Barstool’s Weekend Soccer Preview – The “Ghost of Rooney’s Past vs Present” Edition
We delved into the big Barstool-related news of the week in Wednesday’s Champions League blog (the addition of a one Julie-Stewart Binks to the pirate ship)
so this week’s introductory blurb is instead reserved for discussing one thing and one thing only: Sadio Mané’s red card against City.
This is a red card all day every day in any and every league under the sun. It is insane – INSANE – how many people apparently believe the referee was wrong in sending Mané off, and were mad online that the FA upheld his three-game suspension.
Here were some of my favorite complaints:
1) Goalkeepers are too protected
2) Ederson ducked his head into Mané’s foot
3) Newcastle’s Matt Ritchie did the same thing the very next day but only got a yellow card
4) Mané was watching the ball and did not intend to kick Ederson
5) Sam is just saying that because he hates Liverpool
Here is why these respective points are wrong af:
1) Goalkeepers are absolutely too protected but that has nothing to do with a player – GK, defender, midfielder, striker, whatever – getting KICKED IN THE FACE.
2) Look at the picture above. If you still feel that way punch yourself in the dick. Twice.
3) What Ritchie did was NOT the same thing. Ritchie’s foot was way too high, yes, but he connected with the forearm of Swansea’s Alfie Mawson, and was rightly given a yellow card for it.
If you think that going studs up on a player’s in the face (as Mané did) is the same thing as catching a player in the arm (as Ritchie did) then I just don’t know what to tell you. Think of it this way: gunshot to the arm, bad; gunshot to the head, way worse. If you fail to grasp this concept then I would encourage you to refrain from procreating because the world has too many dummies already.
4) This is the one that people seemed to have the most trouble with so please listen closely if you were one of these people (a little louder for the ones at the back of the room): INTENT. DOES. NOT. MATTER. Mané engaged in a horrifically dangerous tackle. The possibility that he did not see Ederson coming and was not trying to kick him in the face is irrelevant.
5) Ahhhhhhhh yes, the bias card. So here’s the thing: I don’t advertise it very much because it would hurt my “Sam hates Liverpool” street cred but I love Sadio Mané. I love his game, I love his hustle, I love everything about the guy. Having said that, he plays with an edge and – like Dele Alli – steps over the line from time to time. That is part of what makes him him but – like Wayne Rooney early in his career – Mané has to learn to control himself. You can’t get to every ball. Sometimes you have to let up. This was one of those times. And hopefully it will be a lesson learned. But even after all this you still want to argue it was not a red card…
Are we all on the same page?
Results from last weekend:
News, notes and observations:
– Anybody trying to make too much of City’s old-fashioned ass-kicking of Liverpool is trying too hard. Mané’s red card changed everything, and makes it difficult to draw much of a conclusion about either team. Sure, City looked a bit better and probbbbbbbably would have pulled out the win, but at the same time Nicolas Otamendi was THIRSTING to give up a bad goal on a counterattack breakaway… but no Mané, no party for Liverpool.
– Maybe it was a little premature to crown United after watching them beat up on West Sham, pre-transfers Swansea and post-N’Golo Kante Lester, just maybe. Having said that, Stoke is not traditionally an easy place to play and the Red Devils showed some heart after getting punched in the face for the first time all season, responding to Stoke’s early goal with two of their own. (And I usually keep UCL and EPL separate but, credit where credit is due, United had some stretches of seriously sexy soccer against Basel on Tuesday, suggesting the dark days of Moyes and LVG may in fact be fully in the past.)
– Through three games Brighton had scored ZERO and West Brom had conceded ONE. So of course the wee Seagulls won 3-1 because why not?
– Everton’s biggest stumbling block may no longer be a lack of talent but rather a lack of belief. The draw to 10-man City was nice but now looks like an anomaly after the Toffees surrender-monkeyed against Chelsea and Spurs, and honestly never looked like they had a chance. I will note, though, that I think Ronald Koeman got his tactics all wrong against Tottenham and should have started a guy like Calvert-Lewin to run down the channels where he should have known Spurs would be weak. (Another move that smacks of ‘lack of belief’ if we’re being honest.)
– ARSENAL! Welcome to the 2017-18 season. Thanks for coming. Better later than never. (Bournemouth’s invite must be lost in the mail.)
– Speaking of DOA, Palace…… woooooofffffffff. Zero goals in four games is downright impressive, though the performance itself against Burnley at least offers a little hope that things may get better (under a caretaker manager who will hold down the fort until the Ibizan dancing season is over and Big Sam agrees to take over in February).
– Newcastle had no business winning that game.
– Hmmmm. Maybe Huddersfield are who we thought they were after all? TBD.
Honorable mention: Watford
18. West Ham
Dishonorable mention: Everton
PICKS OF THE WEEKEND
Hey, little known fun fact for you guys: Wayne Rooney, who began his career at Everton before playing for United for eons, is now back at Everton. You heard it here first… but prepare yourself because you might hear a lot more about his career arc over the course of this weekend.
