Barstool’s Weekend Soccer Preview – The “So, Um, Is Ole’s United For Real?” Edition

Sam’s Safe Space For Soccer Stoolies


Hi Haters™,

So first for some quick housekeeping: we are putting Sam’s Army on hiatus for the time being. I can’t thank the thousands and thousands of listeners enough. It’s clear the demand is there but we ran into some unforeseen roadblocks – some known and others unknown – and we need to take some time to try and rethink and retool things. I am not going anywhere (SORRY HATERS) and Sam’s Army in some form or another will hopefully be back. I have worked my ass off for many years trying to give the sport a voice around here and promise I will continue doing everything I can to keep things going. Please bear with me.

In case you want to listen to the episodes that dropped today – TWO for the price of ONE! – they are directly below…

But enough of that stuff for now. We have a lot of great soccer coming up this weekend. Time to get balls deep in the previewing and prognosticating….



Scores from last matchday (prior to the various cup games):




1. City
2. Liverpool
3. Tottenham
4. Arsenal
Honorable mention: United, Chelsea, Lester

20. Huddersfield
19. Fulham
18. Everton
Dishonorable mention: Cardiff, Bournemouth


Table as it stands now:


And this weekend’s schedule:




Tottenham [-110]
United [+240]
Draw [+235]

So here it is. The official litmus test for whether United have really and truly made progress under Ole Gunnar…. or if he has been riding the wave of shite opposition that he was fortunate enough to inherit ever since taking over from Dear(ly Departed) Leader Jozay.

United have the advantage of coming in rested, having spent the last week chilling out, maxing and relaxing in Dubai… while Pochettino played a pretty damn strong XI against Chelsea in the Make-Belieague Cup on Tuesday.

However, the only other advantage I would give to the Red Devils is in net, where I’d give DDG the nod over just about anybody – including Hugo Lloris (sober or not). Tottenham’s biggest differentiator is on defense, where they are not as lights out as some recent years but are still light years better than United’s ragtag bunch… and while Ole might have gotten his guys playing better soccer he doesn’t have any magical fairy dust to sprinkle on Phil Jones to turn him into anybody other than Phil Jones. That for me with be the difference in the game. Midfield is little closer to a toss-up now that Pogba is playing where Pogba belongs (novel concept!) and I’d give Spurs the edge with Kane up top.

So long story short, OIe may have United playing a lot better… but keep in mind the fact that Spurs spanked the bejesus out of the Red Devils at Old Trafford earlier this season, and everything is relative. Being “better” is good, but it doesn’t mean you are good. Tottenham to win 2-1.


Everton [-130]
Bournemouth [+340]
Draw [+275]

This game – just ahead of Spurs/United on Sunday – is must watch because Bournemouth is must watch right now. They play a fun, attacking style with a lot of weapons and yet their defense is an absolute clown-show. To their credit they went out and snagged Nathaniel Clyne on loan from Liverpool, which is a good move, but thinking that he alone is going to turn things around for that defense is like expecting a band-aid to fix a severed limb.

Everton fans shouldn’t laugh, though, since they come in looking even worse. How bad? Well how about quietly having won once in their last eight league games. YIKES. So while their defense has not really been hemorrhaging goals the club itself has been hemorrhaging points. On the plus side, the team is 100% healthy with not one single person on the injury list. That’s a damn miracle in mid-January. So that and the fact that Bournemouth isn’t going to fix their defense overnight means I am going with a solid 3-1 win for Everton.


City [-600]
Wolves [+1400]
Draw [+600]

Wolves have been giant killers this season, giving all the Big Six opponents they face nightmares, including a 1-1 draw against City the first time they played in August. Given their track record you can and probably will make a lot worse decisions this weekend than sprinkling some shekels on the Wolves to win given those tasty odds… but while I think they make it a tough game, City has looked a different side since David Silva and Fernandinho returned to the XI. Sorry Wolves. City to win 2-0.


Additional picks (to increase the odds I eventually get one right):

LESTER vs SOUTHAMPTON – The Foxes have been all over the place beating Chelsea and City then losing to Cardiff and Newport County…. I mean, wutttttttt?? I have been impressed with Southampton under Hasenhuttl and think they are on track to (eventually) separate themselves from the bottom dwellers. As for this game in particular, imagine a game between Barcelona and Arsenal of a few years ago… now imagine the EXACT opposite – that’s what this is going to be. Neither team is going to want the ball. If there is a way for two teams to both finish the game with less than 50% possession, this will be it. A lot of kicking and chasing, with some high pressure defense way up the field mixed in. It will be like two high school football teams who can’t move the ball for shit so the coaches start punting on second down in the hopes the opposing returner will muff it. I’m guessing both teams muff at least one. Gimme a 1-1 draw.


WEST HAM vs ARSENAL – Tricky London dærby for the Gunners. Both teams come in with injury lists a mile long. In fact whoever can comes closer to 11 healthy players may win in a walkover. Arsenal had trouble with the Hammies in their first game but pulled out a win. I don’t doubt they will score some goals but unfortunately their defense will be too leaky to hold the lead (ie, opposite of what happened in August). I’m going with an entertaining but ultimately unsatisfying 2-2 draw.

CHELSEA vs NEWCASTLE – Whoever decided to put this on NBC in the featured game of the day should be fired on the spot. This game promises to be uglier than the beatdown Rone put on the Call Her Daddy girls on Friday. Rafa’s Newcastle can do one thing and one thing only, and that is defend. Chelsea can’t do one thing and one thing only, and that is score. Recipe for a scoreless draw? Perhaps, but I am going with a patent-pending ugly-as-sin 1-0 win for Chelsea.

Probably not this weekend though :(

BRIGHTON vs LIVERPOOL – This is a game Liverpool used to drop points in 999,999 times out of 1 million. Brighton is tough to score against at home and, two years ago, would probably score twice on set pieces to win 2-1. I gave Liverpool fans PTSD just describing that scenario. This year feels different because it is different. The Reds have figured out ways to win these games, and the high-risk dive that Klopp took by playing a C+ squad against Wolves (and losing) in the FA Cup may pay dividends when his starters are healthy and ready to go for games like this. Liverpool to win 2-0.

PALACE vs WATFORD – The Eagles have quietly been rolling lately, racking up a nice won on the road against Wolves last time out in the league. Watford have been all over the place but were let down big time by their defense last time out against Bournemouth, ultimately settling for a 3-3 draw. Hard to imagine anywhere near as many goals this time around. Feels like an even matchup that could go either way, but I’ll split the baby and say 1-1 draw.

• CARDIFF vs HUDDERSFIELD and BURNLEY vs FULHAM – Battle of the Bums! Huge six-pointers involving four of the bottom five clubs in the table that will likely help decide who sticks around next season and who gets sent to Championship purgatory. Huddersfield have been awful and even worse on the road. I’m going Cardiff to win 2-1 without a second thought. The other game is a little tougher because Fulham have shown a little backbone here and there… but then they get their ass handed to them by Arsenal and found a way to lose to Oldham in the FA Cup. Woof. Burnley has won some games lately so form plus at home = yep, Burnley to win 2-1.



ITALY – Too lazy.

GERMANY – Too lazy.

SPAIN – 5th place Real Madrid visiting 6th place Real Betis on Sunday would be WELL worth your time (if you have beIN or can find a stream).



So there we have it. Big weekend on deck with some great soccer action to fluff your sports boner for NFL playoffs. And, again, bear with me on Sam’s Army. Doing everything I can to rethink and retool, and come big better, faster, stronger. Huge thanks to everybody who listened!

PS- this was ugly and I would like to officially publicly apologize to anyone offended.

Samuel Army