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EPL Sunday Viewing Guide, Gameweek 38

And in the end

The love you take

Is equal to the love you make — Paul McCartney

A terrific season comes to an end.  Manchester United has deservingly won the Championship.  We saw tremendous soccer at times from Arsenal and Chelsea and Manchester City, and at the beginning of the season, from Tottenham.  But no one was as consistently strong as Sir Alex’s men.

Here is your definitive guide to the various Sunday scenarios:

For 5th

Spurs qualify for Europe (1) if they beat Birmingham; (2) if Villa beat Liverpool, or (3) if both matches end in draws.  Otherwise Liverpool get the automatic spot.


West Ham are relegated and finish rock bottom.   2 of the other 5 (Blackburn, Wolves, Birmingham, Blackpool, and Wigan) go down.  Wolves and Blackburn are the only two who fully control their own destiny as the winner of their match is safe.  If (say) at halftime, Wigan, Blackpool & Birmingham are all getting hammered, Wolves & Blackburn could pass the ball back and forth to each other and both be safe with a draw.  That is the danger for FS+ televising that match.  Blackburn, playing on the road, has a far greater incentive for a draw, given their better goal difference than Wolves.  So if Blackburn draw, the only way they are relegated is if ALL of Wigan, Blackpool, and Birmingham win.  So Blackburn could easily try to park the bus.  If Wolves draw, they would be relegated if 2 or more of Wigan, Blackpool & Birmingham win.  For Blackpool and Wigan, in the Bottom 3, they must get points to have any hope of safety.  If one of them draws and Birmingham and the other loses, the one with the draw is safe.  They really all need to go for wins.  Given who Birmingham and Blackpool are playing, you’d think Wigan just might be safe by beating Stoke without having to run up the score.  If all 3 win, they would all be safe if Blackburn and Wolves draw.  But if there is a winner in that match, then one of Birmingham, Blackpool and Wigan would still go down (assuming they all win) and it would come down to goal differential, with Birmingham on -20, Blackpool on -21 and Wigan on -22 to start the day.

For 3rd

City clinch 3rd if (1) they win at Bolton, (2) Fulham beats Arsenal, or (3) if both matches end in draws.  Otherwise Arsenal.

For Fair Play

England have clinched a 4th team for Europa League, joining Birmingham, Stoke, and Spurs/Liverpool.  It’s impossible to tell, given the range of scores that go into fair play (it’snot just yellow/red cards, but also fan behavior, player behavior, manager behavior, etc.), but it looks as if Spurs might just get it if Liverpool get 5th place.  Otherwise Fulham.  Blackpool has an outside shot.  The ‘winner’ of this competition gets to play up to 6 extra matches starting June 30.  That’s June 30.  If Birmingham are beating Spurs soundly, look for a flurry of Clattenburg cards at the end of the match!

And I conclude with a personal comment.  The roots of this weekly column came two years ago, when, as we started to get more and more EPL soccer available to us here in the US, I struggled each week to find out whether my beloved West Ham would be televised, and if so, when and on what channel.  I love the league too so I tried to figure out the best games, the best derbies to watch, the relegation battles, etc.  There were listings available, first from Oliver T’s wonderful, then at epltalk and elsewhere, but they were sometimes incomplete.  So for me it was a bit of a puzzle to find out the listings, who the commentators were, which station had first and second choice, etc.  I thought there might be other crazy soccer-lovers out there so I offered to the Gaffer to write this column occasionally.  Growing up, I had seen other columnists who would rate the American football games each week and thought I would emulate that style.  This year I ended up doing it for every single EPL match.  And it wasn’t easy.  Mostly because I run a business full-time.  And I traveled a lot.  I wrote this column in Switzerland, in Italy, in California, in Chicago, even in London!  I wrote it on planes, downloading various Fox and ESPN and other web sites before flying, so I could get you accurate information.  In the second half of this year, I figured out how to get advance referee appointments, and added those for each game.  While I made some mistakes, the great thing about the Internet is there are free fact-checkers everywhere!  And I was excoriated for far more than making an error or two.  My favorite comment called me David the Septic Tank; love that one.  But now, as the season comes to an end, so does this column.  I won’t be back next year.  And it’s not just because my Hammers were (deservingly) relegated.  The listings are generally available, the time commitment to write this column well is too high given my work and family constraints, and there wasn’t enough positive reinforcement to compensate. I would love to read such a column going forward, and would be happy to share the ‘secrets’ of the business with anyone interested in continuing the column.  The Gaffer knows where to reach me.

