Friday, August 24, 2012

1928/29 Season Preview

Reproduced here is The Times' thoughts on the season ahead published on Friday 24 August 1928, the eve of the new campaign. Follow the fortunes of Chapman's Arsenal, in real time, on Twitter @ChapmansArsenal and here on the Football Fairground.

The opening of the season

The football season of 1927-28 ended in a tense atmosphere. Up to the very last afternoon it was uncertain which League clubs would be promoted and which relegated - so even indeed, was the position in the First Division that the result of one match could almost transform a club from one of the struggles at the bottom of the table into one of the aristocrats at the top. In the end Tottenham Hotspur and Middlesbrough descended and Leeds United and Manchester City went up, while London found no mean consolation in the rise of Millwall, the heaviest scoring club of all time, from the Southern Section of the Third Division into the Second.

The season, which opens to-morrow, will start on a note of somewhat childlike optimism. All the defeats, disappointments, and injuries of last season will be forgotten, every club sees themselves potential Champions, and a ghostly cup glitters in not a few committee-rooms. Everton, last year's Champions, are a triumphant example of the success of the policy of wholesale buying of players. The year before saw them struggling to avoid relegation; they bought heavily, saved themselves, and in the next season won their way to the top of the table. They owe a bigger debt to Dean, however, than they do to their money. One man as a rule cannot make a football team as he can a cricket side, but Dean is no ordinary footballer. He is the great centre-forward of to-day - fast, tireless, and powerful with both the will and the ability to shoot. He should keep Everton again well in the first half of the table.

Huddersfield's greatness
The real heroes of the season, however, were Huddersfield Town. No team in recent years has come so near to winning both the Cup and the Championship - at one time, indeed, both seemed within grasp, but a reaction brought about by too much football set in at the end and cheated them of both. At their best, as in their wonderful Cup-tie with Tottenham Hotspur, they were a team to challenge comparison with the great sides of football history and make every other in the country seem second-rate and stereotyped. They are a team in the fullest sense of the word, and will make a big effort this season to win the prizes they lost last. The Arsenal have definitely established themselves now as London's senior club. They will miss Buchan, however, this year, and the weakness in front of goal will become more pronounced than ever. The Arsenal badly want a centre-forward. Brain, hard as he tries, has never been an inspiration to the team, and he never inspires the spectator with the confidence that the chances he is given will not be thrown away. The Arsenal have, however, signed on Jones, an inside forward from Nottingham Forest, who played a magnificent part in his side's victory Cup-tie last season against Cardiff City. West Ham United, London's other team in the First Division, have rather fallen away since that great day in Wembley in 1923. They are a good, not an exhilarating, side, but they have the fortunate knack of producing their best form when, on paper, the chances seem all against their winning. They, too, have a centre-forward problem which has never been properly solved.

Manchester City, who come up, are a side whose success no one can grudge. It was their fate to win their way to the final tie of the Cup the year they were relegated. Undismayed, they fought bravely for re-entrance into the First Division the next season, and only an infinitesimal fraction cheated them of promotion. Always a heavy scoring side, they piled on the goals last season and finished on top of the table, two points ahead of Leeds United.

The Second Division
Chelsea at one time last season had cut out a big lead in the Second Division and it looked more probable that they would win promotion. They fell away badly, however, during the last part of the season. Their team is a strong one with a fine pair of backs and a half-back line, now that Bishop, of Leicester City, has come into it, as good as, or perhaps better than, any other in England. Tottenham Hotspur are an extremely rich club, but in spite of their relegation they have not spent fortunes on acquiring new players. One capture they have made, however, and it is a very important one - Roberts, an English International centre-forward, has been signed on from Preston North End. Osborne was never really happy as a centre last year, and the whole forward line should benefit immensely from the presence of Roberts. Tottenham are an uneven side, capable of brilliant and of feeble football, but it would not be surprising if these two London clubs were concerned at the end of the season in the fight for promotion. Millwall should do very well in the higher division. A successful side is better left alone, and the directors have very wisely given the side that won promotion the chance to gain further honours.

