A seven-fixture English Premier League Saturday kicks-off at 7:45 a.m. Eastern at St. Andrew's, where the season's first cup winners will look to carry momentum from Wembley to Birmingham, the Blues taking on rivals West Bromwich Albion. With the clubs sitting 16th and 17th in the Premier League table, relegation six-pointer still applies, given the losing club will likely find themselves in the drop by weekend's end. Birmingham has played two fewer matches than the four teams below them, and with seven points in their last four games, only Arsenal and Tottenham have been able to take home more points in the same span.
At 10:00 a.m., the rush: five Premier League matches highlighted by Sunderland limping into North London to face Arsenal. The Black Cats have lost four in a row (no other team's losing streak is longer then one) but have enjoyed surprising success in London this season. Everybody remembers their eye-opening (or eye-gouging) win at Stamford Bridge, but with draws at White Hart Lane and Craven Cottage, Steve Bruce's team is 1-2-0 in the capital this season. Arsenal, by contrast, has a short-running tradition of losing to clubs from the north east, dropping a 0-1 result to Newcastle at the Emirates on November 11. While Arsenal would normally be considered resounding favorites, consider the following three retorts, if you will:
- Sunderland is 1-1-3 in their last five against Arsenal,
- Arsenal should be without Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott, Thomas Vermaelen and Lukasz Fabianski, and
- This and this.
Other 10:00 a.m. kick-offs: Bolton hosts an Aston Villa team that's suddenly only four points behind them in the table; Fulham, with a league-leading 14 draws, hosting Blackburn who've only been drawn 5 times (league low: Wolves with 4); an Everton team that will be missing Marouane Fellani and Tim Cahill goes to Newcastle with only three points separating the sides; and West Ham United looks to build on last weekend's triumph over Liverpool while hosting FA Cup quarterfinal opponent Stoke City.
The day's final kick-off is 12:30 p.m. at Eastlands, with the limping Manchester City hosts a stumbling Wigan Athletic. City has one win in their last five league matches, a swoon that has pushed them to the periphery of the title race. Wigan has one win in 10, a swoon that's pushed them to the periphery of first division football. Roberto Martínez's men failed to get a point from City last season, but in the clubs' eight previous meetings, the Citizens had only won once.
SB Nation Soccer will have live coverage throughout the day. Check back in this space for updates in the minutes before the first whistle at in Birmingham, and stay with us until time is called at Eastlands.
Here are your Saturday fixtures and viewing options:
|7:45 a.m.||Birmingham City||West Bromwich Albion||ESPN2, ESPN3.com|
|10:00 a.m.||Arsenal||Sunderland||Fox Soccer Channel|
|Bolton||Aston Villa||FSC (tape delay, 5 p.m. EST)|
|West Ham United||Stoke City||FoxSoccer.tv|
|12:30 p.m.||Manchester City||Wigan Athletic||Fox Soccer Channel|