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Barstool’s Weekend Soccer Preview – The “Fun (Liverpool) vs Anti-Fun (United)” Edition

Sam’s Safe Space For Soccer Stoolies

1-EPL

Hi haters,

Not sure if you heard but Tottenham lost in heartbreaking fashion on Wednesday. People were being mean to me on the internet immediately afterwards (not that I didn’t deserve it) but in the end the joke is on them:

But enough about Champions League for the moment. Time to shift gears and concentrate on the domestic matters where shit is really starting to hit the fan at the top and bottom of each league. Speaking specifically about EPL, we are 29 games in with only nine games left – single digits! – so the time is now for clubs hoping to either establish themselves firmly in the top four or out of the bottom three. Oh, also, there’s this to get the weekend started off right at the buttcrack of dawn tomorrow:

2-lfc-utd

So without further ado…

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ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

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Scores from last weekend:

3-scores

News, notes, observations, highlights & lowlights:

– A lot of Chelsea fans were pissed with Antonio Conte after Sunday’s game against City, with the primary complaint being that the Blues didn’t even try to win. This is true, they did have zero chance of winning. But has they come out and tried to go at City – like how Tottenham went at them – that game could have gotten ugly in a hurry. Conte is nothing is not pragmatic. He put all his eggs in a nil-nil basket and came pretty damn close to pulling it off.

– I said going into Monday’s game that United, heading to Palace off a tough midweek Champions League game in Spain, had all the makings of a huge letdown performance, and boy oh boy did I look like a genius….. for about an hour as Palace raced out to a 2-0 lead. Then a funny thing happened: United said “fuck it” and actually started playing some brilliant soccer, storming back with three straight goals topped off by this babymaker from Matic in Fergie time

to take all three points. Very impressive… but also a little frustrating in the sense that it makes you wonder why it took a multi-goal lead to get the best out of the team?

West Brom is a walking, talking, dying example of what can happen if a club gets tired of mid-table mediocrity, fires a manager that would have continued to get them between 43 and 48 points per season every season from now until forever, and thought it had a chance of creeping towards a Europa slot… sometimes staying in your lane is the prudent choice.

– Quite a week for Arsenal. First they got played off the field by mighty Brighton, which was just plain the better team on the day, then the Gunners head to Milan and essentially dominate a good (albeit slightly weakened) Italian side that had been playing quite well coming into the game. Solid performance in Europa but being 13 points behind 4th place with nine games to go means the continental tourney is really the only thing the club has to play for at this point.

Maybe, you wily old dinosaur, maybe

Maybe, you wily old dinosaur, maybe

– Speaking of Brighton, the buggers just jumped Everton in the table. This season could not be over soon enough for the Toffees. Advice to fans: start drinking now – heavily – and don’t stop til after the World Cup when you can clean house and start anew…

Oh

Oh

Burnley outchea looking at Arsenal like

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POWER RANKINGS

TOP 4
1. City
2. Liverpool
3. Tottenham
4. United^^
Honorable mention: Burnley

BOTTOM 3
20. West Brom
.
.
.
.
.
.
19. West Ham
18. Palace
Dishonorable mention: Southampton, Stoke, Everton

^^trigger warning

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Table as it stands now:

9-table

Also, for shits and giggles, here is an analysis someone did looking at each club’s strength of schedule coming down the stretch:

10-finish

#Pray4Hammies

And this weekend’s schedule:

10-schedule

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PICKS OF THE WEEKEND

United [+165]
Liverpool [+165]
Draw [+220]

NORTH WEST DÆRBY TIME!

11-NW3

So let’s start with a fun fact about the last four times these teams have met, which have finished: draw… draw… draw… draw. Hm. Perhaps something to keep in mind.

Also, a mildly lukewarm prediction: there are (arguably) three Champions League slots available for four teams: United, Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea. I have said all season that I think the Blues will be the odd one out, and I see no reason to change that now (especially if they find a way to beat Barcelona next week). However, I’ll give Chelsea the benefit of the doubt for the moment and refrain from labeling their top four chances dead… but nevertheless feel relatively confident in saying that in my mind the winner of this game – assuming they don’t split the baby – will have officially cemented a place in next season’s Champions League, meaning the race will be down to three clubs for two slots.

