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Barstool’s Weekend Soccer Preview – The “Mounited vs Pepcity (Part I)” Edition

Sam’s Safe Space For Soccer Stoolies

1-EPL

Folks,

We made it. As always, the international break was a trying period for everybody, but I’d like to think we used the time off to learn a little about ourselves and have come out the other side as better people.

In addition to a pair of wins for the USMNT – and umpteen goals for god’s gift to soccer Christian Pulisic – there were a couple of notable happenings that dominated the headlines here in the US over the past week or so. The first was Megan Rapinoe’s decision to go all Colin Kaepernick on the Star-Spangled Banner’s ass and then late this week came news of the pending un-retirement of Landon Donovan.

Back to steal yo girl, again

Back to steal yo girl, again

Snap judgments on the respective events:

– Freedom to protest and anti-protest is what makes America great. I don’t really mind Rapinoe kneeling, and same for the decision by the owner of an opposing team to play the anthem before the players were on the field for a subsequent game in order to circumvent her ability to kneel during it. Tit for tat. Rapinoe and the NWSL (and maybe even social injustice!) remain in the headlines. Everybody wins, kinda.

– Don Ovan’s wife popped out a kid in January. Nine months later old boy “suddenly” gets the itch to play soccer again. Coincidence? Yep, nope. How much money do you think your boy KFC would pay for a readymade excuse to get out of the house every day – let alone GET paid for said excuse (not to mention being heralded as a savior for the Galaxy, which has been decimated by injuries). Brilliant, brilliant move by LD. (As for what it says about MLS… well, this plus rumors of Ronaldinho’s possible appearance is likely good for ticket sales [and near-term interest] but won’t help the beat back the tired accusations of it being a “retirement league”.)

3-LD1

Anyway, enough of that, but before I forget, I posted a brief but comprehensive rundown of how all 20 EPL clubs fared during the transfer window, which you should check out if you have not.

Moving on, we got myriad mouthwatering matches on deck, including some big big big BIG’uns, which – even for the “socker suks” contingent – should be a perfect way to wake up and crack a few beers and get mentally prepared for the “real” kickoffs just a few hours away. After all, you can’t say you spent all weekend sitting on your fat ass and drinking while watching sports on the couch unless you start at the buttcrack of dawn on Saturday morning…

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ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Remember what happened on the last match day? Me neither, so here’s a recap:

4-EPLscores

Some news, notes and/or observations:

– Arsenal FINALLY looked a little like the Arsenal we all know and hate. Lexi and Ozil brought their A-game, which is a recipe for an ass-whooping for any and all clubs outside the top 5-6 in the league. How good were they? Well as one example,Ian Darke – who is normally a fantastic announcer – (and whoever his color commentator was) repeatedly suggested that this goal by Lexi was an “accidental” touch when in reality a slow motion replay shows just how sick of a touch it was:

– Let’s give Hull some credit where credit is due. Los Tigres held United scoreless for 97% of the game but still fell short on a late goal by substitute Marcus Rashford. Begs the question of where Hull goes from here… probably down, but no matter how hard the fall is we can never take away how impressive their first month of the season has been. So they’ve got that going for them. Which is nice.

– Likely Liverpool’s best performance all season. Waltzed into White Hart Lane and more than held their own. Tough to say they deserved more than a point but even that coming off a loss to Burnley ain’t bad. Spurs, on the other hand, have yet to get going this season. With their Champions League campaign only days away – nervous? Who’s nervous? STOP YELLING – right about now would be a good time to get their shit together. (Pretty please?)

– Speaking of Burnley, time must feel like a flat circle for the wee ones. Last time they were in the top flight (2014-15) Eden Hazard was good at soccer, and apparently now that the Clarets are back Hazard remembered how to play again. It’s almost as if his 2015-16 diarrhea-fest never even happened.

(Except it did.)

– Everton grinded out a 1-0 win. Zero point zero percent chance they win that game last season. That’s what we (should) call The Ronald Koeman Effect.

– Leicester got a dub!

– Scoreless draw involving West Brom. Shocking.

