How was that title for some pseudo-clickbait? Yeah, I probably need some practice. Anyway, welcome to the latest edition of the blog that 85% of stoolies hate (and 85% of non-stoolies hate because its Barstool), in which we will discuss the spectacular weekend of lawn fairy sports directly ahead.
BUT FIRST, let’s take a little look around the soccer universe to make sure you are all kept fully abreast of things and can wow all the ladies with your knowledge of jogo bonito:
- Arsene Wenger is officially trying to get fired
Honestly, impossible to hate this move. First off, Arsenal fans are by far the whiniest gaggle of soccer fans (though United fans give them a run for their money), so he’s not wrong. Secondly, Old Man Wenger has clearly zero desire to continue coaching a club where a majority of fans hate his guts, and if he quits he wouldn’t get all the goodgood cash via a golden parachute that you know is in his contract, so what better way to ensure yourself a nice relaxing spring on a Greek island somewhere than by forcing the board to sack your ass? Again, can’t hate it. Probably top three thing Wenger has done in his life just behind bitch-smacking L’il Jozay Mourinho and finally figuring out how to zip a coat.
- Liverpool bans newspaper
Almost 30 years after The Sun invented #FakeNews by running the totally false headline above (and others) in the immediate wake of one of the worst disasters in soccer history (look up Hillsborough if you don’t know what I’m talking about), Liverpool decided to stop issuing press credentials to journalists from the paper starting… this week. Why now? That’s not exactly clear but a court officially exonerated fans from wrongdoing relatively recently and this comes after years and years of pressure from supporters groups (one with the catchy name of “Total Eclipse of The S*n” – get it?) to tell the paper to fuck off. On the surface it would have made sense to do something like this, oh, I donno, maybe right after The Sun ran the ridiculous headlines, but doing it now seems like Liverpool is playing with fire. If there is one thing I have learned recently it is that banishing journalists only results in good things for said journalists (after all it’s not the size of “J” that counts, it’s how you use it – allegedly).
Immediately followed by:
- Harry Kane loves – LOVES – him some New England Patriots
Welp, nobody is perfect.
- The unthinkable happened in France
Sub-headline: “How about your boy Kyle Bonn over here thinking one goal exonerates Depay for 18-months of shittiness?”
- Qatar eschews building a sustainable economy in favor of mega-stadiums that will be used for one month
The country is on track right now to spend $200 billion on the World Cup. South Africa spent $4 billion. The scope and scale of the stupidity on display with Qatar hosting this tournament will never not bottle my mind.
And there we have it! That’s everything! Now that we are up to date on all that is going on in footfairyland, let’s move right along to the games on deck this weekend…
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Reminder of what happened last matchday (this past midweek):
News, notes and observations:
– Arsenal realized that beating Chelsea would give Tottenham an outside shot at the title, so the Gooners took a dive. That’s the only explanation for their piss poor showing last weekend. (Because it sure as hell isn’t simply that Conte’s Chelsea is really, really, really good – and well rested to boot.)
– I had an epiphany in the middle of the EPLeicester/United game:
– 99.99999% of twitter polls are useless, but this one was pretty telling:
Talk about a kick to the dick for Democrats. They even lost to Liverpool, which hasn’t won a single (league) game all year. Ouch.
– Everton/Bournemouth in your average everyday 9-goal game (including four from big bad man Romelu Lukaku). Defense doesn’t get you laid, after all.
– West Ham sans Payet >>>>>>>>>>>>> West Ham with Payet, apparently
– Crystal Palace may be able to escape the relegation zone at some point, but they will never ever be able to wash off the stink of a 0-4 home defeat to Sunderland as long as the club is still alive. Fair play to the Black Cats though as that was about as impressive a performance as they have come up with in years.
– Let’s play everybody’s favorite parlor game… “Hot or Not”:
West Brom, you dirty dogs! Southampton, you dirty dogshit.