But enough about me.  On to the games!!

****:  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:

Sunday, May 22 (all times EDT)

**** Man Utd Blackpool, 11 am, ESPN2/ESPND & [Dean]
The reverse fixture was delayed from December to January 25 due to ice/snow, and what a game it was.  The Champions, like they did to my Hammers recently, came back from 2-nil down at halftime to win it, with late goals from Berbatov, Hernandez, and Berbs again to win it in a Tuesday night thriller.  United may play their Carling Cup roster, which will not please Wigan or Birmingham.  Remember Carlos Tevez scoring for West Ham at Old Trafford on the final day of the season, as United prepared to lift their trophy, to ensure safety?  That was just 4 years ago this week.  Can Charlie Adam do the same on Sunday?

**** Tottenham Birmingham, 11 am, FSC, [Clattenburg]

I had to laugh when I saw the referee appointment for this match.  I believe this is the first time Spurs are seeing Clattenburg since the infamous Nani/Gomes goal.  While it became conventional wisdom that Spurs did not ‘want’ 5th/Europa, it appears that their alternative if they lose this match is to still go to Europe but start in June, they really should try to win this match!  The match in December ended 1-1 with Gardner equalizing late.  A Birmingham win will probably see them stay in the league next year.  Spurs’ inability to beat the bottom teams (they took 1 point of 6 from the abject Hammers) cost them a chance at Champions League.

**** Wolverhampton Blackburn, 11 am, FS+ & [Webb]

Blackburn destroyed Wolves in December, 3-nil (just after having been thumped themselves 7-1 at Old Trafford).  We know Wolves will fight for Mick, and some of us neutrals would prefer to see his side stay up, for the humor value alone of his post-match comments.  I’ve outlined the scenarios above:  the winner is safe, they may very well both be safe with a draw, and the loser might just stay up too.  So Fox has taken some chances making this the live match, vs. Stoke-Wigan.  But I’ll be watching, hoping for a back and forth multi-goal battle that goes down to the wire, with results in the other matches making this one incredibly meaningful for both sides.

**** Stoke Wigan, 11 am, & 1 pm (delayed) FS+ [Marriner]

I don’t think you’ll be able to watch Wolves v Blackburn live and then watch this one on tape-delay and hope to not know the score.  So 4-stars for those with  You’d have to call it a successful season for Tony Pulis’s boys.  Safely mid-table, a trip to Wembley, and heading to Europe next season!  Wigan fought back well against my we’d-be-safe-if-games-were-45-minutes brigade last week, but they’re going to have to win on the road, realistically, to have a shot at staying in the league.  I don’t know how hard Stoke will fight to ensure a top 10 finish, so Wigan will want to go for it early and hope Stoke concede.  Stoke scored 4 times in the December match at the DW, only Collins & Delap did so in the wrong net and the sides finished 2-2, with all four scored in the first half.

** Fulham Arsenal, 11 am, & 5 pm (delayed) FSC, [Atkinson]
Arsenal have a shot, perhaps a long one, at finishing third in this disappointing conclusion to what looked like a bright season.  Fulham may be heading back to Europe and should focus on getting no cards if they want to go.

** Aston VillaLiverpool, 11 am, only [Probert]

Nice turnaround for Dalglish, but they may get to concentrate on the league only next year.  Villa has work to do.

*** Bolton Man City, 11 am, only [Foy]

City will go for 3rd and Bolton will probably put up a fight.  nil-1 anyone?

* Everton Chelsea, 11 am, only [Walton]

Ordinarily a fun watch to match; too bad it was scheduled for week 38.

* Newcastle West Brom, 11 am, only [Halsey]

What a terrific managerial change the Baggies made.