Little early to get our panties in a bunch about the table at this point but let’s take a quick looksee anyway:

5-EPLtable

Again, early days but it’d be hard to argue that Manchester A, Manchester B and Chelsea – the only clubs to have taken all nine points from three games – haven’t emerged as the cream of the crop so far.

On the other end of the table things are more or less starting to get sorted out, with the glaring exception of Stoke, which has had a tough schedule (v MID, @City, @EVE), though they thankfully get a big breather this weekend with a home game against Tottenham.

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As for all the other games the soccer gods have blessed us with, here’s what we got coming up:

7-EPLschedule

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PICKS OF THE WEEK

All the hype going into this weekend has been focused on one game and one game alone, and understandably so given the trillions of dollars’ worth of players (and coaches) that will be on display, though there is another game that to me should be almost as interesting – albeit for different reasons. We’ll get to that in a minute though, first…

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United [+130]
City [+220]
Draw [+230]

Where do we even begin on this one? Both clubs have spent ungodly sums of money over the last couple seasons to win the league, and not just on big name players but also on perhaps the biggest name coaches in the world. All things being equal, I think City is the better team right here right now. However, Sergio Aguero’s suspension means the club’s starting XI is very up in the air. I’d like to see Pep slot in Kelechi Iheanacho up top but it would not come as a big surprise if he instead goes with Raheem Sterling, Nolito or even David Silva. Add to that the fact that there are few better coaches in one-off tactical battles (with plenty of time to prepare) than Mourinho, and it is hard to pick against the Red Devils. In the end my guess is this will be a slow, staid affair that finishes in a wholly disappointing 1-1 draw.

9-pep

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Liverpool [-160]
Leicester [+430}
Draw [+300]

This game is getting overlooked given the prestige of the Mancunian Derby but in terms of potential entertainment value my money is on this puppy. Liverpool’s bugaboo is consistency while Leicester is still “finding itself” coming off of their incredible run last season. Neither team has shown much in the way of offense in their last couple games, but that’s when Liverpool’s hot-and-coldness comes into play. My prediction: goals, with the home team notching more. Liverpool to win 3-2.

10-klopp

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Other picks:

• Hull [+220] are off to a damn good start but have letdown (after the heartbreaking last minute loss to United) written all over them. The Clarests [+140] could be the beneficiary. Burnley to win 2-1.

• Despite having lost precisely zero games, Middlesbrough [+125] has been tough to pin down so far. Palace [+250] on the other hand has been predictably lackluster, winning precisely zero games. The Eagles did at least show a little heart just before the break and Benteke seems a good matchup for the visitors. Gimme a 1-1 draw [+215].

• Swansea showed a little heart against Leicester but Chelsea has way too many – suddenly motivated – weapons. The Swans will undoubtedly try to hang on for a draw and may come close but eventually, perhaps after somehow managing to avoid yet another red card, Diego Costa will find a winner. Chelsea to win 1-0.

• Sunderland [+270] has earned precisely one point on the season through three games, which came last match day when the Black Cats visited Southampton in a game they likely deserved to win. Everton {+110] is in fourth place, which means they are dying for a reason to knock themselves down a pig. Sunderland to win 2-1.

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REST OF THE WORLD

Germany: Leverkusen vs Hamburg on Saturday (8:30am CT on FS1)

Italy: Juventus vs Sassuolo on Saturday (Noon CT on beIN)

Spain: There are some better games only being shown on beIN en Espanol so I’ll instead recommend Real Madrid vs Osasuna on Saturday (9am CT on beIN)

Scotland: NEW FIRM! Celtic vs Rangers 2.0 on Saturday (6am on FS1)

MLS: Happy Landon Donovan-Is-Back Weekend! I pity the fool who thinks MLS media outlets are going to mention anything else for the next week or two. Here’s the full slate:

MLS

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Know what next week is? Thaaaaaat’s right (close your ears United and Liverpool and Chelsea fans)!

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Get pumped. (Note: here’s a full Champions League preview blog.)


Holler,
Sam U. L. Army