We glide into Matchweek 28 after a phenomenal couple days of footy in both the Champions League and Europa League. I will get into the Carabao Cup Final separately in another blog that will come out later this weekend.
Champions League Round of 16 Part II: 2-2
All-Time Record: 182-160-41
My Form: 16-9-1
The attraction of the week was clearly Chelsea hosting Bartthheellonnaa and it did not disappoint. Chelsea played so well on the counter attack all match, having to battle against 68% possession and being out-passed 894 to 329. They struck first as Willian tucked one home in the 62nd minute after hitting two posts in the first half. Willy was torturing the Barca midfield and wing backs all match, proving again how valuable he is to the Blues. But it’s almost impossible to contain Messi for 90 minutes even when he’s never scored against you in 8 matches. The Messi curse ended in the 75th giving Barcelona the edge in the 1-1 aggregate with the away goal going back to Barcelona. Good luck at the Camp Nou Chelsea!
The other matches in the Champions League included a 5-0 throttling from Bayern, a Roma blown lead in Ukraine to Shakhtar and finally the home dogs of Sevilla pulled the crucial draw to keep their hopes alive. (Sevilla +0.5 is what we like to call the Sevillock).
In the Europa League Arsenal had an embarassing loss to Oostersunds, who’s city has less of a population than the Emirates Stadium. They still advanced but it adds to the puzzling nature of their season as the #WengerOut train is picking up speed. Dortmund advanced with a late goal in Italy while Napoli fell short in Leipzig and have been knocked out.
Stoke City @ Leicester City (-0.5) – This game is black and white. Stoke suck and are the worst away team in the league with only 6 points in 13 matches and Leicester haven’t lost a home league match since mid December. EZ money here folks.
West Ham @ Liverpool (-2) – So yeah, Liverpool are prrettayy preettaayyy good these days. After a fluke loss at Swansea, they have responded with 3 wins and 1 draw and a combined score of 12-2. At home they haven’t lost and have outscored their opponents 3/1 this season. This will probably be a two goal game but has the potential to get ugly for the Hammers.
Southampton @ Burnley (Pick -105) – My rule all season has been to pick Burnley literally no matter who they are playing against. They have the best cover rate in the league this season and are led by ‘Football Guy’ Sean Dyche. Giving this team Pickem odds is just absurd. Southampton sit in 18th and need points to get out of the Relegation Zone, but I trust Burnley with the win/draw here. Feel the Burn(ley)!
Huddersfield (+0.5) @ West Brom – Maybe the weirdest story of the season is last place and dumpster fire West Brom taking a vacation to get away from it all and ‘train’ in Barcelona. Well several of their players got drunk, stole a taxi and supposedly barely trained all week. That’s how you get out of last place baby! West Brom is turning into the Miami Football of the Premier League! Smart to take the points here though as West Brom is still feeling the heat from their antics.
Newcastle United @ Bournemouth (-0.5) – This match could go either way but Bournemouth has been a team you don’t want to bet against as of late, covering or pushing in their last 7. They’re home and although I like the dogs in tight matches, I think Bounremouth eeks out a victory here with a late winner.
Swansea (+0.5) @ Brighton – I’m being dead serious when I say I think the Swans are back. From last place to a run of 5 unbeaten to climb out of the relegation zone and now the Swans sit only 4 points behind the top 10. In that 5 match unbeaten run they beat both Arsenal, Liverpool, Burnley and drew at Leicester. The Swan life is the good life.
Everton (+0.5) @ Watford – Watford’s fall from grace has been, well, graceful. They briefly peeked into the top portion of the table at the start of the season, only to just slowly drop points more and more until they fell to 11th. But they sit in part of the table where they are closer to 19th than they are to 8th place. As much as Watford need the points, Everton are somewhat (I say somewhat with a grain of salt) finding their form again. Everton as dogs here is just too appetizing for me to pass up.
Tottenham (-1) @ Crystal Palace – Spurs come into this match a week after one of the bigger comebacks in recent memory for the North London club. After being down 2-0 at Juventus with their Champions League hopes in the balance they responded brilliantly and fought back to a draw, capturing two away goals. Technically this is a Derby, but one more important for Palace than Spurs as their real rivals sit 7 points behind them in 6th place. Spurs need 3 points in order to make the chase for the top 4 interesting. It won’t be easy by Spurs will get those 3 points.
Chelsea (+0.5) @ Manchester United – This is the exact moment where Chelsea can silence their doubters about their lack of depth and Manager issues. They’re starting a stretch of playing Barca twice, Man U, Man City, Burnley, Leicester and Tottenham over a month-long stretch. They’re bound to drop points but they’ve only lost once out of their last 14 in all competitions against United and although they drew against Barca, not many teams could accomplish what they did. You also can’t forget Man United looked absolutely horrendous in Sevilla this week in a scoreless draw, with De Gea needing world-class saves just to keep them in the match. Chelsea aren’t favored but will win this match as Hazard, Willian, Fabregas and Giroud/Morata will finally find a rhythm and make United’s poor defense pay.
Other BONUS Picks:
Marseille (+2) @ Paris Saint Germain
AC Milan (+0.5) @ Roma
Atletico Madrid (Pick -135) @ Sevilla
That’s all for Matchweek 28, but keep your eye out for a big preview of the Carabao Cup Final between Manchester City and Arsenal.
Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.