30 September 2005

Friday Sum-Up

Hi folks. Sorry about the slow posting this week. It's been a brutal week in the office.

Actually, much of the delay is really due to my frustration at missing the Wednesday Champions League victory — Ajax 1-2 Arsenal. Wish I could have seen it, but no go in the US with the CL games; you get two a week on ESPN2, and that's it. One is guaranteed to be Man U, and so there you have it. Of course I was quite pleased to see the win, especially given that 1) it was an away win in the CL, and 2) we did it in a scrappy fashion, with a battered team. Good job, Gunners!

But here we are, with a weekend ahead of us. I thought this week to try something different, and rank the games... but only those that us American* viewers can watch, and only on Fox Soccer Channel... because I'm not the lucky stiff who's got GolTV. So here it is, the first...

Prioritized Weekend Soccer Planner

  1. Sunday, 10AM CDT: Liverpool v. Chelsea. (PPV, $20). Now this is a match. It only loses a bit of lustre because it's a replay of the Wednesday Champions League match. But that was a 0-0 draw, the first points Chelsea have dropped on the season. Liverpool seem to have a clue on what to do with the Blues. Verdict: Match of the Week. Worth the $20... if you're in the mood for spendy soccer. Find a pub if you can.

  2. Saturday, 2PM CDT: Charlton v. Tottenham. Yes, believe it or not: Ladies and gents, you're looking at the #2 and #4 teams in the Prem. Contrasting styles and a fight for position. Charlton are the more defensive team, but they're at home; they might as well settle for 10th if they don't go for goals. Verdict: Watch this.

  3. Saturday, 11AM CDT: Sunderland v. West Ham. OK, two teams fighting relegation. Oh, hang on... West Ham are in fifth?!? Hard to imagine. Both teams are on the upswing, Sunderland from their win over Boro win last weekend, West Ham from the draw over Arsenal. I'm sure it won't be pretty, but it will be hard-fought. Might see the Hammers run rampant, but you never know. Verdict: Couldn't hurt.

  4. Sunday, 12PM CDT: Arsenal v. Birmingham. Disclaimer: This is a must-watch for me, of course. But for the neutral? Well, at least you know Arsenal will do something interesting. Birmingham are rather meh at the moment. At least you should see some action. Verdict: Couldn't hurt.

  5. Saturday, 4PM CDT: Portsmouth v. Newcastle. Somehow I blinked, and Newcastle climbed to 10th. Shows what a couple wins can do. Portsmouth are hovering in 16th. Michael Owen has proved the talisman for Newcastle so far. The real question is, will Newcastle continue the revival, or will Pompey ruin the fun? Verdict: Couldn't hurt.

  6. Sunday, 8AM CDT: Lecce v. Cagliari. I was excited when FSW started carrying Serie A matches. Then I realized they were all like this, with 19th place against 16th. Somehow I don't think this is the introduction to the beauty of Italian football that I want. Verdict: Couldn't hurt, but only because I want to visit the Italian game.

  7. Saturday, 9AM CDT: Frankfurt v. Schalke. I'll admit, I don't follow the Bundesliga too closely. And this game doesn't look too exciting. Frankfurt are squarely in the relegation zone, while Schalke are up in fifth. But then again, it's at a great breakfast time. Verdict: Couldn't hurt.

  8. Saturday, 9AM EDT: Fulham v. Man Utd (PPV, $20). Oooh, how I would love to see United taken down a peg by my Americans. Hard to see it happening though, after a wrenching loss to Blackburn. PPV Verdict: Not worth $20. Heck, not worth $5. Someone should explain to the Powers That Be that ManU is not the be-all in the states any more.

I skipped a few other matches — MLS, USL, and U-17 Championship stuff. Could well be some good games in there, but the European club soccer is most interesting to me, for tonight, anyway. Enjoy the weekend, and pull for those (plucky!) Gunners!

*I think Fox Sports Canada carries the same games we get. I could check, but instead I'll just assume it.

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