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Barstool’s Weekend Soccer Preview – The “Will Mou-Mou’s Buttcheeks Be The Only Thing Clinched?” Edition

Sam’s Safe Space For Soccer Stoolies

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Hi haters,

What a week. While some suckers were “working” we were popping sportsboners to (literally) this

and (metaphorically) that

So, yeah, I’d say it was a pretty fun little week in the Land of Lawn Fairydom. And if you thought the soccer gods were fresh out of exciting spectacles for your eyes to feast upon:. WRONGGGGGGGGGGG

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[Note: yes, in case we have any English language nerds in the audience, I do realize that clinched and clenched are different words. It’s called artistic license. Look it up.]

Now let’s get to it…

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ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Reminder of what is still out there to play for right now:

TITLE: City can clench (or clinch) with one more win.

TOP FOUR: City is in; United, Liverpool and Spurs are on the doorstep; Chelsea needs a miracle; Arsenal, having now convinced itself that the warmth from wearing Tottenham’s ballsack is actually quite comfy, have given up and are spending the spring scouting Eastern European hotels for next year (in case they don’t win Europa)

RELEGATION: Dead Brom is still deader than Rapaport; I’m including eight clubs in the danger zone [with TWO drop spots left to be claimed] because even though Newcastle are damn close to being out and will benefit from a home game against the Baggies, their other games are Arsenal, Everton (away), Watford (away), Tottenham and Chelsea… no bueno. As for the others, Stoke have a TON of work to do, with the other favorites to go down being Huddersfield and Southampton, followed a little ways back by Swansea.

Odds to be relegated:

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Needless to say, the last couple months finna be exciting.

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Scores from last weekend:

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News, notes, observations, highlights & lowlights:

Chelsea had a glooooooorious chance to claw its way back into the top four race after taking an early lead at home against Spurs on Saturday… butttttttt they bottled it. Great game from some kid named Dele Alli. Hadn’t ever heard his name before – at least not in the last year or so – but keep an eye on him. Could be good someday.

– Quite a week for my dearly beloved Liverpool. Almost found a way to drop points at Palace, but didn’t (a game that in recent seasons they 500% would have lost after going down early). Then Klopp & Co. molly-whopped the ever-loving bejesus out of City in Champions League.

I normally keep the two competitions separate in these blogs but that result has direct implications and ramifications for both this weekend’s games so it’s worth mentioning.

West Ham coming up big with a YOUGE dub in a massive six-pointer against fellow strugglers Southampton. Low key may turn out to be one of the biggest wins in the clubs (modern) history given what could have happened if the Hammies had lost… not sure the owners would have gotten out of the stadium alive to be honest.

Stoke were absolutely desperate for points and came up against an Arsenal squad with little to play for… and got stomped. Yikes.

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Brighton got done dirty by the 0-2 scoreline against Lester. Deserved better based on how the game played. Alas, “deserved” is the single most useless word in soccer (excluding “Sissoko”).

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POWER RANKINGS

TOP 4
1. City
2. Liverpool
3. Tottenham
4. United
Honorable mention: Chelsea, Burnley, Arsenal

BOTTOM 3
20. Dead Brom
19. Southampton
18. Stoke
Dishonorable mention: Huddersfield, Brighton, Swansea

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Table as it stands now:

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And this weekend’s schedule:

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Dærbies, DÆRBIES, DÆRBIES!! Three big dærbies this weekend, two of which you probably know about – Merseyside and Manchester – and the third you may not be aware of… okay definitely are not aware of since I just established and named it as the Dead Man Walking Dærbies between n00bs Huddersfield and Brighton, the loser of which (and yes this is definitely going out on a limb a bit) I’m calling it now will end up getting relegated. So, yeah, it’s a pretty big deal.