As for the game itself, a broad over-simplification of the matchup is that Liverpool is fun and exciting and entertaining to watch, both because they have a lot of dynamic weapons going forward and are prone to big errors at the back… whereas United is solid defensively (with no small thanks going to the world’s best keeper) but often look lost if not downright disinterested in taking chances going forward often leading to offensive stagnation.

As acknowledged though that vastly oversimplifies things. Liverpool’s defense has after all actually been quite good lately (one goal conceded in last five games is not bad) and at times, like after getting punched in the mouth by Palace on Monday, United can play some decently entertaining attacking soccer. (On the other hand the Red Devils’ CBs were so bad in that game that not even DDG could bail them out.)

Thankfully the game is at Old Trafford because if United was playing at Anfield there is a very good chance that Jozay would do what Jozay always does away from home against serious opponents

12-bus

If Jozay has a brain he will bench Victor Lindelof, who has been almost as disappointing as my sex game, and replace him with Eric Bailly. That should give United a bit better cover against Liverpool’s inevitable onslaught – and trust me, an onslaught will be coming since Klopp was able to rest half the team up five goals against Porto in Champions League on Tuesday. United, on the other hand, is unfortunately staring at a massive return leg against Sevilla on Tuesday. That and whispers about a leg injury Paul Pogba apparently suffered in practice on Friday (as if his world wasn’t messed up enough already) gives me little choice. Liverpool to win 2-1.

Pulling a 10 at bartime:
14-trio1

Pulling a hard 8 at bartime:
15-trio2

**

Chelsea [-350]
Palace [+900]
Draw [+440]

Chelsea fans coming into this game:

If your spidey sense isn’t buzzing like crazy you better get that shit checked out cause not only have Chelsea been stumbling lately but they also have a YOUGE midweek game on the at Barcelona just a few days from now. Add to that the fact that Palace has actually been in decent form only losing to Spurs and then United after conceding last gasp goals. Tough run of games for the Eagles but also hard to imagine them coming away with zero points from them based on what have been some solid performances. I have gone back and forth on this about a hundred times while writing this, sometimes leaning towards 1-1 draw… but in the end I’ll go for the glory: Palace to win 1-0.

Conte: “Lads, I’m desperately in need of a striker incapable of putting shots on net. Anybody know where I can find a guy like that?

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Other picks:

• NEWCASTLE vs SOUTHAMPTON: Has there ever been a game in history that has ever screamed SISTER-KISSER more than this one? (Hint: no.) Score-wise I’ll go with 1-1 draw.

• EVERTON vs BRIGHTON: Just when Everton seem like they are on the verge of imploding and fans are standing on the ledge legitimately thinking about jumping (“I’m gonna do it this time, I’m serious!”) they do just enough to keep them coming back for more. Also, Brighton have been woeful away from home. Everton to win 2-1.

• HUDDERSFIELD vs SWANSEA: Yet another *massive six-pointer alert** for the Swans, who managed to come up huge with a 4-1 drubbing of West Ham last weekend. The club has played far more timidly away from the Liberty though, while Huddersfield put up a commendable fight against Tottenham last weekend. Two of the worst defenses in the league could make this a surprisingly entertaining game. I’ll say 2-2 draw.

• WEST BROM vs LESTER: At some point the Baggies may accidentally win a game, and the Foxes’ recent form suggests this may very well be that game. That said, its impossible to have any faith in West Brom after how atrocious they have been ever since beating Liverpool at the end of January. This feels like a game that the home side will take an early lead in but somehow, some way find a way not win. 2-2 draw.

You get a draw and you get a draw and you get a draw!!!

• WEST HAM vs BURNLEY: There are two relegation slots up for grabs and every passing week makes me more and more convinced that someone inside West Ham is proactively working to get the club sent down. Part of me thinks it is a defender – Cresswell? Zabaleta? – while another part of me says it is whoever it was in upper management that decided stacking their back line with 40-year-olds would be a good idea. Given the two clubs’ resources, it should be Burnley three points away from the dropzone and West Ham five points behind Arsenal… but here we are. Coming off back to back 4-1 losses, Moyes may be able to recall James Collins and Angelo Ogbonna to stiffen the defense a bit, and should slide Marko Arnautovic back in up top. West Ham to win 1-0.

