Barstool’s Weekend Soccer Preview – The “Most Dramatic Final Weekend Of The Entire Season” Edition

Sam’s Safe Space For Soccer Stoolies

1-EPL

Hi haters,

It has been quite a season. We laughed (mostly at Middlesbrough… and sometimes United). We cried (mostly by Sunderland… and sometimes Arsenal). We fought (mostly Hull and Swansea… and for a minute there Chelsea and Spurs). But mostly we had a good time – and most importantly we got rich.

Only one more weekend of games left before the 2016-17 season is put to bed. And while NBC certainly isn’t going to admit it, this is shaping up to be one of the tamest “Championship Sundays” in recent memory, even managing to be even less dramatic than last year, which itself was a recent low-water-mark. Ah well, just how the cookie crumbles sometimes. There is at least one very important finishing position up for grabs but before we get to that and the rest of the games, this seems like an appropriate time to take a quick look back at how a certain idiot predicted things would shake out at the beginning of the season so we can all have a good hearty laugh at his expense. That’s right, it’s time to play everybody’s favorite game: Grade Sam’s Preseason Predictions.

Let’s start with some of the “individual” awards, which are always a bit of a crapshoot so I’m going to give myself at least a little leeway…

PREDICTIONS/GRADES

POY: Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil… yep, nope. Ozil struggled along with the rest of Arsenal. A more accurate answer would have been Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante or Eden Hazard or really most anyone on the Evil Empire. Grade: F+

Golden Boot: City’s Sergio Aguero… meh, not awful. The wee Argentine is sitting in 5th at the moment with 18 goals but Tottenham’s Harry Kane all but wrapped up the goal-scoring title on Thursday by raping and pillaging poor EPLeicester. Grade: C+

Most underrated signing: United’s Henrikh Mikhitaryan… this one is pretty subjective, and Mikhi has been good, but there were clearly some much better signings like the aforementioned Kante or perhaps Liverpool’s Sadio Mane. Grade: C

Comeback player: Eden Hazard… Yep. Grade: A+

Zlatan scoring over/under 14.5 goals: I said under, which people had a lot of fun pointing out incessantly on twitter dot com this fall when he seemingly scored every time out for the first couple months of the season. HOWEVER, just as I said he would from the very start, Zlatan tailed off in the second half – even before the season-ending injury (a possibility that a lot of people seemed to be writing off for some reason despite the fact Big Z – deity or not – is 35 years old). In the end though his hot start was enough to get it done, as he finished with 17 goals. So, to borrow a phrase from golf, my prediction was the right shape but wrong size. Grade: D+

Biggest transfer bust: United’s Paul Pogba… this is a tough one. Pogba did not play very well this season. He wasn’t bad, per se, but considering the expectations that are implicit when you are bought for $100+ million – the biggest transfer fee of ALL-TIME – you need to be a lot better than just okay. In fact, here is my exact quote from the preview blog: “I don’t think Pogba is going to suck. Far from it. I think he will be okay this season and eventually be very good. However, I think he could struggle a bit in his first year in the EPL surrounded by so many other new faces at the club, which in a relative sense makes him a bust (for this season)”Grade: A

Spinzone: season is not a total loss if you get your own personalized emoji

Spinzone: season is not a total loss if you get your own personalized emoji

Bottom 3: Hull and Burnley followed by Palace and Sunderland fighting it out for 17th… technically I only got one (Hull) out of three, which isn’t much to write home to mama about, but Palace was indeed in a dogfight at the end (albeit with Swansea. So all in all, not a prediction to frame and hang on the wall. Grade: C-

Top 4: City, United, Tottenham and Chelsea… so a couple ways to look at this. Picking City to win didn’t work out so well, obviously, and including United in the top 4 at all looks laughable in retrospect (even if the Red Devils managed to go undefeated for 4 months straight). On the other hand, three of the four right (including Chelsea and especially Spurs) was not bad, and is in fact a lot better than a lot of the professional chickenheads out there. Grade: B-

So there we have it. Some losers, some winners, some in between. What’re ya gonna do?

[[BRIEF ASIDE FROM YA BOY SAM: A quick shout and heartfelt word of thanks to anyone who has followed along, either religiously (both of you!) or here and there. I’ve had fun being barstool’s official sissy sport spirit guide over the past three – THREE?! – years, and hopefully you have gotten a little something out of the previews and/or our discussions on the twitter dot com. No, this is not goodbye, at least I don’t have any plans to stop posting blogs – SORRY HATERZ – at the moment. I have gotten a lot of inquiries about whether or not a podcast is in the works and just to clarify things the plans are… unclear. It is something I will have to look into this summer. The primary hang-up is that I wouldn’t want to half-ass it and am concerned about having enough time, especially if I am going to continue posting blogs, etc. But it is something I have been discussing with Dan and we’ll see. Either way though thanks again for reading and fear not as you can expect more of same awful preview blogs for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers and Gold Cup games.]]

