Note the day and time, soccer fans, because this is one for the history books. For the first time ever, American audiences will be able to watch a live English Premier League match on actual broadcast network television.
FOX will air an epic showdown between two of the world’s most iconic clubs, Arsenal vs. Manchester United, live from Emirates Stadium on Sunday, Jan. 22. Coverage begins at 10:30 a.m. ET.
Both teams are locked in a tight points race, with United trying to catch title-leaders Manchester City, and Arsenal fighting to keep their place in the top four.
Undoubtedly, Arsenal will also be fighting to reclaim some of the pride they left behind at Old Trafford in August, when they fell 8-2 to the Red Devils. Significant lineup changes, including the addition of Mikel Arteta and return of Thierry Henry on loan, as well as a career season from the league’s top-scorer Robin van Persie have helped revitalize the team.
However, a rash of injuries and international obligations ahead of Sunday’s match leaves Arsenal’s starting XI in fragile condition. Arsene Wenger confirmed on Arsenal.com several players who will miss the game through injury are Thomas Vermaelen, Bacary Sagna, Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta. Henry is rated as extremely doubtful. Gervinho (Ivory Coast) and Chamakh (Morocco) are on international duty for the African Cup of Nations.
Meanwhile, United heads into the match with the return of young defenders Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. Still, Sir Alex Ferguson will look to Wayne Rooney to control the game and keep up offensive pressure. That should keep the ball away from the weakened defense, which has suffered from the loss of Nemanja Vidic to injury and inconsistent performances from the back line.
Rob Stone is set to make his first FOX Sports appearance as commentator, alongside FOX Soccer analyst Eric Wynalda and CNN talk show host (and outspoken Gooner) Piers Morgan.
Sunday’s other big Premier League match-up, between title leader Manchester City and third-place Tottenham, airs live on Fox Soccer, earlier in the day at 8:30 a.m. ET.
The games are presented as part of FOX Sport’s #EpicSunday lineup, leading up to the NFC Championship Game between the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers at 6:30 p.m. ET. The winner of that NFL game meets the AFC Champion in Super Bowl XLVI, when live Premier League coverage on FOX continues. The network plans to air “The Game Before the Game” on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 5, featuring Chelsea hosting Manchester United live from Stamford Bridge starting at 10:30 a.m. ET.
“We see a tremendous opportunity to broaden exposure in the U.S. for the world’s best soccer competitions,” said FOX Sports Co-President and COO Eric Shanks, in a press release. “We’ve broken viewership records with each subsequent FOX broadcast and we are thrilled audiences are responding as we make matches more widely available.”
FOX’s broadcast of Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Chelsea on Nov. 20 was the most-watched Premier League match of the three replays that the network aired last fall, with 1.67 million total viewers, according to Nielsen ratings. Of the five international soccer matches broadcast on FOX since 2010, only the 2011 UEFA Champions League Final between Barcelona and Manchester United drew a bigger audience (2.6 million) than Chelsea vs. Liverpool.
In October, FOX Sports Media Group acquired the exclusive U.S. media rights to the FIFA World Cup across all platforms (including radio) from 2015 to 2022, which includes the 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2022 FIFA World Cup, the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and other FIFA events.
Arsenal vs. Manchester United >> FOX >> Sunday, Jan. 22 at 10:30 a.m. ET