It is greatly hoped that Plymouth Argyle will follow them up at the end of this season. During the last seven years Plymouth Argyle have six times been runners-up in the Southern Section of the Third Division and once third - a record on consistency that indeed deserves a reward.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Friday List of Little or No Consequence #239

It's all about the 'in-play...'
The 9 Most Popular Results In FA Cup Final History*

1. 1-0 (42 times, last time in 2011)
2. 2-0 (23 times, last time in 2002)
3. 2-1 (21 times, last time in 2009)
4. 3-1 (13 times, last time in 1986)
5. 3-0 (9 times, last time in 2004)
6. 3-2 (8 times, last time in 1989)
7. 1-1 (7 times, last time in 1993)
8. 0-0 (4 times, last time in 2005)
9. 4-1 (4 times, last time in 1946)

(* includes results after 90 / 120 minutes and replays)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Weekend TV Preview: 4 - 6 May

Friday 4 May

19:05 Derry City v St Patrick's Athletic, Airtricity League, Premier Sports
The Irish league season is only nine games old. Derry are fifth with no wins in five. St Patricks are one place and five points ahead.
19:45 Blackpool v Birmingham City, Championship Play Off Semi Final 1st Leg, Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD
A quick look at the form book tells us... nothing at all. This is because play offs have a mind of their own and no one knows what's going to happen. That's why they're so much fun.

Saturday 5 May

12:45 Rangers v Motherwell, SPL, Sky Sports 4 / Sky Sports 4 HD
Motherwell have sealed third place which qualifies them for a Champions league qualifier by virtue of Rangers' administration not making them eligible for UEFA competition. So that's it I'm afraid. Nothing else to play for.
17:15 Chelsea v Liverpool, FA Cup Final, ITV1 / ITV1 HD / ESPN / ESPN HD / SKY 3D
It's more than just dewy eyed nostalgia that affronts people about the relegation of the FA Cup final to the 5:15 dead slot just before the end of the English League Season. Bumping the final to accommodate the all conquering Premier League undermines the competition and may affect its ability to raise revenue, in the future. This is in turn would affect the pot of prize money for progressing through the rounds. While that may be of little consequence to the big professional clubs, the money that non league clubs can make, even progressing through the preliminary rounds can transform their fortunes. The preliminary rounds may seem small beer to most football fans but for the clubs participating they are potentially very lucrative games. No other competition in England connects the elite with its grass roots, in this way, than the FA Cup. That's why the FA Cup matters and that's why its preeminence needs to be restored.
21:00 Barcelona v Espanyol, La Liga, Sky Sports 4 / Sky Sports 4 HD
The title is decided and the coach is on his way. Two weeks ago this city derby may have meant something. Not today though.
21:00 Granada v Real Madrid, La Liga, Sky Sports 4 / Sky Sports 4 HD
A win would guarantee Granada's survival in the League. It's possible that Real will be too busy fellating themselves to notice that there is a football match going on but do you want to take that chance?

