There’s a rip-roaring slate of games on tap this weekend as the season barrels toward the finish line with the title, the relegation battle, and European places all hanging in the balance. Let’s get right to it:
Second-place Manchester United travels to fourth-place Tottenham on Saturday with a chance to jump to the top of the table—at least until current leader Chelsea hosts Stoke City on Sunday.
But both United and Tottenham have lost just once in their last six games, and Tottenham will be battling to hold on to the final Champions League spot. Not an easy game for the Red Devils, and they may have to deal with ultra-speedy winger Aaron Lennon, who appears ready to make an appearance for Spurs for the first time in four months.
At the other end of the table, U.S. defender Jonathan Spector and West Ham host Wigan, while Yank striker Jozy Altidore and Hull City welcome Sunderland.
The Tigers will be without Jan Venegoor of Hesselink, who was knocked unconscious after a collision in Wednesday’s loss to Aston Villa. That could mean Altidore gets the start. Hull fans would love to see him repeat the relegation-struggle heroics of fellow Yanks like Brian McBride, or Clint Dempsey:
Hull is in 18th place, three points below West Ham, and both teams will be keeping an eye on 19th-place Burnley’s matchup with Liverpool on Sunday. Burnley trails Hull by a point.
U.S. keeper Marcus Hahnemann and 16th-place Wolves host 12th-place Blackburn on Saturday. Here is Wolverhampton manager Mick McCarthy on his team’s status, after last week’s scoreless tie against Fulham:
“I don’t think we’re there yet, but games are running out and we have taken another point. We still have important games left. This is silly season. Results are strange this time of year and I don’t want any silly results that might upset us.”
Here that Wolves? As the nihilists in The Big Leboswki would say, “No funny shtuff.”
Other Yanks in action this weekend include Brad Friedel, who will backstop Aston Villa as they host Birmingham City and try to keep their Champions League hopes alive; and Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey, who will square off as Fulham plays Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday. Everton trails Merseyside rival Liverpool by five points in the race for seventh place and the final Europa League berth.
U.S. winger Stuart Holden is still recovering from a broken leg suffered in March, and will sit out Bolton’s meeting with Portsmouth at the Reebok on Saturday.
That leaves one game, and it’s a big one: Arsenal hosting Manchester City on Saturday, with Man City just two points behind Tottenham in the race for fourth.
Here is the U.S. TV schedule (all times EST):
SATURDAY, April 24
Tottenham v Manchester United, 7:30 am., ESPN2
West Ham v Wigan, 10:00 a.m., Fox Soccer Channel (FSC)
Hull City v Sunderland, 10:00 a.m., Fox Soccer Plus
Arsenal v Manchester City, 12:30 p.m., FSC
Bolton v Portsmouth, 4:00 p.m. (delay) Fox Soccer Plus
Wolverhampton v Blackburn, 5:00 p.m. (delay), FSC
SUNDAY, April 25
Aston Villa v Birmingham City, 7:00 a.m., Fox Soccer Plus
Burnley v Liverpool, 10:00 a.m., Fox Soccer Plus
Chelsea v Stoke City, 11:00 a.m., FSC
Enjoy the games.