*until a bigger club wants to pay me a shit-ton more money for 13 years then put me out to pasture
Paul Pogba’s extended absence comes at a very unfortunate time for United, as the next couple months is when Mourinho will be hoping to fashion the squad into a well-oiled title-contending machine. Tough stretch to be without a key pivot guy. That said, the Red Devils have plenty of guys who can step in, with Ander Herrera no doubt itching to see some more playing time, but as underrated as the little Spanish bulldog is defensively the team is going to be less dynamic going forward (even with the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan).
As for the game itself, United is catching Everton at a fortuitous time as the Toffees were just killed by Tottenham and watched their lifeless corpse get battered by Atalanta in Europa, though to be fair a handful of starters were rested for the latter of those whuppins. I give Everton a much better chance than the bookmakers apparently do, and think a draw is within reach… but hard to go with a team – on the road no less- that has shown such little belief of late. United to win 2-1.
United/Everton will get a lot of the shine but I’m actually more interested to see how Chelsea hosting Arsenal plays out. The Blues are well-built team that is going to be tough to beat unless/until they start picking up some injuries as demonstrated by their 6-0 spanking of something called Qarabag on Tuesday all while resting David Luiz, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata. Arsenal has reeled off a couple wins – Bournemouth last weekend and Koln in Europa – and they have this extremely annoying habit of roaring back to life just before I get ready to write them off (reference: 2017 FA Cup final), but on the road against a fit and refreshed Chelsea squad does not sound like a recipe for success. Chelsea to win 2-0.
• Bournemouth has been straight poo this season, scoring one goal and conceding eight, but have shown glimpses of a team with mid-table potential. Brighton coming off a big and rather unexpected win smells like letdown city. Cherries to win 3-1.
• Vardy and Kelly Nacho are going to cause Huddersfield fits. Leicester to win 2-0.
• Stoke held on for an impressive draw against United last weekend so it would only make too much sense for them to turn around and settle for a disappointing 1-1 draw with Newcastle on Saturday.
• Burnley is precisely the kind of game that Liverpool have had way too much trouble with recently but can’t help thinking that Phillippe Coutinho, primed and ready for his first start after coming back from what must have been a very painful back injury, will focus the minds… and hopefully make up for Dejan Lovren inevitable howler. Liverpool to win 3-1.
• Low key highly interesting game between two of the only three remaining unbeaten teams (along with United). More impressive than Watford’s start this season has been the fact they have been so good while carrying a ton of injuries (and some red card suspensions). Getting Roberto Pereyra back from injury for this game could be huge. City drubbed some Dutchies in Champions League on Wednesday but can’t help thinking they may struggle a bit in this one, especially if Vincent Kompany is not back in the XI. Slightly overly specific prediction: Andre Gray takes advantage of Nicolas Otamendi being Nicolas Otamendi twice early on before City storm back late to salvage a 2-2 draw.
• Ah yes, the highly anticipated battle of the Westies. The Brommies shat the bed last weekend and is struggling with a dinged up defensive unit. The Hammies’ collection of ugly-goal-scorers – Michael Antonio, Andy Carroll, Andre Ayew and Chicarita – is truly impressive and, now that they seem to be getting a bit healthier, may stop sucking so bad. West Ham to win 2-1.
• Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh, Tottenham may have figured out how to play at Wembley… but probably not really. They do seem to be clicking on all cylinders at the moment though, which is bad news for Swansea. Also, another little fun fact for you: Tottenham is 26-0 when playing at home with The Mike Dean Show™ reffing. Not really but the fact you believed it for a second proves my point. Spurs to win 3-0.
REST OF WORLD
MLS – [Steps up on high horse] Robert Kraft gets a lot of credit for facilitating the consistent greatness of the New England Patriots, but he doesn’t get nearly enough shit (outside of hardcore local fans) for what he is doing to the once proud NE Revolution organization. It’s not like he personally gave up seven goals to Atlanta while getting outshot 20-0 in what was probably the most lopsided game in league history, but the problems with the club are systemic and start at the top. [Steps down from high horse] Annnnnnnnnyway, the Western conference playoff race is going to be a lot of fun to watch over the next month, and Seattle versus Dallas on Saturday (7pm CT) is a huge game.
Bundesliga –RB Leipzig and Monchenpenisgladbach should make for a tasty little treat on Saturday (11:30am CT).
La Liga – 2nd place Real Sociedad welcome mid-table upstarts Real Madrid to San Sebastián on Sunday in game you’d be an idjit not to put on TV2 or at least DVR (1:45pm CT).
Serie A – Several good’uns in Italy this weekend but let’s go with Milan hosting Udinese on Sunday (8am CT).
Ligue Neymar – PSG may actually get a little test domestically when they face Lyon on Sunday (2pm on fuboTV)…. butttttttttttttttttt probably not.
So there we have it. Make-Believe League Cup action coming up in the middle of next week. Yawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwn.
Btw, if you think I am done laughing at this video you would be sorely mistaken: