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Barstool’s Weekend Soccer Preview – The “Ghost of Gonthalo Higuain’s Past & Future London Teams” Edition

Sam’s Safe Space For Soccer Stoolies

1-EPL

Hi Haters™,

We got a nice little weekend ahead of us, boys and girls. Nothing like a little a little soccer to fluff your sportsboner ahead of Sunday’s NFC/AFC Championship games. For those wondering (both of you!), I’m working hard to make some important changes to the podcast to get that up and running again, in the meantime though you can count on a continued flow of blogs to keep your minds right for all the jogo bonito action. That said, let’s get to it…

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ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Scores from last weekend:

2-results

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POWER RANKINGS

TOP 4
1. City
2. Liverpool
3. Arsenal
4. Chelsea
Honorable mention: United, Tottenham (after accounting for injury/international duty problems)

BOTTOM 3
20. Huddersfield
19. Fulham
18. Cardiff
Dishonorable mention: Bournemouth

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Table as it stands now:

3-table

And this weekend’s schedule:

4-schedule

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PICKS OF THE WEEKEND

5-Higuain3

Arsenal [+190]
Chelsea [+125]
Draw [+240]

YOUGE game in the battle for top four. If Arsenal lose on Saturday they will be nine points behind Chelsea and potentially 10 points behind Spurs (only because the latter – who will struggle to find 11 healthy players – faces bunk ass Fulham) by the end of the weekend, which is a LOT of points to make up for a team with as many flaws as the Gunners. It may also see them drop into 6th place if United can exorcise their Brighton demons.

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Fun (auxiliary) storyline heading into the game is Gonzalo Higuain, whose plane has allegedly landed in London – for about the 15th year in a row.

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For those who don’t know, Higuain was linked to Arsenal every single January between 2012 and 2015. Self-proclaimed twitter “insiders” with “well-placed sources” would post tweets every couple hours saying his “plane was on its way to Heathrow” or had landed “and he was on his way for a medical” every damn year like clockwork.

8-chels2

And yet, a deal never ended up going through. (In a shocking turn of events almost all those tweets have been deleted… weird.)

So is it actually going to happen this time? Maybe, and perhaps even probably, but no deal has been signed yet – despite what a lot of internet dummies might tell you – so anybody experiencing a little déjà vu can be forgiven.

As for the game at hand, however, the reason this year’s version of the Hungry, Hungry Higuain chronicles matter is because Chelsea have zero viable strikers and it has proven time and time again to be the biggest difference between them and the legitimate title contenders.

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As a result, Sarri will likely once again try to slot Eden Hazard in in a “false 9” position, where the wee Belgian genius quite clearly hates playing but has been willing to do it anyway. Their midfield is stacked – Jorginho, Kante, Willian, Pedro, Kovacic is a bit silly if we are being honest – and they will see enough of the ball that they will end up creating some chances whether they want to or not against an Arsenal defense that leaves a lot to be desired.

On the other hand, Arsenal is finally starting to get a little healthier. Reports suggest that everybody’s favorite shwag weed dealer Hector Bellerin along with Nacho Monreal, which for the first time in a while should at least give Unai Emery some options at the back.

A win for Chelsea would definitely help the Blues and probably help Tottenham…. and I don’t doubt they will put some points up on Arsenal’s defense, but at the end of the day I’m going with the team that has two (relatively) in-form strikers over the team that has none. Arsenal to win 3-1.

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Wolves [+110]
Lester [+210]
Draw [+205]

The league’s 20 clubs are quickly separating themselves into three groups at this point in the season. First you got your Big Six (aka Champions League candidates), followed by the Second Six (aka Europa Battlers), then the Seven Stragglers (aka Relegation Contenders). There are a couple different tiers within the last group but we can get into that at a later date.

This right here is a bit-time battle royale for a Europa slot. The Foxes have been a cock tease in recent weeks, sometimes looking like they can beat anybody (eg, City and Chelsea… and Everton but meh), then shitting the bed against Cardiff, Newport County and Southampton. Da fuq? Wolves – other than the Palace loss a couple weeks ago – have been far more boring but also consistent… so I’m going with that. Wolves to win 2-0.

