 2-2 at the reebok at the start of the season.

    • James

      March 17, 2011 at 5:37 pm

      Let’s not forget that we beat Chelsea 4-2 after the John Terry- Wayne Bridge incident! Revenge for Bridge at the Bridge!

    • 1fingerwillie

      March 18, 2011 at 8:41 pm

      Agreed. This is one of the most important games of the season for both teams. The last CL spot is on the line. The outcome of this game could mean 10s of million pounds for the winner and for City a chance to enter the elite of european football.

  9. Bob

    March 17, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Saturday’s Blackburn v. Blackpool match is not listed among the upcoming games on the schedule.

  10. Robert

    March 17, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Mate, great preview, but it’s spelled Molineux.

    • David the Yank

      March 17, 2011 at 4:03 pm

      Thanks; fixed. (And I looked it up and everything!)

  11. Justin

    March 17, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Have to also disagree with the rating on Chelsea/City. It’s one of the bigger matches of the year at this point in terms of Champions League places and the future of both of these managers. You also have 4-5 of the top 10 strikers on show in the entire league. Regardless of tactics and openness it’s a must see and the game most people will be talking about Monday. Just my 2 cents.

  12. Evan

    March 17, 2011 at 10:21 am

    How can you give Man United vs. Bolton 4 stars and Chelsea vs. Man City 3 stars?? Mancini beat Chelsea away 4-2 last season. It wasn’t boring

    • The Gaffer

      March 17, 2011 at 10:26 am

      Listening to the EPL Talk Podcast this morning, Kartik has a feeling that Man City may try to put up shop against Chelsea and hold on for a 0-0 draw.

      The Gaffer

    • Chris H

      March 17, 2011 at 2:22 pm

      Chelsea vs Man City will be boring believe me!
      Theres a lot to gain as far as champions league places and not slipping further down the league BUT an awfull lot more to loose!
      Both managers would take a draw right now.

      • 1fingerwillie

        March 18, 2011 at 8:43 pm

        City fan. I would love a draw.

    • halnone

      March 17, 2011 at 5:35 pm

      “Kartik has a feeling”…
      because that’s such a good reason…

  13. Chris H

    March 17, 2011 at 9:38 am

    I just hope Uniteds make shift defence can cope in the next few weeks, the amount of injuries has got ridiculous!
    Ferdinands sickness record has become a joke and United HAVE to look to buy a top class center back to play along side Vidic this summer. Its no surprise to me, even as a United fan, that Capello is looking to give the armband back to Terry.
    (Not that anyone actually cares about the England team anymore)
    Smalling has come on a bundle though……..just hope Sir Alex does’nt put Brown in the starting line up Saturday against Bolton. He’s been dreadfull the past few games!

    United 2- 1!

  14. bluefanmd

    March 17, 2011 at 9:18 am

    I have a good feeling that Torres will open his account this weekend, but I also have this feeling that Tevez does the Blue’s in yet again. I see him scoring and then delivering a magnificent free kick to end any chance CFC has of winning the league this term.

    • Kimo C.

      March 17, 2011 at 9:47 am

      I see your Tevez goal (which I don’t doubt will probably happen because he is class) and I raise you a Drogba freekick to level before halftime.

      After the break I think we see the Torres goal and Chels pull out the 2-1 win.

      Win or loose, we need United to drop more point before we head to Old Trafford. The Bolton game is the perfect setup for that fixture to be epic. Come on you Trotters!!!

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