Arsenal versus Manchester United may not be the same kind of fixture it was in the mid-2000s, but if you're anything like us, you'll still have marked out 5.30pm on Saturday as 'must watch football' time.
The problem is, with so much football on television and streaming services these days – FFT counts 70 matches we could watch with our various subscriptions between now and Monday – it's harder than ever to know what you should be making time for.
So, rather than parse through the listings to see what you might fancy – or plonking down at a random time and just seeing what's on – we've earmarked seven matches this weekend that we think are worth the neutral's time.
What to watch this weekend
Friday, January 29
8pm: Reading vs Bournemouth, Championship, Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Ultra HD
Things are heating up in the race for the play-offs. Reading are fifth, two points ahead of Bournemouth in sixth, with Middlesbrough, Bristol City and Stoke all lying just a few points behind. A slip up here and things could quickly go south for either side...
Saturday, January 30
3pm: West Brom v Fulham, Premier League, BBC One
A relegation dogfight? Three o’clock Saturday kick-off? Broadcast on the BBC? You had us at “West Brom have conceded 18 in their last four Premier League games”.
5.30pm: Arsenal vs Manchester United, Premier League, Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Ultra HD
Martin Odegaard and Bruno Fernandes may be less likely to kick lumps out of each other than Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane were, but a defeat for United here could leave them four points off Man City, having played a game more. The pressure is ramping up.
8pm: Palmeiras vs Santos, Copa Libertadores final, BBC Red Button, BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport Website
This is only the third-all Brazilian Copa Libertadores final ever, and it’s being held at the legendary Maracana Stadium in Rio (though without fans for, er, obvious reasons).
We’re not saying you have to become an expert on South American football, but we are saying this is the best way to spend a Saturday night in lockdown.
Sunday, January 31
12.30pm: Chelsea Women vs Tottenham Hotspur Women, WSL, BBC Red Button, BBC iPlayer and the FA Player
Thomas Tuchel will be presiding over his second game as Blues boss on BT Sport, but these London derbies shouldn’t be overlooked. Top of the table Chelsea will be favourites, but this is a Spurs team with ambition – legendary American striker Alex Morgan’s early season spell with the Lilywhites prove that.
2pm: Atalanta v Lazio, Serie A, Premier Sports 1
There’s a good argument for watching Leicester vs Leeds on Sky Sports at the same time, a game which promises some helter skelter attacking football, but we’ll have on some Italian football instead.
Both sides are breathing down Roma and Juventus’s necks for the Champions League spots, and either could potentially move as high as third place with a win, depending on other results.
8pm, Barcelona v Athletic Bilbao, La Liga, La Liga TV
On paper, this should be a routine win for Barca, who are six places higher than Athletic and have won four of their last five league games.
But we’re learning that nothing is routine for Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona side, and it was only a fortnight ago that Bilbao beat la Blaugrana in the Spanish Super Cup final – in which an unhappy Leo Messi earned his first sending off.
How to watch wherever you are
Use a VPN to watch football from outside your country
If you’re on holiday or just simply out of the country, your domestic on-demand services won’t work – the broadcaster knows exactly where you are from your IP address. Your access to the game will be automatically blocked, which is annoying if you’ve paid a subscription fee and don't want to use an illegal, buffering stream that makes you miss another Jose Mourinho tantrum. And that's where we recommend ExpressVPN (more on which below).
All you need to do is get a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to get beyond such aggravations (assuming it complies with your broadcaster’s T&Cs). A VPN creates a private connection between your device and the internet, meaning suppliers can’t work out where you are and what you’re doing. The info going to and from is entirely encrypted.
There are plenty of options out there, including:
ExpressVPN including a 30-day, money-back guarantee
FourFourTwo’s brainy office mates TechRadar love its super speedy connections, trustworthy security and the fact it works with Android, Apple, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, PS4 and loads more. You also get a money-back guarantee, 24/7 support and it's currently available for a knockdown price. Go get it!
NordVPN with quality mobile and desktop apps
A cheaper option and almost ExpressVPN's equal when it comes to quality, too. A single subscription covers six connections, so you can use it on mobile, laptop, streaming devices and more, all at the same time.
Surfshark offers a great VPN at a fraction of the price
It's clear to see why Surfshark is top of TechRadar's best cheap VPN table – it combines an excellent product with bargain pricing, starting at £2/$2.50 a month!
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Conor Pope is the Online Editor of FourFourTwo, overseeing all digital content, and joined the team in February 2019. He supports Blackburn Rovers and holds a season ticket with south London non-league side Dulwich Hamlet. His main football passions include Tugay, the San Siro and only using a winter ball when it snows.
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