What to Watch This Weekend (Jan 8-9)

January 7, 2011 — by Larry

[Editor’s note: Coach Larry takes over this week’s edition of our weekend viewing guide, with some color(ful) commentary on this weekend’s FA matches in England.  As usual, TV listings pulled from WaPo SoccerInsider’s useful weekly post, and all times ET.]

Saturday, Jan 8

England FA Cup, Sheffield United-Aston Villa 10 a.m. FSC: Aston Villa play at Sheffield United. Can relegation candidates in one league overcome them in another? Can either use it as a springboard to survival or will advancement divide their attention? Will Guzan play? Who will Randy Lerner kiss if Villa do something good?

Sunday Jan 9

England FA Cup, Manchester United-Liverpool 8:30 a.m. FSC: The Biggie. Can Liverpool find success at their only chance to find it this season? Are they really lining up bids for Ashley Young, Luis Suarez, and Elia? Certainly they could use the speed on their flanks, but it will make them even more disjointed. Maybe NESV has been studying isolation plays in the NBA.

England FA Cup, Leicester-Manchester City 11 a.m. FSC: Man City travel to Championship mid-table Leceister. Can the giant bag of overpaid superstars possibly stand the trip? Will they introduce Dzeko? Will they play a nearly all out attack against one of the worst defensive in that league?

Italy, Napoli-Juventus 2:30 p.m. FSC & Oh, and in Serie A Napoli face off with Juventus, which is third versus fifth. Both are coming off losses, though Juve had much the worse showing last week:

[One more editor’s note, with a couple additional picks–another FA Cup match Saturday morning and a La Liga match Sunday afternoon:

Saturday – England FA Cup, Arsenal-Leeds 7:30 a.m. Fox Soccer Plus & (sub’n req): We had to pick this one based on the strong Arsenal interest among CultFootballers (including an ongoing discussion about who Wenger should play in the midfield).  On the other side, Leeds is a club with an illustrious history, having won the top division thrice (1968–691973–741991–92) and the FA Cup once (1972), and having reached the semis of the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Champions League, in 2000 and 2001 respectively.  (They lost the 2000 semifinal to Galatasaray, which went on to defeat Arsenal in the final.  Unfortunately, however, that semifinal is remembered more for two Leeds fans that were stabbed to death just before the match in Istanbul.)  More recently, Leeds encountered financial difficulty and dropped all the way down to the third tier of English football, League One (2006-09), though they made their way back up to the Championship league in 2009–and just last January defeated Manchester United in the 3rd round of the FA Cup.

Sunday Real Madrid-Villarreal 1 p.m. ESPN Deportes & In La Liga, 3rd place Villareal visits the Bernabeu on Sunday to take on 2nd place Madrid.  Villareal has been playing well, and no doubt they’d like to pull off an upset to close the gap between themselves and the Big 2 a bit (Villareal is currently on 36 points, with Madrid at 44 and Barcelona at 46).  Villareal’s attacking partners of (Jersey born) Giuseppe Rossi and (Bandeirantes born) Nilmar (Honorato da Silva) are 5th and 6th in the race for the Pichichi (see current standings below).  Meanwhile we may see Pichichi front-runner Cristiano Ronaldo play a central attacking role to make room for the recently returned Kaka in Madrid’s formation.

Top scorers in La Liga as of today:

Ronaldo 20
Lionel Messi 17
David Villa 11
Llorente 11
Nilmar 10
Giuseppe Rossi 9