American Exports: Tim Howard set to lead Everton into battle vs. EPL leaders Chelsea
AMSTERDAM – Several of the coming weekend's key contests will feature Americans, including Tim Howard staring down the barrel of Premier League table toppers Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
All times listed in ET.
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Jozy Altidore – Sunderland at Arsenal (Saturday, 10 am on USA Network/Mun2)
Well rested after a league postponement last week, the US striker is facing increased competition for a fifth consecutive EPL start with Steven Fletcher likely back from injury. Altidore will be making his first visit to the Emirates, where Sunderland have yet to win in six tries (0-3-3). The Black Cats arrive having won eight of 10 across all competitions and unbeaten in seven away games. Title chasers Arsenal will be missing Kim Källström, Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott.
Geoff Cameron – Stoke City at Manchester City (Saturday, 10 am on Premier League Extra Time)
The regular Potters right back has helped Stoke to two draws in three tries against the Citizens, but both of those results were at home. Stoke have not won away in this overall series since 1997, suffering shutout defeats on their last five league visits. On the plus side, they will not need to deal with sidelined City ace Sergio Agüero, who had three goals and an assist from the last two Manchester meetings.
Tim Howard – Everton at Chelsea (Saturday, 7:45 am on NBCSN)
The American is among Chelsea's least favorite netminders, and not only because he's backstopped five draws from his last seven trips to Stamford Bridge. Since December of 2008, Howard has gone 5-3-5 against the Blues across all competitions. Due to his loan deal from the home side, Everton top gun Romelu Lukaku must sit out. The league leaders, who could be without all three of Gary Cahill, David Luiz and John Terry in central defense, are undefeated at home in league play for nearly 14 months (18-0-4).
FRENCH LIGUE 1
Alejandro Bedoya – Nantes vs. Rennes (Sunday, 11 am on beIN Sports Play)
The playmaker has split his training time in the week leading up to this derby clash; Bedoya spent half of it operating as the No. 10 and half of it watching from the side with a thigh nag. The US international contributed to a 3-1 win at Rennes earlier in the season, but this time must do without banned striker Filip Dordevic and perhaps also netminder Rémy Riou. Nantes are unbeaten in three meetings and 2-1-1 in the last four at Stade de la Beaujoire.
Aron Jóhannsson – AZ Alkmaar at Ajax (Sunday, 8:30 am)
The US forward, who has hit in four of his last six league contests, also scored in a 3-2 win over the champs in August's home opener. Jóhannsson will not have suspended playmaker Nemanja Gudelj for this one, but Ajax missing hot hand Lasse Schöne evens out the loss. The American has recent history to live up to, with Jozy Altidore bagging doubles to help achieve positive results in the last two at Amsterdam ArenA. In fact, AZ are unbeaten in their last four there, though the two wins of the bunch came in KNVB Cup play.
TURKISH SÜPER LIG
Jermaine Jones – Beşiktaş at Galatasaray
The midfield cop could be back on the beat when one of Turkey's biggest derbies kicks off. Jones, who is battling a groin knock, has not played since just before Christmas. He has played at Galatasaray, though, firing Schalke's lone goal equalizer in a Champions League knockout opener almost exactly a year ago. The Black Eagles head into the match five points off the top and one ahead of their cross-town rivals for the league's lone Champions League group-phase pass. The hosts will be wagering an 11-game Süper Lig unbeaten run, as well as a similar four-game bulletproof streak at Beşiktaş.
BEST OF THE REST
Clint Dempsey – Fulham at West Bromwich Albion, Sat. 10 am on Premier League Extra Time
Brad Guzan – Aston Villa at Newcastle, Sun 8:30 am on Premier League Extra Time
John Anthony Brooks – Hertha Berlin at Stuttgart, Sat. 9:30 am on MyGermanTV+
Fabian Johnson – Hoffenheim at Borussia Mönchengladbach, Sat. 9:30 am on MyGermanTV+
Juan Agudelo – FC Utrecht vs. Groningen, Sun. 6:30 am
Conor O'Brien – Odense BK vs. FC Midtjylland, Sat. 11 am
Babajide Ogunbiyi – Viborg vs. Randers FC, Sun. 8 am
Terrence Boyd – Rapid Vienna vs. SV Grödig, Sat. 1 pm