Premier League Matchweek 2 Preview

The first matchweek was full of a mixed bag of results as Liverpool weren’t their best in a narrow 4-3 win against an impressive Leeds squad, Arsenal and Leicester both had easy wins against, Spurs lose to a new-look Everton and Chelsea played quite average but still bested Brighton 3-1. This might be an early sign, like we mentioned on the podcast last week, that this season could be a lot tighter across the table for the first time in a few years. Let’s see how I did in the first matchweek…

Matchweek 1: 4-4 (+0.2 Units)
This Season: 4-4 (+0.2 Units)
Previous Two Seasons: 441-397-105 (+23.5 Units)
All-Time Record: 704-646-172

Not bad in a quite turbulent and volatile Matchweek 1. This weekend will have all ten teams in action for the first time and several teams on a short rest due to cup and European matches midweek so things should get interesting.

Here is our most recent podcast with special guest Paula Dingers aka Jordan aka @captainscoon.

UCL Group Stage Is Over, Manchester Derby Preview Can i Kick It

The boys discuss who made it (and didn't make it) through to the Champions League Round of 16 and preview the Premier League weekend ahead including the Manchester Derby! Come kick it with us…
  1. UCL Group Stage Is Over, Manchester Derby Preview
  2. The Boys Are Back
  3. Van Dijk Injury, Wild Premier League Weekend and a UCL Preview
  4. What is happening in the Premier League + Big weekend preview
  5. Andrew Dettmer kicks it with the boys

Saturday, September 19th
7:30 am EST

Everton v. West Brom – Everton really impressed last weekend against Spurs and their new signings seem to be fitting in well already. Meanwhile West Brom did not impress in their Premier League return with a 3-0 loss to Leicester with only 1 shot on target. So far, West Brom look like the team to fade and Everton might be a team to ride before Vegas begins to overvalue them. Everton -1 (-110).

10:00 am EST

Leeds v. Fulham – A Championship rematch in only the second matchweek is always interesting because these two teams really know each other well and they’re yet to establish their new identities in the Premier League. At first sight I immediately wanted to take Leeds but the price was too high. Yes, I think Leeds are the better squad but Fulham are one of only two other teams who have had experience against Bielsa and I think that really matters. Instead I’m taking the over. Both teams had high-scoring first matches, their two amtches last season both had three goals and I don’t know how many more times we’ll get Leeds with such a low total against a team like Fulham. Over 2.5 Goals (-110).

12:30 pm EST

Manchester United v. Crystal Palace – You will notice a theme for this week’s matches for teams who are playing their first match of the season, Manchester United being one of them. I liked these odds regardless of the fact that United are playing their first match of the year (compared to Palace who are playing their third). Palace are known disrupters against teams like United. In their last five matchups, Palace have lost by more than one goal twice but with one win which came at the start of last season. I’ll take the points here hoping United have to shake off some defensive cobwebs. Crystal Palace +1.5 (-120).

3:00 pm EST

Arsenal v. West Ham – One thing that Arsenal didn’t do well last year was string together wins consistently, especially at the start of the season. But this is their first full season, and start to a season, with Arteta as manager and he’s changed the entire direction of the team. They’re morphing into a team that might not slip into the expected inconsistencies we’ve seen over the last few years and I love them here against West Ham. I also think fading West Ham until they prove that they can get points consistently under Moyes is a prudent practice. Arsenal -1 (-115).

Sunday, September 20th
7:00 am EST

Southampton v. Tottenham – Spurs have not had a good first week of the season. They lost to Everton when they were favored last weekend and on Thursday they almost lost to Lokomotiv Plovdiv in the Europa League qualifiers. Southampton haven’t had a good start either with losses to Palace and Brentford in the cup on Wednesday. But this Spurs team had to travel to Bulgaria and back (65 hours between matches) before facing a Southampton team who will likely press you and wear you down. I’ll take a shot on Southampton on a solid moneyline price in what could easily be another Spurs disappointment. Southampton (+220).

9:00 am EST

Newcastle v. Brighton – This is sneaky one of the best matches of the weekend. Both teams looked good in their first match (even with Brighton losing), they both might fight for a spot inside the top ten if they play to their potential and they’re as even a matchup as you’ll find. Of course the odds are even across the board to win the game but I honestly think the edge goes to Brighton. They played a really quality Chelsea side very close and they deserved at least a point. I’ll be safe and take them on a low-risk pickem. Brighton Pickem (-110).