Sunday 6 May

01:00 LA Galaxy v New York, Red Bulls, MLS, ESPN / ESPN HD
Harrison Energy Drink Concern featuring Thierry Henry travel to the Home Depot to meet an out of sorts Galaxy team. Red Bulls are two points behind a resurgent DC United in the Eastern Conference.
11:30 Siena v Parma, Serie A, ESPN / ESPN HD
Mid table, end of season fixture. 'Nuff said, stay in bed.
12:45 Dundee United v Celtic, SPL, Sky Sports 4 / Sky Sports 4 HD
We're down to the scrutlings of the Europa League qualifying spots here. It's a shame Sky can't be more flexible with their fixture choice as there is more fun to be had with this league at the bottom.
13:30 Newcastle United v Man City, Premier League, Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD / SKY 3D
Of course, Cisse scored goals like the one he netted against Chelsea every week for Freiburg. Newcastle are playing without fear at the right time of the season which makes them terrifying opponents for a Man City team who will be repeatedly reminding themselves that just because they've beaten United, they still haven't won the title. In some ways, this will be a tougher challenge that the game on Monday.
13:30 Cagliari v Juventus, Serie A, ESPN / ESPN HD
Only Lecce have beaten Cagliari at home in 2012 so the Old Lady has a tough task. Still, Juve have won the last four games on the road. If they get three points then it's down to Milan to deny them the Scudetto.
16:00 Man Utd v Swansea City, Premier League, Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD / SKY 3D
History tells us that United fight to the last so it will be a measure of our far they have fallen if they capitulate at home to the mighty Swans.
19:45 Inter Milan v AC Milan, Serie A, ESPN / ESPN HD
Bit of a Catch 22 situation for Inter. While winning will almost certainly deny their city rivals the title it will also hand the Scudetto to their even deadlier rivals, Juventus. The added complication is that they need the points in order to get into Europe themselves. Definitely a must see game and a fine way to end the weekend.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Sash Movement

Terry tries to articulate this thing he has for the sash?

The reason why the sash holds such fondness in the hearts of many a football fan goes back to one specific date: June 3rd 1978, Peru v Scotland. An arbitrary statement? Well yes but it’s my post so it’s my rules. The Peruvian kit worn by the conquerors of Scotland played on that fateful night in Argentina demonstrated to this earnest 10 year old that the sash was not solely the domain of Crystal Palace FC.

I rarely encounter anyone in my little football bubble who doesn’t enjoy a good sash on a kit. I can only assume that my bubble is tiny indeed and that beyond lies a simmering cauldron of mistrust for that diagonal line across the player’s chest. Otherwise we’d see more of them right?  English Football is a deeply conservative state. We are too fond of our stripes and single colour shirts. Sashes are rare on first team kits and tend to be worn away from home, if at all, or by upstart teams who want to set themselves apart... like Crystal Palace did in the late seventies.

Perhaps there is a distrust, here in England, of the sash on the grounds that they are too foreign. A little too Vasco da Gama or Rapid Vienna perhaps? OK for Jonny F but not robust enough for the hardy northern European who prefers the horizontal and the vertical. Diags are balls lobbed to the corner flag, not a stripe flashed across the torso.

In England, Manchester City recently sported the sash in 2009. Last season, Southampton, bravely adopted a single red one for their League 1 title winning season. An act of tremendous courage when you consider that failure to gain promotion would almost certainly have been pinned on the abandonment of their long established stripes and set back the sash movement for years*. Here was a rare example of a club adopting a sash as their home kit in England. Sadly, after one season, the kit was discarded, no doubt at the behest of more conservative, less visionary elements within the club.

Returning to the international football scene, sashes are even rarer. None of the major international nations adopt them with the honourable exception of Peru. However, among the upcoming Euro 2012 array of kits is these beauties:

That, fellow sash fetishists, is the Russian home and away kit and if you look at the second strip you can’t help but notice the glorious red and blue sash, reminiscent of an occasionally used by a certain south London club. The sash is a little more narrow than what we’re used to but already I’m constructing images in my mind’s eye of Andre Arshavin forlornly trying to evoke the spirit of Euro 2008 but gracelessly huffing and puffing across a Ukrainian field. I can’t wait!

*An interesting footnote is that in 1993. Southampton experimented in both vertical and diagonal stripes. The success of this design is hard to measure but it did result in some spectacular goals by Matt le Tissier

Monday, April 30, 2012

Midweek TV Preview: 30 April - 3 May 2012

Monday 30 April

20.00 Manchester City v Manchester United, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1/3D
The goals flew in like nobody's business over the weekend, and what a game to kick off a new week. The top two in the Premier League meet with everything on the line: revenge, Tevez-related bitterness, local pride and quite probably the title. Man alive!

