Arsenal v Villa: USA fans taken for a claret and blue ride in New York
Three lucky Villa fans in New York will be taken for the claret and blue ride of their lives this weekend.
The trio of supporters - Donal Neligan, Steve Lanham and John Whittard - will be picked up by cab in Manhattan at 9.20am US time and driven to meet their pals at the Football Factory Bar downstairs at Legends 33rd, next to the Empire State Building before kick-off for Arsenal v Villa.
But not a standard taxi you understand - this journey will be made in a club-branded claret and blue cab - which has been whizzing around the Big Apple for the past few weeks to promote NBC's extensive soccer coverage across the pond.
Our other New York fans watching the game in the Football Factory Bar are also in line for some other surprises sent exclusively from our training ground at Bodymoor Heath.
Avid supporter Neligan, one of the founder members of our Lions Club in New York, said he was "absurdly excited" about the taxi trip and the prospect of everything surrounding the opening day fixture against the Gunners.
There are also gatherings across the country at the Globe Pub in Chicago and The Banshee Pub in Boston.
Across the world, there is growing excitement for the new Barclays Premier League season but in the United States the level of anticipation among football fans is greater as they can expect to enjoy even more of the competition than before.
USA broadcaster NBC Sports takes over the rights to show the Barclays Premier League for the next three seasons and is promising to show an unprecedented 380 games across a host of channels.
As well as live games, NBC will be broadcasting more than 600 hours of Premier League original programming.
The message is clear, NBC are not just broadcasting soccer. They are bringing the Barclays Premier League into America's living rooms.
One factor behind NBC's investment is that the US appetite for the Barclays Premier League has yet to be satisfied by the coverage offered.
The network made their intentions clear when they unveiled a 5,472 sq ft billboard in New York's Times Square earlier in the week.
Tottenham's Gareth Bale loomed over passers-by, alongside the tagline: "Every Match. Every Team. Every Week."
The NBC Facebook page has been counting down to the big opening day kick-off, with Christian Benteke featuring for 'Three Days to Go.'
Central to NBC's grand plans is to import the tribal fan culture that the Barclays Premier League inspires in England, and around the world.
To do that NBC are helping football fans across the country without an affiliation to choose a Premier League club to support.
The broadcaster's website offers a programme that allows users to let their social media activity decide a club to follow.
In New York more traditional media is being used. Subway trains in the Big Apple have been wrapped in artwork featuring two rival clubs per car with messages telling passengers to "Keep Calm and Pick Aston Villa" or "Keep Calm and Pick West Brom" when getting on.
At bus stops in certain areas of the city, maps of New York have been posted "assigning" clubs to certain neighbourhoods - with Villa designated Queens as you can see in the picture below.
And traditional London taxi cabs, painted in Premier League club colours, have been driving through the streets of the city - with our claret and blue trio set to enjoy the ride of their life on Saturday.
NBC's coverage will be fronted by English broadcasters Robbie Mustoe, Robbie Earle and former Setanta Sports presenter Rebecca Lowe.
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