* West Ham Sunderland, 11 am, only [Taylor]

The last taste of the big time before Millwall comes to Upton Park

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  1. Gerry

    May 21, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    I just have a feeling that Wolves are going to lose to Blackburn but will avoid relegation.
    Blackpool will lose to United by more than 2 goals. Blackpool relegated.
    Birmingham will lose to Spurs by 1 goal. Birmingham relegated.
    Wigan will draw with Stoke and avoid relegation.

    Spurs will get 5th and Liverpool, even though they will beat Aston Villa, will miss out on European football.

    Manchester City will get a draw at Bolton but so will Arsenal at Fulham so Manchester City will finish 3rd and Arsenal 4th.

  2. Jeffrey

    May 21, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    All 3 clubs with 39 points are going to lose so it will come down to goal difference. Blackpool don’t know how to defend so I think they will lose by more than 2 goals. Birmingham do defend better than Blackpool so I think they will lose by 1 goal. Wigan will lose by 1 goal to a Stoke side that has nothing to play for but need to finish well in front of their home supporters after their FA Cup final loss. So I predict Blackpool and Wigan joining West Ham in the Championship next season.

  3. Steve

    May 20, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    I’m looking forward to the relegation battle. Here’s what I think will happen:

    Man Utd v Blackpool – ManU have won the trophy they wanted, Blackpool will sense the chance and will nick the game: 0-1

    Stoke v Wigan – Stoke will be flat and have only pride to play for, while for Wigan they have everything to play for : 0-2

    Tottenham v Birmingham – DRAW – Spurs need to win to ensure Europa football, Birmingham must win to stay alive…but I predict 1-1

    Wolverhampton v Blackburn – WOW, what a bloodbath this will be with both sides needing a win to avoid relegation…I favour the home side 1-0

    Here is how the table will look after my predictions

    15 Wolves 38 -18 43
    16 Blackpool 38 -20 42
    17 Wigan 38 -20 42
    18 Blackburn 38 -15 40
    19 Birmingham 38 -20 40
    20 West Ham 38 -24 33 ??? RELEGATED ALREADY

    Wolves, Wigan and Blackpool will stay up

    Blackburn and Birmingham to go down along with West Ham.

  4. Harry

    May 20, 2011 at 10:11 am

    First, thanks David for this column. You will be missed. I hope someone else continues this column next season. Best of luck in your future endevours.

    The Spurs vs Birmingham game is the one where one team is trying to finish 5th and the other trying to avoid relegation. Spurs will be in the EL next season even if they lose because they’ll get in through the Fair Play rule. But if they don’t finish 5th then they will have to start their season in June and play a lot of playoff games in the EL. Not ideal. That’s why I think they will try and win this game and that’s bad news for Birmingham. I think Birmingham will get relegated. Considering they are not the most eye-pleasing team to watch I wouldn’t mind seeing them get relegated.

    Wigan have a terrific opportunity to beat Stoke because Stoke have nothing to play for and they looked spent against Manchester City in midweek. I think Wigan will avoid relegation.

    Blackpool have a tough game against Manchester United away and United have only drawn one game at home and won all the others in the EPL. They plan on starting 6 regulars including Van der Saar and Berbatov (who is trying to win the golden boot) and that’s bad news for Balckpool. I don’t think Blackpool will get the win they need to avoid relegation. Blackpool are also not a very good defensive team.

    So I predict that Birmingham and Blackpool will join West Ham in playing in the Championship next season.

  5. Jose

    May 19, 2011 at 11:11 am

    I too enjoyed reading this column every week. You helped me to pick the most entertaining games to watch, and you were mostly right with your suggestions.

    I appreciate your efforts. Good luck on your future endeavors. 🙂

  6. old33

    May 19, 2011 at 8:11 am

    This column was an essential piece for the caual soccer fan to become immersed in the week by week drama. My mother was finally able to understand why I am as apssionate as I am for the weekends. I hope you will be able to pass on the reins to someone else. I won’t be able to have soccer conversations with anyone next year because they won’t understand the importance of the games.

  7. pacificStyle

    May 19, 2011 at 5:09 am

    Always looked forward to your columns before the weekend, dawg! Better than any TV schedule 🙂 It shall be missed. Good luck in the future!

