What can you say about Leicester at this point? All the (deserved) praise and adulation that could be heaped on Ranieri & Co. has already been heaped. Put it this way, if someday a lady decides to give me a blowjob I’d be ecstatic with myself if I lasted two minutes, and yet our buddy Arlo White has legitimately spent the last two weeks orally stimulating the mighty Foxes’ genitals. If that’s not staying power I don’t know what is.
But speaking of staying power, where does Leicester go from here? That will be the gigantic question they face starting in a few weeks once the season has officially come to an end. I have some hot-like-magma fire takes on the subject, but for the time I’m going to keep them to myself since the club has not even had a chance to lift the trophy yet – they will this weekend – and (1) the deserve at least a little time in the sun before we start worrying about next season and (2) I’d just come across as spiteful anyway – which I absolutely am, but nevertheless I’m still willing to applaud the Foxes on what has been an incredible season.
Anyway, the champions have (essentially) been crowned in England, Italy and Germany, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still a shit-ton to play for. In the EPL there is still the relegation scrap as well as the fight for top four and the big money payday that comes along with playing in next season’s Champions League. And most importantly of all, while Tottenham has enjoyed dangling its nutsack on Arsenal’s face for the past few months, it will have all be for naught of the club doesn’t finish ahead of the Gunners. Spurs are up three points with two games to play, with this weekend’s City/Arsenal game potentially being a crucial decider in both the battle to get into UCL and to avoid St Totteringham’s Day.
Oh, and then there is the La Liga title, which very much hanging in the balance at the moment, with the Madrids and Barrrrrrtha almost certain to take it down to the wire before a winner is crowned.
So yeah, I’d say there’s still a lot still to play for. Thus without further ado, let’s get to it.
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Reminder of the weekend that was:
Normally I’d include some highlights and observation but I’m on the road this week so I’m keeping it nice and short… SPEAKING OF WHICH: are there any Montralans (Montrealers? Montrealites?) in the house? If so, if anybody knows of a good soccer/EPL bar to watch games in I’d be mighty obliged if you let me know in either the comments or on twitter dot com… your boy Sammy is all ears for any suggestions you might have.
As it stands, with two (or sometimes three) games left to play the table looks like this:
As for this weekend’s slate:
PICKS OF THE WEEK
Obvious choice for game of the weekend…
City fought valiantly against Real in the Champions League, conceding only one goal in two games, meaning the the club did everything they needed to defensively in order to move on. This was particularly impressive since Vincent Kompany limped off and had to be replaced just minutes into the second leg in the Santiago Bernabeu. Offensively, however, the Sky Blues were useless. I attended a 4-year-old’s birthday party last week at a place with no TVs or alcohol, and I promise you that I was more excited about being there than Yaya Toure was about playing in that game. Dude gave zero fucks. He broke into a sprint once all game, probably on accident, and got subbed off 30 seconds later, I assume because he didn’t feel like running back down the field. Sergio Aguero spent the game talking to his pet volleyball an island. And don’t even get me started on Kevin De Bruyne, who was so unbelievably bad in both legs against Real that it almost makes you question whether his brilliance against PSG was some sort of mirage.
Anyway, there are only two directions to go after a soul-crushing loss like City just experienced. One is to call it a day, pack up your stuff, and go golfing. The other is to rally around one another and finish the last few games on a high note. I can’t help thinking that whichever direction the club goes will be a direct reflection of their feelings towards Manuel Pellegrini, who helped bring the club a championship but has felt (and looked) a little like a dead man walking ever since.
Thankfully this weekend City faces an Arsenal squad that is consistently redefining the term “mental midgetry”. The Gunners will probably take the lead at some point but there is no doubt in my mind they will find a way to capitulate, not once but twice. This has 2-2 draw written all over it.
