A handful of viewing options for the weekend, culled from the full set of televised matches. If you have to pick just one to watch, it’s got to be Chelsea-Liverpool on Sunday, with the £50m man Fernando Torres set to debut for the Blues against his former Liverpool teammates and manager Kenny Dalglish (pictured to the right, celebrating after scoring at Stamford Bridge to clinch the title for Liverpool in 1986).
As usual, all times ET:
Saturday, Feb 5
England, Newcastle-Arsenal or Manchester City-West Brom 10am, FSC/FSP respectively: Take your pick to see whether the two teams right behind Man U in Premier League table can keep pace. Arsenal are on 49 pts, Man City on 46, while Man U are at the top with 54 (and still undefeated, which we expect them to maintain later in the day against cellar-dwellers Wolves)–so neither Arsenal nor Man City can afford to drop points.
Spain, Barcelona-Atletico Madrid 4pm GolTV: Atletico have been severely underachieving this season, especially given their South American star strikeforce of Diego Forlan and Kun Agüero. Barcelona should get a La Liga-record 16th consecutive victory in front of their home crowd, breaking the record set by Real Madrid in 1960-61 (the legendary squad that featured di Stefano and Puskas in attack, and that had won five European Cups in a row).
Sunday, Feb 6
England, Chelsea-Liverpool 11am FSC: The main event of the weekend, following last Monday’s transfer madness. Fernando Torres became the £50m man–that’s how much Chelsea paid Liverpool for the Spanish striker, and now he’ll play his first game for the Blues against his former side. Liverpool used all that money plus a bit more to replace Torres with an odd couple of effective, exciting and infamous strikers: Luis Suarez (£23m) and Andy Carroll (£35m!).
But aside from all the recent transfer drama, this is a rivalry with a good deal of history to it–some of it featuring King Kenny Dalglish, a legendary Liverpool player, then player-manager, and as of the past couple months, manager once again. That’s him pictured above, as part of the current installment of the Guardian’s Joy of Six: “great Chelsea v Liverpool moments and matches”; here’s the video that goes with that photo (“Kenny Dalglish chesting down Jim Beglin’s clever dink down the inside-left channel and guiding it past Tony Godden. It was one of the most famous title-winning goals, the first half of a famous double sealed”):
Spain, Real Madrid-Real Sociedad 1pm ESPN Deportes & ESPN3.com: Real Sociedad is 9th in La Liga, and so Madrid should of course win this home game. But they lost last week to lowly Osasuna–a “forbidden error” that according to conventional wisdom cost them any shot of catching up with Barcelona for the title. So it will be interesting to see how Madrid comes out for this game–they won midweek in the 2nd leg of the Copa del Rey semifinal against Sevilla (which included a goal from Adebayor), but will they maintain
Italy, Inter Milan-Roma 2:30pm FSC & ESPN3.com: It had been looking like this might be a year for La Magica Roma to challenge for the Scudetto. They’d climbed as high as 2nd place a few weeks ago, behind AC Milan, but they’ve since slipped back to 5th place: Milan still lead, followed by Napoli, but now archrivals Lazio and a resurgent Inter have jumped ahead of Roma in the table. This is a crucial match for both teams as they try to keep pace with Milan and Napoli–and also aim to finish in the top 4 so as to return to the Champions League next fall.