  8. Kyle

    May 19, 2011 at 2:47 am

    “The love you take is equal to the love you make”, not vice versa.

    • dkptiger

      May 19, 2011 at 9:54 am

      right! and not to be pedantic, but it was the beatles. the line may have been written by paul, but its performed by the beatles and is credited to lennon/mccartney. not a big deal, i mean this is a footie site. however it just kinda shows the decline in quality on this site over the years. now i respect its mostly amateurs who write here for free, but to draw on a quote or song lyric for dramatic affect, doing so inaccurately and attributing it wrong.. just says it all for me. saying united won the championship? a hammers fan who didnt know cockney rhyming slang for yank? theres a lapse of credibility that brings out the criticism. and while i wish you well, as i understand this is not your profession. but rather than complain that people didnt give you enough positive reinforcement, just own the fact that you made mistakes, and when you take a stance on something you better know your stuff. providing the times of matches and ranking them, fair enough. but the errors and cringworthy americanisms are hard to look past. i genuinely mean this as honest criticism. if you decide to return next year and if you find passion in this.. then dont rush an article on a plane or hotel. spend the time to write something original, and make sure what you say is at least opinion and not factually inaccurate.

      • The Gaffer

        May 19, 2011 at 12:35 pm

        DKP Tiger, if you think you can do better, send me an e-mail at thegaffer[at]epltalk[dot]com

        The Gaffer

  9. David the Yank

    May 18, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Thanks everyone for all the kind comments. We’ll see how I feel in August. Maybe I can share duties; I’ll talk to the Gaffer too in the summer.

    For those wanting more soccer, here’s the only scenario I can find where we’d get one more game, however improbable:

    Wolves 0 Blackburn 3
    — Blackburn are safe and Wolves finish with 40 points, -22 goal differential, and 44 goals scored

    Spurs beat Birmingham and the Blues are relegated

    Blackpool get at least a point at Old Trafford and finish ahead of Wolves due to better goal differential or more points.

    Stoke 5 Wigan 5 [ok, I said it was improbable]

    Like Wolves, WIgan finish with 40 points, -22 goal differential, and 44 goals scored.

    What happens? WIgan and Wolves meet in a one-game neutral site playoff! Loser is relegated. Maybe they could do it as a Wembley double-header before or after Swansea v Reading!

    So I’ll be rooting for a 10-goal thriller at the Brittania!!

  10. omakbob

    May 18, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    Thank you for this column. As a first year EPL watcher (World Cup finally got me), I found this column a weekly necessity (and EPLtalk a daily necessity) as I tried to teach myself the ins-and-outs of the 20 Premier League teams. While I tried to catch as many games as I could, I found your rating system trustworthy and highly useful when limited time was a factor (and with 3 and 5 year old boys, time is always a factor).

    You’ll be greatly missed come August.

    Thanks again!

    • David The Yank

      May 19, 2011 at 7:32 pm

      Thanks, Omakbob. The stars were the fun and relatively easy part. Hopefully I can work something out to continue this, perhaps with some help!

  11. Grant

    May 18, 2011 at 9:34 pm


    Thank you so much for your posts, I have looked forward to them every week all season, they will truly be missed, thanks again.

  12. Brian

    May 18, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Do you think the games listed as “no coverage listed” just don’t have it yet? Think they’ll be on later in the week on replays?

  13. Terry

    May 18, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Mekias, go to sky sports website and under football, Click Score Centre and there you can follow the text commentary of any EPL game you want.

  14. Mekias

    May 18, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    It’s a little sad that the Everton/Chelsea matchup won’t be shown anywhere. That two-legged battle between them in the FA cup, ending in penalties was the highlight of my year. What’s the best way to follow a match it it’s not televised?

    • olivert

      May 19, 2011 at 4:43 pm has picked up the U.S. video rights to the 5 leftover matches.

  15. malcolm

    May 18, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Thank you David for a great column. I will definitely miss it and hope the gaffer will be able to find someone to continue it.