11:30 am EST

Chelsea v. Liverpool – This is obviously the marquee match of the weekend with two of the top teams in the league squaring off so early in the season. Now, neither of these teams played that well last weekend and they both have a full rest so many are trying to say Chelsea has a real chance here, but I disagree. I really don’t see Liverpool putting in back to back lackluster performances and I don’t think there are many more matches this season that you’ll get them at positive odds. They’re still the same team that was on top of the world not too long ago. Don’t overthink this one. Liverpool (+120).

2:00 pm EST

Leicester v. Burnley – Burnley are another team who will be playing their first league match of the season and they’ll be facing a Leicester team who already have a great performance under their belt. Burnley did play this week in the League Cup but are they ready to play a team who was a top four contender from last year so quickly in the league? I don’t think so. Yes I expect Leicester to eventually regress this year but this is a great spot for them to cover the spread, especially with that price. Leicester -1 (+115).

Monday, September 21st
1:00 pm EST

Aston Villa v. Sheffield United – Villa are the third of the four teams I will be fading that are playing their first league match of the season. Both of these teams had midweek cup matches but only Villa’s stands out because they squeaked by a third division Burton Albion side. I’m also concerned where Villa are gonna find the goals this season let alone against a stout Sheffield side who had the 4th best goals against last season. Even if Sheffield are due regression, they still will be tough to break down. I’ll take them on the pickem here. Sheffield United Pickem (-110).

3:00 pm EST

Wolves v. Manchester City – Manchester City come into the season as favorites for the fourth straight year. They have one of the best attacking lineups in the world and are likely the deepest team in the league. But they haven’t played a competitive match since their loss to Lyon one month ago, not even a friendly. Pep’s teams are known for being the best in the world when they click but if they aren’t clicking they’re extremely vulnerable, especially against Wolves. Last season, Wolves became the second team to ever do the league double on Pep Guardiola and they are built to counter on this City team. As a City fan, fading them takes a lot but this feels like the safe play here. Wolves +1 (-105).

Stay kickin’ it. Peace.

Twitter: @canikickitpod
Twitter: @nicodegallo
Twitter: @oh_my_gos

Premier League Matchweek 1 Preview and Podcast

A new season has snuck up on us after the delayed finish to the last campaign due to COVID giving most teams only 48 days since their seasons ended in late July. Arsenal, City, United and Chelsea all had shorter breaks than most, with City and United getting their games delayed a gameweek to compensate for that. So this weekend we have eight matches to choose from with all three newbies playing, Fulham, Leeds and West Brom. Let’s look at the record from last year and in total.

All-Time Record: 700-642-172
Previous Two Seasons: 437-393-105 (+23.3 units)
Last Season: 225-223-57 (+6.2 Units)

Another positive year! That puts us at 3 consecutive positive seasons in the history of this blog which to be honest is pretty impressive. If you bet $100 on every pick I’ve put out over the last two seasons you’d be up $2,330. This season we’re looking to build and profit even more!

Before we get into my picks for this weekend, below is the official Can i Kick It Premier League Preview podcast. Jared and I break down what we think the table will look like, who will surprise us, who will disappoint, who to watch for and more! Come kick it with us…

UCL Group Stage Is Over, Manchester Derby Preview Can i Kick It

The boys discuss who made it (and didn't make it) through to the Champions League Round of 16 and preview the Premier League weekend ahead including the Manchester Derby! Come kick it with us…
  1. UCL Group Stage Is Over, Manchester Derby Preview
  2. The Boys Are Back
  3. Van Dijk Injury, Wild Premier League Weekend and a UCL Preview
  4. What is happening in the Premier League + Big weekend preview
  5. Andrew Dettmer kicks it with the boys


Premier League Matchweek 1
Saturday, September 12th
7:30 am EST

Arsenal @ Fulham – I have big expectations for Arsenal this season as I genuinely think they have a really good shot of making a European spot and can even fight for 4th for a lot of the year. But this game, and likely the start of the season to be honest, specifically worries me due to the injuries their back line is facing. I think their momentum from the FA Cup Final and Community Shield won’t carry over and as questionable as Fulham are, I think a full goal is a lot for the first match of the season here. I’m going to take the points in what smells like a high-scoring, tight match. Fulham +1 (-110).

