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EPL Weekend Viewing Guide: May 12, 2011

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We’re winding down now, and nearing clarity.  United should win the title after a tremendous display of soccer against their arch-rivals Sunday.  And you can see them claim it with just a point at Blackburn early Saturday morning on the featured ESPN match.  The Champions League spots were sewn up mid-week with City’s revenge win against Spurs, so (if you care) watch Liverpool ensure a return to European football on Thursdays next season if they can do the same.  Meanwhile, City try to lift a trophy and just have to beat Stoke City at Wembley to do so.  That match is on FSC live at 10 am Eastern Saturday morning.

That just leaves the matter of the 3rd team coming up and the three teams going down.  QPR winning the Championship ensures at least 5 London sides again next year, and Norwich joins them.  The process of picking the final team will be decided over 5 matches, all of which will be shown in the US on FS+ & foxsoccer.tv, starting Thursday afternoon with Forest v Swansea.  At the bottom of the table, West Ham’s inability to beat Blackburn has probably cost them £40 million.  Their relegation battle at the DW is still must-watch TV Sunday morning.  We’ll also be watching Wolves visit to the Stadium of Light and Blackpool’s final match at Bloomfield Road.

[Please note that Fox has switched around some of the Sunday matches since I first posted this article.  If you are planning to be out of the house Sunday morning, I would advise recording as many of the matches as you can, in case something gets messed up or they change again.]

****:  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, May 12 (all times EDT)

** Nottiingham Forest v Swansea, Playoff semifinal Leg 1, 2:45 pm, FS+ & foxsoccer.tv [Dean]

The Reds (Forest) squeaked into the play-offs over Leeds via a last day nil-3 thumping at Crystal Palace.  Romantics would like to see them back in the premier league.  The Swans could make it an all-Welsh final if they and Cardiff were to advance.  Swansea were hoping that QPR might be docked points and thus the Jacks would advance automatically but they now need to play their way in.

Friday, May 13

** Reading v Cardiff, Playoff semifinal Leg 1, 2:45 pm, FS+ & foxsoccer.tv [Halsey]

The Royals (Reading) were relegated in 2007 so they are hoping for a reasonably quick return; the Madejski is a reasonably nice 24,000 seat bowl stadium.  Their stadium is only 38 miles west of Craven Cottage.  Meanwhile, Cardiff were so close to returning to the EPL last year, losing in the play-off to Blackpool after twice having the lead at Wembley!  If you’re a neutral this might be a good team to root for, and will almost certainly have the most recognizable names, notably Craig Bellamy, who at times last year was as good as any player in the EPL.  I’ve only given two stars to the first legs as usually the action really heats up in the second ‘half’.

Saturday, May 14

**** BlackburnMan Utd, 7:45 am, ESPN2/ESPND & espn3.com [Dowd]

I’ll keep this at 4 stars as we really should watch the match where the Champions are crowned.  It may be anticlimactic (though Blackburn would benefit hugely from just one more point).

*** BlackpoolBolton, 7:45 am, FS+ & foxsoccer.tv [Marriner]

Blackpool could win twice and still go down, but this is absolute must-win.

*** SunderlandWolverhampton, 7:45 am, FSC [Jones]

Wolves can’t imagine they’ve done enough yet.

West BromEverton, 7:45 am, foxsoccer.tv & 12:30 pm (delayed) FSC/FD [Taylor]

**** FA Cup Final, StokeMan City, 10 am, FSC/FD [Atkinson]

Great to see two new teams in this cup with supporters desperately happy to see their side lift a trophy.  City are favorites and have the better players, but Stoke have come through in these big matches.  Let’s hope Etherington & Huth can play.

Sunday, May 15

ChelseaNewcastle, 8:30 am, FSC/FD [Mason]

No great reason to watch.

** ArsenalAston Villa, 11 am, FS+ & foxsoccer.tv [Oliver]

Fox missed it again on this one.  A meaningless match at the Emirates in favor of the humongous match at the DW.

*** LiverpoolTottenham, 11 am, FSC/FD [Webb]

For 5th.  Think it will be red.

