Top 10 non-televised games you should go to this season
So you know the games coming up on your telly up until the end of November. But why not hop along to one instead?
Sat Aug 16: West Ham vs Tottenham (3pm)
A traditionally feisty London derby to open the season, in which both managers will be feeling pressure from the outset. Sam Allardyce, deprived of Andy Carroll but able to call upon Enner Valencia instead, is expected to deliver a more exciting brand of attacking football at Upton Park this season. For Mauricio Pochettino, the problem lies in finding a way to bring the best out of the expensively assembled group at his disposal.
Sat Aug 16: Stoke vs Aston Villa (3pm)
This match makes the list on the basis of one man alone: Bojan. Fans will be eager to witness the former Barcelona prodigy's debut in Stoke colours, not least after his impressive debut goal against Schalke in pre-season. The Spaniard’s career has declined since he burst onto the scene at the Nou Camp, but expectations for the 23-year-old at the Britannia Stadium are most certainly high.
Sun Aug 24: Tottenham vs QPR (1:30pm)
Harry Redknapp’s first trip to White Hart Lane since his controversial sacking in the summer of 2012 will surely be an emotional one for the QPR chief. The 67-year-old's spell in north London ended under a cloud after he was snubbed by England and missed out on Champions League football, so the east Londoner will be keen to prove a point to his former employers.
Sat Sep 13: Southampton vs Newcastle (3pm)
Stuck behind the top seven but comfortably ahead of the rest, Southampton and Newcastle were seemingly locked in their own private 'race' for eighth until the latter capitulated spectacularly last season – including a 4-0 humbling at St Mary's. But how the tables have turned. While Alan Pardew has added a number of intriguing signings, the Saints have been torn apart by the vultures above. This contest between the two sides could serve as a useful litmus test as to how much progress or deterioration has taken place.
Sat Sep 20: Swansea vs Southampton (3pm)
For footballing purists, this could be one of the more engaging Premier League match-ups this season. Even after the departures of Michael Laudrup and Mauricio Pochettino, Garry Monk and Ronald Koeman are set to stick with their predecessors' entrenched philosophies. Although both sides have endured difficulties in 2014, this one's a wet dream for admirers of possession football.
Sat Sep 20: Burnley vs Sunderland (3pm)
Burnley's third home game of the season is the first they'll be really hoping to win. Sean Dyche's men have got it tough on home soil with Chelsea and Manchester United coming up first at Turf Moor, sandwiched in between trips to Swansea and Crystal Palace. The Clarets' home games against other potential strugglers will be crucial in their survival bid; just as they are for Gus Poyet's Sunderland, who have struggled in the transfer window so far. Expect entertainment.
Sun Sep 21: Everton vs Crystal Palace (4pm)
One of Crystal Palace's most memorable displays of last season was their 3-2 win at Goodison Park, when they went two goals up inside 50 minutes. The Eagles are expected to push on in Tony Pulis' first full season at Selhurst Park, and this trip to Merseyside could be a useful indicator of how far they've come in the last year. If it's anything like last time, we're in for a treat.
Sat Oct 18: Arsenal vs Hull (3pm)
Despite being rank underdogs in last season’s FA Cup final, Hull pushed Arsenal all the way and were perhaps unlucky in defeat. This will be the first time that the clubs have met since that gripping contest at Wembley, and a certain measure of revenge would be appreciated by Tigers fans. For Arsenal, it's a banana skin they need to avoid if they're to stake a claim for the title.
Sat Nov 1: Leicester vs West Brom (3pm)
Leicester's start to their first top-flight campaign in 10 years isn't pretty – with Everton, Chelsea, Arsenal, Stoke and Manchester United making up their first five fixtures, it's an uphill struggle for Nigel Pearson's men from the off. By the time this clash comes around, though, the Foxes' run will have eased – and that's good news ahead of this potentially crucial tussle. Both sides are expected to struggle this term, and a win for either wouldn't go amiss.
Sat Nov 1: Chelsea vs QPR (3pm)
QPR’s last stint in the top flight was a memorable one for all the wrong reasons. But in the midst of that train-wreck, they still claimed a remarkable 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge courtesy of Shaun Wright-Phillips' late winner. Despite the obvious gulf in class, many of the recent clashes between these London rivals have been tightly fought affairs (er, except a 6-1 humping in April 2012). Most will expect Jose Mourinho’s men to win comfortably, but Redknapp’s men could upset the odds once again.
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