Sam’s Safe Space for Soccer Stoolies
I’ll be honest. I still can’t believe UEFA did City dirty like that last week. Not because City didn’t do some shady sh*t – they deffffffffffinitely did some shady sh*t – but more because there is so much shady sh*t going on in the world of soccer, and usually it all just magically disappears... with the help of more money.
Take the example of Nasser al-Khelaifi, president of PSG and chairman of beIN Sports (which sucks btw), who managed to make a bribery charge magically go away…
BY BRIBING UEFA!!
Did I mention how al-Khelaifi was JUST elected to UEFA’s governing board last year? You can’t even make this stuff up it is so absurd. So back to City: the reason I am shocked they got curb-stomped so badly is not because they didn’t deserve it, but rather because a LOT of people are doing shady sh*t and usually those with money simply make it go away.
Suffice to say this situation will be in the headlines for weeks if not months if not (potentially) years but I have the attention span of an ant so let’s turn our attention to the weekend ahead where we got some mighty tasty games to lose money on.
Let’s get to it…
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Quick reminder of the scores from last weekend (and a midweek straggler):
Honorable mention: Chelsea, United, Sheffield Utd
19. West Ham
Dishonorable mention: Aston Villa, Brighton, Palace
Annotated table as things stand:
And finally another abbreviated weekend schedule:
PICKS OF THE WEEKEND
Before we discuss this game – and the MASSIVE implications for the battle for top FIVE (god bless UEFA and their regulatory capriciousness) – there are two things to clarify about recent results:
1. Chelsea got fistf*cked by VAR against United last weekend at least as bad as any club I can remember. Maguire 1000000% deserved a red card and Zouma’s goal got ruled out because of a foul..... on FRED. Utterly ridiculous. Whoever the VAR official was should be suspended or better yet banished to the Championship.
2. Spurs suck. Like, a lot. They got absolutely POUNDED by RB Leipzig this week and somehow snaked out a 0-1 loss… at home. Woof.
So that is the backdrop for this game. I was expecting Chelsea to come in favored… but WOW, I was not expecting they’d be favored by that much. I guess this is what happens when you lose your best striker (Kane) and your only legit substitute striker (Son).
Here’s the thing though: Chelsea are missing some important players as well, with the injury to N’Golo Kante being a bigger problem than some people seem to think. Then there is the question of Tammy Abraham’s health. Perhaps the bookies know something I don’t but Lampard said just yesterday that his first choice striker was training at only about 70% this week… if he can’t go that is another big hole, especially if Lampard continues to favor of a guy who can’t seem to score (Michy Batshuayi) over a guy who can (Olivier Giroud).
Basically, if you break it down at a 2nd grade reading level, Tottenham’s defense sucks and offense is on injured reserve. Chelsea’s defense is decidedly meh and offense is a huge question mark. Obviously you gotta give the Blues a little edge there, but a big edge? Like, a +315 vs -140 edge?? I’m not buying that, even if Serge Aurier being on the field means Chelsea might as well start with at least one goal on the board.
Call me crazy but this game feels like one where Dear Leader – in the quintessential Mourinho fashion that Chelsea fans know all too well – will find a way to make this game insanely ugly, with both teams combining for roughly 3 shots on goal total, and finishing in a 1-1 draw.
Let’s keep this really simple. There is one thing and one thing only that Pep, Pep’s paymasters and the City players care about right now (other than making sure that electric cars don’t become TOO affordable and/or convenient): winning the Champions League THIS SEASON. That’s it. The league is out of reach. The make-belieague cup is a trinket. FA Cup is still too far away to worry about. Champions League is the only thing that matters.
Thus, you gotta give a BIG mental edge to Lester in this game ahead of City’s trip to Real Madrid on Wednesday. Pep will probably rest some guys and you know those that do play will want – somewhere way down deep in their lizard brain – to avoid getting injured at all costs. So there I was all ready to go with the upset… then I found out that Wilfried Ndidi may still be out with a nagging knee injury. That is particularly huge not just because of how underrated Ndidi is, but also because Hamza Choudhury (their next best defensive mid) is suspended for the game. So I hate to do this but this pick is dependent upon Ndidi being in the lineup. I will go out on a limb and say he is so I’ll say Lester to win 2-1 [[but if he’s out I’d scale it back a bit and say 1-1 draw]].
Can we all agree that Mikel Arteta looks like a vampire?
But wait, look again.
I know, right?
And credit to him because he has sucked all the suck out of Arsenal’s defense since taking over for Unai Emery and, at least against Newcastle, they even showed a little offensive spunk. Here’s the thing though: everything seemed to come together so well last game that this weekend is the perfect trap game. They played on Thursday in Europa, securing a nice road win, but you know that took a lot out of them. And enter Everton, nicely rested and playing about as well as they have played all season. Do I like the upset? Nope, I love it. Everton to win 2-1.
Couple more predictions (to increase the possibility that I eventually get one right – maybe):
• Burnley 1-2 BOURNEMOUTH
• Palace 1-1 Newcastle
• Sheffield Utd 1-2 BRIGHTON
• SOUTHAMPTON 2-0 Aston Villa
• United 1-1 Watford
• WOLVES 3-1 Norwich
• LIVARPOOL 2-1 West Ham
REST OF WORLD
GERMANY – Several good’ns in Ze Bundesliga this weekend but none better than Weston McKennie’s Schalke hosting Tyler Adams’ RB Leipzig (Saturday at 11:30am CT)… not sure if either will be fit to go, but here’s hoping!
ITALY – Milan visiting Fiorentina is a prime battle of big time disappointments (Saturday at 1:45pm CT).
SPAIN – Atletico Madrid welcome Villarreal on Sunday (2pm CT).
So there we have it. Good pod this week. Thanks to anyone who listened. (Both of you!) Huuuuuuuuuuuuuuge week of Champions League coming. Get pumped.