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EPL Weekend Viewing Guide, Gameweek 31

Hello again.  We’ve all enjoyed the international break and now the final run-in for this intriguing season, with more attention than I can ever remember to the all-important race to stay in the league!  Any of the teams from Bolton to Wigan could be playing championship football next year, or could finish in the top half of the league.  As we get closer to May, I imagine I’ll be handing out more stars for those relegation races than to matches involving the top 5, depending on how that race plays out for the title and for Champions League spots.  We’ll see if Fox follows suit or sticks with, as they have done this weekend, the traditional US followers for United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool.  No four-star premier league matches this weekend, but the full 8 stars have been handed out to the 3 EPL sides playing mid-week soccer in the Champions League.

****:  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 2 (all times EDT)

*** West Ham v Man Utd, 7:45 am, ESPN2/ESPND & [Mason]
The Hammers can’t beat United two times in a row, can they?  Spector & Obinna did the damage, though neither has been starting of late.  Parker was a revelation to Capello and anyone who hasn’t watched West Ham play all season.  Perhaps no longer the anticipated easy fixture for Sir Alex’s team, and will he be wearing a Sam Allerdyce headset or import that Old Trafford 1975-era telephone?  United did thump them in Old Trafford, 3-nil.

** Stoke v Chelsea, 10 am, FSC/FD [Walton]
David Luiz & Terry will get the challenge of defending 100 set pieces as usual at the Brittania, but Chelsea are really starting to look good.  Who will start Saturday and who will get the nod on Wednesday evening amongst Torres, Anelka & Drogba?

*** West Brom v Liverpool, 10 am, FS+ & [Atkinson]
Hodgson has his new side defending better than his prior side did, but I think Liverpool will have something to prove in this one.

Wigan v Tottenham, 10 am, & 4 pm (delayed) FS+ [Marriner]
Will be fascinating to see how ‘Arry uses his squad for this one.  Defoe is a must start, as he gets all his goals against the weak defending teams, and certainly won’t play in Madrid.  Rest Bale again?  Give Sandro a break?  Meanwhile, Martinez and gang will be hoping Spurs are only looking ahead to Madrid as 3 points could get them out of the relegation zone, at least for now.  Wigan upset Spurs at White Hart Lane in the reverse fixture, nil-1.

** Everton v Aston Villa, 10 am, & 5 pm (delayed) FSC [Jones]
Shhhh.  Houllier, clearly losing his grip every day on this team, has now mandated silent training sessions.  But Ashley Young may have been England’s best player over the two internationals, and Bent didn’t do too badly either!  Everton are now probably safe, but would like some positive momentum before the season ends.

*** Newcastle v Wolverhampton, 10 am, & 6 pm (delayed) FS+ [Dean]
You’d think the Magpies will solidify their EPL standing with this one, but we all know Wolves stay in all of their matches and stranger things have happened.

** Birmingham v Bolton, 10 am, only [Oliver]
Europe is slipping away from Bolton, while Birmingham will be heading to Europe next year.  The loss of Holden is a big one.  Birmingham look in trouble and need 3 points desperately.

*** Arsenal v Blackburn, 12:30 pm, FSC/FD [Dowd]
Very unlikely Rovers will fall into the drop zone this week, but they are very far from safe.  Gunners have no selection difficulties given it’s league-only; they should win this one easily.

Sunday, April 3

*** Fulham v Blackpool, 8:30 am, FS+ & [Attwell]
Blackpool’s bright start has faded fast; this would be a big 3 points for Hughes.  The reverse fixture was an entertaining 2-2.

** Man City v Sunderland, 11 am, FSC/FD [Webb]
I continue to maintain my frustration at watching City this year.  They can be spectacular, and there’s no player I love to watch more than Tevez, and they can be incredibly dull.  They are doing enough to warrant Champions League football next year, and that’s clearly what Mancini is playing for.  Every time I give City 4-stars, they disappoint.  Every time I give them 2, they play rousing football.  So here’s 2.

Tuesday, April 5

**** Real Madrid v Tottenham, Champions League Quarterfinal leg 1, 2:45 pm

The biggest test yet for Spurs, who showed they could play Italian style catenacchio against Milan.  Will they park the bus again in Madrid or go for that critical away goal?

Wednesday, April 6

**** Chelsea v Man Utd, Champions League Quarterfinal leg 1, 2:45 pm

And the best match of the week will be last!  Chelsea are resurgent, and they love this format.  Anelka & Terry have mistakes to avenge from their last CL encounter.  I think Torres will get off the mark in this one, but United will get an away goal.

