English Premier League season finale primer

Today is the final day of the English Premier League season, and it is getting television and Internet coverage unprecedented in the United States. All 10 games start at 10 a.m., and seven are on television. The Fox family of networks owns most of the day but not the best game. How to sift through so many choices? Glad you asked. Here is the lineup, in order of importance:

Queens Park Rangers at Manchester City

TV: ESPN2, ESPN Deportes

At stake: If Manchester City wins, it almost certainly (see the next game) wins its first title since 1968. QPR is 17th, one place above relegation, and is fighting for its spot in the league next season. Those spots are worth about $40 million per club.

Manchester United at Sunderland

TV: FX and Fox Deportes

At stake: Manchester United — owned by the Bucs-owning Glazers — is tied with Man City for first. Assuming City wins, Man U must make up an eight-goal difference to win the tiebreaker. So expect it to attack. A lot.

Bolton at Stoke City

TV: Fox Soccer Plus (premium)

At stake: Bolton, in 18th, is on the wrong end of the relegation fight. A win plus a QPR loss ensures Bolton stays. Did we mention that's roughly $40 million? Games such as this give this day the name "Survival Sunday."

Arsenal at West Bromwich Albion

TV: FSN

At stake: Third place assures a spot in the group stage of next season's lucrative European Champions League tourney. Arsenal is third, with two teams pursuing (see next two games).

Fulham at Tottenham

TV: Fox Soccer

At stake: If Arsenal loses or ties, its north London rival, Tottenham, with a win grabs third place and the automatic Champions League spot. Fourth means entering the Champions League at an earlier stage (unless Chelsea wins this year's tourney, which would mess things up). Fulham could finish as high as seventh, tying its best ever.

Newcastle United at Everton

Online: Foxsoccer.com

At stake: Newcastle needs a win and a lot of help to finish third. At worst, it remains fifth and enters the Europa League, sort of the NIT of Europe.

Aston Villa at Norwich City

Online: Fox Soccer 2Go

At stake: Technically, Aston Villa, in 16th, is fighting relegation. Realistically, Bolton's goal differential is so bad, Villa would have to lose by a couple of touchdowns.

Liverpool at Swansea

TV: Fuel TV

At stake: Liverpool is eighth. Its only motivation is finishing above city rival Everton, which is one point ahead in seventh. Swansea is just happy to avoid relegation.

Blackburn at Chelsea

TV: Speed

At stake: Chelsea, assured of sixth, wants good health for Saturday's Champions League final. Blackburn, 19th, will be relegated.

Wolverhampton at Wigan Athletic

Online: Fox Soccer 2Go

At stake: Nil. Wigan is assured of survival. Wolves, last among 20 teams, faded months ago.

Times staff

English Premier League season finale primer 05/12/12 [Last modified: Saturday, May 12, 2012 11:10pm]

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