• Chelsea [+140] just played their Super Bowl last weekend and, congrats to them, they managed a tie. Congrats boys! Just think, another win and you’ll almost certainly assure yourselves of a top half finish! Unfortunately this has letdown game written allllllllll over it, especially against the hungry and desperate Black Cats [+190]. Sunderland to win 2-1.
• Don’t look now but Sam’s Sanctified Aston Villa Lottery™ has been paying out winners left and right over the last couple of months.
• I mean, jesus christo, show a little dignity one time for me, Villans. This week’s contestant is none other than Newcastle [-160], which is only three spots higher in the table than Villa [+425] and yet not even within shouting distance points-wise. It would only make too much sense for Newcastle, which has fought and scraped its way out of the relegation zone the last couple weeks, to lay an absolute turd against the worst club in the history of the EPL in a game they absolutely need…. I don’t see it happening though. Rafa’s BeNewcastle to win 2-1.
• Leicester [-110] welcome Everton [+280] on Saturday and I’ll be damned if I’m going to pass up one of the last couple opportunities I have to pick against the Foxes and get burned for doing so. They have already won the league and will be missing some important players, though on the other hand Everton’s summer break began a few months ago… tough call but I’m going with a 1-1 draw [+270].
• Tottenham [-105] are without Dele Alli and now Mouse Dembele, who have been naughty boys and are suspended for the rest of the season. Eric Dier legitimately should be suspended for at least as long for attempting to maim several Chelsea guys, but apparently the league realized the victims of his assaults probably had it comes so he get off the hook. Southampton will want to secure its Europa slot but this has comeback game written all over it for the hosts. Spurs to win 3-1. [Note: I almost called this the lock of the week, but then I remembered I’ve never gotten one of those right and this is NOT the time to fuck around with Tawtsenal crawling up our ass.]
WYNALDA’S WEEKLY WITTICISM
You may recall that last week’s blog when I introduced this section after Wynalda blew my mind with one of the most childish, self-absorbed tweets that I’ve ever seen, which in the grand scheme of things is REALLY saying something considering how twitter tends to bring out the self-absorbed teenage girl in everybody.
Now I’ll admit I didn’t do nearly enough research this week on account of a shortage of time, but I did see this winner where our boy Where’s Wynaldo – a guy who has spent 98% of his post-playing career chickenheading on camera and 2% coaching (mostly) semi-pro guys – more or less compared himself to the hottest coach in the entire soccer universe.
Ballsy move, no choice but to respect it.
Real, Atletico and Barrrrrrrrrrrthelona all squeaked by last weekend, meaning that the same scenario holds true this weekend… though the fact both Madrid clubs still have a Champions League final to contend with (get distracted by) should be a small bonus for the Catalans. Right now the table looks like this:
No tripleheader this weekend, unfortunately, as all 20 clubs play at the exact same time. Real/Valenthia gets tip billing on beIN Sports and Barça/Espanyol can be found on beIN Español (if you are one of the fortunate that get it).
Reminder: the first tiebreaker in La Liga is head-to-head scores (cumulative total of the goals scores in the home-and-home matchups), meaning that Barcelona has the edge on Atleti (4-2) and Real Madrid (5-2), while Atleti has the tiebreaker over Real (2-1) if it comes down to just those two clubs.
REST OF WORLD
Bundesliga: Bayern might score 75 against Ingolstadt this weekend (9:30am ET), so if you like watching insane beatdowns then this is probably your best bet. Also, rumor has it the foxy Ms. Jones will be on the call for FOX, which is must-see TV right there.
Serie A: Battle for the all-important second automatic slot in UCL group stage, thus avoiding qualification, is up for grabs between Roma (vs Chievo; 6:30am ET on Sunday) and Napoli (at Tornio; 2:45pm ET on Sunday).
MLS: I’m hoping to get a little more balls-deep in MLS as soon as the European league die down but for now suffice to say there is plenty of parity and the games I have watched so far this season have been well worth my time.
So there you have it. I’ll be back next week as things REALLY get down to brass tax.
Sam U. L. Army