What a wild Champions League week we had as Tuesday brought us two 0-0 draws but Wednesday giftedt us an Atletico/Juve match filled with controversy and an epic comeback from Manchester City.
Lyon 0 – 0 Barcelona
Liverpool 0 – 0 Bayern Munich
Atletico Madrid 2 – 0 Juventus
Schalke 2 – 3 Manchester City
To be quick, Bayern and Liverpool was 0-0 but the match was brilliant as it was back and forth and Liverpool were surely due for a goal. It’s unsure who has the advantage now as although Bayern got out of Anfield unscathed, they know they can’t afford to concede an away goal in Leg 2. Lyon stopped Barcelona miraculously 0-0 but they now have to show up in Barcelona and likely score if they want to go through. Atletico beat Juve 2-0 as Juve tried to sit back a bit and take maybe a draw to the second leg but once they conceded they couldn’t find the answer and conceded a second goal late. Manchester City went up 1-0, only for Schalke to get two penalites before halftime. Things went from bad to worse for City as Otamendi got his second yellow and reduced them to 10 men. City didn’t waver as a SCREAMER of a free kick from Sane and a last gasp winner from Sterling stole the win as they head back to Manchester with the massive advantage of three away goals. (Remember, the Champions League is spread out over two matches each round, with aggregate score deciding who advances and most away goals used as the tie breaker).
I have a MEGA blog for you tonight with matches and picks across all of Europe’s top 5 leagues and a Cup Final between City and Chelsea. Due to the amount of previews, I will only go in depth for the English matches (Premier League and Carabao Cup Final).
This Season’s Record: 133-122-32 (-8.3 Units)
UCL R16 2/19-2/20 Record: 1-4 (-3.5 Units)
Friday, February 22nd
English Premier League
2:45 pm EST
Watford @ Cardiff City – Cardiff sit above the relegation zone by only one point and this could be a match that they can get points from. But the last time they won, or even got points, from a team inside the current top 10 was in November when they beat Wolves 2-1. In fact, that’s the only time this season they’ve grabbed points from a team inside the current top 10. Watford meanwhile only have one loss in 2019 and it was in that shocking comeback at Spurs. If Cardiff were underdogs, I’d debate taking them. But on a pickem I can’t fade Watford here. Watford (Pick, -130).
Fulham @ West Ham (NBCSN) – I hate picking both of these teams but the Can I Kick It Constitution forces my hand yet again. Fulham have lost six and won one in 2019 and have been piss poor away from home, sitting in last in the home table with only two points. West Ham haven’t been too great either in this calendar year but they’ve grinded out two consecutive draws in the league and are slowly getting key players back from injury. I like the Hammers at home to take the three points and possibly doom Fulham to relegation. West Ham (-0.5, -110).
Saturday, February 23rd
English Premier League
7:30 am EST
Tottenham @ Burnley (NBCSN) – Spurs are the easy pick here as they are coming off of a huge 3-0 win against German leaders Dortmund in the Champions League. They’re hot, have tremendous away form (first in the away table) and they don’t seem to be missing a beat without stars Kane and Alli as Heung Min Son has taken the playmaking and scoring load just fine. But both Kane and Alli are back in training, giving Spurs an even bigger boost and giving me an easy decision. Tottenham (-0.5, -130).
10:00 am EST
Wolves @ Bournemouth (NBCSN) – Wolves may be eleven points off of the top 6 but they’re playing like they deserve to be there. They are undefeated in their last six in all competitions and are 5-3-4 away from home this year, a mark that puts them in the top 6 in that respective table. They know how to beat every and any team in the league which makes for an easy bet most weeks. For Bournemouth, outside of their win against Chelsea, haven’t had any impressive results since the fall. Beating Wolves here would be a very decent result and I cant trust them on the pickem line. Release the Wolves. Wolves (Pick, -110).
Huddersfield @ Newcastle – Honestly at this point, I can’t say much worse about Huddersfield this season. They’re basically already relegated and are facing a Newcastle squad who are fighting to stay alive. I like Newcastle to take the three points in a match they know will impact the rest of their season and could be one of the main reasons they stay up. Bottom line; this is a match they NEED to win. I’ll take ’em. Newcastle (-0.5, -115).
12:30 pm EST
Crystal Palace @ Leicester City (NBC) – Although Palace sit in 13th, they’re only three points off of relegation. They know that they need to battle for points in most of the matches that remain if they want to make sure the last few matches don’t matter. Draws are fine and wins are better but they know in their position they just can’t afford to drop all three points. Leicester meanwhile are in freefall mode with one win in 2019 (on 1/1), five losses and one draw. They have been poor at home all year and I think they’re vulnerable here to Palace here as favorites. Take Palace and the points. Crystal Palace (+0.5, -135).
Sunday, February 24th
English Premier League
9:05 am EST
Southampton @ Arsenal – I love Arsenal at home here. They’ve been brilliant all year at the Emirates and are facing a Southampton team who are having some issues away from home and even more issues beating some of the top teams. Their only win against the top 6 this season was actually against Arsenal, giving me even more reason to pick the Gunners. as it’s really hard to beat a team twice in the Premier League, especially for Southampton to do it against a top 6 team. Arsenal (-1, -120).
Liverpool @ Manchester United – Ahhh finally that ‘game in hand’ for Liverpool as they try to regain control of the Premier League over Manchester City. Unlikely for them, it comes against a scorching hot arch rival in Manchester United. Liverpool are coming off of a tough draw in the Champions League to Bayern in a game that they probably should have won even without both starting center backs. Since it’s a pickem and I truly think it’s a tossup due to United’s compensation for recent form and they’re home where they’ve been outstanding under their new manager, I like United to get at least a point. They’re playing really well and although this would allow their cross-city rivals to gain control of the title race, they just can’t let their other rivals possibly get a taste of Premier League glory for the first time in over a decade. Manchester United (Pick, +115).
Sunday, February 24th
Carabao Cup Final
11:30 am EST
Manchester City v. Chelsea (ESPN+) – Chelsea face City here in a Cup Final at Wembley only two weeks to the day of their 6-0 shellacking that shook them to their core. Since then, City have kept their form including a big come from behind win this week while being a man down in the Champions Leauge. Since then Chelsea have been in bad form and the club has been scrutinized at all levels, from ownership to coaching and even performances on the pitch. Their last win in the league against a top 6 team was on 12/8 against and they have lost four of the last five matches against those teams since. Their manager Maurizio Sarri has come under fire and the fans are calling for his head due to his stubborn mentality in not changing his tactics and his lack of change in the squad match to match. So in short, everything is going right for City and everything seems to be falling apart for Chelsea. On the field City outmatch Chelsea as well, making this final a complete uphill battle for the Blues from London. Not only can I not fade City but I can’t put my trust in a Chelsea team whose locker room and club seem to be in serious trouble. It’s much more than a personnel issue and I think it will end up being all City on Sunday. Plus, the odds on the line give City a lot of upside if they can win by more than one goal.