Sam’s Safe Space for Soccer Stoolies
This season is shaping up to be an absolutely beautiful mess.
Liverpool’s injury woes are well-known at this point, but this week’s FA Cup loss was a perfect distillation of just how much of a problem the lack of first-choice CBs has been, and will continue to be. At the same time, just as a consensus favorite began to emerge – that being City – their all-world playmaker KDB goes down for 4-6 weeks, which happens to take place just as their bitter rival United is enjoying their best run of form in eons. Then you got very good but flawed contenders in Lester, Spurs and Everton; a handful of serious upstarts in Villa, West Ham and Southampton; and several underachieving but still semi-dangerous (if they get their ish together) blue bloods in Chelsea and Arsenal. The battle for top four and – dare I say it – title race could turn out to be historically entertaining, and godamit I am extremely here for it.
For the moment, though, let’s focus on the here and now, and specifically the mighty tasty little midweek treat (a full slate!) that the soccergods have blessed us with…
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Scores from the last week (prior to the past weekend dominated by FA Cup):
Honorable mention: Villa, Tottenham
20. Sheffield Utd
18. West Brom
Dishonorable mention: Fulham, Wolves
WATCHABILITY INDEX (meaning highest on the must-watch TV scale… not always for complimentary reasons)
1. Chelsea (soooooooo, um, who tf is at the wheel of this beautiful, expensive disaster?)
2. Leeds (as fun as they are unpredictable)
3. Villa (just plain ol' high quality, hard-nosed soccer every time out)
Table as things stand:
Dangly status: getting a little chill up in here
And the schedule for this week:
PICKS FOR THE MIDWEEK
Wanna take a guess at when Liverpool last won a game in the league? It was more than a month ago when they curb stomped Palace (7-0). As fun as that was they then embarked on a poop-filled run of five straight games in which they dropped points to the likes of West Brom, Newcastle, Southampton, United and Burnley. Woof. If Klopp isn’t smashing the panic button right now, what is the point of even having a panic button?
Everything going wrong with Liverpool stems from their CBs. VVD and Gomez were fast and good enough to play an extremely high line. This allowed the entire team to press the opposition, forcing mistakes and takeaways that they could turn into instant offense. VVD and Gomez (or Matip for that matter… but the presence of VVD first and foremost) also gave TAA and Robertson tons of confidence to go pretend to be wing attackers and make things happen on offense. Now they have to hang back a lot more and help cover for people like Rhys Williams and/or Nat Phillips, and to a certain extent Fabinho (though to his credit he’s done a decent job for a DM playing CB).
Liverpool finally looked a little more like the Liverpool we have come to expect in the FA Cup game against United this week, scoring for the first time(s) in forever and just generally looking a helluva lot more dangerous. Unfortunately it came at the expense of leaving their defense (notably CBs) exposed, which United took full advantage of.
I suspect that Thursday could turn into a carbon copy of that game, with Spurs playing – “Jozayball vs Big Six” at its finest – bend don’t break defense and trying to exploit Liverpool’s soft underbelly on the counter. Keep in mind that Tottenham come in a little more rested than Liverpool and it will come down to whether Kane and Son can take advantage of enough of the half dozen good chances they will inevitably get. I haven’t said this often lately but I kinda like Tottenham’s chances. [Note: I’d go from “liking” to “loving” this result if Jordan Henderson (who has also deputized surprisingly well at CB) does not pass a late fitness test and can’t go this week.
Prediction: TOTTENHAM TO WIN 2-1
Dang Spurs, save some #winning for the rest of us!
High quality matchup involving two very good teams in solid form that should be a lot of fun for all involved – especially neutrals. I’m a big fan of the way both of these teams have been constructed this year, and (unlike some other clubs working with relative n00b manager) each are led by managers who have proven track records. Game screams DRAW to me but I’m giving the Toffees a totally made up tiebraker thanks to the return of Lucas Digne.
Prediction: EVERTON TO WIN 3-2
Chelsea have a better team than the Jimenez-less Wolves but I have seen crackhead meth addicts who are less of a mess than the London club right now.
Wolves have been playing like microwaved poo for weeks as well, including the FA Cup game on Friday where they barely scraped by our beautiful babies Chorley, and a hat-trick from Timo Werner (who almost singlehandedly got Lampard fired) makes all the sense int he world….. but I’m going with the upset simply because Chelsea is such a clownshow at the moment and there has to be at least a small chance someone over there thinks the game is on Thursday so they forget to show up and forfeit. You laugh but it could happen.
Prediction: WOLVES TO WIN 1-0
Some more predictions… to increase the possibility that I eventually get one right, maybe (note: gonna start highlighting my BETTER BETS – meaning the ones I legitimately like as opposed to just picking because it's kinda my make pretend job – in BOLD):
• Palace 2-2 West Ham
• Newcastle 1-3 LEEDS
• Southampton 1-2 ARSENAL
• West Brom 0-2 CITY
• Burnley 1-1 Villa
• BRIGHTON 2-1 Fulham
• Other Utd 2-0 Sheffield Utd
So there we have it. Quick turnaround with a full slate on deck again this weekend, PLUS we got a bloodbath on our hands as USMNT will exact a little more revenge from T&T on Sunday:
Thanks for reading you beauties!