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Barstool’s Weekend Soccer Preview – The “Best Case Scenarios” Edition

Sam’s Completely Craptastic Soccer Preview & Pick’em

1-EPL

Hi haters,

Fucking Leicester, man. How can you hate on a club that is in the midst of pulling off one of the sports world’s biggest upset story? I don’t know, but I’m doing it anyway.

One thing is absolutely certain after the club pulled off yet another unconvincing 1-0 win – that’s five in six games for those keeping score at home – is that we are in for an historic finish to the EPL campaign one way or the other. Either the Foxes keep it up and hang on for the most improbable title run in history. or they collapse in epic fashion, spawning so many think pieces from the soccer media that it will make your head spin.

So you’re saying there’s a chance

So you’re saying there’s a chance

But enough of that, let’s get to this weekend’s action…

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ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

English clubs fared far better than anyone could have imagined in this week’s continental competitions, no doubt causing Eric “Bundesliga Fanboi “ Wynalda untold emotional damage, but for those who have already forgotten what happened last time weekend, here’s a little recap:

3-EPLscores

Highlights/lowlights from the domestic games that were:

– “Derby della Barstool” ended up being 89 minutes of sloppiness surrounding two moments of brilliance (perhaps what happens when 75% of the players on the field were coming off a busy international break):

– Fucking Leicester, man. Benefited from not one but two non-calls on PK shouts and did jusssssssssssssssst enough. Again for the millionth time this season:

– Payet with one of the prettiest free kicks you’ll ever see and yet West Ham – the only EPL club more afraid of success than Spurs – still found a way not to take all three points against previously woeful Palace:

– Comprehensive highlight package from Sunderland vs West Brom:

– Don’t worry Newcastle, Rafa Benitez is here to save the DERRRRRRRRP… Toon looked to have saved a massive point with a late goal only to see Norwich score in injury time (on controversial non-call for a possible handball – a theme for the weekend apparently) to win a massssssive six-pointer:

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We’ve now reached the point in the season where clubs have all played different numbers of games, which is to say that the table can be a little misleading, but here is how things stand at the moment (with some particularly poignant stats highlighted in red):

4-EPLtable

Also, because we are such good internet friends you and I, here is a little rundown of the number of points still up for grabs for each individual club, as well as the “most likely” best and worst case scenarios for all 20:

scenarios3

Now on to this weekend’s slate of games:

6-EPLschedule

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PICKS OF THE WEEK

Several big matchups on deck, two of which stand out as offering up a tasty combination of importance and entertainment… none bigger than:

Tottenham (-110)
United (+325)
Draw (+255)

Huuuuuuuuuuuuuge game for both clubs as Spurs need to essentially win out to have a shot at the title while United is in a dog fight to jump their local rival to snag the fourth Champions League slot.

Great news for United: Wayne Rooney is back in action this weekend! Alas, the geezer will be pulling a Portnoy and playing with the club’s U-21 squad.

Anyway, United are riding a 14-game unbeaten streak at White Hart Lane at the moment, and there’s really no reason to think this one will turn out any different – other than the fact Tottenham is a better team with better players and a better coach and more attractive supporters who are infinitely better at getting rich and pleasuring women. Other than that though pretty much everything is going in the Red Devil’s favor in this one.

[Oh wait, you were hoping for some actual analysis? Shit, okay, Jan Vertonghen may be back after an extended injury spell, though Eric Dier’s play in the back means there is no need to rush the Belgian at this point. In my expert opinion, the game will likely come down to who scores the most goals. This is sort of a problem for United, whose offense is less reliable than the Barstool app. While the Red Devils have been winning games lately (eg, against City and Everton), they’ve been doing it in decidedly Leicesterian 1-0 fashion, which just ain’t gonna cut it against the league stoutest defense.]

Spurs to win 2-0.

7-Spurs_Sam1

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West Ham (+285)
Arsenal (-110)
Draw (+265)

The second mouth-watering matchup is, alas, scheduled for the buttcrack of dawn on Saturday morning. For those of you brave enough to wake up and watch, it should be well worth your while.

