American Exports: Brad Guzan, Aston Villa return from brief break to take on EPL leaders Chelsea
AMSTERDAM – The weekend brings its usual menu of tasty tilts involving Americans, including Brad Guzan and Aston Villa's home test against Premier League leaders Chelsea.
All times listed in ET.
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Jozy Altidore – Sunderland vs. Crystal Palace (Saturday, 10 am on NBCSN)
Back from an illness, Altidore is vying for a return to the lineup against a team he has never faced. Three points back of Palace with a better goal differential, the Black Cats could climb as many as two rungs out of the danger zone with a win. Sunderland have lost three in a row across three competitions, but those were all away games; they are still 5-1-1 overall in their last seven at home. What's more, the Eagles have never won a top-flight match at Sunderland, and have not beaten them away since their Roker's Park days back in 1982.
Brad Guzan – Aston Villa vs. Chelsea (Saturday, 12:30 pm on NBCSN)
Having backstopped a drought-snapping win two weekends back, Guzan will hope the relative layoff won't keep him from handling the rampant league leaders. After winning his first career start against Chelsea, the US netminder has lost three in a row to them. Though the Blues were effectively owned at Villa Park for decades, they have a six-match unbeaten run there, with five victories. This time, they have come to wager a 15-game EPL undefeated streak, but without Ashley Cole and David Luiz in defense.
Tim Howard – Everton vs. Cardiff City (Saturday, 10 am on Premier League Extra Time)
The Toffees 'keeper will get just his second career look at the Bluebirds, following a scoreless away draw back in August. Now nine points off the Champions League pace, Everton will hunger for more home cooking; they have won eight of nine at Goodison, with four Howard shutouts. Some generations ago, Cardiff would consistently put up a good fight in this away fixture, but they have gone 0-7-3 there since a smash-and-grab win in 1926.
Aron Jóhannsson – AZ Alkmaar at FC Twente (Sunday, 6:30 am)
The AZ star man has four goals and two assists in the last six games, but came up empty in his only appearance versus the Tukkers earlier this season. The Cheese Farmers have three clean-sheet victories in a row this month, but have dropped three straight and are winless in five in this series. The task may be a bit easier this weekend, with Twente top gun Luc Castaignos serving a red-card suspension.
TURKISH SÜPER LIG
Jermaine Jones – Besiktas at Rizespor (Sunday, noon)
With the team two points shy of Turkey's lone Champions League group-phase invite, the midfield cop should keep his starting place for a tricky trip to relegation bait Rizespor. Not only did the Green Crocodiles take a bite out of visitors Galatasaray during their current 2-1-3 survival run, they have battled Besiktas to an even split of eight home meetings. The Black Eagles are also struggling to score right now, with just two goals in the last four games. They have also won but two of their last seven road games across all competitions.
BEST OF THE REST
Geoff Cameron – Stoke City vs. West Ham United, Sat. 10 am on Premier League Extra Time
John Brooks – Hertha Berlin vs. Hannover 96, Sat. 9:30 am on MyGermanTV+
Fabian Johnson – Hoffenheim vs. Mainz 05, Sun. 9:30 am on MyGermanTV+
Alejandro Bedoya – Nantes at Lille, Sat. 10:30 am on TV5/Univision Deportes/beIN Sports Play
Juan Agudelo – FC Utrecht at NEC Nijmegen, Sun. 8:30 am
Sacha Kljestan – Anderlecht vs. Oostende, Sun. noon
Conor O'Brien – Odense BK vs. Babajide Ogunbiyi – Viborg, Sun. 8 am
Terrence Boyd – Rapid Vienna vs. SV Ried, Sat. 1 pm