Week 25 of the Premier League kicks off with eight games tomorrow, followed by two Sunday, and then ten more spread over next Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuck your napkin into your collar and belly up to the buffet.
The most interesting Yank-infused game is easily Liverpool-Everton at Anfield—the Merseyside Derby, between two teams headquartered less than a mile apart. This one will of course feature U.S. keeper Tim Howard and Amerk midfielder Landon Donovan. So please enjoy….
Four Fun Facts About the Merseyside Derby:
• It’s widely regarded as the friendliest of all the intra-city rivalries in English soccer. They don’t even separate the two sides’ fans! (Of course, it’s a rivalry nonetheless, and one that should be hotly contested tomorrow, as Everton is unbeaten in nine Premier League matches, and Liverpool will need three points to keep its sights set on the fourth Champions League spot.)
• It’s the longest-running top-flight derby in England, having been contested uninterrupted since 1962, when Liverpool was promoted to the First Division. (Given the two teams’ pedigrees, we’d have thought it’d have been Everton joining Liverpool in the top flight back then, but … there it is.)
• While dozens of players have played for both sides in the rivalry only two men, David Johnson and Peter Beardsley, have ever scored goals for each side. (Bonus fun fact: Fright-wigged ex-LA Galaxy defender Abel Xavier is on the list of players who’ve worn both red and blue in this derby.)
• The teams have played 212 times all told, and the results look like this: 83 wins for Liverpool; 65 for Everton; and 64 draws. (Liverpool won the most recent meeting, 2-0 at Goodison Park, earlier this season. That was Everton’s last loss in the Premier League this season.)
The game is tomorrow morning at 7:45 EST, and ESPN2 will have it for you in such glorious, eye-opening hi-def, you might not even need coffee at that hour.
When Liverpool-Everton ends, you can switch over to Fox Soccer Channel (FSC) to watch U.S. striker Jozy Altidore and Hull City host Manchester City; kickoff is at 10:00 a.m. EST.
Altidore and Hull are coming off Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea, in which Jozy started and played 85 minutes. He seems to be gaining momentum with the Tigers. Will we see his first Premier League goal tomorrow?
Stuart Holden and Bolton host injured Clint Dempsey and Fulham at 10:00 tomorrow, and reports are that the former Houston Dynamo midfielder is set to make his debut. Unfortunately, there’s no U.S. TV for that one.
West Ham and Jonathan Spector take the relegation fight to Burnley at 10:00 on Saturday; they sit one point above their opponents in the absurdly crowded bottom of the table. Burnley has 20 points, four teams are tied with 21, and Wigan has 22. The only certainty is that bottom-sitters Portsmouth, with 15 points and facing Manchester United tomorrow, are going down.
Brads Friedel and Guzan will travel with Aston Villa to White Hart Lane and a meeting with Spurs. U.S. TV for that one is FSC, 12:30 p.m., EST.
The other Saturday games have Stoke City hosting Blackburn and Wigan traveling to Sunderland.
One of Sunday’s two games features an American—Wolves keeper Marcus Hahnemann, who would probably be on the plane to South Africa if it left today, as the third goalie behind Howard and Guzan. Wolves, one of the four teams knotted at third-to-last in the table, play eighth-place Birmingham City away.
Sunday’s other game is the match of the weekend: Chelsea v Arsenal. FSC will televise it, at 11:00 a.m. Can Arsenal bounce back after getting humbled by Man U last weekend? Their title hopes probably depend on it.
We’ll post a preview of the Tues-Wed games on Monday.