As for the table, this is what we got after 23 games:
And the games on deck this weekend:
PICKS OF THE WEEK
I don’t know if you guys have heard the breaking news yet but Liverpool hasn’t won a single game in the league since the turn of the year. It’s now mid-February(ish). That’s… that’s not good. In fact, here is how the tables have changed – dare I say flipped – since January 1st.
Nobody has started calling for Klopp’s head on a stake just yet since everybody loves him (even me), but the club needs to snap out of their funk ASAP or they are could find themselves looking up at United, Everton… perhaps even West Brom? Yikes.
As for Tottenham, the club has been winning, winning, winning, drawing here and there, but mostly winning. In fact they have as many losses in 2017 as Liverpool has (league) wins… which is zero. Not a bad string of results, HOWEVER, as I’ve mentioned on twitter a couple times the club’s form – Chelsea win aside – has not been anywhere near as spectacular as the final scores might suggest. Add to that (1) injuries to key guys like Danny Rose and Jan Vertonghen that have made Spurs one of the best defensive teams in Europe, and (2) the team has consistently laid massive eggs at Anfield, and this is a much tougher match-up that it might seem on paper.
Before we get to the prediction though, a quick mea culpa: I try not let my biases get in the way of picks, but in retrospect I clearly had a weak moment last week. Going with Arsenal over Chelsea was just stupid. Plain and simple. I just took a lap and will try to do better next time.
Anyway, could Spurs win tomorrow? Mehhhhhhhhh, maaaaaaaaaybe. They are the better team and are in better form, so there is that. Liverpool also have a huge hole at CB since Klavan is out with a mild cough and Dejan Lovren is coming back off an knee injury. The latter is supposed to go alongside Joel Matip, but hard to be confident he’ll be fully fit. So those right there are a lot of reasons why the visitors could pull it out. However, I’ve seen this move before. I know how it ends: with me crying in the corner nursing my 18th Guinness after Spurs lose a winnable game and wave bye-bye to any title hopes.
At Anfield. Rested Coutinho/Mané. Backs against the wall. Hell, Klopp may even put a striker on the field at some point – perhaps even in the starting XI?! Maybe I’m swinging too far in the other direction and over-compensating for my momentary bias last week, or maybe I’m just trying to make you rich. Liverpool to win 2-1.
Mighty Burnley is a one-trick pony: they win at home. The club has quietly snuck into 12th place (almost top half!) in the table thanks to nine wins. Guess how many road wins they have? Asked another way, how many of Big Cat’s Girl Scout cookies remain uneaten at this point? That’s correct, zero. For the record, that’s not a knock on the Clarets. “Protecting your house” is a recipe for avoiding relegation, which is numbers one through 10 million on Burnley’s to-do list at the moment.
Unfortunately none of those nine home wins came against a team with as much firepower as Chelsea.
Going with Burnley to win this weekend feels like something a poor person would do, but there is a small part of me that really thinking the wee lads could do something silly like score an early goal and pack 10 guys in the 6-yard box for the rest of the game, ultimately settling for a 1-1 draw. I really think that is a possibility. Maybe, jusssssssst maybe. Alas, I’m still on day one of ignoring my biases so I just can’t do it.
Chelsea to win 2-0.
More important than the game itself though is the question on everybody’s mind: will Burnley’s new boy Joey Barton attempt to kill Diego Costa in the first half, or will he wait until the second half? My money is on the 79th minute (+/- 5).
• Arsenal [-350] at home are of course prohibitive favorites against Hull [+1000] but it is hard not to like the Tigers to at least keep this close. For one, don’t look now but the visitors have suddenly figured out how to play soccer, including wins over Liverpool, United and Bournemouth. Add to that the fact that Arsenal are staring at a Tuesday trip to Bayern Munich in the Champions League, and this looks a little bit like a trap game for the Gooners (tough to call it that though coming off the ass-whupping by Chelsea last weekend though). I’ll be honest, I’m torn. Arsenal will probably handle their business for once, but is it worth taking a big-money flyer on Hull (the 6:30am CT kickoff) so you can wake up on Saturday morning and already be filthy rich? I say “sure, why not”… 1-1 draw [+500].
