Matchweek 19

Weekend’s Record: 4-4-2
All-Time Record: 137-121-28 

We have finally hit the halfway mark of the season, with 4 and a half months down and 5 more months to go. Unlike American sports, the Premier League ramps up its schedule during the halfway mark of the season with each team playing 4 games across a 15 day span. Lucky for us, NBC Sports will be covering 40 live games across these next 14 days making sure we get our fix during the holiday season. Obviously the players and managers complain a lot, but who gives a crap they make millions of dollars a year for our viewing pleasure. That’s business baby!

This weekend has an absolute tasty spread of matches including Liverpool @ Arsenal, Roma @ Juventus, and of course the game we all wait for every year; El Clasico with Barcelona visiting Real Madrid. You don’t find a collection of matches this awesome all the time. Tis’ the freaking season!

Friday:
2:45

Liverpool @ Arsenal, NBCSN

Liverpool travel to North London having not lost a match in the league, or in any competition, since October when they traveled to Tottenham. Liverpool have been in amazing form and have been scoring goals at will this season. Arsenal meanwhile have only had 1 win where they won by more than one goal in the last month, going 4-2-2. They are also 1-1-3 against top 6 sides and haven’t found a true identity on the pitch this season and have been too volatile (Kulla, @ me bro). Out of their 18 matches this season, Arsenal have gotten points 13 times compared to Liverpool’s 16. Liverpool (Pick -105). 

Saturday:
7:00am

Barcelona @ Real Madrid, BEIN Sports

El Clasico. A match watched by 600 million people worldwide, with 269 total matches played, traditional Spain v. Catalonia, and of course Lionel Messi v. Cristiano Ronaldo sets the stage for yet another captivating match between these two historic sides. But this time, it is absolutely way more than just another Clasico. Since Catalonia’s secession vote, tensions have risen drastically between traditional Spain and its counterpart. This will undoubtedly add fuel to the fire for both teams, and more importantly their fans. Expect a very tense affair both on the pitch, in the stands and in the streets in Madrid Saturday morning.

Added to that, Real Madrid find themselves 11 points behind Barcelona and in 4th place in the La Liga standings. Los Blancos need a win or else they may let Barcelona get one hand on the trophy by Christmas, which is unheardofly (is that a word?) early. Barcelona are unbeaten in the league this season and have been playing outstanding football with Messi leading the league in scoring with 14 goals through 16 matches, and has somehow hit the post 14 other times. Real Madrid meanwhile have bounced back tremendously in the league after their horrid start to their campaign, going without a loss in their last 10 matches across all competitions. After Ronaldo’s slow start and average year in the league, Messi has taken over supremacy in the league yet agian. Here is how they are broken down statistically in the all-time Clasico matchup:

Capture

Barcelona are in too much of a groove and I expect Messi to change the game and do something magical (shocker there!) like he did with his winning goal in the last second of their last matchup in the league. He’s the all-time leading Clasico scorer, all-time leading Clasico assist maker, has multiple game-winning Clasico goals and has the most hat tricks in Clasico history by the age of 30. Never put Barcelona and Lionel Messi as underdogs, NEVER. Barcelona (+0.5).

7:30am
Chelsea (-1) @ Everton – Yes, I said Everton were back last week before they beat Swansea 3-1. But Chelsea have only 1 loss in the league since October and Everton have as many losses as they do wins this season (7).

10:00am
Newcastle United (+0.5)
@ West Ham – I absolutely hate picking West Ham, mostly because they’re horrible and Moyes is a wanker… but Newcastle are also horrible so I’m going to go ahead in take the points in this toilet bowl of a match.

Crystal Palace (Pick -125) @ Swansea City – In version 2 of the toilet bowl match of the weekend, Palace travel to Wales to play the Swans. But actually Palace have begun to play outstanding after having the worst start to a Premier League season. They have gone their last 7 unbeaten, while Swansea sit in dead last.

West Brom (+0.5) @ Stoke City – Wait? Can it be? Another toilet bowl match? It is! But actually I like West Brom in this one a decent amount, as Stoke just can’t produce anything, winning just 1 match since November 4th.

Huddersfield (+1) @ Southampton – Southampton have won 1 match in their last 9, and Huddersfield have actually won two of their last 3 with their one loss coming against Chelsea. Huddersfield have a chance to crack the top 10, and I like the points in this one.

Bournemouth @ Manchester City (-2.5) – Yup. They’re the best team in the world and are on pace to becoming the best team in English history in a single season. They actually might win this game by 5.

Watford @ Brighton (Pick -115) – I’ve said it all year; don’t sleep on Watford! But sadly most of their team is either injured or have picked up red cards/card accumulation suspensions. Bad Boy Watford! Brighton will have the advantage of being healthy and at home.

12:30pm
Tottenham @ Burnley (+1) – Folks, I cant believe I’m saying this but Burnley are one of the best teams in England right now. Sean ‘Futbol Guy’ Dyche has brought grit to Turf Moor and actually have his Burnley squad sitting above Tottenham in 6th place. Burnley have only lost twice at home this season and only once their second match of the season (the second home loss coming against Arsenal). This match actually is going to be great and I love Burnley here. Tottenham are gonna feel the Burn…ley. *Buh dum ting*. Cue the gif of Dyche answering a reporters cell phone…giphy1

2:45pm
Manchester United (-120) @ Leicester City – Leicester have been average and United have been quite brilliant this season with 41 points. I don’t see Leicester pulling one out here.

Roma @ Juventus (-120) – Another cracking match for our holiday slate, as Roma travel to Turin to take on Juventus in a big matchup for both clubs. Juve, sitting in 2nd, have a chance to put more pressure on Napoli and depending on other results can take the lead in the league or pull away from Inter who sit in 3rd. Roma on the other hand could climb up to 2nd with Juve if they can secure the 3 points. But Juventus have won their last 7 at home against Roma and seem to be a fortress at home again this season.

What an awesome pre-Christmas set of matches we have in store. Whether you love or hate your family during this holiday season, there’s nothing like soccer to bring everyone together. Or just like everything else these days, it could tear everyone apart. Who knows! I wish everyone reading and following a Merry Christmas and expect a load of awesome articles and picks all the way through the new year (possible first episode of the podcast too?!?!). Until next time…

Stay kickin’ it. Peace
Twitter: @nicodegallo   @canikickitblog

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Nico

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