Sam’s Safe Space for Soccer Stoolies
WE BACK! International breaks with no USMNT games are the bane of my existence but we have officially survived and it’s time to get balls deep in a big weekend featuring some massive matchups.
No further intro needed. Let’s get to it…
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Scores from last weekend:
Honorable mention: City, Arsenal, Villa
19. West Brom
18. Sheffield Utd
Dishonorable mention: Burnley, United
Table as things stand:
And the schedule for the weekend ahead:
PICKS FOR THE WEEKEND
I’ve said it before, I will say it again: Everton slap different this season. That midfield is light years ahead of where it was, Calvert-Lewin is putting the biscuit in the basket and the defense… well, it’s been good enough to take 12 points from four games despite being saddled with Great Britain’s answer to Kepa the Keeper.
That said the Toffees have yet to really be tested. They beat Spurs before Daniel Levy lost his damn mind and spent his dick off, West Brom, Palace and Brighton. Not exactly murderer’s row. Now they got Liverpool. Yes, the Reds just got ramrodded 7-2 by Aston Villa but they are still damn good and likely extra motivated after the aforementioned pounding (as if they should need any playing their cross-town rival).
I wouldn’t blame you in the least for at least thinking about dabbling with Everton at +300. This is the best squad they have had in year and Liverpool have yet to regain the form that made them runaway champs last year. But at the end of the day the biggest thing for me is the return of Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara. Liverpool’s midfield was abused by Villa, which had enough time and space to take advantage of the Reds’ extremely high line on defense. The return of those two should shore up the middle of the field, which will in turn take a lot of pressure off Joe Gomez.
Prediction: I originally wrote 3-2 but am downshifting midstream on the assumption VVD slaps some sense into the rest of the defense (and especially Adrian)… Liverpool to win 2-1
As discussed on this week’s podcast, Arsenal are catching City – off a lackluster draw against Leeds – at a pretty damn good time. Pep (finally) has something resembling a first-choice CB pairing available in Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte but will likely be missing Sergio Aguero, Gabby Jesus and now KDB.
Basically the question comes down to whether you think Arsenal’s (scary) attackers can be held in check by City’s talented but unsettled defense. I will guess the answer is yes… but that it comes at the expense of much in the way of offense of their own.
Prediction: 1-1 draw
West Ham [+460]
Spurs had themselves a WINDOW and I am officially ready to be hurt again. West Ham have been a lot better than most people thought possible coming off a summer where the highlight was selling one of their most exciting young players to West Brom (and getting called out for it by club captain Mark Nobel). Not only have the Hammies been pretty damn decent lately, but they just did some impressive last minute business signing shifty winger Said Benrahma from Brentford. He won’t be ready for this weekend’s game but you know who will? Gareth Bale, baby. That along makes this an absolute lock. In fact, against my better judgment when it involves a team I am emotionally invested in, I’m call this my [unbiased] *best bet* of the season.
Prediction: Tottenham to win 3-1
Some more predictions… to increase the possibility that I eventually get one right, maybe (note: gonna start highlighting my BEST BETS – meaning the ones I legitimately like as opposed to just picking because it's kinda my make pretend job – in BOLD):
• CHELSEA 2-0 Southampton
• Newcastle 1-2 UNITED
• Sheffield Utd 1-0 Fulham
• Palace 1-2 BRIGHTON
• Lester 3-2 Villa [note: love the over and this should be a LOT of fun to watch]
• West Brom 0-1 Burnley
• Leeds 2-2 Wolves
REST OF WORLD
MLS – Big game in both conferences starting with Columbus vs NYCFC on Sunday (5pm CT) followed by LAFC visiting Portland (9pm CT).
USL Championship – second round of the playoffs all available on espn+… watch out for Saint Louis FC in what could be their last game ever
SPAIN – Barcelona visit Getafe on Saturday (2pm CT)
GERMANY – Hoffenheim welcome Dortmund on Saturday (8:30am CT)
ITALY – two solid games this weekend beginning with Napoli vs Must Watch Atalanta on Saturday (8am CT) followed by the Derby della Madonnina with Inter hosting Milan (11am CT)
So there we have it. Thanks for reading you beauties!