Sam’s Safe Space for Soccer Stoolies
Pre-blog note: Spreading the gospel of the beautiful game is not always easy round here but a big huge thanks to everybody who read blogs, interacted on twitter/Instagram and listened to the podcast this year and in years past. Here’s to an entertaining and illuminating 2020.
New year! New you! Same damn Liverpool who are a frickin MACHINE at the moment.
I addressed the elephant in the room – the inarguable fact that Liverpool Football Club are going to win the 2019-20 Premier League title and probably go undefeated in doing so – in the weekend blog, HOWEVER, the formatting unfortunately got all fudged up and the full impact was totally lost so let’s try this again: congratulations to the (kinda but not really) long-suffering fans of the Reds on their impending success…
…and an even bigger congratulations to Tottenham Hotspur Football Club for essentially winning the title for them.
Instead of debating whether Liverpool will ever lose a game again, though, let’s just move right along to the midweek slate on deck (mostly) on New Year’s Day, which is the perfect way to ease out of your hangover and into some afternoon college football.
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Results from last weekend:
Honorable mention: United, Sheffield Utd, Wolves, Everton, Brighton
- Aston Villa
- West Ham
Dishonorable mention: Norwich, Arsenal, Burnley
Annotated table as things stand:
And the schedule for this weekend:
PICKS OF THE MIDWEEK
Needless to say, this ain’t yo daddy’s Arsenal vs United.
Fun facts: Arsenal have been TERRIBLE at home. United have been VERY GOOD against other big clubs. Based on those tidbits of information, and more importantly the relative form of the two teams, United seem a very solid bet. But wait! There’s more reasons to have zero faith in Arsenal: United’s (counter)attack led by Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial is HOT and on paper should outmatch a defense that is incredibly shorthanded due to injuries to the likes of Sead Kolasinac, Kieran Tierney, Rob Holding, Callum Chambers and Sokratis. Oh, right, and Arsenal’s best player (reportedly) wants to gtfo. Yikes!
HOWEVER, call me crazy but I have actually seen some good things from the performances of Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal – this is despite the disappointing results (draw at Bournemouth and loss vs Chelsea). Arsenal can and should be a dangerous team going forward if and when they get their shit together. Arteta is finally putting guys in positions they feel most comfortable, like freeing Granit Xhaka to help generate offense and letting Lucas Torreira focus on cleaning (and gumming) everything up behind him, which seems like an obvious move but is an important step in the right direction.
Plus there is one intangible that a lot of people forget: Arsenal always play best when people expect the least of them.
Prediction: 2-2 draw (which in the grand scheme of things should feel like a bit of a win for Arsenal).
Unrelated sidenote: United’s upcoming schedule is… not gonna be a lot of fun.
Sheffield Utd [+1100]
Liverpool are a damn wagon… but damit if they are going to get tripped up at some point now during the busy “Christmas season” might be the most likely time, so I’ll be gosh danged if I’m not taking advantage of the bookies lack of respect for Sheffield Utd (a VERY solid team that could legitimately give the Reds some difficulties) by buying a lottery ticket. Liverpool have been helped out with their home-heavy holiday schedule but on the flipside they have had to play nothing but good teams. If we are being honest they probably should have drawn with Wolves and very easily could have lost if a couple bounces went another way. Long story short if you have a way of getting Sheffield at +0.5 or even +1.5, I’d be all over that. Liverpool can and probably will beat the bejesus out of anybody but recent performances have been significantly less scintillating.
Prediction: Sheffield to shock the world 2-1 (or at least put in a respectable shift).
Results have been pretty damn good for Everton ever since Marco Silva got sent packing but this game should provide some important andswers to the question of whether they have actually turned a corner under Ancelotti. I suspect not.
Prediction: City to win 3-1.
Some more predictions (to increase the possibility that I eventually get one right – maybe):
• Brighton 1-2 CHELSEA – News reports have suggested that The Babyjesus may be dealing with a niggling hamstring injury but other sources – notably The Babyjesus himself – indicate otherwise.
Brighton are a damn good team. I’ve been saying it for a long time now (just not sure if anybody is listening). Thus, no Babyjesus no party. I’m going to assume Frank doesnt brainfart and starts him, and Chelsea win. Full disclosure though: I would go draw if TBJ isn’t in the XI.
• BURNLEY 1-0 Villa – Two teams in a big of a tailspin. Villa seem like they are spinning a little harder.
• Newcastle 1-3 LESTER – The Sneaky Foxes managed to sneak out a win against West Ham despite resting a ton of guys who likely will feature again on Wednesday. No bueno for Toon.
• Southampton 1-2 TOTTENHAM – Spurs kinda suck and Southampton haven’t been bad at all lately… so I wouldn’t actually bet on this game with your money.
• Watford 1-2 WOLVES – The Orns been hotttttttttt as hell but this feels like a quintessential heat check game.
• Norwich 1-1 Palace – Norwich looked pretty damn impressive against Tottenham at the weekend but Palace have a way of strangling the life out of precisely this kind of game against bright-eyed and bushy-tailed promoted clubs .
• WEST HAM 2-1 Bournemouth – BUM FIGHT! I wouldn’t watch this game if you paid me but gun to head I’ll give the Hammies an edge based primarily on the dead-cat-new-coach-bounce phenomenon.
So there we have it. Another full slate coming up this weekend. Be safe out there tonight, kids!