Barstool Confessions / Weekend Soccer Preview – The “Battle of Fallen Giants” Edition

Sam’s Safe Space For Soccer Stoolies


Hi haters,

Negative Nelly’s will say the title race is dead and the pillow fight for relegation is shaping up being one of the tamest on record. Don’t listen to them though. While the first bit is true, the latter portion is still very much up TBD, and in fact this weekend’s results will go a long way towards determining if it’s going to be a battle or death march to the finish. Either way there is still plenty worth paying attention to – within the EPL (Spurs? Choke?? Neverrrrrrrrrrr) but also if we cast our gaze down to the Championship where the playoffs are beginning to take shape or even slightly asunder to the legitimate tussle for the Scudetto in Italy.

That’s the great thing about soccer. There is just so damn much going on that if drama is what you crave, the sport rarely fails to deliver.

Now on to the weekend ahead…



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

TITLE: City – final answer.

TOP FOUR: the Mancs are in; Liverpool and Tottenham are close to safe; Chelsea does need a miracle but, since the two clubs ahead of them both dropped points unexpectedly (and one of them is and may continue to be understandably distracted by the pursuit of Champions League glory), the Blues only need a regular-sized miracle rather than one of those XL ones.

RELEGATION: Dead Brom is dead (their death certificate may finally be officially signed this weekend); Stoke and Southampton are in a bad, badddddddd spot; Swansea’s buttcheeks are a little clenched; Huddersfield, West Ham and Palace have bought themselves some breathing room and would require a conflagration of no good very bad things to find themselves in the Championship next season.

Current odds to be relegated:



Scores from last weekend, starting with the FA Cup semi results:


– Dominant performance by United from start to finish. Controlled the game from end to end with intricate passing and dangerous runs both through and in behind that put constant pressure on Tottenham’s goal and eventually took their toll.

“Suck it haters” -Jozay

Chelsea are not great but they are a helluva lot better than Southampton.

As for the domestic slate:


– Disappointing game from Palace. One point is almost enough to ensure safety, so can’t hate on it too much, but the team looked inexplicably unmotivated against a Watford side that has long since checked out on the season.

City offered everybody a nice little reminder of what they are capable of against opponents not named Liverpool, and in the process did some serious damage to Swansea’s goal differential – which is unlikely to come into play, but maaaaaaaybe…

Stoke came thisssss close to finding a lifeline but in a season full of bad luck and worse defense they couldn’t hang on against mighty Burnley.

Everton finagled a horrendously ugly 1-0 win at home against a scrappy but not terribly talented Newcastle team, and the Big Sam’s glowing review about the performance in the postgame interviews are precisely why he’s not the right guy for the job past this season.



1a. Liverpool
1b. City^^
3a. United
3b. Tottenham
Honorable mention: Chelsea, Arsenal, Burnley

20. Dead Brom
19. Southampton
18. Stoke
Dishonorable mention: Everton, Swansea, Huddersfield

^^I’d still take City right here right now on a neutral site BUT out of respect for Mo Salah it only felt right to move Liverpool up


Table as it stands now:


And this weekend’s schedule:




United [-250]
Arsenal [+600]
Draw [+350]

Not too long ago Arsenal visiting Old Trafford in late April would have been one of those games that you schedule your weekend around.


Now, not so much. “Battle of Fallen Giants” is a little melodramatic but there is plenty of truth to it. Arsene’s star has been ingloriously on the wane for several years now, finally culminating in the announcement that most Arsenal fans have been DYING to hear when “he” “decided” this season would be his last.

Jozay’s circumstance is a little different in that he is still generally considered to be a top notch game manager, however, his eccentricities and predilection for both burning bridges and sucking every last drop of joy out of the sport have taken a toll on his reputation.

The Soccer Succubus

The Soccer Succubus

As for the game itself, it ultimately means very little in terms of the final standings. In fact, both clubs have very good reason to rest key guys and play it safe to avoid injuries with each having far more significant fixtures on the horizon: the second leg of Europa semi at Atleti next week for Arsenal, and (albeit to a lesser extent since it is a little further off) FA Cup final in mid-May for United.


Which makes it all the more interesting to see how the two managers are going to play this one given their historical animosity, especially Arsene Wenger for whom this could very easily be his last shot at sticking it to his on-again, off-again (but really always on if we’re being honest) nemesis Jozay.


Bookies clearly think that Arsene is going to toss out a total B-team while United, with the better part of a month before its big game, is likely to go with something more akin to an A-squad.

Arsenal really only has one thing to pin its hopes on this weekend: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The ex-Dortmund striker is ineligible to play in Europa and will thus be well rested and itching to show what he can do in the only big game left for him between now and next August. It wouldn’t be the first time PAE has carried a big underdog to victory over a much bigger domestic rival.