**** WiganWest Ham, 11 am, foxsoccer.tv & 1 pm (delayed, and changed from 5 pm) FS+ [Dean]

Still frustrating (if you don’t have foxsoccer.tv) that Fox won’t show this match live on television, but at least they have now moved it up to 1 pm from the original 5 pm showing, and some of us will be glued to the internet to see it live.   The Hammers destroyed the Latics back in Upton Park way back in November; they will certainly need Parker back to have any hope of staying up.  But this is what relegation battles are all about.  A draw or West Ham win could still see both teams relegated.  With Mike Dean refereeing, high chance of at least one penalty, and a sending-off wouldn’t surprise me.

*** Birmingham Fulham, 11 am, foxsoccer.tv & 5 pm (delayed, and pushed back from 1 pm) FS+ [Walton]

The Blues ensure safety with a home win and a point might just do.

Monday, May 16

*** Swansea v Notingham  Forest, Playoff semifinal Leg 2, 2:45 pm, FS+ & foxsoccer.tv [Marriner]
Tuesday, May 17

** Man CityStoke, 2:45 pm, FSC [Probert]

Fears of Stoke throwing this match now out the window.  A pretty meaningless match though City might have a chance of catching Arsenal for 3rd.

*** Cardiff v Reading, Playoff semifinal Leg 2, 2:45 pm, FS+ & foxsoccer.tv [Webb]

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30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. Malcolm

    May 13, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    Predictions:
    Blackburn 1 – Manchester United 0
    Blackpool 2 – Bolton 1
    Sunderland 2 – Wolves 0
    West Brom 2 – Everton 2
    FA Cup: Stoke 1 – Manchester City 2 (AET)
    Chelsea 2 – Newcastle 0
    Arsenal 3 – Aston Villa 2
    Liverpool 3 – Spurs 1
    Wigan 2 – West Ham 1
    Birmingham 1 – Fulham 2

    Swansea 2 – N’ Forest 0
    Cardiff 1 – Reading 0

  2. Dakota

    May 13, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Super good listing and opinion on the games. I am looking forward to ManCity vs Stoke tomorrow. I am not particularly rooting for either team, but I think it is exciting for both of these teams, and whatever outcome happens, it will be good. I do kinda hope that Stoke pulls the win though

  3. gary

    May 13, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Looking forward to this afternoon’s playoff game and I think Cardiff might get a good result at Reading. I’m hoping for a Cardiff vs Swansea Wembley final. London will become even crazier on that day.

    I have this suspicious feeling that Blackburn are going to stun United and win it by the odd goal.

    Blackpool should beat an inconsistent Bolton and may end up having to play out of their skins against United next week, who if they lose to Blackburn will have to get a draw at Old Trafford which wouldn’t be too difficult but with Blackpool needing a victory to stay up who knows? Still think Blackpool will go down even though I’d like them to stay up.

    I don’t see Wolves beating Sunderland and think Wolves will be the other team to go down.

    Stoke vs Man City FA Cup final should be very exciting. I expect a very competitive game that might go into extra-time. I make City very slight favorites but Stoke’s wingers could be the difference to give Stoke a chance to win it. Really looking forward to this game.

    Wigan vs West Ham is a really big game for both sides and I too am surprised that FSC isn’t showing it. Shame on them. The passion of a relegation-battle is worth twice that of a title-winning game or as in this case the race for 5th. Liverpool vs Spurs promises to be a very entertaining game especially since both managers send out their teams to play open, attacking soccer. Still, Wigan- West Ham wins out. Wigan can play some terrific soccer and so can West Ham. If Scott Parker is back for this one then I can see West Ham making a game of it. Too close to call for me but I’ll give a slight edge to Wigan since they are at home. West Ham will be going down I’m afraid.

  4. JC

    May 12, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    “The Reds (Forest) squeaked into the play-offs over Leeds via a last day nil-3 thumping at Crystal Palace.”

    Well, if you consider a 6 goal difference as well as a 3 point lead before the last match “squeaking into the playoffs via a last day win”, sure. Otherwise, minor correction needed. 🙂

    And Swansea fans (I’m looking at your Gaffer), don’t count those chickens just yet. 10 men, 9 men, doesn’t matter, 0-0 is 0-0 with one match to decide it all.

  5. old33

    May 12, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    NESN, the network of the Red Sox and Bruins for those non New Englanders, moved their rebroadcast for the Liverpool/Spurs game to Wednesday at 4:00. Since John Henry took over, NESN started broadcasting the games in February so if you can wait a few days for the delay, you don’t have to pay for a subscription to FSC+ or foxsoccer.tv.

