Sam’s Safe Space for Soccer Stoolies
This is the best I’ve felt coming out of an international window in… well… my entire life, to be perfectly honest. We got a growing gaggle of good young talent that is only going to get better and by golly the next few years decades are gonna be mighty tough if you are a hater.
“Wah wah wah you didn’t even beat Wales and it’s just Panama!” whine the haters.
It’s not about the results. It’s about the performances, and the fact they are being put in by 19 to 21 year olds (in some cases 17 year olds). This group is dangerous. There will be ups and downs but give them more time together and look tf out. Good time to be an American soccer fan. REAL good.
But enough about that for now. The leagues are about to get back at it so without further ado let’s start getting our minds right…
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Scores from the last round of games a couple weeks back:
Honorable mention: United, Liverpool, Wolves, Southampton, Villa
19. Sheffield Utd
18. West Brom
Dishonorable mention: Fulham, Brighton, Everton
WATCHABILITY INDEX (meaning highest on the must-watch TV scale… not always for complimentary reasons)
Table as things stand:
The droop is real
And the schedule for this weekend:
PICKS OF THE WEEKEND
I went back and forth about which game to list as the “headliner” but ended up going with this one because (a) I am a bit of a brand name slut and Big 6 vs Big 6 brings the sexy factor, (b) Pep vs Jozay always adds a little something extra and (c) Liverpool’s injury woes make the next game more interesting but also slightly less compelling.
Anyway, let’s have a quick chat about the odds for this game: they are effed. City are possibly without Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling. They are rightfully the favorites but by that much? Gah-damn, they are just BEGGING us to take Spurs.
So should you? A lot of signs point to yes. Team is relatively healthy (only Matt Doherty and arguably Steven Bergwijn are missing from [my] first choice XI) and have played well against City in recent years. Tottenham are about to face the most critical stretch of their season with City, Chelsea and Arsenal their next three league games and toss in Liverpool and Lester among the following three. There is a little bit of chatter about Spurs perhaps creeping into the title discussion and why the heck not given Liverpool’s injuries and City’s (preliminary) inconsistency. This game would be one helluva statement of intent for Spurs that they are going to be a force this season. In fact I am calling it now: if Spurs win people are allowed to start whispering about them being in the mix.
I just don’t see it though. Perhaps this is just years and years and years of disappointment talking but every time the club feels like it is about the turn a corner they get hit with some sort of crippling disappointment. For example, I was SHOCKED that Son Heung-min didn’t catch covid from one of his teammates. That would have made too much sense. Instead they will find some new way to “perform well but ultimately come up short” because that is what is in the club’s DNA. (Having said all that I don’t think a draw with City – who are on the come-up – is a bad result. Pep’s people are definitely still the team to beat regardless of their early struggles.)
Prediction: 2-2 draw
Another game the bookies are seriously sleeping on the upset potential. Liverpool could after all be missing their entire defense – plus Henderson, plus Salah. Woof. Lester are no joke. They have already beaten City, Arsenal, Leeds and Wolves this season. The thing about them though is dem Sneaky Foxes are most comfortable and dangerous on the counterattack, and missing so many guys may force Klopp to play a little (or a lot) more conservatively than normal. I am afraid that – barring an early goal – this could be a rather disappointing game from a “spectacle” standpoint. My guess is it ends up being a cagey and not terribly fulfilling affair… though hopefully me saying so will force the soccer gods to drop a barn-burner on us to make me look like an idiot. (T’would be a small price to pay.)
Prediction: 1-1 draw
The international break may have helped people forget but Arsenal are (relatively) fresh off getting absolutely POUNDED by Villa. Final score was 3-0 but easily could have been 6-0. Truth be told I’m not sure what to think of the team at the moment. Arteta’s defense-first mentality was clearly working to a certain extent prior to the Villa game, but it came at the expense of pretty much any offense. The problem is the lack of dynamic playmakers in midfield, which isn’t going to magically go away anytime soon. But Leeds may be the right opponent at the right time. Bielsa’s high-risk style could end up hanging a crooked number on just about anybody but also results lotttttttttts of good chances for almost every opposition, which you can get away with against some teams but not usually against guys like Aubameyang… and as disappointing as Lacazette has been he’s gotta start scoring again at some point. He just has to.
So, yes, Arsenal has not been scoring goals and, yes, they have not (usually) been giving up too many… but – as discussed on the podcast – this feels like a game where they take some liberties with Leeds’ aggression that often borders on naivete. BEST BET OF THE WEEKEND: THE OVER. As for the game itself…
Prediction: Arsenal to win 3-2
Some more predictions… to increase the possibility that I eventually get one right, maybe (note: gonna start highlighting my BETTER BETS – meaning the ones I legitimately like as opposed to just picking because it's kinda my make pretend job – in BOLD):
• Newcastle 1-2 CHELSEA
• Villa 1-2 BRIGHTON
• WEST HAM 2-1 Fulham
• UNITED 2-0 West Brom
• Fulham 1-3 EVERTON
• Sheff Utd 2-1 West Ham
• Burnley 0-0 Palace (I’d rather get super herpes than watch this game… but probably will do so anyway cause it’s on Monday and wtf better do I have to do… dang you Premier League scheduling wizards!)
REST OF WORLD
MLS – PLAYOFS! Assuming rona doesn’t wipe any/all of the games out
this is what the bracket looks like:
and the schedule for the next week or so:
Various players are doing takeovers this week on my IG account all week so check that out and, as always, take the resulting Sam’s Army Bump™ into consideration when it comes time to putting bets in – unless you hate money.
ITALY – 3rd place Napoli hosting leaders Milan on Saturday (1:45pm CT) should be a FANTASTIC game. Definite must-watch.
SPAIN – 3rd place Atletico welcome 8th place Barcelona on Saturday (2pm CT) should also be very good though we will miss out on a Luis Suarez “revenge performance” due to the gosh dang rona.
GERMANY – Pretty boring weekend in the Bundesliga so if you are going to watch one thing I’d make it Alphonso Davies trolling teammates
though for best game let’s go with The Babyjesus – with his newfound stacks – and Dortmund visiting Hertha on Sunday (1:30pm CT).
So there we have it. Soccer is back and won’t be going away anytime soon. We got a USWNT domination coming up next week
and another USMNT camp in December but no more official international breaks until like March. So settle in because games are coming fast and furious from now until then, and it’s gon be GLORIOUS.
Thanks for reading you beauties!