Barstool’s Weekend Soccer Preview – The “Benitez is Back Baby” Edition
Sam’s Completely Craptastic Soccer Preview & Pick’em
The schedule for this weekend is precisely the kind of jumbled mess of games and overlapping competitions that leaves new, passive and/or armchair fans of soccer more befuddled than – or so it seems – a lot of commenters trying to fathom one of Ombudsman PFT’s political blogs. The layers of comprehension would be a social scientist’s wet dream.
Layer 1: “Did anyone proofread this shit? Your spelling sucks. Youll fit in great at barstol.”
Layer 2: “HAHA misspelled words are so funny! Your so clever! Just kidding your worse than Neil. What a terrible hire.”
Layer 3: “I get ur shtick I just don’t
find you funny [understand your humor].”
Layer 4: “I [get it and laughed but am uncomfortable with change]” need a hug.
Speaking of those glorious commenters, it’s been a little while since you and I have had a nice little heartfelt tête-à-tête. After all, I wouldn’t want you to feel like I am ignoring your feelings…
Note: Arsenal fans have been bringing the heat in the comment section lately.
PHEW, good times. Now on to the weekend.
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
I was at in Seattle last weekend and woke up hours in advance of the true buttcrack of dawn to watch the North Loser Dærby, but then was busy all day with groomsman responsibilities and missed most of the other games, so I had some catching up to do on the old DVR when I got back. Either way, here’s a reminder of the results for those of us who were sleeping/drunk/not paying attention:
Some of the highlights as compiled by the barstool audio/visual department:
NLD in 6 seconds:
That magical mini munchkin Mahrez struck again:
City versus Villa
Palace found a new and exciting way to lose:
Annnnnnd Chelsea found a new and exciting way not to win (aka they got Clattenburged)
Heading into this weekend, this is what the current table looks like:
So, ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, Leicester might actually do this, huh? Pretty incredible, though rather unfortunate for me personally since any other year the Foxes would be battling it out with the United’s, Chelsea’s, City’s and Arsenal’s of the world, and I would be behind them 700%… alas, the Spurs supposedly still have a shot, which means I can’t help but root against the little buggers.
As it stands, these are the current odds to lift the EPL trophy this season:
As for the games on deck this weekend, this is where things get a little hairy. We’ve got a half slate of regular season EPL games going on, which will be played in parallel with the FA Cup quarterfinals. All regular league games involving clubs still alive in the cup have been postponed and will be made up at a later date. As far as specific times and television schedules, this is what we’re looking at:
Chelsea hasn’t lost to a non-Frog-eating-gabillion-petrodollar-club all year, or close enough anyway, but this one is not shaping up favorably. Diego Costa is out and Real Madrid’s on-loan Eden Hazard is in doubt, though the return of Pedro will be a nice boost (assuming he comes back in the hot-like-fire form he was in before picking up a knock). Everton is completely healthy and should benefit from the absence of Kevin Mirallas, who is best known for picking up stupid red cards and missing PKs. [The mere reminder of Spurs’ rumored interest in him last summer sends shivers up my spine.]
This has been a lost season for both clubs, but to Chelsea’s credit they are at least trending towards a possible Europa spot – congrats lads! Enjoy Spursday! – whereas Roberto Martinez has somehow coasted back into the bottom half with a roster that is talented enough to be a Europa contender at worst. The Toffees need this more, and while you should never (ever) underestimate their ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, at home with everybody ready to go I think Lukaku and Barkley will find a way to do just enough. Everton to win 2-1.
West Ham (+140)
One thing that people may have forgotten about last weekend’s performances – a sad loss for United and last minute come-from-behind win for West Ham – is that the results of both games were dictated in large part by red cards. Rashford and Martial, and the return of Lingard, are going to be too much for West Ham. MORTAL LOCK**: United to win 2-0.
**don’t say I never did anything for you, Hammers
• FA Cup is Arsenal’s [-180] last/best/only shot at silverware this season (probably) so one would have to assume Wenger won’t be resting anybody for Watford [+500]. Given the Gunners recent swoon, the odds on Watford look miiiiiiiiiighty tasty, but their inability to score – the Hornets have been shut out in five of the last six league games – combined with the return of Gabriel and the Dying Giraff-esacker means I can’t pull the trigger on the upset. A draw would be an absolutely ideal result for the likes of Leicester and Tottenham, but my guess is the Gunners somehow snake this one. Arsenal to win 2-0.
• Bournemouth [-110] is coming off two of its more impressive performances of the season, and good on the Cherries for clawing their way well clear of the drop zone, but the odds on Swansea [+330] are far too nice to pass up. Sigurdsson is an automatic set piece goal a game at this point, so it’s up to their defense to hold the fort. Swansea to win 2-1.
• Tottenham [-200] got spanked at Dortmund on Spursday, though the game was essentially ruined by Pochettino who sat Kane, Alli, Alderweireld, Walker and others for most or all of the game. Thanks be to the soccer gods, the club won the Aston Villa [+600] lottery this weekend. Spurs to win 3-1.
• Newcastle [+475] should be a club on the rise after adding Jonjo Shelvey and Andros Townsend to an already too-talented-to-be-relegated squad, and yet they sit in 19th place. The only question is what took so long to toss Steve McClaren out on his ass. In comes Rafa Benitez – Real Madrid to Tyneside in a months life comes at you fast – whose first test is only away at league leading Leicester. Yikes. Add to that all the players who are in doubt for Toon (Cisse ,Townsend, Tiote, Coloccini) and nobody in their right might could possibly think they could take anything away from this game. The one and only thing going for the visitors is the difficulty Leicester has had against clubs that pack it in on defense, though whether Newcastle even has the personnel to do so – conceding almost 2 goals/per game is pretty awful – remains to be seen. Bit of a longshot, and probably born more out of hope than belief, but I’ll say Newcastle finds a lucky one and hangs on… for a 1-1 draw [+325].
REST OF WORLD
La Liga: Pretty tame weekend in Spain. 5th place Sevilla host 4th place Villarreal on Sunday (10am CT) in a game with important Champions League ramifications.
Serie A: Pretty tame weekend in Italy. 9th place Bologna heading to 5th place Inter Milan on Saturday (1:45pm CT) is your best bet.
Bundesliga: Not nearly so tame a weekend in Germany, where 2nd place Dortmund host 4th place Mainz on Sunday (11:30am CT on FS2).
MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
Don’t look now but opening weekend was actually pretty godamn exciting. Thankfully there are no more games against Liga MX opponents for a while so MLS can get back to looking a little like an up and coming league again. Biggest game of the weekend from a star power standpoint is going to be NYCFC (no Pirlo, no party) hosting the mighty mini-mite Sebastian Giovinco and Toronto FC on Sunday (4pm CT on espn2).
So there you have it, the best (and worst) weekend soccer preview Barstool will publish today. Next week: more of The CHAMMMMMMMPIONNNNNNNS!
Sam U. L. Army