  6. Terry

    May 12, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    A relegation battle is always more exciting than a spot in the dreaded EL. yes, it’s Liverpool and Spurs who are big clubs but for FSC to not show Wigan vs West Ham, which is a game with much more on the line and the passion from the fans on a knife edge, is shocking. Goes to show that the programmers at fox know so little about the EPL.

    • David The Yank

      May 12, 2011 at 5:32 pm

      I’m guessing they have stats on ratings every time Arsenal plays vs. every time Wigan or West Ham play, and obviously Arsenal has a dramatically higher fan base in the US. The question is for the last week or two of the season are we (Terry, me, Stacy) actually right? i.e. will more Americans tune in because it’s a relegation battle and we ‘get that’, or is the average FSC (FS+??) viewer still someone who says “ooh, Arsenal, let me watch them”?

    • Guy

      May 12, 2011 at 6:44 pm

      Couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, for us broader based fans (we’ll actually watch something other than our own club or the big boys), it’s always about ratings and the money.

      There can be no match this weekend with more at stake than Wigan v West Ham. Maybe they’ll come to their senses…….ha.

  7. Stacy Richardson

    May 12, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    This Gooner thinks Fox is missing out by not showing Wigan-West Ham on FSC.

  8. BD

    May 12, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    You biting your nails over Swansea, Gaffer?

    • The Gaffer

      May 12, 2011 at 1:16 pm

      Some would think, but I’m going into this as a pessimist and thinking that if we win, it’s a plus but I’m not expecting it. It cuts down on the biting of nails and puts me in a position where whatever happens, I win. Of course, I would love them to win!

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • IanCransonsKnees

        May 12, 2011 at 1:36 pm

        The play offs are a fantastic way of getting promoted but they’re nerve wracking. Stoke went up from League One to the Championship in 2001/02 after beating Cardiff in the Semi’s and Brentford at the Millenium Stadium. I felt physically sick and sat wringing my hands with my head between my legs all the way through the play off final! Stoke were always going to win, we’d sold 35-40,000 tickets compared to Brentford’s 10,000. We won 2-0 relatively easily but there was so much riding on it.

        Going up out of the Championship automatically was a much more relaxed affair.

        If I’m honest I don’t feel excited or nervous about the cup final. My tickets came in the post yesterday, I never thought I’d have Stoke CIty tickets in my possession with the words ‘FA Cup Final’ printed on. I’ve always said it’s the only trophy I’m bothered about seeing us win. It may sound strange coming from someone who follows their team week in, week out but after all that it just seems like another match. Most people I talk to just hope Stoke turn up and put on a show, so long as they put in the requisite effort and do their best everyone seems to accept that getting to the final is achievement enough.

        Winning it would be huge for the city though. When we got promoted the atmosphere around the lace was buzzing. I’m going to Wembley on Saturday but if we win I want to get back asap so I can jump in the car with my camera and just photograph the mentalness that will occur around Stoke on Trent.

        Whatever happens the pubs and breweries of SOT will make some cash this weekend.

        • Guy

          May 12, 2011 at 4:42 pm

          Gaffer, you should feel good! Great match by Swansea! A man down for 88 minutes and hold on 0-0. Dyer and De Vries looked really impressive.

          • Guy

            May 12, 2011 at 4:43 pm

            Nice placement, Guy. 😉

          • The Gaffer

            May 12, 2011 at 7:03 pm

            Yep, a very entertaining game with plenty of chances for both sides. After the early bath for Taylor, I resigned myself to being happy for a draw. And a draw it was after a very sound defensive performance by Swansea.

            Swans play Nottingham Forest in South Wales on Monday. Expect a wild and passionate crowd at Liberty Stadium.

            Now looking forward to Reading beating Cardiff tomorrow 😉

            Cheers,
            The Gaffer

            • The Gaffer

              May 12, 2011 at 8:52 pm

              The Swansea City supporters on the message boards are calling it the greatest 0-0 victory ever. It was definitely a valiant performance and an excellent display with ten men against eleven for practically the entire match. Can’t wait til Monday!

