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Barstool’s Weekend Soccer Preview – The “West Ham vs Watford? West Ham vs Watford!” Edition

Sam’s Safe Space For Soccer Stoolies

1-EPL

Hi Haters™,

The weekend is already off to a hot start with two damn good games already in the books – Liverpool took care of a dogged Wolves side and Dortmund won the battle of the Borussia’s – but don’t worry we got plenty more fun on the docket. Before we get to that, though, this is the point where I have to respectfully request that you subscribe to Sam’s Army podcast. Why? Well first of all why not since it is free of charge but more important it is a good way to learn about your soccer world while on the go or in class or getting your hair did, etc. Cool? Cool.

Besides, today’s episode was a pretty good one as I sat down with Sunderland’s Lynden Gooch, one of the many players who features prominently in the new Netflix documentary called “Sunderland Til I Die” – and the only one in the mix to play for our beloved USMNT.

Other topics discussed in some length on the podcast that don’t appear below include a detailed breakdown of the Gregg Berhalter’s first USMNT roster that he called in for January camp, thoughts on the Make-Belieague Cup results as well as expectations for the post-Jozay era at United – including a prediction for who will (very likely) take over for Ole Gunner Solskjaer this summer.

Subscribe! Download! Listen! Rate! Review!

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Thanks fam, now let’s move along to the (great) previewing and (turruble) prognosticating…

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ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Scores from last weekend:

3-scores

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POWER RANKINGS

TOP 4
1. City
2. Liverpool
3. Tottenham
4. Chelsea
Honorable mention: Arsenal, West Ham

BOTTOM 3
20. Fulham
19. Huddersfield
18. Lester
Dishonorable mention: Burnley

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Table as it stands now:

4-table

And this weekend’s schedule:

5-schedule

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PICKS OF THE WEEKEND

West Ham [+125]
Watford [+210]
Draw [+230]

Bet you didn’t expect this to be the featured game of the week, now did you. In truth the Wolves/Liverpool game probably would have gotten top billing but the soccer gods decided to drop that on us on a Friday afternoon. Ah well.

The truth is there is a chance that this game could suck. Half of West Ham’s roster is in the hospital at the moment and Watford has shown a tendency to shoot balls anywhere but on net. But I still have high hopes for the game.

The Hammies have defied the odds and come storming back after an atrocious first few months even without guys like Marko Arnautovic and Manuel Lanzini available. Robert Snodgrass and Felipe Anderson have come up YOUGE, especially on their current four-game win streak. On the other side Watford finally broke a six-game winless run by beating Cardiff – but the dirty little secret of those games is that the team was actually playing remarkably better than the final score lines would suggest.

If both teams look as good as they did last weekend this could be a serious barn-burner. Me saying this almost certainly means this is going to be a snoozer but I’m going with an entertaining 3-2 win for Watford.

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Everton [+220]
Tottenham [+125]
Draw [+230]

Both teams come into the game in relatively good form but I have a hunch that Spurs might end up paying for Pochettino’s decision to play such a strong XI against Arsenal in the trinket cup game on Wednesday. The Toffees have the skills and – importantly – wheels from Richarlison and Walcott to cause problems for a potentially makeshift backline for Spurs, which may force Poch to play a collection of defensive-minded midfielders (eg, Dier, Sissoko and/or Winks) that will in turn hamstring the team going forward. Gimme a 1-1 draw.

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Additional picks (to increase the odds I eventually get one right) going in order from most to least interesting:

CARDIFF vs UNITED – It is anybody’s guess what to expect from the Red Devils in Solskjaer’s first game in charge but I wouldn’t be surprised if guys like Pogba and Lukaku – who clearly had checked out on playing for Jozay – will have some extra spring in their step, which alone may be enough to overcome a determined-but-not-particularly-talented Cardiff side. United to win 2-1.

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HUDDERSFIELD vs SOUTHAMPTON – The Saints benefited from the age-old “new coach bump” last time out against Arsenal, giving their fans something to cheer about for the first time in roughly 18 months (sad but true), so I hate to be the bearer of pessimistic predictions but I can’t help thinking that Huddersfield may turn out to be precisely the wrong kind of opponent for team that is undoubtedly still learning the basics of a totally new strategy that Ralph Hasenhuttl is trying to install. The Terriers are going to sit back and invite pressure, not affording Southampton the kind freedom they had against Arsenal – especially on the wings. This one smells like an ugly 1-1 draw.

• BOURNEMOUTH vs BRIGHTON – The Cherries need a win badddddddddd after losing seven of their last eight. Brighton is a tough, well-rounded opponent but Bournemouth’s ceiling is a lot higher now that Callum Wilson is expected to be back in the lineup. His absence last week was the difference against Wolves. I’m guessing his presence may have the equal but opposite impact. Bournemouth to win 2-0.

BEATDOWN BONANZA: ARSENAL vs BURNLEY, CITY vs PALACE and CHELSEA vs LESTER – Three good teams HOSTING three bad teams. I don’t know what the odds are on a three-team parlay but I’d definitely think about taking it (and I say this as someone who hates parlays almost as much as I hate over/under in soccer). If I were to try and put a percentage on each of the underdogs pulling off the upset it would probably be something like Lester 8% chance (vs a slightly tired Chelsea), Burnley a 1% chance (vs Arsenal in bounce-back mode) and Palace 0% chance (vs City).

7-giant

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LAP AROUND THE WORLD

ITALY – Juventus host Roma on Saturday (1:30pm CT) in a game that the Romans need almost as bad as Serie A as the Old Lady have – shockingly! – already begun running away with the league title.

GERMANY – The Borussia Dærby already took place but never fear there are some other good ones in the Bundesliga this weekend, including RB Leipzig hosting Werder Bremen on Saturday at 8:30am CT (let’s see some more Sargent, damit) and Bayern facing a tough test on the road at Eintracht Frankfurt at 11:30am CT.

SPAIN – Two solid games in La Liga tomorrow starting with Atleti hosting Espanyol (9:15am CT) followed soon after by Celta Vigo visiting Barcelona (11:30am CT).

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So there we have it. Pro tip: don’t let a gross slate of college football bowls distract you from the solid weekend of soccer action. This is the start of the infamous “holiday schedule” so you can expect a lot of preview blogs in a short amount of time over the coming couple weeks, so (alas) you won’t have a chance to miss me too much. Have a great weekend ya filthy animals!


Holler,
Samuel Army