The midweek matches were kind to me as I went 5-2-2 to get myself back on track. Let’s get right into this weekend’s preview as we have a few huge matches as well as the MLS Cup Final in Atlanta.
This Season’s Record: 89-78-23 (+1.3 Units)
Matchweek 15 Record: 5-2-2 (+3.1 Units)
Saturday, December 8th
7:30 am EST
English Premier League
Liverpool @ Bournemouth – Although Liverpool ended up beating Burnley 3-1 on Wednesday, they looked like a shell of themselves and even went down 1-0 in the second half. They played somewhat of a B side, but surely lost some momentum with how they played and even lost defender Joe Gomez to a fractured leg. Bournemouth meanwhile have been brilliant at limiting good offenses and top 6 clubs this season and have the 6th best home record in the league. So far this season, they have covered or pushed against Arsenal, City, United and Chelsea and have yet to lose by more than one goal at home. With a massive Champions League match coming up on Tuesday, I think Liverpool’s form and probable troubles with the stout Bournemouth defense gives the home side value on the spread here. Bournemouth (+1, -110).
9:30 am EST
Borussia Dortmund @ FC Schalke – The Dortmund Derby, also known as the Revierderby, is one of the more exciting matches in the Bundesliga. To add to that, two of the best young American players will most likely be starring in this one as Christian Pulisic (20 years old) and Weston McKennie (20 years old). They usually play a tight, physical match that’s close but this season some things are different. Schalke has had to climb out of last place the last few months after a horrible start while Dortmund have arguably been one of the best teams in the world. Dortmund have also been the beneficiaries of a pretty easy schedule these last few weeks while Schalke have had to travel to a few tough places to play in the Champions League and the Bundesliga where they only got 1 point out of their last two matches. Until I see otherwise, I won’t stop picking Dortmund in matches they’re favored by a (0.5) in, especially with these juicy odds. Borussia Dortmund (-0.5, +120).
10:00 am EST
English Premier League
Huddersfield @ Arsenal – Arsenal have still yet to lose a match since August 12th (20 total matches) and are coming off of two huge results against Spurs and United. At home against a Huddersfield squad who just played two stinkers against Brighton and Bournemouth, I can’t see Arsenal slipping up here and I even think this one could get ugly. Arsenal (-1.5, -115).
Brighton @ Burnley – Remember how I said Burnley sucks earlier? Yeah, it’s not good. They have taken one point from their last seven matches (21 possible points), are 0-1-6 in those matches with a goal differential of -16 and only one of those losses was by less than two goals. They now go up against a Brighton side who are in a good run of form, winning their last two and are undefeated in their last three. Need any more reasoning to pick Brighton? I gotchu. Burnley are the worst home team in the Premier League this season with a 1-1-5 and a goal differential of -7. Brighton (Pickem, -115).
Southampton @ Cardiff City – Cardiff have dragged themselves out of the relegation zone to the shock of many. They’ve won three of their last four home matches and although they are tied for the most losses, they’re beginning to figure out how to win big home matches (most recently against Wolves). Meanwhile, Southampton have fallen apart as they sit in 18th and recently fired their manager after 13 straight winless matches in all competitions. I just can’t pick Southampton here with Cardiff on a home pickem with an even price. Cardiff City (Pickem, EVEN).
12:30 pm EST
Manchester City @ Chelsea – The big match from the weekend is in the Premier League as Man City travel to London to face Chelsea. I don’t have a spread pick because City have a few injuries, are in a bit of weird form and I think picking against them is just plain stupid so it’s a big ‘Stay Away’ game for me regarding the spread. But I think the Under does have value in this one. In City’s last 5 matches against the traditional top 5, only one has gone over 3 goals and the rest have been under 3. Yes both teams are prone to scoring goals but City’s defense has only allowed 7 goals in the league through 15 matches and Chelsea’s defense has allowed only 13. The only times these teams have hit overs this season is because of their opposition’s defense, which in this case will both be one of the best they’ll face all year. To put a bow on those statistics, 3 of the last 4 times these teams have met the under has hit and the 4th time was a push. Under 3 (-125).
12:30 pm EST
Eintracht Frankfurt @ Hertha Berlin – Frankfurt have been great this season with the third most wins in the Bundesliga and are only a point behind 4th place Bayern Munich. Before their loss this past Sunday, they wen’t on an 11 match undefeated streak with 10 wins in that span. Hertha meanwhile started the season in great form but have since regressed to the mean. In their last four competitive matches, Berlin only have one win and have not won a home match since 9/28. I love Frankfurt on a pickem line here. Eintracht Frankfurt (Pickem, -110).
2:45 pm EST
Spanish La Liga
FC Barcelona @ Espanyol – The two best teams in Catalonia will face off in a big rivalry match. You’d be surprised how Espanyol fares in this Derby as Barca have only won one of the last three against their rivals. I don’t feel comfortable taking the spread here but much like the City/Chelsea game I think the under has value. Only one of the last five matchups between these two have gone over 3 goals and the last time it went over 3 at Espanyol was 2010. Espanyol play Barca tight at home and I don’t expect that to change here. Under 3 (-110).
8:00 pm EST
MLS Cup Final
Portland Timbers @ Atlanta United – 80,000+ are expected to be on hand for one of the more anticipated MLS Cup Finals in a while. Atlanta has turned into one of the best sports stories of the year as they’ve created one of the best sports atmospheres and cultures from basically nothing. They will be hosting the Timbers in a stadium that they have went 13-4-2 with a goal differential of +28 in 19 matches. I honestly think Portland has no chance in this game due to the home field advantage Atlanta will have and the chance for an Atlanta sports team to win a championship. They were sitting at 1.5 earlier in the week, tempting me to jump on Portland but a buy-back occured that lowered the spread to -1, a perfect number for Atlanta at home in this year’s MLS Cup Final. Atlanta United (-1, 125).
Sunday, December 9th
11:00 am EST
English Premier League
Wolves @ Newcastle – Wolves finally showed who we thought they could be on Wednesday with their win against Chelsea at home. Prior to that they went on a pretty bad run of form with 5 losses and 1 draw in their previous 6 matches, but that performance against Chelsea has convinced me that maybe they have figured it out again. Newcastle meanwhile ended their three match win street last weekend with a bad 3-0 home loss to West Ham but somewhat rebounded against Everton the next week, earning a draw. I truly think this could be a draw but I want to lean Wolves since Newcastle’s home record has been pretty brutal this year. Wolves’ away point total is actually more than Newcastle’s home point total this season, giving Wolves some value on the away pickem line. Wolves (Pickem, -115).
12:00 pm EST
Stuttgart @ Borussia Monchengladbach – Gladbach have been brilliant this year as they sit in 2nd place and have the second best home record in the league. Stuttgart meanwhile are barely clinging on to life in 16th place, the final relegation zone and have only won 4 points away from home in 7 matches this season. I absolutely love Gladbach here with a spread of only 1 goal. Borussia Monchengladbach (-1, -120).
That’s it for my weekend of picks! 11 matches on a Saturday with no college football, making it the perfect weekend to get some action on some matches.
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Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.