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Barstool’s Weekend Soccer Preview – The “December 10 – R.I.P. League Title Race?” Edition

Sam’s Safe Space For Soccer Stoolies


Hi haters,

At some point I am going to write a blog outlining my thoughts on the increasingly wild and woolly race to succeed Sunil Gulati as USSF president. Today is not that day. The list of candidates is likely going to get whittled down – it almost has to – but at the moment we’ve got new entrants coming out of left field.

Hey hi wussup

Hey hi wussup

Thus, instead of getting knee-deep in that particular morass, I am going to hold off for the moment because we have got too much critically important soccuh – EPL, Serie A, La Liga, even MLS! – coming up this weekend to discuss… and, wouldn’t you know it, it comes on a weekend that is almost barren of college football so sports fans from across this great country won’t be quite as distracted as usual.

So without further ado let’s move right along to the good stuff…



Scores from last weekend:


News, notes, observations, highlights & lowlights:

– David De Gea is a beast, and one of the only reasons Arsenal didn’t hang a snowman on United last weekend. If that game was played 100 more times, Arsenal would have won roughly 96 of them. So honestly if you are a Gooner you can’t even be mad about a performance like that… though doubt United are complaining either.

Liverpool’s best defense is a deadly af offense. Can’t concede if you are constantly ramming the ball down your opponent’s throat. Perhaps it is time we reconsidered giving Klopp so much shit for intentionally going into a season knowing that Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan were going to be serious minutes at CB? (Hahaha, just kidding, they are still terrible even if the club has been successfully papering over it lately.).

Tottenham didn’t lose, so that’s kinda nice.

Swansea and Palace have quietly been putting on dueling performances for the ages. Each has scored a grand total of eight goals in 15 games. That isn’t bad. That is ree-godamn-diculously horrendous.

– I asked once before but will do so again: ARE EVERTON BACK?????????? The answer, of course, is still absolutely not since beating West Sham, Huddersfield and something called Apollon Limassol is about as impressive as pooping and remembering to wipe. I mean, congrats, but that’s sorta of the least you could do a still consider yourself a normal part of society. [Important note: this assessment is subject to change dramatically depending on what happens this weekend.]

– For all the talk about how incredible City are the moment, the truth is their form on the field has been a helluva lot less impressive than what it looks like in the books. Take nothing away from going undefeated into December (B-team losing meaningless game this midweek is more an asterisk than a loss), which is quite an accomplishment, but their recent wins have been:


Not exactly the kind of explosive offensive performances that the team is clearly capable of, which suggests that perhaps the squad is tiring a little bit. The rest of the league better hope so anyway.

– The annual logjam has formed in the middle of the table, with three point separating 10th place Everton and 16th place (and theoretically relegation-threatened) Huddersfield. Wins are precious, people.



1. City
2. United
3. Chelsea
4. Arsenal
Honorable mention: Liverpool

20. West Ham
19. Swansea
18. West Brom
Dishonorable mention: Palace, Huddersfield, Brighton


Table as it stands now:


And this weekend’s schedule:




United [+220]
City [+120]
Draw [+230]

WHOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAA NELLY, here it is: The Granddaddy of Them All™ (this season)… one club that is threatening to run away with the league title in DECEMBER on the road against what right now looks like the only team that has the capacity to keep things close enough for Big J journos to call it a “title race” this spring with a straight face.


I’ll be honest, I was super-duper excited about this game riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight up until this:

God frickin DAMIT. I honestly don’t know wtf Bellerin was thinking making a challenge like that, which probably through Pogba off a little bit, but it doesn’t matter. There is no excuse for going into a tackle like that with studs up, and even if he wasn’t trying to stamp on Bellerin (I really don’t think he was), it is still a red card every single day of the week. And here is a cold hard fact: United is not the same team without Pogba linking and creating in the midfield. So yeah, sucks for United, sucks for neutrals, sucks for anybody hoping someone might slow City down a bit – BUT it ain’t over til it’s over so let’s take a look at some of the particulars of the matchup…

Why City could/should win: Because they are good enough, because they are smart enough, and doggone it, I have five of the most talented attacking players in the entire damn world.