Tuesday 1 May

17.00 Chievo v Roma, Serie A, ESPN
May Day brings with it a couple of Serie A fixtures live on ESPN, with some of the same teams in action as those that played on Saturday in the weekend's card. Those two matches were draws, with Chievo goalless against Novara and Roma thankful for a last-ditch Fabio Simplicio strike in their 2-2 draw against rivals Napoli.

19.00 Sporting Gijon v Villarreal, La Liga, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Villarreal haven't won in the league at Sporting since September 2008, when Giuseppe Rossi scored the vital goal. The Italian-American striker is expected to be out until 2013 thanks to another knee injury so they'll have to find inspiration elsewhere on Tuesday evening.

19.45 Hearts v Motherwell, Scottish Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Henrik Ojamaa's late brace put the spit-shine on Motherwell's 5-1 victory over St Johnstone on Saturday, while Hearts had to equalise twice in order to take a point from their trip to Dundee United. A win in Edinburgh would be a huge step towards the Champions League for Stuart McCall's men.

19.45 Napoli v Palermo, Serie A, ESPN
Juan Camilo Zuniga and the lethal Edinson Cavani scored Napoli's goals at the Olimpico before Simplicio snatched a point for Roma. On Tuesday they face Palermo, who they beat comfortably back in January with Cavani again on the scoresheet.

Wednesday 2 May

19.00 Barcelona v Malaga, La Liga, Sky Sports 2/HD2
With the Champions League trophy heading away from Camp Nou and the La Liga title on its way to Madrid, the end of an era is nigh at Barcelona. Pep Guardiola will leave the club at the end of the season to have a break from football and, presumably, return to embrace a new challenge in football. But nobody will have a bigger challenge than Tito Vilanova, the man who may well need to oversee Barca's return to Planet Earth.

19.45 York City v Mansfield Town, Blue Square Bet Premier Playoffs, Premier Sports
The Stags finished the Conference season in phenomenal form. The won their last six games and haven't lost at home since Bonfire Night, a record that has helped them to finish third in England's fifth tier. York, meanwhile, haven't lost in five. This should be a cracking semi-final first leg.

19.45 Rangers v Dundee United, Scottish Premier League, Sky Sports 3/HD3
With Motherwell potentially disappearing over the horizon this week, Dundee United head to Ibrox with the primary aim of keeping St Johnstone at bay in the fight for a Europa League spot. Last time these two met it was United who emerged victorious, winning 2-1 thanks to goals from Keith Watson and Jon Daly.

19.45 Juventus v Lecce, Serie A, ESPN
The Bianconeri are homing in on their 28th domestic Italian title and their first Scudetto since 2003, because of you-know-what. They first became national champions in Italy in 1905, benefiting from FCB Torinese's forfeit of the Piedmont qualifier before going unbeaten in the final round-robin against Genoa and US Milanese, now

20.00 Bolton Wanderers v Tottenham Hotspur, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
By the end of the season, Spurs will have had an enormous say in the outcome of the relegation battle. After playing Blackburn Rovers on Sunday, they take on Bolton on Wednesday and Aston Villa on May 6th. Bolton are fighting, which doesn't bode well for either Spurs or QPR, the team most likely to be relegated if Bolton keep up their form.

21.00 Athletic Bilbao v Real Madrid, La Liga, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Karim Benzema's really found his feet in a glorious season for Real Madrid, and he bagged goals 19 and 20 in Sunday's 11am kick-off against Sevilla. He's still scored fewer than Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain, and between the three of them the total is 84. Potent.

Thursday 3 May

19.45 Luton Town v Wrexham, Blue Square Bet Premier Playoffs, Premier Sports
Wrexham's season is a triumph over adversity, and for them to finish second behind loaded Fleetwood Town on 98 points - nine clear of Mansfield - is a remarkable achievement. Their playoff semi-final is against Luton, who haven't lost in six but lost both games against the Dragons in the league this season.

