Sam’s Safe Space for Soccer Stoolies
Gotta get this puppy to publishing lickity split before all the focus gets turned to ROUGH N’ ROWDY (buy the stream HERE) – sidenote: yes, rest assured there will be a separate preview for tomorrow’s USMNT game against Costa Rica coming tomorrow – but for now let’s take a real quick and dirty look at what’s what this weekend…
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Results from last round of games (a week and a half ago – plus Liverpool/West Ham on Wednesday):
Honorable mention: Chelsea, Sheffield Utd, Southampton
- West Ham
Dishonorable mention: Watford, Brighton, Burnley
Annotated table as things stand:
Before we get to the games coming up this weekend, here are a few brief thoughts on some of the highlights and lowlights from the January transfer business…
Wolves – did a handful of moves but nabbing Daniel Podence could be a STEAL. There may be some funny business going on behind the scenes here (he is another Jorge Mendes guy) but the only thing that matters for fans at the moment is the club got a dynamic force to pair opposite of Adama Traore on the wing. That could be a problem (for opponents).
Sheffield Utd – the Blades got ballsy this window, swooping on high-priced Norwegian striker Sander Berge. If he works out he could give the club precisely the extra firepower that they desperately lack. At £22 million, though, that is a big bet for a shoestring-type club.
Arsenal – needed some defenders. Signed some defenders. Soares has bene a reliable player (why Spurs didn’t go after him I will never know #notmad) and Pablo Mari is a little less well known but has been solid for Flamengo and fills a MASSIVE trouble spot at CB.
MORE GOOD THAN BAD
Other United – finally bit the bullet and paid up for Bruno Fernandes, who is just the type of playmakers that the Red Devils needed to start sorting out a midfield that has been killing them all season. I don’t love the last second swoop for Odion Ighalo though. Not sure what they are expecting the 30yo striker to bring to the table that Mason Greenwood doesn’t already provide, aside from perhaps more experience, some added depth and slower legs.
MORE BAD THAN GOOD
Tottenham – needed to add full backs and a striker, and to sell Eriksen. They successfully sold Eriksen (great success!) but that is it as far as priorities go. In fact instead of bringing full backs in they sent two (Rose/KWP) out on loan (not great!) without bringing any in, nor did they bring in a striker (not great at all!) To be fair Giovani Lo Celso has looked good so locking him in is a good thing, but that was to be expected. In addition, signing an exciting winger in PSV’s Steven Bergwijn also looks like a good move but it does nothing to plug the massive holes in the squad. Long story short Jozay apparently thinks he can get by with guys like Vertonghen and Tanaganga slotting wide while relying on Son and Moura until Kane is back. Snake it til you (hopefully) make it I guess.
West Ham – they could use improvements just about everywhere on the field (aside from in net where Fabianski is perhaps the league’s biggest unsung hero) but splurged £22 million on a guy in Hull City’s Jarrod Bowen who is at best an unknown quantity when it comes to scoring goals at a top flight level.
Bournemouth – they hung onto several sought-after players (Wilson/King/Fraser) but apparently forgot that the team as it stands has kinda sucked so far this season and signed precisely nobody. The good news is they have the talent to stay up… if Eddie Howe’s message hasn’t gone stale stale.
Chelsea – they won the appeal to shorten their transfer ban – score! – then took a page out of Tottenham’s book (never a good thing) and signed precisely nobody. Definitely could have used another attacker. Weird flex but ok.
Norwich – basically waved the white flag by only adding some spare parts from Germany.
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming, starting with the schedule for this weekend:
Not gonna lie, this is a sneaky great weekend of games involving a bunch of top half vs top half and bottom half vs bottom half matchups that will inevitably end up being pretty important when the stretch run rolls around…
PICKS OF THE WEEKEND
Bookies are so dumb sometimes. Here we got two pretty evenly matched teams. One (Lester) with a very good defense and the other (Chelsea) playing on the road AND missing their #1 striker… not to mention the son of god. Seems likely the recipe for Chelsea to take zero risks on the way to a bit of a yawner. If either team wins it I would go with the Sneaky Foxes 1-0 but instead I’m going with 0-0 draw.
Frankly, I don’t really want to even talk about this game. Spurs rarely beat City even when they don’t have gaping holes on the XI. Right now they have gaping holes in the XI. So unless Jozay pulls a rabbit out of a hat that has been looking increasingly empty for years now, this one could get ugly. City to win 3-0.
UPSET OF THE WEEK
I FEEL LIKE I’M TAKING CRAZY PILLS! Did 2019-20 Manchester United go to bed last night and wake up as 1998-99 Manchester United? If not the bookies are asleep at the wheel big time on this one. This is as close to an UPSET LOCK as I have ever seen. Wolves to win 2-1.
Some more predictions (to increase the possibility that I eventually get one right – maybe):
• BOURNEMOUTH 2-1 Villa – Big 6-pointer #1… the Cherries have to wake up at some point. Right? Right??
• NEWCASTLE 1-0 Norwich – Big 6-pointer #2… Norwich flies around like a drunken college freshman at a party after their first Truly, which in a weird way means they could come up with an unexpected win here and there. Newcastle is missing half their squad through injury but I’m still going with Toon.
• Palace 1-1 Sheffield Utd – Big fan of this Blades team but on the road at Palace is a recipe for not much action.
• LIVERPOOL 2-0 Southampton – Saints are hot so never say never but Liverpool are Liverpool so while I’m not saying never I’ll say “probably never” this weekend.
• WATFORD 2-1 Everton – SAM’S ARMY BUMP IS ALIVE AND WELL! (Unless the Hornets lose in which case it has officially lapsed.)
• West Ham 2-2 Brighton – I’ve been big on Brighton all season but they have fallen on hard times recently. Both clubs need a win desperately so sounds like a split-the-baby situation, especially with all the Hammies’ injury woes.
• Burnley 0-2 ARSENAL – Aubameyang is back, so if Arsenal’s newly refreshed defense stands up that’s bad news for the Clarets
REST OF WORLD
ITALY – #1 Juve welcome #7 Parma on Sunday (12:45pm CT).
SPAIN – Madrid Dærby! #1 Real Madrid host #5 (and falling) Atletico on Saturday (9am CT).
GERMANY – #7 Parma visiting #6 Cagliari on Saturday (11am CT).
So there we have it. Good weekend of games. Stay safe out there, kids.