10:00 am EST

Southampton @ Crystal Palace – Southampton showed a lot of bright spots under Hasenhuttl last year (outside of that dreaded Leicester game) and I think they’ll be better than expected this season. They lost Hojbjerg which is a big loss but they still have Ward-Prowse to command the middle of the park and they sealed their RB spot with Walker-Peters. Palace didn’t do much other than bringing in Batshuayi and it feels like they are still the same team as last year. Zaha will be their main threat and they have the chance to trouble big teams but they will still lose these types of matches against Southampton. I like Southampton here as I think they’re better managed and have a better vision going forward. Southampton (+135).

12:30 pm EST

Leeds United @ Liverpool – This one was really interesting to pick because the buzz around newly-promoted Leeds is pretty spectacular. Their manager, Marcelo Bielsa, is world-renowned as one of the most influential managers in the sport and their squad is young and talented. They won the Championship last season and their fan support is among the best in the country. But their first test is against the reigning champions at Anfield (albeit an empty Anfield) and the odds are stacked against them. But Liverpool have been a shell of themselves even before the COVID break when they lost to Watford and Atletico Madrid. When the season returned they still looked unlike themselves and even in this offseason, their friendlies and the Community Shield performances didn’t help that notion. I think the Bielsa addition is huge for the league and if Vegas continues to undervalue him and this Leeds squad, I’m going to continue to take them. Leeds +1.5 (-110).

3:00 pm EST

Newcastle United @ West Ham – Newcastle didn’t lose any key players and added Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser and Jamal Lewis to a squad which overperformed (to a certain extent) last season. West Ham narrowly avoided relegation in what was an absolutely tragic year for them but didn’t make any additions in the transfer window and will be continuing with Moyes as manager (which I think is unbelievably stupid). There’s a clear disconnect between the ownership/board and the fans/players and I don’t see that helping at all this season. I expected this to be around a pickem but was pleasantly surprised to see Newcastle as underdogs, and immediately took them. Newcastle +0.5 (-120).

Sunday, September 13th
9:00 am EST

Leicester City @ West Brom – Leicester are certainly due for a regression and I don’t see them cracking the top 6/7 this year if I’m going to be honest. Brendan Rodgers’ teams notoriously have a shelf life, Vardy is only getting older and their defensive stoutness will be hard to replicate. But this match won’t be a microcosm for their season as they’ll face a West Brom team that doesn’t have enough to cut it in the Premier League in my opinion. There just aren’t many difference makers on this team and coupled with the limited Premier League experience, I don’t see much success from West Brom. I’ll gladly take Leicester to take the opener here. Leicester City (+105).

11:30 am EST

Everton @ Tottenham – I’m very keen on Spurs this upcoming season as they’ll have a full season under Mourinho, loads of talented youngsters and they have filled up a few holes that they had by adding Doherty and Hojbjerg. Everton obviously made some huge deals this summer bringing in James Rodriguez, Allan and Doucoure but I think it will take this team some time to fully gel under Ancelotti. I don’t even know who will start and they are also dealing with some injuries to start the season as well. Spurs are healthy (for the first time under Mourinho) and they should be ready to go for this. Tottenham (-115).

Monday, September 14th
1:00 pm EST

Wolves @ Sheffield United – Much like the expectations for Leicester, Sheffield United are fully expected to regress after their surprising 9th place finish and brief European chase. Wolves meanwhile have proved that they can handle the expectations of a great first season in the top flight as they finished a heartbeat away from a Europa League spot last season. The loss of Doherty is huge and they’ll need Boly and Coady to have another great year, but they’ve added even more attacking talent with young Fabio Silva coming in. I like Wolves especially with their unbelievable price at +150 to win here. Can’t pass up that value. Wolves (+150).

3:00 pm EST

Chelsea @ Brighton – Chelsea obviously have gone bonkers during the transfer window with the purchases of Werner, Ziyech, Havertz, Thiago Silva and Ben Chillwell. They’re going for it for these next few years but I think there will be growing pains with such a squad overhaul. Lampard will have some growing pains and their first match is against a tough-to-beat Brighton team. I think +1 is too many points for a Brighton team who is tough to break down and one who drew them 1-1 in the last fixture. Brighton +1 (-110).

Stay kickin’ it. Peace.