Well this isn’t extra creepy now or anything…

Why United could win: Lezzzzzzzzbe honest. United’s hopes of winning this game started circling the toilet the moment he made that challenge on Bellerin. They still have two things going for them: the best goalkeeper in the world right now

and a manager who knows how to disrupt an opponent’s plans and/or bunker with the best of them.

Fact is though that City could come out and grab an early goal, force United out of their shell a bit, and end up winning 5-0. That is not an unthinkable scenario. (Let’s not forget Arsenal could and perhaps should have hung five on United last weekend.) Especially considering all the guys that Pep was able to rest for Champions League this week versus how many Mourinho was able to sit (none). On paper, this is just not how United wanted to come into this dærby.

Howeva, I am going to do something that I rarely if ever – lately anyway – do and put a little blind faith in Mourinho. United’s defensive record is downright incredible given the puzzle pieces he has been working with this season (albeit with a BIG assist from DDG), and if anybody can come up with a game plan to stifle City’s attack, which has looked remarkably ordinary at times in recent weeks, it is Dear Leader Jozay. Call me crazy if you must, but I’m doing it… gimme a 1-1 draw on goals from The Zlatan and De Bruyne.

Me when City scores their fifth goal in 10 minutes on Sunday…


Liverpool [-375]
Everton [+945]
Draw [+490]

Rarely does a Merseyside Dærby get so overshadowed, but that’s what happens when it is scheduled mere hours before the biggest game of the season so far, and compounded by the fact that one of the teams has been godawful for 90% of the year. As for the game itself, this puppy boils down to two competing factors: on the one hand Everton’s defense is atrocious and Liverpool’s offense is downright scary. On the other hand, it is a cliché to say “throw out the records” when two rivals play because normally that’s just some shit talking heads say on TV to try to convince you to tune into a (10-3) Packers versus (3-10) Bears game… but in this particular case it is actually quite often true. So while I think it could be a lot closer game than most people expect – one could argue after all that Big Sam “straightened out” Everton’s defense given three clean sheets – but that was not against teams with Firmino, Coutinho, Mane and Mo Salah 2.0. Sorry Toffees but a moral victory is probably about as close to three points as you can legitimately expect to get. Liverpool to win 2-1.



Other picks:

• David Moyes’ magic touch with West Ham has resulted in three loses, one draw (vs Lester) and one moral victory (1-2 loss to City) since he was brought in a month ago. Not great. In fact there is one reason and one reason only why the Ham Sammies have a chance of avoiding a blowout: Chelsea is not a deep squad and is fresh off a grueling draw with Atletico on Tuesday. As far as longshots they don’t get much longer than this, but I’ll say the Blues’ defense forgets to show up and they settle for a 2-2 draw.

• Burnley hosting Watford is a matchup of two sneaky good – but extremely different – clubs. The wee Clarets are an incredibly economical side that sits deep and takes its chances. Watford, on the other hand, gives no fucks about defense and plays balls to the wall every game. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. But suffice to say their ceiling is much higher and floor is much lower. Tempo will be key, and whoever can dictate pace of play will have a big advantage. This one smells like a total toss-up to me. I’ll stay true to the sister-kissing spirit of my predictions thus far… gimme a 1-1 draw.

• In a game that low key could end up being a relegation decider when things are said and done, and in truth both clubs have been playing comparatively well of late (at least relative to their form out of the game), but I can’t help thinking that Willy Zaha supported by Christian Benteke are going to break out with an offensive explosion of epic proportions one of these games… maybe this is it? Palace to win 1-0.

• Battle of the Itty Bitties! Brighton visiting Huddersfield. Both clubs had a surprisingly successful first few months in the Big Dance but each has gotten their ASS handed to them in a big way at least once recently, with Brighton getting spanked 5-1 by Liverpool and Huddersfield losing 5-0 to Arsenal after, more worryingly, getting pounded 4-0 by Bournemouth. Road warriors, there are not so advantage to the home side. Huddersfield to win 2-0.