I’ve been burned way too many times by Arsenal to count them out at this point. For example, my ass is still chapped about last season’s FA Cup final in which an otherwise dominant Chelsea squad – sounds weird now, don’t it? – somehow found a way not to win.

But in the end if you have the stones to bet on a team that is likely to feature “stars” like Alex Iwobi, Reiss Nelson and Joe Wilcock… well, your stones are a lot bigger than mine.

My guess is Jozay goes with a near-best XI that includes a highly, highly motivated Lexi Sanchez. If Calum Chambers isn’t shitting himself with fear yet it is only because he is blissfully ignorant of his impending doom. United to win 2-1 – which, considering the backdrop, is almost a win for Arsenal. Almost banner-worthy (but not quite).


Southampton [-140]
Bournemouth [+375]
Draw [+275]

This is it for the Saints. Maybe not mathematically, but if they aren’t desperate enough for points to win at home against a Bournemouth team with nothing to play for… well, suffice to say they are officially just as dead as Dead Brom in my book.

Fun stat: Southampton is winless in its last nine home games while Bournemouth has been just as bad as a road team. Quintessential case of stoppable force meeting movable object.

I’m going with the bookies on this one. Saints have all the motivated and, all things considered, their form hasn’t been anywhere near as terrible lately as it was for much of the season. Southampton to win 2-0.


Meet you in the middle (ie Championship)?


Other picks (to increase the odds I eventually get one right):

• LIVERPOOL vs STOKE: Klopp’s kids have had a tendency to shut off against lesser competition lately, with the 2-2 draw against Dead Brom last weekend (before ravaging the dead body known as Roma [for 80 minutes]) being Example A. Needless to say, with the return leg in Roma coming up next week, Reds fans should get ready for a heaping helping of Ings, Solanke, Woodburn, Gomez, Klavan… Mane is 100% out and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Salah and/or Firmino sat as well. The sad part is that even with all that being the case, Stoke still probably won’t win. The Potters have had numerous chances to snag wins that would at least give them a chance at survival, yet time and again they have pooped them away. Wouldn’t surprise me if they did so again. I see Stoke taking an early lead… before pooping it away once again. I’ll say 1-1 draw.


• BURNLEY vs BRIGHTON: The Clarets are quietly having an incredibly impressive season. I am as guilty as anybody as not giving them their due, but the fact nobody seems to be talking about the Ginger Genius as a coach of the year candidate anymore is a bit of a travesty. Brighton has actually had a pretty impressive season in its own right but their horrendous track record on set pieces could easily be their undoing this weekend. Burnley to win 2-1.

• PALACE vs LESTER: The Foxes have been sleepwalking ever since getting knocked out of the FA Cup last month. Despite their curiously lackluster effort last time out, I’m going Palace to win 3-1.

• HUDDERSFIELD vs EVERTON: Big Sam has made it clear he is dying to stick around a while and what better way to put the pressure on the club’s board than with yet another horrifically ugly 1-0 win for Everton.


What a fackin beauty

• NEWCASTLE vs DEAD BROM: The Baggies’ sudden resurgence after everybody had already begun shoveling dirt on their grave makes about as much sense as it would for them to go undefeated for the rest of the season (in a commendable yet futile attempt to avoid relegation). I’ll say 2-2 draw.

• SWANSEA vs CHELSEA: The Swans find themselves in an uncomfortable spot at the moment. Not as uncomfortable as when a chick says “No, its okay, I’m on the pill” then later tells you dead seriously that she is adamantly Pro-Life – but almost. Then again while discomfort is not the mother of invention, but it is a kissing cousin, and they will need some ingenuity to beat a Chelsea team that has quietly been on a bit of a roll this month (albeit against largely lesser competition). Swans motivation + Conte’s inexplicable obsession with playing Alvaro Morata over Olivier Giroud = 1-1 draw.

• WEST HAM vs CITY: It’s not you, Hammies, it’s them. City to win 3-1.



Italy – Biggest game of the weekend right here as Inter welcome Juventus on Saturday (1:45pm CT on beIN) in a game with top four and Scudetto ramifications for the respective clubs. Napoli is one point back of the league leaders with four games to go and have a tough game of their own at Fiorentina on Sunday (11am CT on beIN).

Germany – Schalke welcoming Borussia Monchenpenisgladbach on Saturday (8:30am on Unimas) is about as good as it gets in the Bundesliga this weekend.

Spain – Barrrrrrthelona can clinch the title this weekend at Deportivo on Sunday (1:45pm CT on beIN) in what would be only a slightly more exciting culmination to the season than the wet fart that we experienced in the EPL.


So there we have it. Second legs of the Champions League semifinals coming up next week.

I wouldn’t really worry about them if I were you though, I’m sure they will probably be pretty boring. Yawn.


Samuel Army