19.45 Cardiff City v West Ham United, Championship Playoffs, Sky Sports 1/HD1
The flip-side of the celebratory scenes at Southampton on Saturday was misery at West Ham, where a 2-1 win over Hull City wasn't enough to prevent Saints joining Reading in the Premier League. The Hammers need to recover quickly; Cardiff haven't lost in ten.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Football Americana Week 8: Toronto FC's troubles continue

Life in Major League Soccer hasn't been easy for MLSE, the owners of Toronto FC. The league's first Canadian side is yet to make the playoffs, and this season they are propping up the Eastern Conference under Aron Winter.

The spoils were shared in Texas in midweek, where FC Dallas led 1-0 against Real Salt Lake but were unable to hang on to the three points. FCD broke the deadlock in first half stoppage time after Tony Beltran handled - accidentally, mind you - in the box and Brek Shea clipped the penalty into the bottom corner. Rookie Emiliano Bonfigli scored Salt Lake's equaliser, beating Chris Seitz on a one-on-one.

Salt Lake returned to action against Toronto FC, who were just moments away from their first point of the season before succumbing to a 3-2 defeat. Kyle Beckerman prodded RSL into the lead in the seventh minute, and just after the break it was 1-1 thanks to Eric Avila's crisp finish from the edge of the box. Richard Eckersley's own goal quickly put Salt Lake back in front only for TFC to equalise once again. Doneil Henry drew Toronto level with a towering head 13 minutes from time but they were condemned to a seventh defeat in seven MLS games by a superb strike from the edge of the box by Jonny Steele in the 93rd minute.

Dallas came painfully close to a win in their second game, but LA Galaxy equalised late in a 1-1 draw at the Home Depot Center. Shea again scored FCD's goal from the spot, finishing effortlessly after Blas Perez had been brought down by goalkeeper Bill Gaudette. But it wasn't the first penalty of the game. Landon Donovan had been already been felled in the box after a wonderful pass by David Beckham, but Robbie Keane's spot kick was absolutely woeful. Pat Noonan was the late hero for LA, equalising with a calm, sweeping shot in stoppage time.

The penalty spot also saw some action as Montreal Impact picked up their second win by beating Portland Timbers 2-0 - but they did it late. Timbers goalkeeper had left the field with some nasty facial injuries after an unfortunate clash with Sanna Nyassi's boot, and it was his replacement Joseph Bendik who was beaten for the goals. The first was a 74th minute penalty after a handball, which was emphatically converted by Bernardo Corradi, the second a simple close-range finish from Sinisa Ubiparipovic.

Thierry Henry gave New York Red Bulls yet another early lead, this time over New England Revolution. He deliciously lobbed Matt Reis from 20 yards with the outside of his foot to make it 1-0 with his ninth of the season. In the middle of the first half Henry was running at pace with RBNY breaking, and he pulled up with a nasty hamstring injury that ended his participation. Knowing he scored the only goal of the game might help him through his recovery.

High-flying San Jose Earthquakes picked up an away win at Philadelphia Union courtesy of two goals from Steven Lenhart either side of Gabriel Gomez's low drive from the edge of the area for the Union. Lenhart opened the scoring with a diving header from Marvin Chavez's cross, then notching the winner by powering in another header from a Chavez assist in stoppage time after Gomez had equalised late.

It's been 200 years since DC United earned consecutive victories, but they finally did so by following up their win over New York with a 3-2 triumph against Houston Dynamo. Chris Pontius' cross was nodded home by Maicon Santos after Tally Hall had committed himself to challenging Pontius and failed. But the four remaining goals all came in the second half, Houston equalising with Will Bruin's tap-in from five yards. Dwayne DeRosario quickly restored the Black-and-Red's advantage with his first of the season, an in-swinging cross that found its way through the crowd and in off the far post.