• ARSENAL vs WATFORD: So are we gonna get the Arsenal that took a beatdown from Brighton or the one that put a beatdown on Milan (in Milan)? On the one hand, the Gunners’ only hope to avoid this season being the single biggest failure in decades is to win Europa, so it would make sense that Arsene direct more attention in that direction. On the other, continuing to rack up L after L in the league will increase the pressure from those calling for him to make like a tree and GTFO. Then add to the mix the league’s resident schizophrenic Watford, and suffice to say trying to predict this game feels a little like Ryan Lochte being asked to explain how the universe began

So I’m just gonna throw up my hands and go with Arsenal to win 2-1 because that would make me sad and being sad makes me happy.

• BOURNEMOUTH vs TOTTENHAM: Sneaky youge game for Spurs as the brutal loss to Juventus may have a lingering impact on the team’s psyche. Bournemouth are going to try to make it difficult but don’t have the kind of wingers to attack Tottenham where they are weakest at fullback – especially if Danny Rose is back and healthy enough to lock down at least one of the sides. Tottenham to win 2-0.

STOKE vs CITY: At some point Pep might get a little more aggressive about resting guys in the league in order to save them for Champions League, but with no midweek game coming up and a place in the quarterfinal already secured there is no huge need to sit a bunch of guys. In fact, given the B-team he put out against Basel on Wednesday he may actually want to play a bit stronger XI to keep guys sharp. Also, Stoke recently found a way to concede five goals to Chelsea and three to United, neither of which are packing anywhere near as much heat as City, meaning the Potters’ defense boutta be like:

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City to win 4-0.

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MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER

20-MLSscores

Storytime: people come up to me on the street all the time and – after getting over being incredibly star-struck – the first question they invariably ask me (after “So is Big Cat gay?”) is “How is it that you can sit at home and watch soccer all day every day?”… I usually just laugh the question off, sign an autograph and take a selfie or two and then go back about my business. But I think it is high time that you, dear loyal reader, actually learned the truthful answer to this question, which is that I now live the life of leisure as an independently wealthy person after accumulating vast sums betting MLS underdogs for the first month of the season. So in case you like money, there you go, best free advice you’ll ever get.

Some brief observations from the first weekend:

– Several interesting results but none more so than Atlanta getting its ass handed to it by Houston. Thorough ass kicking in every sense of the word. Atlanta is gonna be a ton of fun to watch but seems like perhaps they came in buying their own hype a little bit too much based on that performance.

– 1(b) on that same ‘interesting results’ list was of course Columbus taking it to the defending champs. Game even featured a Gyasi Zardes first-touch goal. So for #SaveTheCrew people hoping on a miracle, it’s at least nice to know that they do happen every now and again.

– Nice result for LAFC but Seattle should have won by four or five goals… finishing was WOOF.

– Speaking of woof, New England. Double woof.

– Minnesota might concede 10,000 goals this season.

– NYCFC looks like they could also be fun to watch this season, and this weekend’s game could be a good one (if you stream it and/or can find it on your television somewhere).

21-MLSschedule

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REST OF WORLD

Germany – 5th place Bayer (only one point back of 2nd place) welcome 8th place Borussia Monchenpenisgladbach on Saturday (11:30am CT on FS2).

Italy – Serie A is quietly bringing the thunder this season. Napoli are coming off a disappointing loss to Roma, which along with Juventus’ last minute win over Lazio last weekend now suddenly means the Old Lady controls its destiny (down a point but with a game in hand). Must-win game on Sunday for Napoli as they visit Inter (1:45pm CT on beIN) is must-watch TV.

Spain – Start of a YOUGE week for Sevilla as they host Ballanthia on Saturday (9:15am CT on beIN en espanol) and then head to Old Trafford for the return leg in Champions League with the tie knotted at zeros.

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So there we have it. Have a good weekend, boys & girls. Neither here nor there but I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about more soccer content and unfortunately I don’t have anything to report at the moment but hopefully will be able to provide an update sometime soon… fingers crossed! In the meantime though I’ll check ya next week for another dose of that cruel, fickle yet beautiful beast that is:

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Holler,
Samuel Army