    Manchester United 2 – Blackpool 2
    Spurs 1 – Birmingham 1
    Wolves 2 – Blackburn 1
    Stoke 2 – Wigan 2
    Aston Villa 1 – Liverpool 2
    Fulham 2 – Arsenal 0
    Bolton 1 – Manchester City 1
    Everton 1 – Chelsea 2
    Newcastle 2 – West Brom 1
    West Ham 2 – Sunderland 0

  16. Drew M.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Loved this column – it’s kept me coming back to the site week after week.

    Another “prize” up for grabs this weekend is which team walk away with the Shadow Championship. This is determined by the chain of victories over the reigning champions. So Chelsea started with it, lost it to Man City in Week 6, who lost it to Arsenal in week 9, to Newcastle in 11, Blackburn 12, Spurs 13, Everton 22, Arsenal regained it in week 25, Bolton took it briefly in 34 before promptly losing it to Fulham in their second game of the week, who lost it to Liverpool in 36, who just lost it again to Spurs over the weekend.

    So if Spurs beat Birmingham, they hold onto it and tie Arsenal for holding it for 11 weeks this season.

  17. Paul

    May 18, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Speaking of Europa League and the Viewing Guide, unless I’m mistaken (certainly possible), the Europa League final today is not even being televised here in the U.S.! I’ve been following along all year the debate about the how “serious” or not-serious the Europa Leauge is. Well I guess this finally answers the question. Atrocious. As a Spurs fan watching them this weekend and potentially having them play Europa Lge football next year with all the extra games, knowing the final may not even be watchable… well I have no words.

    Unrelated, I think you’ve done an outstanding job with the column, and it has been incredibly useful to me, and tremendously appreciated. THANK YOU!

    • Brett

      May 18, 2011 at 2:55 pm

      It’s being shown on delay at 8 ET on GolTV or if you have DirecTV live on channel 480.

      • Brett

        May 18, 2011 at 2:56 pm

        Oh and this has been by far my favorite column on this site. I hope someone continues something like this in one form or another next season.

        I can’t believe the season is over. What am I going to watch on TV now?

      • Paul

        May 18, 2011 at 3:10 pm

        Thanks… I did see the delayed version… I was referring to watching the game Live. With all the web surfing I do, I would surely see the winner before the match was aired!

        Ps. I’m with you! What will I do with my Saturday mornings now!?

        • Tony Butterworth

          May 18, 2011 at 5:21 pm

          It was on live, I just watched it. Either FSC or FSP, I can’t remember which.

          • Paul

            May 18, 2011 at 7:31 pm

            Perhaps a different provider… FSC had Everton replay and FSP had rugby. Espn had news. There was an article about it not being available in the USA


          • Paul

            May 18, 2011 at 7:35 pm

            (Sorry if this is a repost — original disappeared)

            Tony — perhaps it was a different provider? In the US, it wasn’t live (on Time Warner anyway). FSC had an Everton replay, FSP had Rugby League, and ESPN had news. I’d looked and saw a few articles in the news showing they were upset it wasn’t live in the U.S.

          • Tony Butterworth

            May 19, 2011 at 7:48 pm

            A bit late now but it was on the DirecTV soccer channels. Not on FSC or FSP but on the 4xx channels that only DirecTV has.

  18. Brian

    May 18, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Great column as always David, and best of luck in future endeavors.

    One question I had is if Blackpool, Birmingham, and Wigan all lose on Sunday, any one of those 3 can stay up depending on results. For example, if Wigan lost 1-0, but Blackpool lost 3-0 and Birmingham 4-0 then Wigan would stay up, or if Blackpool lost 1-0, Wigan 1-0, and Birmingham 2-0 then Blackpool would stay up because the second tiebreaker is goals scored, or am I missing something?

    • David the Yank

      May 18, 2011 at 10:47 pm

      Yes, Brian, that is exactly right. It would be terrific to see Blackpool rewarded for the attacking football they played all season. Birmingham only scored 36 goals in 37 games! Whereas Blackpool scored 53.

  19. RJG

    May 18, 2011 at 1:53 pm


    Loved reading the column, in fact it is/was one of the reasons I started reading on a regular basis in the first place! Best of luck!

  20. FC Asheville

    May 18, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Good luck to you and thanks for all the hard work!

  21. M Emanuel

    May 18, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Your column will be missed. Best of luck with your future endeavors.

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