Bruin equalised again, pouncing on a loose ball and then looking on as Joe Willis made an awful mistake to let the shot squeeze through him and bounce into the net. Santos won it in the 70th minute with another header as DC's purple patch continues.

Goals are still hard to come by for Vancouver Whitecaps, but one from a set-piece was enough against Columbus Crew after the hosts had two early goals ruled out at Crew Stadium and Josh Williams' bicycle kick came back off the crossbar, giving the Caps' win an air of the smash-and-grab. Lee Young-Pyo was the man who won it, his mis-hit free kick swinging across the goalkeeper and into the top corner.

Goals from David Estrada and Eddie Johnson helped Seattle Sounders to a 2-1 win over Chicago Fire, whose goal came from Marco Pappa in the dying moments. Estrada's goal took a vicious deflection off Arne Friedrich to leave Sean Johnson completely stranded in goal, and there was a touch of good fortune about Johnson's vital second. After the Fire goalkeeper failed to clear a Fredy Montero free kick, Johnson finished to put the game beyond the fire. Their consolation was scored by Pappa just minutes after he came within a few feet of scoring from inside his own half with a strike that would have given Luis Suarez a run for his money. In the end, he had to settle for scoring direct from a corner.

Faltering Colorado Rapids returned to form with a storming 4-0 home win over Chivas USA. Early Rookie of the Year contender Tony Cascio made it 1-0 with a brilliant low shot at the beginning of the second half, but the Rapids had to wait until the last ten minutes for their three-goal finale. Kamani Hill made it two, applying the finishing touch after Omar Cummings' blistering pace had taken the Goats out of the game. Two minutes later Jeff Larentowicz was fouled in the box and rolled in the penalty himself for 3-0. Hill grabbed the fourth in the 93rd minute to add some gloss to the result.

San Jose remain the form team in the West, sitting on top with the same number of points as second-placed Salt Lake, but with two games in hand. Vancouver and Seattle move up into third and fourth, while Portland are now bottom. Kansas City are now just six points clear of DC (with a game in hand), with New York two points behind them.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Weekend TV Preview: 27 - 29 April 2012

Friday 27 April

19.05 Sligo Rovers v St Patrick's Athletic, Airtricity League, Premier Sports
Eight games into the new season and the only two teams still unbeaten face each other at The Showgrounds. Sligo lead the table having won six of their eight games so far.

Saturday 28 April

12.30 Dundee United v Hearts, SPL, ESPN/ESPN HD
United need a win to stay well ahead of The Jam Tarts in the race for a Europa League place. The home team have history on their side with Hearts having beaten today's opponents only once in their last 11 meetings.
12.30 Southampton v Coventry City, Championship, BBC1/BBC1 HD
It's fair to say the BBC got the best deal out of this last-day race for the Premier League. The Saints are two points clear of their rivals West Ham and must beat already-relegated Coventry to be certain of promotion. Logic suggests they'll do it, and if so, the Beeb will be able to show the joyous post-match celebration that will ensue.
12.30 West Ham v Hull City, Championship, Sky Sports 2/Sky Sports 2 HD
Sky get to show West Ham's frantic last-ditch efforts to pip Southampton to the line in the race for promotion. Despite a recent run of decent form, The Hammers are still in with a chance on the final day, but they must beat Hull and hope Southampton fail to beat Coventry. Were it not for West Ham's mid-season slump, this may have all been avoided.
13.00 Fleetwood Town v Luton Town, Blue Square Premier League, Premier Sports
Now that The Cod Army are assured of their place in League Two next season, it just remains to see whether Luton can nab the last play-off spot ahead of Kidderminster Harriers. For Luton, it all hangs on whether Fleetwood can be bothered to beat Crawley's points record of 103 set last season.
15.45 Afan Lido v Newtown AFC, Welsh Premier League, S4C
Technically, Newtown are already relegated having finished bottom of the WPL, but in reality they'll be saved if Neath and The New Saints fail to win their appeal against not being issued with a domestic license for the 2012/13 season. (Thank you Wikipedia.)
17.20 Sheffield United v Stevenage, League One, Sky Sports 2/Sky Sports 2 HD
A tense affair is on the cards as The Blades look to secure their automatic promotion slot and Stevenage hope to snap up the last play-off place. On current form, it's too close to call.
17.30 Norwich City v Liverpool, Premier League, ESPN/ESPN HD
Liverpool continue to lurch from one extreme to another as far as form's concerned. With only the Cup Final left to concern them, it's entirely possible that Norwich could get the three points they need to reach the same total as their opponents.
19.45 Roma v Napoli, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Two teams who could end the season with either a Champions League play-off spot, Europa League spot or neither when the season ends. A draw seems likely.
20.25 Newell's Old Boys v All Boys, Argentinean Clausura, Premier Sports
The Boys Derby, as I've just named it. NOB are second in the table but level on points with leaders Boca after 11 games but sixth-placed All Boys could (with a heavy stroke of luck) overtake both with a win today at the Estadio Marcelo Bielsa.
21.00 Villarreal v Osasuna, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/Sky Sports 1 HD
In theory, Osasuna are knocking on the door of a European place for next season but with only one win in their last five games, they might be losing momentum when they least want to. A win for Villareal will take them a valuable step further away from the dreaded trap door.

