Got some big games on deck this weekend, notably Arsenal taking a trip north in hopes of handing Liverpool their first loss of the season, but before we get to the previewing and prognosticating I am legally obligated to request that you subscribe to Sam’s Army, a.k.a. arguably the best soccer podcast that Barstool has ever produced.
Why? Well first of all why not since its free and you would be doing your internet friend a solid, but secondly we discuss a helluva lot that can’t be found in this weekend preview, including:
– What we learned from the Boxing Day results
– Wtf is wrong with City?
– A comprehensive discussion of Spurs’ “title hopes”
– Thots on Timothy Weah’s imminent loan move away from PSG
Subscribe! Download! Listen! Rate! Review!
Thanks fam, now on to the good stuff…
Honorable mention: Arsenal, West Ham, United
Dishonorable mention: Fulham
PICKS OF THE WEEKEND
Liverpool are still undefeated on the season with 15 wins and 3 draws, with the draws coming against Chelsea, City and Arsenal. This is particularly notable since the club’s M.O. in recent seasons to drop points way, waaaaaaaay too often against lesser teams, which they have completely avoided so far. Wonder why—ohhhhhh right, it’s because their defense has been incredible so far this season. In fact they have been incredible ever since December 27, 2017. Wonder what changed?
As good as Liverpool have been, Arsenal were arguably the better team when they played in November – albeit in London – when the game finished 1-1. Saturday’s game is up north, which is an important distinction because Arsenal have historically sucked at Anfield.
There is always a chance that Liverpool could blow out any opponent, especially one with a defense that is beat up and has looked kinda rickety here and there. However, the Gunners are getting a little healthier and Klopp has by and large refrained from doing much squad rotating, which could come back to bite the Reds at some point.
Can’t say I love Arsenal but they looked surprisingly good in the first meeting so can’t help thinking they are a really good value play. I’ll go out on a limb with a rather imporbably but potentially lucrative 1-1 draw.
Tfw you stay within shouting distance of our beloved fourth
Wolves are a tough team to play against, and have one of the more complete midfields outside the Big Six, but Spurs strength in the middle of the field should more than neutralize it and Wolves don’t have the finishers to take advantage of Tottenham’s less than stellar defense, which is looking like its Achilles heel this season. Spurs to win 2-0.
The Red Devils have look like a brand new team in the two games under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tutelage, which has no doubt been a breath of fresh air for a fan base that has for years been force-fed some of the ugliest soccer the once mighty club has ever produced. Counterpoint: they have spanked Cardiff and Huddersfield.
Thus, the big question is whether Bournemouth will be the first real test for Ole’s United, and the answer is…….. probably not. The Cherries have some weapons but have looked a bit lost for several months now, in part because their defense has been quietly atrocious. That leads me to Sam’s Safe Money Lock of the Week (3-and-0 so far this season – nbd): both teams can score and neither is particularly good at stopping opponents so I’ll be hammering the over thank you very much. In the end I think a rejuvenated Red Devils led by Paul Pogba 2.0 at Old Trafford will be too much for Bournemouth. United to win 3-2 in a bit of a shootout.
Additional picks (to increase the odds I eventually get one right):
• SOUTHAMPTON vs CITY – The Saints looked great in their first two games under Hasenhuttl but appeared to take a BIG step back against West Ham, which suggests they may have gotten a bit tired from the new coach’s aggressive pressing style. Not a good thing when coming up against City. On the other hand, City has lost three of four and may be without David Silva and Fernandinho yet again. Assuming they are the Saints may be able to keep it close… but that’s probably best case scenario. City to win 2-1. (Note: if one or both of the injured players can go I’d add another goal or two to their expected goal tally.)
• BURNLEY vs WEST HAM – Great news for Burnley fans: I have officially declared the Clarets fully dead. That typically means a great performance is in the cards but if you want to put your money on a team with the (arguably) worst defense in the league then your balls are bigger than mines. West Ham to win 3-1.
• FULHAM vs HUDDERSFIELD – YOUGE six-point toilet bowl battle between two of the weakest teams in the league. Huddersfield can’t score for shit, Fulham can’t stop anybody to save their life. In the end the Cottagers showed a little backbone against a tough Wolves squad on Boxing Day so that’s enough to convince me they will have jussssst enough to get a much-needed three points. Fulham to win 2-1.
• BRIGHTON vs EVERTON – The Seagulls are tough at home and get their best defender in Lewis Dunk back, which just might be enough to slow down an Everton team that may have used up all their goals for 2018 while spanking Burnley this week. Gimme a 1-1 draw.
• PALACE vs CHELSEA – The Blues are good not great, in large part because Sarri has tacitly acknowledged they don’t have any good striker options by playing Eden Hazard as a false nine the last couple games. Palace is perhaps the most unpredictable team in the league. They have a high ceiling (as beating City showed) but a frustratingly low floor (nil-nil at home vs Cardiff? Yikes)… so what to expect from them in this one is anybody’s guess. I’ll defer to the better team on paper. Chelsea to win 2-1.
• LESTER vs CARDIFF – The Foxes have suddenly come to life and, just as the rumors of coach Claude Puel’s ass being in the jackpot hit a fever pitch, they reeled off wins over Chelsea and City in consecutive games. Sheesh. Cardiff are not very good to begin with but on the road have been bunk as hell. Lester to win 1-0.
• WATFORD vs NEWCASTLE – I have been saying for weeks now that I would buy low on Watford if I could as they are a lot better than some of their recent results and are likely going to be moving up the table. Newcastle’s offense (14 goals in 19 games) is on par with Huddersfield’s, which is extremely uncomplimentary. Don’t even think this one will be close. Watford to win 2-0.
LAP AROUND THE WORLD
ITALY – Sampdoria is the latest pretender/contender to come at the king as they visit Juventus in Turin early as hell on Saturday.
GERMANY – Too lazy to play.
SPAIN – Taking a siesta.
So there we have it. Big day of SPORTS coming up with soccer serving as an excellent appetizer for some tasty bowl games on Saturday. Have a great weekend, blud fam.
PS- one final note on transfer rumors (especially those involving our Lord and BVBaby Savior): if you are getting all hot and bothered about rumors you need to get a better brain. As I have been saying since August, there is going to be all sorts of scuttlebutt from now until this summer. So just chill out.