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Bournemouth [+125]
West Ham [+185]
Draw [+245]

Goals! Goals! GOALS! Bournemouth are a beautiful disaster right now and if you ain’t watching you hate fun and that’s on you. Their defense sucks but their offense is legit. Fun combo. West Ham are in a weird spot in part because half the team is hurt but also because of Marko Arnautovic, a unique talent who can score but is staring at his 30th birthday, yet a Chinese club is willing to pay waaaaaaaaaaay too much money for him and it’s gonna be hard for the Hammies to pass up that offer. Until that deal is either done or binned I think its going to hang over the club. Bournemouth to win 3-2.

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Additional picks (so I eventually get one right maybe):

LIVERPOOL vs PALACE – Fun fact: Wilfy Zaha hasn’t scored in months. Three goals in 19 games so far this season. Yikes. Dude singlehandedly kept the Eagles in the Premier League last season yet can’t buy a bucket this year. That’s obviously bad news for Palace but the good news is it can’t last forever AND the fact that he has the capacity to score against anybody in the world – perhaps even Liverpool’s lights out defense. If this was at Selhurst then I might go another route, but as it is I’m going with a goal for Zaha but Liverpool to win 2-1… which is kind of a win for Palace if we’re being honest.

UNITED vs BRIGHTON – Revenge game! United got spanked by Brighton the first time around but this one is at Old Trafford. United have won their first six games under Ole Gunnar. Brighton suck on the road. No good reason the Seagulls have much of a shot. That said, did anyone actually watch the Red Devils against Tottenham last weekend? That was not pretty. David De Gea was great, everybody else was not. Got lucky last time, might just get some unfortunate bounces this time around. Gimme a 1-1 draw.

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NEWCASTLE vs CARDIFF – Toon loves getting banged at home… but not by Cardiff, who has trouble scoring against teams that can’t defend. Rafa will find a way to lock it down. 1-0 win for Newcastle.

SOUTHAMPTON vs EVERTON – Toffees came up with a nice win against Bournemouth last time out but this has bed-shitting performance written all over it against the resurgent Saints. Southampton to win 2-1.

WATFORD vs BURNLEY – Awwwwwww shit, don’t let Burnley get hot…… TOO LATE! Don’t look now but after sucking for most of the season the Clarets have won four games in a row. Not so bad! Unfortunately Watford are just plain better at both ends of the field, and are playing at home. Watford to win 2-0.

HUDDERSFIELD vs CITY – Yikes. City to win 4-0.

FULHAM vs TOTTENHAM – The next month and a half is going to be a godamn struggle for Spurs.

Harry Kane has put himself in a great position to win the Golden Walking Boot and Heung-min Son is off playing for Good Korea, meaning their options at striker are Fernando Llorente (yuck), Vincente Soldadssen (hahahaha), Lucas Moura (in doubt with an injury) and the $15 million in cash money that the team got for selling cult hero Mousa Dembele. So what is Poch gonna do? Great question, not sure. A lot of people seem to think he’s gonna push Dele Allie a little further up the field for the time being. I can imagine worse ideas, but the truth is that is gonna be a tough road to hoe against teams with even modestly okay defenses. Alas, Fulham wish they had a modestly okay backline. Spurs to win 1-0 in an exceedingly forgettable game for everybody involved.

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LAP AROUND THE WORLD

ITALY – Serie A is back and are not wasting any time jumping back in with 2nd place Napoli hosting 4th place Lazio on Sunday.

GERMANY – Bundesliga took the last month or so off but they are BACK BABY!

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No better way to get back in the swing of things with BVBabyjesus (ripip) visiting RB Leipzig in a YOUGE game on Saturday (11:30am CT on FS1).

SPAIN – 4th place Real Madrid is even on points with 3rd place Sevilla giving Saturday’s game important top four ramifications, especially since 5th place Alavas and Getafe are only one and two points back, respectively.

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So there we have it. If you ae not rooting for Leeds to make their long anticipating return to the EPL season you quite simply must not be paying attention.

Enjoy your weekend, kids. Back soon!


Holler,
Samuel Army