              Cheers,
              The Gaffer

              • Guy

                May 12, 2011 at 9:25 pm

                Felt like a victory to me. 92 minutes (w/ stoppage) a man down and get a clean sheet?! The thing that got me was the way Swansea just took it to Forest in the first half. That was absolutely amazing—no bus in sight. Second half was a little different, but still Swansea didn’t seem afraid and had a couple of good runs, especially that one by Dyer. The guy is a dart. Couldn’t someone in the Prem use him or De Vries?

                Looking forward to tomorrow’s Reading v Cardiff City match. Sorry, but still going with the Welsh side. 😉

                • The Gaffer

                  May 12, 2011 at 9:36 pm

                  Definitely felt like a victory, but it’s not over yet. That said, Dyer was his wonderful self again tonight. Interestingly, he was quite a problem child before he joined Swansea and was one of those gifted youngsters that nobody could seem to tame. Before he joined Swansea on loan, he was convicted of burglary in a Portsmouth nightclub. But as soon as he joined Swansea, he turned himself around and has matured considerably since then.

                  Tricky thing for Swansea is that if they don’t make it all the way to the Premier League, their team is going to be ravaged by Premier League sides signing their best players such as Borini, Sinclair, Williams, De Vries and Dyer. That’s half the team right there.

                  Cheers,
                  The Gaffer

      • Guy

        May 12, 2011 at 3:40 pm

        Great first half by Swansea. Down a man from the beginning and looking like they’re a man up.

  9. Ivan

    May 12, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Unfortunately I don’t have Foxsoccer.tv…I know Arsenal has a solid following in the US, but at this point there isn’t much difference between Arse finishing second or third…
    And I am not a fan of either Wigan or West Ham, but talk about a good old fashioned relegation six-pointer. How are they not showing it live is beyond me…what a letdown.

    • The Gaffer

      May 12, 2011 at 12:46 pm

      But they are showing it live, but on Fox Soccer Plus and FoxSoccer.tv

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • David The Yank

        May 12, 2011 at 1:19 pm

        Gaffer, I edited the original post, but I still see Wigan v West Ham as live on foxsoccer.tv *only*. Delayed showing at 1 pm on Fox Soccer Plus.

        • Ivan

          May 12, 2011 at 1:24 pm

          I thought FS Plus had Liverpool-Tottenham LIVE at 11am; Wigan-West Ham is on delay at 1pm.
          Am I missing something?

          • The Gaffer

            May 12, 2011 at 1:38 pm

            Liverpool vs Spurs will now be on Fox Soccer Channel at 11am.

            Cheers,
            The Gaffer

    • dw

      May 13, 2011 at 2:08 am

      Arsenal need to win to ensure at least a third-place finish and entry to the Champions League at the group stage.

      Man City are only two points behind.

  10. Ivan

    May 12, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Massive FAIL by FSC on Wigan-West Ham…at this point, the Arse-Villa game has zero relevance…come on, guys, same amateur stuff, year after year…it doesn’t take a genius to figure this one out…

    • The Gaffer

      May 12, 2011 at 12:35 pm

      Ivan, I don’t think it’s zero relevance. Arsenal is still chasing to finish in second. Yes, a game between Arsenal versus Aston Villa is less attractive at this point in the season, I agree, but maybe they made the decision based on TV ratings. I’m looking forward to watching Wigan vs West Ham United. I know I’ll be watching that one on FoxSoccer.tv.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  11. olivert

    May 12, 2011 at 10:43 am

    FSI have switched the matches around on Sunday:

    10:55am ET – Liverpool vs Tottenham – FSC HD & FOX Deportes
    10:55am ET – Arsenal vs Aston Villa – FS+ HD & FOXsoccer.tv (TBC)

    1pm ET SDD – Wigan vs West Ham – FS+ HD
    5pm ET SDD – Birmingham vs Fulham – FS+ HD

  12. old33

    May 12, 2011 at 8:07 am

    On the FSC TV link, printable schedules, it lists Liverpool and Spurs on FSC+. However if you click on programming and then premier league, it lists the match on FSC regular. I scrolled through my cable menu this morning and it listed the match on FSC as well.

    • The Gaffer

      May 12, 2011 at 9:16 am

      The FoxSoccer.tv site is listing that they’re showing it. Let me check with Fox.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

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