You might remember in August when West Ham walked into the Emirates and had sexual relations with Arsenal’s wife and daughters. At the time everybody wondered if it was one of those inexplicable performances by the Hammers that serves only to boost expectations from fans who inevitably have their hearts broken a few months later. Like with so many other things this season, this time was different for West Ham, which has managed to (thus far) avoid its traditional second half collapse and is still in the thick of things for a spot in Europa or even Champions League.

As for Arsenal, the Gunners are doing that thing they do every year after crashing out of UCL early by only then starting to play their best soccer of the season. The club has been clicking the past few weeks and has a number of players returning – or on the verge of doing so – from injuries (Cech, Ramsey, Wheelchair and even something called Tomas Rosicky, whatever the hell that is), which could provide an added boost.

rosicky

So. Much. Forehead.

Many people seem to think that Arsenal is going to run right through West Ham in this one, which certainly could happen since the home side may be distracted by the upcoming FA Cup replay with United. My guess though is the visitors take an early lead but the Hammers manage to fight back, eventually eking out a 2-2 draw. [Note: I despised this pick so strongly immediately after punching it in that within minutes it had already crossed over into the “hate it so much I love it” category.]

8-brand

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LOCK OF THE WEEK: Crystal Palace [+110] is fresh off a confidence boosting performance against West Ham last week in which they could easily have walked away with three points but ended up having to settle for just one. Norwich [+240] on the other hand benefited from plenty of good luck in nicking all the points against Newcastle. More importantly, Norwich’s defense is the worst in the league, meaning they might even be bad enough for the Eagles to put a few goals away – a result that I find likely. Palace to win 3-1.

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Do it for Becky, Palace

Miss you, bae

• City [-290] are fresh off their best performance of the season (a draw against PSG in Paris), and are staring at a return leg next week that will be the most important game of their season so far, so if that doesn’t scream “potential let down game” to you then you are doing it wrong. The problem is West Brom’s [+900] offense, which is sneakily one of the worst in the entire league. I want to pick the Baggies. I really, really do. But…….. ahhhhhhhhh, fuck it. Those odds are just too damn tasty. Let’s live a little. Can’t win the lottery without buying a ticket. West Brom to win 2-1 and we drankin’ nothing but top shelf/Courvoisier on Saturday night!

• Is it possible that Sunderland might do the unthinkable and trip up mighty Leicester? I honestly don’t know. I think it’s absolutely plausible given the razor thin margin for error that the Foxes are winning with week in and week out. But on the other hand, if I pick them to do so it’d be (a) nakedly biased and, more importantly, (b) would thereby ensure it doesn’t happen. Conclusion: I’m staying away. (But a 1-1 draw would not shock me.)

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REST OF WORLD

Serie A: Time for another edition of the Derby d’Italia with 5th place (and surprisingly non-sucky all of a sudden) Milan hosting 1st place Juventus on Saturday (1:45pom CT on beIN Sports).

La Liga: 10th place Real Sociedad host leaders Barrrrrrrrthelona on Saturday but – *GASP* – it won’t be shown live because of the aforementioned Italian league game so your best bet is going to be 3rd place Real Madrid hosting 9th place Eibar earlier on Saturday (9am CT on beIN Sports).

Bundesliga: 7th place Schalke versus 2nd place Dortmund in the Ruhr Dærby – one of the biggest in Germany, for the uninitiated – on Sunday morning (8:30am CT on FS1).

MLS: Bigggggggg weekend on this side of the pond starting with the ”cream of the crop” of the Eastern Conference coming atcha on FRIDAY night (UniMas, 6pm CT) when 1st place Orlando City and 3rd place Philadelphia face off. Yeah, yeah, we’re only four games into the season, but scoreboard don’t lie. Then on Sunday evening there’s a doubleheader on FS1 starting with NYCFC versus Fire (6pm CT) followed by Galaxy versus Timbers (8:30pm CT).

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Friendly programming reminder: we got THE CHAMMMMMMPIONNNNNNNNNNNNNS deciding second legs coming up next week.

Pssssssssst, still:
10-still


Holler,
Sam U. L. Army