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PICKS OF THE WEEKEND

City [-120]
United [+300]
Draw [+260]

A lot of the credit for Wednesday’s ass-kicking should go to Liverpool, which played its little balls off on both ends of the field, but that said there can be no denying that every single player and coach on Manchester City came up small in that game. It started with Pep’s decisions to play Ilkay Gundogan alongside Fernandinho in MF (total pansy-ass move) and gamble on Aymeric Laporte at LB… but the players themselves need to take a good long look in the mirror because they were terrible. Leroy Sane was perhaps the most obvious example of a guy coming up small in big moments, but everybody up and down the lineup just did not show up. (On a related note, if Kevin De Bruyne has any self-respect he would have changed his POY vote to Mo Salah at HT.)

But that was then and this is now.

There is talk that Sergio Aguero might be ready to go but I honestly don’t know why Pep would risk him with the return leg against Liverpool next week. Other than that the team is ridiculously healthy for this point in the season.

As for United, it isn’t going to be rocket science. We all know damn well what Jozay is going to do as he already tipped his hand against Liverpool. The team is going to sit back and absorb pressure, then hope to catch City either on a counter or off a long ball that Lukaku directs towards an onrushing Rashford or Lingard (might make sense for Mou-Mou to add Martial to the mix, but he probably won’t). The Red Devils did something similar in the reverse fixture in December and it worked quite well since only losing 2-1 is a pretty damn good result against City for every club in the world not named Liverpool.

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My guess is that City will shake off Wednesday’s wet turd, wipe the slate (and their bottoms) clean, and bounce back on Saturday. This all goes out the window if Pep makes wholesale changes to his XI but the chance to win the title against your arch-nemesis seems like reason enough to stick with a strong team. City to win 2-0.

A man alone with his thoughts (not pictured: any trophies)

A man alone with his thoughts (not pictured: any trophies)

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Everton [+300]
Liverpool [-120]
Draw [+240]

Liverpool has even more motivation to sit some guys this weekend with the Reds having one hand on a top four finish AND needing to play a strong squad at the Etihad on Tuesday, however, Klopp’s hands are somewhat tied due to a long list of injuries (Matip, Klavan, Gomez, Lallana, Clyne) and guys doubtful (Salah and Can). No Mo is almost a given after he walked off early with a dick muscle problem against City, and Alberto Moreno will almost certainly Andrew Robertson will almost certainly be rested.

Everton will come in fully rested and should have both Idrissa Gueye (injury) and Ashley Williams (suspension) back in the squad.

I’ll be honest, every cell in my body is screaming 1-1 draw. Liverpool not only have nothing to play for, and some guys (whether they admit it to themselves or not) are inevitably going to shy away from a tackle here and there in order to avoid picking up a knock ahead of the City game. It’s just human nature. Plus, the likely absence of Salah… and at Goodison… how can you not be tempted by the odds off a draw????

Damit. I can’t help it though. I’m still too impressed by Liverpool’s performance against City – especially the VVD/Lovren combo in the back – and am wussing out. Liverpool to win 2-1.

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Importantest signing in Liverpool history?

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Brighton [+180]
Huddersfield [+165]
Draw [+200]

FIRST ANNUAL DEAD MAN WALKING DÆRBY! I sorta tipped my hand on this up above but Brighton actually looked quite despite losing to Lester last weekend, so provided Glen Murray doesn’t shit his pants multiple times yet again this is a game that the Seagulls should win. Brighton to win 3-1.

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#memories

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Other picks (note: tons of games from here on out are going to involve teams with a lot to play for facing off against teams with little or nothing to play for… ignore that fact at your peril)…

• BOURNEMOUTH vs PALACE: the Eagles have been playing too dang well to go down and a game against the Cherries – good as they have been in recent months – is a game that the visitors have to at least get something out of. Draw? Meh, don’t hate it, but I’m going Palace to win 3-2.

• LESTER vs NEWCASTLE: Both teams rely on counter attacks so could be an interesting back and forth game, though the absence of Wilfred Ndidi (red card suspension) leaves a hole in the middle of the field that could force the Foxes to sit back even more than usual. Toon sneaky needs a win in a BIG way given tough matchups ahead, but I’ll give Lester the benefit of the doubt since they could still slip into a Europa spot. 1-1 draw.

