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Barstool’s Weekend Soccer Preview – The “Second-Place and Merseyside Dærbies” Edition

Sam’s Safe Space For Soccer Stoolies

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Hi haters,

Don’t blink for the next couple weeks or you’ll miss some games now that we are balls deep in the “busy Christmas schedule” that EPL managers are constantly complaining about. Indeed, including the matchdays last weekend and in midweek, this will be game number three of six that will have been played by the time your New Years hangover wears off. Great news for those of us who will be DYING for some activities that don’t involve explaining to grandma for the fifth Christmas in a row why you haven’t done something more productive with your life – yet.

I’ll try to keep the posts short but two things to touch on before getting to the good stuff:

1) All week soccer twitter has been JO-ing this no-name amateur dude from a German league who won a penalty kick but then admitted he wasn’t fouled so the referee changed his call…

and it is driving me crazy. Dude FLOPPED. He doesn’t deserve praise, he deserves ridicule. Treating him like he did something fantastic is a slap in the face to players who don’t flop around like little Greg Louganis’s/Arjen Robben’s and bring the game into disrepute in the first place. So let’s quit with the high-fives for Toni Munoz and instead congratulate him on being slightly less of a dickhole.

2) Somebody had hisself a nice little midweek:

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They say money changes you. They are probably right. But hopefully even though I’m rich af now my big ass brain will still work just as well. Now let’s go make some mo’ money…

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ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Reminder of what happened on Tuesday and Wednesday:

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News, notes, observations and highlights:

– Palace versus United ended up being a helluva game. Tough to say the Red Devils definitely deserved all three points since Pogba’s first goal was clearly offside and Rojo managed to avoid getting sent off after yet another two-footed “please please please give me a red card” challenge

but one world-class save from DDG and a clinical finish from The Zlatan

and United suddenly hasn’t lost in nine games. Not too shabby. Rough result for Palace though, which can feel hard done by for not getting at least a point out of it.

– Back to back 1-0 wins for Chelsea over West Brom and Sunderland. Haters will say it shows they are beatable. Blues fans say the mark of a good team is winning even when you don’t bring you’re A-game. They are all blowouts in the book, I suppose.

– City was more impressive than the recent losses to Chelsea and UCLeicester (scheduling error) would indicate, and yet less impressive than the 2-0 win over Watford suggests. *shrug*

– Bournemouth’s GP Artur Boruc caught a lot of stick for some poor performances lately but credit where credit is due, old boy came up big against EPLeicester.

– Things are going from bad to worse for Sunderland where David Moyes is now essentially saying publicly that he was lied to by the club’s owner and that there is not going to be much money made available during the January transfer window. This is bad news for all sorts of reasons, not least of which because it makes a bad situation worse by adding manager/owner conflict on top of a team that’s just not all that good, and it also suggests that Moyes feels the club is not good enough to stay up as is – which, while likely true, is one of those things that coaches aren’t supposed to admit. But other than the players not being good, the manager not being confident and owners not being willing to spend money, everything else seems to be good relatively well for the club. Which is nice.

3b-moyes

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After 16 games this is how things stand:

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And here are the games coming up this weekend:

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PICKS OF THE WEEK

City [+105]
Arsenal [+240]
Draw [+255]

We aren’t even halfway through the season yet but Chelsea already has one and three-quarters hands on the league trophy. In fact, one of the yokels from the FA might as well walk their happy ass over to the hoity-toity part of London and hand it to Tony Conte. It’s over. At least that’s what 95% of the talking heads seem to think… which makes Sunday’s matchup between City and Arsenal the all-important “Dærby della Second Place”.

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This one looks like a bit of a battle of attrition with City missing Ilkay Gundogan (long-term injury) along with Fernandinho and Sergio Aguero (suspended for throwing temper tantrums late in the recent loss to Chelsea), while Arsenal is without Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Shkodran Mustafi (injuries). Jokes aside these teams are pretty evenly matched and it should be a helluva game for neutrals. In fact, given how similar the sides are and absent any obvious asymmetrical advantages, it’s hard not to like the value on offer with the visitors pulling out some sort of result with the way that City’s defense has been playing lately. I had Arsenal winning all typed out but decided at the last minute to pussyfoot it. Gimme an entertaining and highly watchable 2-2 draw.

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Everton [+280]
Liverpool [-110]
Draw [+255]

MERSEYSIDE DÆRBY TIME! In truth this rivalry has produced some tame fixtures lately, though the most recent iteration produced some fireworks… albeit all from one side as Liverpool took Everton out behind the woodshed in what ended up being a 4-0 whitewashing last spring.

