Sam’s Completely Craptastic Soccer Preview & Pick’em
The first piece of silverware of the season will be handed out on Sunday when Herr Klopp and Dead Manuel Walking meet in the Capital One Artificially Manufactured Importance Cup final at Wembley. It is a safe bet that this is the best shot either club will have at lifting a trophy, though to their credit they are both still alive in other competitions (Europa League for Liverpool and Champions League for City).
Speaking of the said continental competitions, don’t look now but La Liga teams are absolutely DOMINATING both at the moment. For those keeping score at home, all three teams still alive in the Champions League are big favorites to move on to the quarterfinals after the first leg of the first home-and home knockout stage, while each of the four clubs advanced to the Round of 16 in the Europa League. That’s seven for seven. Not bad.
Point being, the EPL has some serious soul-searching to do about how to raise its overall level just to make the question of “Which league is best?” into an argument again since simply throwing money at the problem is clearly not getting the job done… though when City and Spurs end up lifting the respective Champions and Europa League trophies things
will might would theoretically look a little less bleak.
Agreed. Now let’s get to it.
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
It has been a couple weeks since the last round of domestic EPL games, so for those who don’t recall here’s a little refresher:
I have been including some video clips of the previous match day action here to help jog the memory of all those picture readers in our midst as to what had happened last match day. Alas, I’m on the road at the moment and unable to Vine the highlights so you’ll have to make do with some written reminders…
– Chelsea and Liverpool treated Newcastle and Aston Villa, respectively, like their personal toilets.
– Gutty win by Southampton.
– The minute you start thinking Everton will makes for can’t-miss television they lose 1-0 to West Brom in one of the more painful games neutrals have had to watch all season. [Important note for television execs: do not under any circumstances televise a game involving Tony Pulis… just stop.]
– Arsenal committed a cardinal sin in conceding early to Leicester (albeit on a questionable penalty call) but managed to wear down their mighty opponents and eventually grabbed all three points on a last gasp winner by Danny Fucking Welbeck.
– Tottenham walked into the Etihad and came away with three points. It wasn’t pretty, and easily could have been a draw. This is precisely the type of game Spurs would have found a way to draw or possibly lose in seasons past. Fuck it, I’m all in emotionally. Let’s do this. What could possibly go wrong? It’s not like Spurs have ever let me down in the past… except for every single time.
– Lulz @ United
Annnnnnnnnnyway, heading into this weekend, this is the current table:
As for the games coming up this weekend, here’s what we got…
[Note: What’s this? Tony Pulis and West Brom on National Television?? OH JOY!!]
Oh, right, and also this:
PICKS OF THE WEEK
Somebody had himself a rather profitable couple days thanks to Champions/Europa League games, which means more money to lose this weekend!
Is LVG still employed? Well that makes my job a lot easier. Arsenal to win 2-1.
The Foxes are still atop the table with only 12 games to go and are finally getting some much deserved respect from both refs (eg, getting a questionable penalty call AT Arsenal) and TV execs, who went with this game on NBCSN over Chelsea/Southampton. This is a three-points-or-bust game for Leicester, and really the only things that could possibly stand in their way are (a) the fact that Norwich is likely going to pack it in a bit and – unlike more ambitious clubs like Liverpool, City and Arsenal – makes counterattacking difficult and (b) me picking the Foxes to win. Mighty, mighty Leicester to win 3-1.
• Crystal Palace (+180) versus West Brom (+170) on NBC. What a glorious way to show off the pageantry of the EPL to the American public. I’m going to do my best to ensure this actually turns out to be mildly entertaining by expecting a somebody-please-shoot-me-now-so-I-can-stop-watching-this kinda game that will end in a 0-0 draw.
• Chelsea (+155) traveling to Southampton (+180) is one of the most intriguing matchups of the weekend, as both clubs began the season looking like shit but have picked it up recently. The Blues come in on the heels of 5-1 whitewashings of Newcastle and City-B, with a perhaps more impressive 1-2 loss at PSG sandwiched in between. Southampton, on the other hand, has three wins and a draw in its last four games, conceding a grand total of zero goals over that span. (Is that good?) Tough to imagine this being a goal-fest. I’ll say Diego Costa eventually finds an ugly one and Chelsea win 1-0.
• One thing about West Ham (-120) is that they are roughly five times more formidable at home. Sunderland’s (+360) away form has been equal-but-oppositely bad. Both clubs are missing some key pieces, but Payet and Emenike running up top should give O’Shea and Koné fits at the back. West Ham to win 3-1.