• Swansea hosts West Brom on Saturday, which is a matchup of one club on a 9-game winless streaks versus another on a 14-game winless streak. HOT LIKE FIRE! In terms of watchability, you should definitely look elsewhere but there are points to be handed out so I’ve gotta make a pick. Is somebody’s “Oh” about to go? A draw to continue to impressive streaks makes to much sense… but I ain’t about that life this time. 2-1 win for West Brom.

• Spurs played in the midweek and this one is at Wembley, so never say never, but let’s just be honest with one another and acknowledge that this ain’t yo daddy’s Stoke. Their attempt to get away from the hard-nosed, ugly winning ways and play more attractive soccer has not gone to plan so far, and it seems like its only a matter of time until Mark Hughes gets rid of soccer players like Xherdan Shaqiri and Joe Allen, and brings in a whole new fleet of the next generation of Charlie Adamses. Tottenham to win 3-1.

• Whereas you know what you are getting from Lester every time out, Newcastle has been a tough squad to figure out this season. Overall the Foxes are the better team at the moment, and have proven top-flight goal-scorers – something that Toon is sorely lacking. But sometimes soccer doesn’t make sense. Newcastle to win 3-2 (in a nationally televised game that ends up being WAY more entertaining than it looks on paper… hooray!)

• If Arsenal play like they did against United this one could get ugly early. Southampton is a team that lacks identity at the moment, so in theory this could be the type of game in which they could “find themselves”… or they could get spanked, whichever. Arsenal to win 2-0.



Quick reminder of what happened precisely 12 months ago when Seattle and Toronto faced off: abbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbsolutely nothing. They played for 120 minutes and here was the only highlight:

Thought about embedding video but still shot felt more appropriate considering how boring the rest of the game was… but his shot went in, so yay!

Thought about embedding video but still shot felt more appropriate considering how boring the rest of the game was… but his shot went in, so yay!

Honestly, I am not even sure either team ever had possession of the ball on the other team’s half – it was that bad. So in a very real sense we the fans are owed – by both teams and the soccer gods – a good godamn game this time around.


Prediction: the bookmakers love Toronto (-120) to avenge last season’s loss to Seattle (+345), which makes sense since the former side is at home and has been easily the league’s most dominant team. I donno though, I’m just not sold. There would be too much poetic irony to Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore coming up short despite being massive favorites.

I’m going with the Sounders to win 2-1 (on goals from Jordan Morris and an injury time winner from the man, the myth, the rapping [and all-time GIF] legend, Deeeeeeeeeeuce).



Italy – It’s too bad there is only one of me and the supply/demand equation does not really allow for more soccer coverage around here at the moment because, truth be told, Serie A is where it’s at this season… Napoli playing well (and no Champions League to worry about), Juventus as always in the mix, Roma doing their usual “hang around” routine and Inter storming back out of nowhere. It may end up being the only legitimate title among all of the big European leagues. So, point being, you should pay attention to it if you have not been already… and no better time to start doing so than this weekend, starting with Juve hosting Inter on Saturday (1:45pm CT on beIN Sports) followed on Sunday by Fiorentina visiting Napoli (8am CT on beIN Sports). Holy mamacita!

Germany – BVBabyjesus gets what *should* be a walkover at home against Werder so if you are gonna watch one Bundesliga game make it Borussia Monchenpenisgladbach versus Schalke on Saturday (11:30am CT on FS2).

Spain – Couple big games in La Liga as Sevilla travel to Real Madrid on Saturday (9:15am CT on beIN Sports) and Barrrrrrthelona head to Villarreal on Sunday (1:45pm CT on beIN Sports).


So there we have it. Full slate of domestic games coming up next midweek so the good/bad news is you won’t have time to miss me too much before I’m gonna be right back in your eyeballs with another blog. Sorreeeeeeeyyyyy!

Oh, and before I forget, here’s your hot taek of the week that somebody will take not of and everybody will make fun of me for precisely 12 months from now (have at it you heathens):

Samuel Army