There will probably be a lot of attention paid to the goalkeeping situation that Klopp kinda sorta backed himself into a corner with by benching Karius and playing Mignolet last time out, but more important for me is whether Joel Matip is ready to go for the Reds on Monday. His absence has proven to be a big problem for what is already a wobbly back line, though most reports indicate he is more likely than not to be fit. Everton just hasn’t been able to get in gear offensively this season but even they would likely be able to turn this into a big of a track meet if Matip can’t go – which the Toffees will need to do in order to keep pace with the crooked number that Liverpool will almost certainly put up with the likes of Mane, Firmino and Origi running roughshod through their Funes More-led (yiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiikes) defense. Assuming Matip does play though, I’d imagine Klopp & Co. will have just a little too much firepower. Liverpool to win 3-2**.

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[[**predicting this sort of scoreline invariably means it will be a 0-0 yawnfest… sorry in advance]]

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Other picks:

• Crystal Palace [+500] probably deserved to get something out of the United game so I wouldn’t be too quick to write them off against Chelsea [-185] at the buttcrack of dawn on Saturday. I’m just not sure the Eagles have it in them to park the bus as (almost) successfully as West Brom and Sunderland recently “accomplished” versus the Blues, so while I reeeeeeally don’t hate a low-scoring draw I can’t help thinking Diego Costa will do what Diego Costa always does and pull a late-winner out of his elderly-looking ass right at the death. Chelsea to win 2-1.

• United States of Swansea [+280] is suddenly incapable of playing in a low scoring game. Not sure that is necessarily a good thing from Big Bad Bald Bob’s perspective, but has been keeping things interesting from a fan’s perspective. Middlesbrough [+105] has been pretty consistent in beating the teams they should beat and losing to the teams they shouldn’t, and Swans – right here right now – likely fall into the former category. Boro to win 2-0.

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• Stoke [+150] hosting EPLeicester [+180] is a toss-up. It’d be easy to write the visitors off given their domestic form but the Potters minus Marco Arnautovic (suspended) and Geoff Cameron (injured) don’t strike me as having the weapons up top nor speed at the back to handle the Foxes. I guess what I am saying is Jamie Vardy eats pieces of shit like Ryan Shawcross for breakfast. EPLeicester to win 3-1.

• 7th place West Brom [+400] welcoming 6th place United [-145] to town in the nationally televised game on Saturday strikes me as a recipe for a nice little noontime nap. Anybody hoping for “goals” or “excitement” should look elsewhere. My gut is saying the Red Devils will pull out an ugly win on some sort of deflection off the foot of Mata, but my head is saying this is the game that Marcos Rojo finally gets the red card he’s been so thirsty for… which Pulic will still somehow find a way to squander. Gimme a 0-0 draw.

• And finally some quick hitters to increase the chances I end up getting one right: Watford over Sunderland because Watford is better than Sunderland at soccer, Tottenham over Burnley for the same reason but also because the wee Clarets are absolutely shite on the road, and finally Southampton over Bournemouth because winning back to back games is anathema to the Cherries.

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REST OF THE WORLD

Spain: double dip in La Liga this weekend with Atletico hosting the interesting but fading Las Palmas on Saturday (9:15am on beIN en Espanol) followed by crosstown rivalry with Barthelona hosting Espanyol on Sunday (1:45pm on beIN Sports).

Germany: sneaky big game in the Bundesliga when 4th place Hertha visit 2nd place (even on points with Bayern) RB Leipzig – Europe’s most beloved upstarts / hated corporate goon squad – on Saturday morning (8:30am on FS1), and you know it is a big game when ya girl Rhiannon Jones will be in the house!

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Italy: Juventus host Roma in a must-see – or at least DVR – game on Saturday (1:45pm on beIN Sports).

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FIFA CLUB WORLD CUP

Real Madrid is about the curbstomp Japan’s Kashima Antlers (yep, that’s their name) at whatever ungodly hour they are going to play on Sunday morning – for the record it is 4am CT (on FS1) – but the real story here is the video replay system that FIFA is “trying out” that involves referees stopping the game, running over to the sideline, watching on a monitor, and then making calls on certain plays. Some hi-tech tweaks like goal-line technology make a lot of sense and are great. This “replay system” is an abomination and somebody needs to kill it with fire before it spreads any further.

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So there you have it. This is going up a bit late thanks to Mother Nature’s old hoe ass doing a number on some travel plans… but hope you and yours all have a happy holidays, and I’ll be back with another post for the next round of games coming up on Boxing Day – which is some sort of special day in the UK but to us is also known as the day after Christmas.

As a parting gift, here’ a little reminder of what soccer warmups looked like back when men were men (guy’s name is John Burridge for those wondering):


Holler,
Samuel Army