Embarrassment of riches as FA Cup games fill weekend schedule
It's FA Cup overload this week with some great ties in prospect. Coventry v Charlton marks a welcome return of Gordon Strachan's Sky Blues albeit shorn of their two gifted Moroccans, and a first chance this season to see Alan Curbishley's First Division pace-setters.
There's a simultaneous live match on CABLE's channel 18, as Manchester United begin making up their lost league fixtures with a home game against struggling Middlesbrough. A United win would put the champions back on top of the table.
On Sunday it's back to the Cup with a vengeance and a double-header starting with the early match as Leeds visit Villa. Both these teams were seen in last week's live Premiership games (Villa in a bore draw with Chelsea, Leeds winning stylishly at Sunderland) and, frankly, if their form then is repeated here, Leeds should win by a mile. However, Villa beat Leeds in the league at Elland Road recently, and Paul Merson is starting to shine again.
That's followed by Chelsea v Cup specialists Leicester.
On Monday (Tuesday morning) it's Blackburn v Newcastle, which sees United strikers Alan Shearer and Kevin Gallacher take on their former club.
Then, for good measure, on Wednesday, it's more Manchester United league action as the champions visit Sheffield Wednesday, whose recent mini-revival should be sorely tested.
The live games from Italy's Serie A are less exciting as Lecce host Verona and Piacenza are home to Udinese in tomorrow's action. But Sunday's double header is very appetising as second-placed Lazio face seventh-placed Bari and then erratic sixth-placed Inter v third-placed AS Roma.
CABLE continues its broad commitment to English club action by showing a game from the First Division, Manchester City v Fulham from last week. It was City's first game after their 5-2 Cup humbling by Leeds and Fulham's first after their 3-0 crushing of Wimbledon. But that's not necessarily a form guide.
And the station has also announced that it will definitely be showing the League Cup final live on February 27 regardless of who is in it, although the channel would prefer it to feature Villa.
Good news for Scottish League fans. After the recent experiment with taped action, CABLE Sport is now committing to five live SPL matches, starting on Wednesday March 8 with the Celtic v Rangers Old Firm clash. A CABLE spokesperson says other games will feature Aberdeen, Hibernian and Motherwell.