You get a bonus game this week because I’m in a good mood. See if you can guess which one it is. Also, I highly recommend Marc Narducci's Inside the Union column in this morning's Inquirer.
Chelsea at Tottenham Hotspur
7:45 a.m. Saturday (NBCSN and mun2)
This classic London derby will be full of attacking talent. Oscar and Eden Hazard are among Chelsea coach José Mourinho’s many playmaking threats. Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen and Paulinho form one of the Premier League’s most dynamic duos.
West Bromwich Albion at Manchester United
10:00 a.m. Saturday (Premier League Extra Time and NBC Sports Live Extra)
Here’s a consequence of David Moyes’ poor start to his first season at Old Trafford: Manchester United, the Premier League’s biggest team, have been bumped off national TV this weekend.
You’ll need access to NBC’s overflow TV channels or live online streaming to watch Wayne Rooney face West Brom, led by veteran French forward Nicolas Anelka.
I know the Comcast subscribers among you who root for the Red Devils will not be pleased by having to put up with Xfinity On Demand's delivery of Live Extra. You can't watch a game truly live unless you join the feed before kickoff, and if you switch between simultaneous games, you'll be set back to the start of the broadcast no matter when you join.
I have talked extensively with people at Comcast over the last few weeks, and I know they are working hard to program the On Demand platform to deliver properly live content. It's not something they have ever done before, and they've been doing that behind-the-scenes work for a while now. I think we can all understand that something like this doesn't just fall out of a tree fully-formed.
That said, I think it's fair to be disappointed by the fact that the technology wasn't in place when the season started. I also think it's fair to wonder aloud whether Comcast's engineers would have taken so long if we were talking about another sports package - take NFL Sunday Ticket, for example.
So here's my advice. If you want to watch United on Saturday - or any of the other games on Extra Time - launch the feed in On Demand before 10:00 a.m. and stick with it for the duration. The feed window starts at 9:50, so you have a 10-minute window. It's my understanding that as long as the feed is open before 10:00 a.m., you'll seethe full game live.
Otherwise, I'd say watch the game online. And honestly, it's a lot easier that way. You just log in with your Comcast ID and in a few clicks the game's on. You'll get everything live and you'll be able to switch between live games quickly.
As soon as the upgrade to Xfinity On Demand is ready, I'll let you know. I've told my connections at Comcast that they're in for a hailstorm of criticism this weekend from United fans who haven't had to deal with this yet. They're the largest fan base of any foreign club in this country, and they're as vocal in Philadelphia as anywhere else. I suspect they'll be heard from in full voice this weekend.
Arsenal at Swansea City
12:30 p.m. Saturday (NBC)
You won't have to work too hard to watch this clash between two of the Premier League’s most entertaining teams. Indeed, you'll be able to watch it even if all you have is an old-fashioned set of rabbit ears.
Did you expect Arsenal to be at the top of the table at this point in the season? At any point in the season, frankly? I sure didn't.
But since an ugly opening-day home loss to Aston Villa, the Gunners have gone eight straight games without a loss. A big reason for that is midfielder Mesut Özil. The German creator has already proven himself to be worth the club-record transfer fee that brought him to London.
Across the field, Swansea have two of the Premier League’s hottest rising stars in forwards Wilfried Bony and Michu. If you like watching wide-open, attacking soccer, this game is definitely one to savor.
Atlético Madrid at Real Madrid
4:00 p.m. Saturday (beIN Sport)
Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale hopes to finally make his home debut in El Derbi Madrileño. Atlético is always the underdog, but they have bragging rights with a two-point lead in the standings.
In addition to Real’s Galacticos, watch out for Atlético forward Diego Costa. He’s tied with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi atop the La Liga scoring charts with seven goals this season.
Los Angeles Galaxy at Portland Timbers
3:30 p.m. Sunday (NBC)
There aren’t many better matchups for Major League Soccer to spotlight on one of its network television broadcasts. Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane lead the Galaxy into MLS’ most raucous theater to face Darlington Nagbe, Diego Valeri and the Timbers.
New York Red Bulls at Seattle Sounders
9:00 p.m. Sunday (ESPN)
The top teams in the East and West face off for the right to claim MLS’ best record. The winner takes the lead in the race for the Supporters’ Shield, and the CONCACAF Champions League berth that comes with it.
Barcelona at Celtic
2:30 p.m. Tuesday (Fox Sports 1)
Last season, Celtic achieved one of its best European results in team history with a dramatic 2-1 win over Barcelona. The challenge will be even bigger this time, as the Blaugrana bring superstars Neymar and Lionel Messi to Glasgow.
Bayern Munich at Manchester City
2:30 p.m. Wednesday (Fox Sports 2)
For as much as Manchester City have become a Premier League powerhouse, the club’s big-money owners really dream of Champions League glory. A visit from last season’s winners will be a big test for new manager Manuel Pellegrini.