Sunday 29 April

11.00 Real Madrid v Sevilla, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/Sky Sports 1 HD
Out of the Champions League but still proudly top the La Liga table, Real's only remaining challenge is to take maximum points from their remaining games and thereby set a record of 100 points in a single season.
11.30 Bologna v Genoa, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
One win in seven for Bologna, one win in thirteen (TREDICI) for Genoa. A Super Sunday clash and no mistake.
12.45 Celtic v Rangers, SPL, Sky Sports 4/Sky Sports 4 HD
Here we go again. Despite being a dead rubber, Celtic will want to avenge their dramatic defeat to The Gers a month ago while at the same time waving their SPL trophy in the faces of their cash-strapped rivals. Expect carnage as usual.
13.30 Chelsea v QPR, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/Sky Sports 1 HD
Chelsea's performance against Barca on Tuesday had 'miracle' written all over it. Drogba hardly dived at all, Torres scored and John Terry got sent off despite 'not being that sort of player'. Oh, and they also beat the world champions with ten men, which should be ideal preparation for the visit of relegation-threatened QPR.
14.00 Novara v Juventus, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Over the last seven matches, Juve's record reads 19 goals scored, one conceded, no defeats. Ominous reading for a Novara side who have looked like condemned men for some time now.
15.15 St Mirren v Hibernian, SPL, Sky Sports 4 / Sky Sports 4 HD
St Mirren's Steven Thompson is top scorer in the SPL Relegation Group, and an increase on his three goals so far could be enough to put the willies up The Hi-Bees.
16.00 Tottenham Hotpants v Blackburn Rovers, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/Sky Sports 1 HD
With only three games left to secure their Premier League survival, Blackburn's chances look slim. With Wigan and Chelsea still to come, this trip to White Hart Lane could be their best chance of a win. Spurs, meanwhile, look like they'll be caught by Chelsea in the race for a European place next season unless Harry can dig deep and take his mind off the England job.
18.45 Real Betis v Atletico Madrid, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/Sky Sports 1 HD
After the joy of reaching this year's Europa League final, it's back to the business of getting into next season's competition on merit for Atletico Madrid. Betis, for their part, are almost safe from the threat of relegation and a point in this match should confirm it.
19.45 Udinese v Lazio, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Two of the four teams playing Europa League Musical Chairs in Serie A. With four games remaining, a win here will ensure the victors are seated when the music stops.
20.30 Rayo Vallecano v Barcelona, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/Sky Sports 1 HD
The only way Barcelona's week could end any worse is if Geoff Shreeves gave the team talk and told all the players they were shit. Tune in to see if it happens.