Twitter: @canikickitpod
Twitter: @nicodegallo
Twitter: @oh_my_gos

Champions League Final Pick and Podcast

Honestly I wasn’t sure we’d get to this stage of this season and my hopes were a bit low that we’d see a Champions League Final but here we are! I just want to thank everyone who’s read the blog and listened to the podcast during the last few months of uncertainty. My picks season will be ending after this Champions League Final as I usually do and I will be keeping my picks to twitter every now and then until the Premier League starts in a few weeks. Let’s see where I stand going into my final match of the season!

All-Time Record: 699-642-172
Last Two Seasons: 436-393-105 (+21.2 units)
This Season: 224-223-57 (+4.1 Units)
UCL Semis + Europa League Semis: 4-2 (+2.8 Units)

I was on the borderline for my first ever negative season but doubling down on Bayern, picking Columbus and doubling down on Sevilla gets me across the line to guarantee another positive season! Now let’s get to the real business of the weekend…

New Podcast Episodes

Check out our feed for two previews with BeIN Sports’ Roberto Rojas and UPROXX’s Bill DiFilippo. We talk about the Champions Leauge Final, what to expect, where the matchups will take place, what each team needs to do to win and predictions.

UCL Group Stage Is Over, Manchester Derby Preview Can i Kick It

The boys discuss who made it (and didn't make it) through to the Champions League Round of 16 and preview the Premier League weekend ahead including the Manchester Derby! Come kick it with us…
  1. UCL Group Stage Is Over, Manchester Derby Preview
  2. The Boys Are Back
  3. Van Dijk Injury, Wild Premier League Weekend and a UCL Preview
  4. What is happening in the Premier League + Big weekend preview
  5. Andrew Dettmer kicks it with the boys

Champions League Final

Bayern Munich v. PSG – Bayern’s path to the Final was supposed to be difficult given the draw but they ran through Barca and Lyon by a combined score of 11-2 and proved why they were the favorites to win going into the Lisbon bubble. PSG’s road was supposed to be on the easier side and even though they ran through Leipzig, (which to me was more of Leipzig being unimpressive than PSG dominating) they needed a miracle comeback to beat Atalanta in the Quarterfinals. Mbappe has battled injuries and now their star goalkeeper Keylor Navas is 50/50 to start on Sunday (even though he will likely start).

Bayern has shown themselves to be an impossible team to slow down and their keys to this game are simple; just play your game. The second they get in a flow, they seize control of the game and almost refuse to hand it back. Their ability to create chances in a multitude of ways with several different players playing in fluid positions allows them to adapt to the game and change their shape quickly. They are beatable though and they have somewhat of a Death Star resemblance. Their high line and shaky starts have shown that they’re not perfect and I think PSG should really focus on trying to exploit that, especially in the opening minutes where both Barca and Lyon had opportunities to equalize or even take the lead. Of course a high line when playing a front three of Mbappe, Neymar and Di Maria is a dangerous game and I expect them to be much more cautious when going forward or maintaining possession in the PSG half.

PSG’s path to victory is very different and much more difficult. Their lack of experience in big finals (with the exception of Mbappe, Di Maria and somewhat Neymar) will likely show while most players in Bayern’s starting XI have either been in a Champions League Final or World Cup Final. They will need a lot of things to go their way and they can’t let any chances go by the wayside, something that has been a weakness of theirs against both Atalanta and Leipzig. Can their defense hold up against a Bayern blitzkrieg? Can their outside backs handle the pace and the cycle of runs their forwards make? Can Tuchel pick the right lineup and make the impactful subs? If Navas can’t go can Sergio Rico make the 5-8 saves he’ll likely have to make? Simply, there are too many questions for PSG while Bayern know exactly what they need to do to win this match; keep doing what they’ve been doing.

I’m taking Bayern Munich to win their 6th Champions League in regulation here at +105 for two units. I don’t care if it hits or not because I feel comfortable that it is the safe bet, especially at such good odds. Bayern Munch (+105) 2 Units.

Thanks again to everyone! I’ll catch you in a few weeks!!

Stay kickin’ it. Peace.