3a-hug

Anyway, now that we have all had a good chuckle, let’s move alone to the good stuff…

***********************************

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Reminder of the recent results:

3b-scores

News, notes and observations:

– Biggest winner of the last few weeks: excluding Chelsea, who looked wobbly for a month but recovered to lock down the league last Friday, the award goes to Daniel Katz and his dearly beloved Swansea. It’s one thing to not suck just enough to avoid relegation but the Swans, to their credit, went out and legitimately WON survival by winning three of the last four games, with the only non-win being a 1-1 draw away to United. Not a shabby little finishing stretch.

Close enough

Close enough

– Biggest loser of the last few weeks: excluding Hull, which shit the bed coming down the home straight away and now has to live in feces for the next 12 months (if not longer), NBC gets this award for the way that just about everything of any importance has already been decided prior to the final weekend, meaning that most of the games coming up on Sunday (which will *ALL* be televised, bless NBC’s little heart) are what we in the biz called “dead rubbers” – not to be confused with the used rubbers that I hear sex-havers talking about every now and again.

**

Indeed, with one game left on everybody’s schedule, this how the table looks:

5-table

As demonstrated by the pretty colors, the only thing that is really left to decide – not including the FA Cup final (Chelsea/Arsenal) and Europa final (United/Ajax) [as well as a game involving some little clubs called Real Madrid and Juventus that some of you or may not have heard about] – is whether Liverpool or Arsenal get the fourth and final Champions League next season or fifth and have to visit wee Bulgarian and Romanian clubs on Spursday.

We You all float down here!

We You all float down here!

And finally the schedule for Sunday morning, including the networks each game will be shown on because I love and respect each of you so much:

7-schedule

***

Bit of a good news, bad news heading into the last weekend here as ya boy has been hot hot HOT recently (reference: winners [green dollar signs next to scores above] over the last week)… so the good news is hopefully you are rich because the bad news is Newton’s fourth law of probability suggests that I am due to drop a load in my pants any day now. Thankfully Newton didn’t actually come up with a fourth law though and statistical nerds can gtfo so let’s go win some mo’ moneys!

PICKS OF THE WEEKEND

Arsenal [-285]
Everton [+600]
Draw [+400]

What’s on the line: some dork is probably creaming his shorts right now itching to leave a comment about how I’m a dumbass because Arsenal (and Liverpool) could still mathematically catch City if they both win BIG and end up with a better goal differential (reminder: that’s the first tiebreaker in EPL). Don’t be that dork. Yes, that scenario is technically possible, but it would entail Watford – which quit on the season months ago – to suddenly show back up and give City a run for their money. Good luck with that. THUS, essentially Arsenal has to beat Everton by several goals and hope that Liverpool loses or draws in order to leapfrog the Reds into the all-important fourth slot.

On the plus side, Everton has 7th place all wrapped up and nothing to play for. On the negative side, Romelu Lukaku is only two goals behind Kane for the Golden Boot and you know damn well the big man is going to probably give more effort than he has all season. That’s not a knock on Lukaku. That’s just how strikers think. They have one purpose in life. They are like sales people (making money), Antonio Cromartie (making babies) Washington sports teams (losing) and Big Cat (eating hotdogs) – only their purpose in life is to score goals.

8-lukaku

Quietly, veeeeeeeeeeeery quietly, Arsenal’s defense has played surprisingly well of late, surrendering just four goals in their last eight games, seven of which – believe it or not – have been wins. It is still hard to have a ton of faith in a three-back system that includes things like Nacho Monreal and Rob Holding (just like it is almost impossible to put much faith in anybody but Lexi actually hustling on offense at the moment)… but then again Everton has been focused on their May 22nd flights to the beach since the calendar turned to April.

In the end, Arsenal is going to put the pressure on Liverpool because lawwwwd knows it would just make too much sense for everybody’s creepy French uncle Arsene to find a way to sneak into that last Champions League spot and possibly save his job. Gooners to win 3-1.

