It's not really a banner week for Premier League football, but at least things get started with one of England's best derby matches.
This week of football is not a particularly brilliant one in the Premier League. While the week's only truly putrid game -- and that's only based on a matter of personal preference -- comes on Monday, there's only one great match over the weekend. Everything but the North London Derby is just kind of ... there.
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This is only a must-watch match because it's a fierce local rivalry and because these teams are the two main contenders for fourth place. The gap between Tottenham and Arsenal has closed in recent years, and that's not all due to Tottenham improving significantly.
Actually, these teams are just both kind of average. They make a lot of mistakes. They piss off their fans. But they're going to play their asses off on Saturday, and one of these teams will inevitably have to finish fourth. It's an early game to get up for if you're in North America, but it's well worth it, unless you're planning on skipping football altogether this weekend. It's the best match of the week.
FOX Soccer and FOX Deportes (U.S.), Sportsnet World (Canada)
Because U.K. television rules/carriers are insane, you can't watch this game on television in the U.K. America is wonderful.
West Brom look like they might actually have an outside shot of contending with Arsenal and Spurs this year, given how spectacularly lame both of those sides have been. The Baggies don't really have much in the way of high-end talent and their depth is only okay, but it's tough to argue with their results. They don't feel random or lucky, either. This is just a good team.
We're going to have to start taking their bid for a European place very seriously if they're able to prevent Chelsea from winning at the Hawthorns, even if the Blues already have one eye on Champions League. Stick around at your TV for another two hours after the NLD ends to take this one in.
Ouch, bad timing
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Don't look now, but Chris Hughton might actually have the Canaries playing some decent football. It's hard to believe that they'll be able to stop Manchester United from winning on Saturday, but stranger things have happened. Since this is the Saturday "primetime" game, you might as well watch it ... unless you're interested in other leagues.
Also on during this game: Bayer Leverkusen - Schalke, Valencia - Espanyol, Juventus - Lazio. This isn't an awful game, but it's the fourth-most entertaining of the bunch.
It's not like there's anything else on
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The only thing that makes this match potentially palatable is Dimitar Berbatov. Oh, and the fact that this Sunday is one of the crappiest football Sundays in a long time and nothing else good is on.
Other matches (FOX Soccer 2 Go in the U.S., Sportsnet World Plus in Canada)
Liverpool vs. Wigan Athletic: 3 p.m. local, 10 a.m. ET, Saturday - I just keep waiting for everything to click for Liverpool and it hasn't happened yet. Things can always get fun with Wigan, and this is probably the second best game during this slate, but WBA-Chelsea is infinitely better.
Newcastle United vs. Swansea City: 3 p.m. local, 10 a.m. ET, Saturday - I really love both of these teams and I'm totally voluntelling the rest of the people that work here that this game is my responsibility to cover tomorrow. I'm weird, though, I understand if you do not give a crap about this game.
Reading vs. Everton: 3 p.m. local, 10 a.m. ET, Saturday - Everton does that thing where they play like total crap against teams everyone expects them to steamroll. They should run out comfortable 2-0 winners, but they'll find a way to make things very hard on themselves, and this game is watchable for that alone.
It's an odd week in the Premier League. Every game has the potential to be entertaining, but only one sticks out as appointment television.