We had a wild week of Champions League footy with storylines and scores that were unexpected to say the least. Let’s get into it.
Outside the 18
Ronaldo Red Card – Cristiano Ronaldo’s controversial red card could’ve doomed Juventus as well as his return to Old Trafford but somehow damaged neither. Juventus still pulled away with a 2-0 victory with only 10 men, and UEFA limited his suspension to only 1 match allowing him to visit his old club Manchester United in a few weeks time. It wasn’t the start he was looking for, but he’s been known to bounce back in extraordinary fashion.
City Lose – Arguably the most shocking result was Man City’s home loss to Lyon on Wednesday. They came out flat and two defensive mistakes gifted Lyon a 2-0 lead at halftime that the Cityzens couldn’t come back from, only scoring 1 goal in their comeback attempt. Luckily for City, their group is forgiving enough to bounce back but it is definitely cause for concern going forward.
PSG/Liverpool – In what might be the best group stage matchup this season, PSG traveled to Liverpool for their first meeting of two this season. After Liverpool went up 2-0 and showed PSG that Champions League nights at Anfield aren’t easy, the French visitors were able to equalize by the 83rd minute. That didn’t last too long as a 90+2′ Bobby Firmino winner sealed all 3 points for Liverpool and now put PSG in must-win positions in their next two Champions League matches at home to Red Star and Napoli.
Messi Hat Trick – He scored a hat trick. Carry on.
Let’s see how I did picking all 16 matches this midweek, a strategy I may change for next time due to its ludicrous nature.
All-Time Record: 31-29-6 (-2.3 Units)
Champions League MW 1 Record: 8-7-1 (-1.4 Units)
I wasn’t far off on the record, but my 2-unit play on PSG was shattered in the last second leaving my units in a tough spot. A tough one to swallow but that’s just how the game is played folks. In the wise words of Maury Ballstein from Zoolander, “What do we do when we fall off the horse? We get back on.” Saddle up for Matchweek 6…
Saturday, September 22nd
7:30 am EST
Watford @ Fulham – Fulham haven’t had the start that they would’ve hoped for with just only 1 win and 1 draw from their first 5 matches, while Watford have been the darlings of the league so far with their only loss coming against Manchester United last weekend. One thing that is a cause for concern for Fulham is their leaky defense as they’ve allowed 12 goals in 5 matches in comparison to Watford’s 5. To add to that, Watford are tied for the 4th-most goals scored at 10. I like Watford on the pickem line with decent odds here to get at least a point. Watford (Pickem, +110).
10:00 am EST
Bournemouth @ Burnley – Bournemouth have been another team to surprise many this season as they sit just 2 points behind Watford in 5th place while Burnley are in shambles and have lost the last 4 and have yet to earn a home point. All signs point to Bournemouth right? Well that’s where this one becomes tricky. It feels as if this could be the match they get the points they need in order to get back on track. But even if that’s the case and a possibility, I don’t feel comfortable laying units on a Burnley squad who has shown nothing so far this season. Bournemouth (Pickem, -125).
Manchester City @ Cardiff City – City look to bounce back from their embarrassing home loss to Lyon in the Champions League and historically under Pep, City are really good at doing just that. After their tough draw to Wolves a few weeks ago, they came back and won back to back matches and played well. They now have a chance to go to the worst team in the league and get 3 points and I expect them to make a statement even with the high juice on the spread and the probability of a push. Manchester City (-2, -140).
Newcastle United @ Crystal Palace – This is an odd match as both teams are historically tough to beat, but both are sitting in the bottom half of the table and Newcastle specifically sitting in 19th. To add to that, Palace have yet to gain points from home and have won all but one of their road matches. What’s worse? Newcastle have lost 4 straight in all competitions but haven’t lost by more than a goal yet, with 2-1 results against Chelsea, City and Arsenal. But I think Palace’s home woes break here and they get 3 points at Selhurst Park. Crystal Palace (-0.5, +105).
Huddersfield Town @ Leicester City – Leicester City have been nothing but inconsistent this season as they have gone L, W, W, L, L and their last two performances have been quite the bore from them. Last weekend they went down 3-0 at halftime at Bournemouth and without two late goals, they would’ve lost 4-0. Meanwhile Huddersfield are currently defeated and sit in 18th with 2 points after drawing Everton and bottom-dwellers Cardiff. But 1 is a large enough spread for me to fade an inconsistent Leicester team and enough to rely on a hungry Huddersfield team. It’s risky with the juice but I don’t trust Leicester at all right now. Huddersfield (+1, -130).
Southampton @ Liverpool – Liverpool are undefeated in the league this year and have all 15 points from their 5 matches while Southampton have only won 1 match, away at Palace. I expect Liverpool to be feeling good after beating PSG at home in the midweek and I also expect them to win this match by more than a goal. Liverpool (-2, -105).
Wolves @ Manchester United – I have absolutely loved Wolves this season as they’ve proved they are a really tough team to beat. Their only loss came at Leicester earlier in the year and have only allowed 1 goal in the 3 league matches since, against Manchester City. After a European travel day on Wednesday for Man U, I expect there to be some heavy legs against a well-rested Wolves side who are hungry. I’m not saying Wolves can get a win or points here, but I do see them causing United problems. Wolves (+1, -125).
12:30 pm EST
Tottenham @ Brighton – Brighton have been somewhat pedestrian this season even with a win against United and a hard-fought 1-0 loss at Liverpool. Their last two results; a home draw to Fulham and an away draw at Southampton weren’t impressive showings and this could be a great time for Spurs to bounce back after their crushing loss at Inter Milan on Tuesday. Tottenham (-0.5, -135).
Sunday, September 23rd
8:30 am EST
Chelsea @ West Ham – We have a London Derby on our hands here as West Ham host Chelsea. Chelsea have been the most impressive team in the league so far with Eden Hazard playing brilliantly and the rest of the team has taken to ‘Sarri Ball’ well with new manager Maurizio Sarri. West Ham are always a tough game for the blues and they are coming back from a Europa League trip on Thursday to Greece where they edged out PAOK 1-0. I don’t trust teams in tough matches off of a tough travel week in Europe and that doesn’t change here. Yes I may be crazy to fading Chelsea but I don’t care, it smells like a trap. West Ham (+1, -115).
11:00 am EST
Everton @ Arsenal – Everton have not looked great, that’s the bottom line here. Have they looked bad? No they haven’t, but they haven’t looked great at all either. Luckily their 3 draws are keeping them in the top 10 (barely as they’re in 10th). They haven’t won any of their last 3 league matches including a 3-1 home loss to West Ham last weekend where they were embarrassed at home and have yet to play a top-6 team. Oddly enough though, they haven’t lost either of their road matches to Wolves and Bournemouth which are two good results. But Arsenal are starting to find their footing and are coming off of a home win in the Europa league as most of the issues that clouded their start of the season have been fixed. Normally I would take the points with the spread being 1.5, but I actually like Arsenal to possibly pull away with this one. Arsenal (-1.5, +125).
That’s all for this weekend’s preview!
Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.