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  1. IanCransonsKnees

    April 2, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    ** my arse.

    For anyone that has recorded the Stoke vs Chelsea match watch it all the way through its definitely a **** match. Couple of good goals and a myriad of excellent saves from both keepers. Add to that the typical Britannia Stadium atmosphere. You don’t k now what you’re missing.

  2. Carolyn

    April 1, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    We already know United will win the title, according to the Stat Analysis by The Independent. Read it here:

    So we’ll have to keep watching to see if they’re right.

  3. Jason

    April 1, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Manchester United should beat West Ham easily. West Ham’s defence is poor. Prediction: 3-0 to United.

    West Brom should give Liverpool a good run. With Gerard still not fully recovered, Kelley and Aurelio out, Luiz not 100% and several players coming back from international duty, West Ham should win this one. Also will be the revenge of Hodgson. Prediction: 1-0 to West Brom.

    Spurs might find the going at Wigan tough. As long as Spurs don’t squander their chances, and there will be many for the taking given Wigan’s defence, they should win easily. Prediction: 3-1 to Spurs.

    Manchester City could struggle against Sunderland. Sunderland have the players to compete but have not gotten the results recently. City are a Jekyl and Hyde team so no one knows which team will show up. Prediction: 2-2 draw.

    Chelsea vs United will end up in a 1-1 draw with United getting the all important away goal.

    Real Madrid will narrowly beat Spurs, either 1-0 or 2-1. This will give Spurs hope of winning at home and getting to the semis. Real Madrid have some injury concerns and Spurs will take advantage.

  4. sports24x

    April 1, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    want man u to win every game this would do it easy for rest of the matches..

  5. Abel

    April 1, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    With Real Madrid playing without Ronaldo, Marcelo and Benzema, Spurs can get a decent away result. That will give them even more confidence at home where they will be favored to win. When this fixture was announced, Madrid were favorites but now with Madrid’s injuries Spurs are favorites.

    I would also not write off Shaktar’s chances against Barcelona. Messi is tired and Barcelona haven’t been converting many of their scoring chances and they have a tough game at Villareal tomorrow. This could be the upset of the round.

  6. Ringo

    April 1, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    What an upcoming month for Spurs! Two matches against Madrid, and a couple big derbies against Arse and Chelsea. They proved their mettle during last year’s April run-in, let’s see if they can do it again.

  7. Jason

    April 1, 2011 at 11:12 am

    West Ham could prove tricky for United. But I expect United to get all 3 points. Valencia is back and Hernandez can’t stop scoring and they will proe to be the difference, so 2-1 to United.

    Spurs also have a tricky game against Wigan but Defoe always scores against the bottom teams with so-so defenders. The state of the pitch will determine how well Spurs play but I still think they will win 2-0.

    West Brom have been improving since Hodgson took over and are defending much better. For Liverpool, I don’t think Gerard will play, Suarez may not be fully fit and Carroll is still not 100% so I think West Brom will get a result, a win or a draw.

    Everton vs Aston Villa is a must-win for Houllier. If Villa lose I can see Houllier being fired. Saha’s season-ending injury is a big loss to Everton so Beckford will have to step up. I’m going for a 2-2 draw.

    Chelsea vs Manchester United will unfortunately be a very cautious affair with neither team wanting to be scored against, especially Chelsea with the return leg at old Trafford. I don’t see an open game here so I’m going for a 0-0 or 1-1 draw. Chelsea will take the former and United the latter.

  8. Jake

    April 1, 2011 at 4:04 am

    Europe is slipping away from Bolton. God, that did make me laugh.

  9. jonathan

    March 31, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    lucky arsenal, they got phil f**king dowd as their ref…another 4-4 draw after being 4-0 up?

  10. Troy

    March 31, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Thank goodness for some Premier League football again. It’s felt like forever since I’ve watched a live match.

  11. MNUfan1991

    March 31, 2011 at 8:31 am

    “**** Chelsea v Man Utd [Champions League], 2:45 pm, FSC/FD”

    And best of all, no useless English referees! Yes I’m talking to you, Martin Atkinson.
    Did anyone tell the referees’ union that respect is to be EARNED?
    What are you going to do, FA? Ban me from watching the PL?

    • Matt

      March 31, 2011 at 10:43 am

      Wow. You’ve got to let this go. I was disappointed that united lost too, but, really, this is old news and the decision was not that horrible.

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