REST OF WORLD
La Liga: MADRID DÆRBY TIME as Atletico “travels” to Real on Saturday morning (9am CT on beIN Sports). In addition to the obvious importance of taking a dump on the face of your hated rival, this game carries plenty of added significance since both clubs’ hopes of catching Barrrrrrthelona this season are on life support. An attending physician will smother the loser with a pillow, humanely putting them out of its misery for the season.
Serie A: DÆRBY D’ITALIA TIME as 5th place Inter visits leaders Juventus on Sunday afternoon (1:45pm CT on beIN Sports). Inter’s only hope of “success” this season is to secure its place in the top three, assuring it of Champions League soccer next season. Juve, on the other hand, is battling it out for the league title, with Napoli’s recent dip in form meaning the Old Lady is the favorite yet again.
Bundesliga: God help Wolfy. Our dearly beloveds are in 8th place a mere 28 – TWENTY-EIGHT! – points behind Bayern with only 14 games to play. By my math that means Wolfsburg has to make up two-points-per-game on the Bavarian giants just to draw level. Yikes. Welp, no time like the present to start digging itself out of that hole (Saturday at 8:30am CT on Fox Sports 2).
ARTIFICIALLY MANUFACTURED IMPORTANCE CUP FINAL
Let’s all take a moment to think back upon last August when the weather was nice, the trees were adorned with multi-colored leaves, Big Cat was in Wrigley TOFTB bleacher shape… and City was in the midst of spending roughly a bajillion dollars to stake its claim as the odds-on favorite to win not just the league title but pretty much every just about every competition under the sun – save for the Champions League since, let’s be honest, that competition will never be won by a team loaded with talent thanks to a big-spending new-money big-wig…
The point is that for this City team to go through the entire season without lifting a single trophy would have been unimaginable back in the heady days of August. But here the Sky Blues are on the verge of being eliminated from contention for the EPL title and bounced from the FA Cup (essentially out of their own free fill, no less). That leaves the aforementioned Champions League, for which it would likely have to go through Barrrrrrrrrrrthelona (and/or Bayern), and the League Cup as the club’s remaining options. I’ll let you take a guess at which one seems more likely.
Liverpool can countenance no such motivation – nor such pressure, as Klopp is basically playing with house money from now until the end of next summer’s transfer window, during which time he can blame any failures on Brendan Rodgers’ shite personnel decisions. (And let’s be honest, they were kinda shite near the end.) So from a who-wants-it-more perspective, City has the edge.
Talent-wise this game is a much closer matchup than it would have appeared as of a few weeks ago. Vincent Kompany has returned for City and made a world of difference in the back, but Liverpool is a much more dangerous team now that Daniel Sturridge papier-mâché hamstrings have been carefully glued back together. This game strikes me as one that should be absolutely brilliant for neutrals, with both teams throwing haymakers at one another. If Liverpool had Martin Skrtel back and healthy I might feel differently, but as it is I think the four-headed attack of Silva/Sterling/Yaya/Aguero will be too much for a defense “anchored” by Kolo Toure. LOCK OF THE WEEK: City to win 3-2.
Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, your boy Samuel has done gone and cultivated hisself some “sources”
who say the Chicago Fire are on the verge of filling the Harry Shipp-sized hole in their midfield.
“With whom?” you ask… well, how about this guy:
For the majority if you who are unaware, that is John Goossens, a Dutch national who came up through the Ajax and NEC systems (which means he pretty much has to be good, right?) before struggling with some injuries that landed him at Romanian side FC Voluntari last year. Goossens was quietly brought on as a trialist with the Fire a week or two ago, and has apparently impressed new coach Veljko Paunovic.
Rumor has it Goossens and the Fire have agreed to a deal with only a physical and other details (visa, ITC clearance, etc) left to be ironed out before its made official. The club is even optimistic he should be all ready to go for the opener on March 6 against NYCFC.
So there you have it Fire fans, perhaps the club is moving in the right direction after all… not that there was anywhere to go but up.
So there you go, the best (and worst) weekend soccer preview you will ever find on Barstool today. If you couldn’t already tell, this is the point in the season where schedules start getting all sorts of screwy, with games coming fast and furious from all angles, so while Champions and Europa Leagues are taking a break next week, we’ve got a fulllllllllllllll slate of domestic EPL games on the docket for Tuesday and Wednesday. Stay woke.
Sam U. L. Army