• As discussed, Everton [+115] is hotter than a fat guy’s buttcrack and can’t stop scoring. Middlesbrough [+260] is colder than a polar bear’s testicle and can’t score period. Sometimes the world doesn’t make sense. Middlesbrough to win 1-0.
• It’d be easy to say that last week’s loss to Sunderland should be a wake-up call for Palace [+270], but the real problem is that the spine of the lineup is decimated by injuries at the moment and that isn’t changing this week. Stoke [+105] to win 3-1.
• Southampton [+100] versus Sunderland [+285] is a classic matchup of two of my most time-honored gambling rules. The first is “Never bet on a bad team coming off an unexpectedly good win” while the second is “Never bet on a team with zero healthy centerbacks”… which of the two will over-rule (to speak speak) the other? I’m sticking with the former. Southampton to win 2-1, if only because Sunderland will be too busy being giddy about their exciting “tropical vacation” to…
• Watford [+1000] is fresh off a 2-1 win over Burnley, which is not quite as impressive as it sounds since the Clarets were playing with 10 men for most of the game. Seems doubtful that United’s [-465] severe allergy to scoring has suddenly disappeared, but they are about as healthy as any club in the league and will probably walk all over the consistently inconsistent Hornets. United to win 3-0.
• Battle of the Mid(table)West Clubs. Don’t look now but West Ham [+110] and West Brom [+245] have both been sneaky good for the last couple months. I’ve mentioned several times that Tony Pulis & Co. have strayed well above their 12th to 14th happy place, but how about the Hammers – who have looked a lot like the walking dead on numerous occasions this season BEFORE watching their best player walk out the door – sliding silently into 11th place? Adding Jose Fonte is a massive upgrade in the center of defense West Ham, so provided some of the injury question marks (Kouyate, Cresswell and especially Andy Carroll) can go, hard not to give them the advantage. West Ham to win 2-1.
• I wrongly thought that EPLeicester [+200], which is fresh off a midweek FA Cup replay, was scheduled to play their next Champions League game next week, which would have made Swansea [+130] this weekend’s Lock of the Century… but the Foxes don’t play Sevilla until the following week so they may actually bother to show up on Sunday. Crafty little fun fact for you about the Swans: they kinda blow chunks at home. Leicester have been weak here, there, home, road and everywhere they have played outside of UCL, but on paper should be the better team. Neither team plays any defense so goals galore is a good bet, but I’ll say 3-3 draw.
• As with EPLeicester, City [-240] has a week to wait before playing their Champions League game (against white hot Monaco) so can concentrate their efforts on the trip to Bournemouth [+575], where the chairman just expressed his confidence in manager Eddie Howe (which, translated to English, means “start winning soon or yer gone”). Pep’s boys have seemingly been revitalized by the arrival of Gabriel Jesus, which has left Sergio Aguero relegated to the bench. (Sidenote: another discussion for another time but I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaate the fact that most manager’s don’t even consider playing with two strikers these days.) Short and sweet: the Cherries are missing way too many guys due to injury. City to win 3-1.
REST OF THE WORLD
Germany: Pretty tame slate in the Bundesliga but if nothing else set your DVR on Saturday for Leverkusen versus Eintracht (8:30am CT on Fox Sports 2).
Italy: Nothing but power tops versus submissive bottoms in Serie A this weekend so let’s go with Juventus visiting Cagliari on Sunday (1:45pm CT on beIN Sports)
Spain: Atleti/Celta Vigo may be the best game of the weekend but its only available online (or en Español) so if you’re looking for a La Liga game to watch on the telly then your options are shockingly – wait for it… waaaaaaaaait for it – either Barrrrrrtha (at Alaves; 9:15am CT on beIN) or Real (at Osasuna; 1:45pm CT on beIN) on Saturday.
So there we have it. CHAMPIONS LEAGUE is baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack starting on TUESDAY afternoon. Get pumped.