A lot has gone down since my last blog last weekend (no blog this past weekend with FA Cup action going on, which at this stage isn’t worth too much of my time) so I’ll do my best to keep it compact. Or I’ll just ramble on like I usually do. We’ll see!
Arsenal Making Money Moves:
Woaahh nelly! Could it be? Arsenal are finally making moves in the January transfer window, after letting go of their star player Alexis Sanchez and adding Henrikh Mkhitaryan. But they didn’t stop there, as reports have surfaced that they have agreed to terms with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. This is huge as replacing Alexis with two stars who connected well at Dortmund a few years ago and adding targets up front for their midfield to provide could push them back into the top 4. Arsenal are back and dare I say it…. #WengerIn ?
Real Madrid Down to One Focus:
Yikes folks. After a *HOME* loss to lowly Leganes, Real Madrid are out of the Copa Del Rey, the domestic cup in Spain. They now have to win the Champions League in order to salvage this disaster season. I think Zidane should stay as coach, as this seems like an anomaly of a season, but there is still a long way to go and they could still end up in 3rd and even 2nd place in La Liga. Everyone calm down! Without a Champions League title, or at least a push deep into the later stages, Los Blancos fans will start to become reckless.
FA Cup/Carabao Cup:
Liverpool have crashed out of the FA Cup, and now must secure a top 4 finish and/or a run into the Champions League to salvage their season as well. Meanwhile Spurs salvaged a late draw to set up a 2nd leg at Wembley against Newport County (I have absolutely no clue who that is, but they’re in the 3rd division). They will surely go through but it could provide some late storylines in the FA Cup. Meanwhile in the NIT of English domestic cups Arsenal and Manchester City will headline the Carabao Cup final, giving hope to Manchester City’s Quadruple (winning 4 titles overall in a season). It won’t happen, but it gives City a chance at some much needed domestic silverware. Arsenal now have a chance to continue Wenger’s success in domestic cups, maybe adding one more trophy before he rides off into the sunset. The Can I Kick It Cup will have another faceoff, this time in a cup final.
The US Men’s National Team played to a draw in a friendly Sunday night against Bosnia. It doesn’t mean much (or actually anything), but it was good to see young players go out there and get some much needed playing time before they enter the fray. More importantly, we anticipate the US Soccer Federation Presidential Elections to see who will try to resurrect the Federation in this dark time. Definitely an odd time to have a friendly…
Alright, alright I’m sorry now let’s get to the good stuff!
Tuesday January 30th
Crystal Palace @ West Ham (Pick -110) – A London Derby on the cards here, but honestly this match doesn’t have the lust like the other derbies have had this season. But we carry on as both teams need points in order to climb away from the relegation zone. Both clubs have had decent form recently since their poor start, but have hit the injury bug. West Ham’s attack is basically all injured, while two of Palace’s midfield stars (Cabaye and Loftus Cheek) have been ruled out for this match. Palace though has had 1 win away from home in their last 4 away matches, while the Hammers have only lost 1 home match in their last 4. Take the home pickem!
Arsenal (-1) @ Swansea City – A new wave of confidence has hit Arsenal, as they have two new signings coming in, but only one actually on the squad. Although the momentum may seem on their side, bottom of the table Swansea have only lost 1 match of their last 6 in all competitions. That win although, yes coming against Liverpool at home, was their first points they’ve gained against a top 6 side since September. Arsenal will find their footing here, even if this pushes.
Liverpool (-1.5) @ Huddersfield – The last match on Tuesday is an odd matchup, as Liverpool find themselves in somewhat poor form after losses to Swansea in the league and West Brom in the FA Cup. They were 18 matches unbeaten before that, and need points in order to stay in the top 4. But Huddersfield haven’t won in the league in 7 matches and are susceptible to big losses. Roll the dice baby!
Brighton (+0.5) @ Southampton – Both teams find themselves near, or inside the relegation zone needing points to differentiate themselves from the darkness. Southampton have been a side who have played to expectations on a game by game basis, losing to the teams they should lose to and winning or taking a points from games they should take points from. But they have gone 11 matches without a win, and don’t seem to be playing their best footy which is worrying. Brighton meanwhile, outside of a big defeat to Liverpool and Chelsea, have been playing to solid draws and wins to teams their caliber. The points look good on this one.
Burnley (+0.5) @ Newcastle United – After a bad stretch of home matches for Newcastle, they seem to be finding their footing. But they had a match this past weekend against Chelsea in the FA Cup leaving their squad tired. Meanwhile, after Burnley’s miracle start to the season putting them into the top 4, they have somewhat fallen off the wayside and now find themselves in 8th (still a good position). Without a match at the midweek they’ll be well rested and with good coaching, which they have, they’ll be ready for this one.
Leicester City (Pick -130) @ Everton – Leicester are healthy and are starting to click. That can be dangerous for a team like Everton who have been inconsistent all season. Yes Leicester went 5 unbeaten and then 5 without a win before their recent good form, but that poor run came against City twice, United and Liverpool. Since then they have had a great win against Huddersfield, a big draw at Chelsea and a home win to Watford. Everton went 8 unbeaten from November to December, but since then have been one of the most unconvincing sides in the league.
Bournemouth @ Chelsea (-1.5) – Bournemouth actually find themselves in good form at the moment, but in their 8 matches this season against the top 6 they have only won 1 match and lost the other 7. That isn’t going to help you when you travel to London to play a Chelsea team who can pick you apart in a blink of an eye. They’ve been great against the spread, but Chelsea’s last league loss came almost 2 months ago and have only lost 2 matches in their last 22 in all competitions.
West Brom @ Manchester City (-2) – This is a match between a world-class team and a team who sits in 19th in need of three points. City have seemed vulnerable as of late and after losing Sane to injury for at least a month to two months, people are starting to worry. But with only 2 points being laid down at the Etihad, this looks good for at least a push for the Cityzens. They’ve been playing amazing, but are starting to have results that are closer to draws than the 5-0 scorelines they had earlier in the year. They need to regain form before the Champions League starts to kick back up and it starts now.
Watford @ Stoke City (-0.5) – Watford are dealing with a wide range of injuries which have started to lure them into some poor results, and have only won 1 match in the league in their last 11. Stoke meanwhile are starting to find equilibrium after a very shaky start and at home I like them in this one.
Manchester United (Pick +110) @ Tottenham – Tottenham are dealing with injuries and illnesses, but have only lost 1 match in their last 13 in all competitions. Spurs though are coming off of an interesting draw to a 3rd division team, and didn’t look themselves. Meanwhile since United’s Derby loss to City, they’ve woken up with 8 matches unbeaten and seem to be playing with some confidence. I like United going into Wembley and taking at least a point here.
That’s all she wrote for this one, as the Premier League gets a little midweek action. Enjoy the matches and try to get your fix before you lay down a ton of money on stupid (yet awesome) props in the Super Bowl. Oh, speaking of that GO BIRDS BABY!!! LET’S GOOOOO!!!!
Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.