**

Liverpool [-600]
Middlesbrough [+2000]
Draw [+700]

If we are being honest, it would actually make a lot of sense for Liverpool to find a way to somehow not get all three points in this. It would take an incredible effort though. Boro is, after all, historically inept offensively and their defense got leakier as the season wore on. So if someone wanted to take a flyer and hop on the draw in this one I wouldn’t call them an idiot… but I’ve had faith in the Reds limping into the last UCL slot for months now, abd one play in particular solidified by confidence:

Emre Can scoring a goal that pretty to win a game they didn’t really deserve to win means you’ve got destiny on your side… especially compared to the dysfunctional rich-but-opiate-addiction-ravaged family that is Arsenal at the moment. Liverpool to win 2-0.

9-studge

***

So that’s it as far as “games that actually matter” go and – casual public service announcement – you should think long and hard before putting your life savings on games involving teams whose number one goal is not getting hurt, but because I’m contractually obligated to you more picks here are some more picks…

• City [-415] technically still has something to play for since Arsenal (and Liverpool) could mathematically overtake them, and the last time they played on the road they somehow failed to beat Middlesbrough, so I have a sneaking suspicion that Watford [+1000] – a team that hasn’t played a competitive game since crossing the 40-point mark many moons ago – may give them more than Pep & Co. bargained for… but in the end Jesus usually prevails. City to win 2-1.

10-jesus

• Chelsea [-700] is primarily concerned with everybody staying healthy for the FA Cup final coming up next weekend, but they could probably trot out their C-term and beat this:

Chelsea to win 3-0.

• Southampton [-140] versus Stoke [+360] is a quintessential “so, um, does anybody actually care about this?” game. Given that, and the tasty odds, I’m going with a 1-1 draw [+280].

• Do I love Tottenham [-200] coming off a Spursday game? No, not really, especially not without any healthy right backs available. However, the team seems to be peaking at jusssssssssst the right time for fans to be left with plenty of “what if’s” and “wait how the fuck did we win zero trophies in the last two years’s”… sorry Hull [+490], but you are (one of the three) the weakest links. Spurs to win 3-1.

• Palace [+170] is safe and United [+165] cares only about Europa League. Recipe for yet another “famous” 0-0 draw? Recipe for yet another “famous” 0-0 draw [+230].

• Burnley [+120] and West Ham {+210] will be yet another glorified game of pattycake. Who wins? Who cares is the only right answer. Neither team is in good form at the moment but, after getting embarrassed at home by Liverpool last weekend, the Hammers may at least feel as though they owe it to their fans to try… for once. West Ham to win 2-1.

• Swansea [+105] is probably still drunk from celebrating their impressive escape from the clutches of relegation, while West Brom [+290] basically shut it down after spanking Arsenal in mid-March. I tried to come up with a reason why this game might be worth watching but failed. 0-0 draw [+250] sounds about right.

• Bournemouth [+300] is undefeated in its last four, which has miraculously pushed the Cherries into 10th place and – credit where credit is due – is a helluva lot better than what I was expecting. EPLeicester [-115] will enjoy the last fleeting moments of officially being champions – at least until the next time they play inexplicably flawless soccer for 8 straight months and win the title again (lol) – but perhaps they can channel their inner UCLeicester (it’s gotta be in there somewhere) just one last time. LESTER to win 3-2.

***********************************

MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER

11-MLStable

Is this the year that Toronto’s stacked line-up finally gets the job done? Through 11 games the team has looked like the best team in the league. What could possibly go wrong, right?

12-MLSschedule

***********************************

REST OF THE WORLD

Spain: And then there was one… game left, and Real Madrid – with a three point lead on Barrrrrrrrrthelona – control their own destiny. After beating Sevilla and Celta Vigo in recent weeks, it would be hard to see them losing at 11th place Malaga on Sunday (1:00pm CT on beIN).

Italy: 3rd place Napoli welcome 7th place Fiorentina on Saturday (1pm CT on beIN).

Germany: RELEGATION BATTLE between Hamburg and everybody’s once-beloved Wolfy on Saturday (8:30am on FS1).

***********************************

U-20 WORLD CUP

Friendly reminder that the Under-20 World Cup taking place in Good Korea gets underway this weekend, with our Baby Nats getting underway at convenient start time of 3am CT on Monday morning against Ecuador. The tournament is a good chance of seeing the next wave of guys who will hopefully begin to seep into the USMNT soon, and includes some names like Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham) and Gedion Zalelam (Arsenal) – not to mention Jonathan Klinsmann – who a lot of people may recognize. Time for the kids to step up to the plate.

13-WC20

***********************************

So there you have it. Another “successful” season is in the books. Don’t forget to tip your waiter and be sure everybody knows how small your dick is by commenting about how much you hate soccer down below. Hasta la bye-bye (for now), everybody!

Critical reminder:


Holler,
Samuel Army

Login error messages.

- OR -

Enter your email address to reset your password.

Login error messages.

Update your Username

Update your Password