• STOKE vs TOTTENHAM: This game scares me more than it should. Stoke, especially at home, seem to have cleaned up their act defensively and Spurs – focused primarily on the FA Cup semi against United later this month – could very easily be primed for a letdown coming off the huge win at Chelsea. Tottenham have a habit of hanging ugly numbers on the Potters, including a 5-1 win earlier this season. This one will probably be a lot closer. Spurs to win 2-1.

• WATFORD vs BURNLEY: The Hornets have shown absolutely no interest in even pretending to try away from home at this point, though have been at least passably decent at Vicarage Road. Burnley can almost taste an improbable ticket to Europa, and are a lot more dangerous with Chris Wood back in the XI. Burnley to win 2-1.

• DEAD BROM vs SWANSEA: Absolute must-win for the Swans against a coach-less dead team.

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Tfw pay u for 6 months of work but u only do 3

WBA may pop up and shock someone before the season is done, and this is by far their best shot at from here on in…I’ll be honest, I’m a little nervous for our friend Daniel but I’m gonna close my eyes, grit my teeth and say Swansea to win 1-0.

• ARSENAL vs SOUTHAMPTON: Goon Squad didn’t have much to play for last week yet walked away with 3-0 and 4-1 wins against Stoke and CSKA, respectively. Perhaps the fact the pressure is totally off at this point in the league will end up being a good thing. Then again, Arsene may save some guys for the return leg in Mother Russia (since that is the only legitimate path to getting that goodgood new contract). In the end, I’m taking Southampton’s lifeless loss against half-dead West Ham last weekend as a signal of intent of where things might be headed. Arsenal to win 3-1.

• CHELSEA vs WEST HAM: Youge win for the Hammies last weekend and now they get a Chelsea team that seems to be going through the motions, with a coach that is DYING for the club to fire him. Bad situation for the Posh Londoners, just about ideal (all things considered) for the Poor Londonsers. But where there’s a Willian (and a Hazard) there’s a way, especially with Michail Antonio done for the season and Manuel Lanzini in doubt. Chelsea to win 2-1.

When you finally get that pink slip

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MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER

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The Zlatan has landed.

All the love for Zlatan of course eventually brought the inevitable backlash of haters, who used his two-goal performance to essentially damn the quality of MLS. That’s dumb though. MLS is not the EPL or La Liga, and it isn’t even LigaMX yet. But it is improving year by year. Zlatan could be playing in any league in the world right now but he chose the US because – for all our faults – this is still the greatest country in the world, which in the long run is going to be a huge selling point for MLS. So in the meantime instead of trying to fit Zlatan into this or that narrative, just sit back, relax and enjoy him doing Zlatan things… like doing ESPN interviews dressed like an adult films key grip.

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Big weekend of games ahead, including three that will be shown on national TV, including two of the most exciting teams in the league – Atlanta vs LAFC – on Saturday followed by Orlando/Portland and Zlatan vs Sporting KC on Sunday. LETS GO!

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REST OF WORLD

Germany – If you are looking for “history” and/or pageantry than Bayern sealing the title at Augsburg on Saturday (8:30am CT on FS2) might be your jam, but if you are looking for quality soccer then 4th place RB Leipzig welcoming 5th place Bayer on Monday (1:30pm on FS2) is where it is at from the Bundesliga this weekend.

Italy – Juventus, those jerks, took a four point lead on Napoli last weekend though the title race aint over since the clubs play in Turin later this month. Best game for TV-watching purposes is Juve traveling to Benevento on Saturday (beIN at 8am CT).

Spain – MADRID DÆRBY TIME! Neither club is catching Barrrrrrthelona, and the top four is done and dusted since 5th place Villarreal is about a million points back, but if you think that means Real vs Atleti on Sunday (9:15am CT on beIN) isn’t worth watching then something is wrong with your brain.

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So there we have it. Big weekend followed by an even bigger Tuesday because the soccer gods are infinitely wise and good.


Holler,
Samuel Army