Twitter: @canikickitpod
Twitter: @nicodegallo

Champions League Semifinals + Podcast

All-Time Record: 695-640-172
Last Two Seasons: 431-391-105 (+18.3 units)
This Season: 220-221-57 (+1.3 Units)
UCL Quarters + Europa League Semis: 4-2 (+3.6 Units)

My two unit increase on Bayern and my Sevilla pick to advance help bring my units back to good standing. With only a few matches left in my season, let’s look to finish strong with the Champions League Semifinals, Final and the Europa League Final. For accounting purposes:

What a fantastic and shocking semifinal group we have here with Bayern, Lyon, RB Leipzig and PSG. Let’s see what bets I like for each semifinal.

Tuesday, August 18th

PSG v. RB Leipzig – PSG are handed their best chance at a Champions League Final since the mid 90’s but RB Leipzig aren’t a team that you want to be matched up against. Many doubted them going into Atletico because they were without Timo Werner, the striker who provided most of the goals that got them there until his move to Chelsea. Leipzig are well-coached and I think with Sabitzer and Olmo leading the line alongside Poulsen, I don’t see them getting shut out here. I don’t feel comfortable committing to a team advancing because I think this will be tight, so I’m going to take Leipzig’s team total as well as their spread even with its juice. RB Leipzig Team Total Over 1 Goal (-120) and RB Leipzig +1 (-150).

Wednesday, August 19th

Bayern Munich v. Lyon – There’s no secret who is the favorite to not only make the Final but win the whole thing. Bayern’s 8-2 defeate of Barcelona will go down as one of the most humiliating sports losses in recent history and they didn’t even look like they played to the peak of their ability. Now although I learned first hand what this Lyon team can do to good teams, I don’t see Bayern even blinking here. Yes, the 8-2 has some weight but I think that is generally an outlier. This Bayern team has multiple players who can adapt to most positions on the field, their ability to create chances in 10 different ways is like nothing I’ve seen from a team since peak Barca, and they have several players who can change the game in the blink of an eye (Lewandowski, Muller, Davies, Kimmich to name a few). I can’t fade Bayern here and even if this doesn’t hit, I think it’s the smartest and safest bet to make. Bayern Munich -2 (+105).

Europa League Final Special Pick

Sevilla Wins Europa League (+125).

NEW PODCAST

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/can-i-kick-it/id1477486316#episodeGuid=tag%3Asoundcloud%2C2010%3Atracks%2F877930810

Nico rants about City, Pep Guardiola and the entitlement of City fans – 0:00-16:50, breaking down (or trying to at least) Bayern’s humiliation of Barca – 16:50-27:54, PSG’s miraculous comeback against Atalanta – 27:54-33:45, Tyler Adams sends Leipzig to the semis – 33:45 -37:30. our Semifinal predictions – 37:30 – 40:00 and our Europa League Recap/Predictions 40:00-44:55. Come kick it with us…

Stay kickin’ it. Peace.

Twitter: @canikickitpod
Twitter: @nicodegallo

Champions League Quarterfinals

We are about to embark on one of the most intriguing Champions League stretches ever. We have basically a World Cup style knockout round for the Quarterfinals, Semifinals and Final with one leg for each match. This is the stuff dreams are made of for footy fans. Let’s see where my record stands…

All-Time Record: 691-638-172
Last Two Seasons: 427-389-105 (+14.7 units)
This Season: 216-219-57 (-2.3 Units)
UCL R16 + Twitter Picks: 3-3-2 (-0.5 Units)

Let’s dive into this week’s matches!

Wednesday, 3:00 EST

Atalanta v. PSG – PSG are seriously on the hot seat here. They’ve barely played competitive football since March and will be facing an Atalanta team who have been red hot since the COVID break, even giving Juventus a run for their money in Serie A. Likely without Mbappe, PSG are a little less scary and I think with Atalanta’s track record this season of playing up to teams’ levels, I think they can drag this to extra time at the last here. Gasperini’s boys are no joke and they need to be taken seriously. Atalanta +0.5 (-110).

Thursday, 3:00 EST

Atletico Madrid v. RB Leipzig – If there’s one team that the one-leg change will help the least, it might be Atletico. They’ve historically been great in two-legged ties and not as great in winner-take-all scenarios. But with that being said, who are Leipzig without Werner leading the line up top? We don’t know, and I don’t intend on finding out the hard way. I truly don’t know where they will get their goals especially against a very defensively-sound Atletico side. Atletico to Advance (-135).

Friday, 3:00 EST

Bayern Munich v. FC Barcelona – Barca showed some real signs of life against Napoli this past weekend and have made me more optimistic on their chances here against Bayern. Buuuutttt that level of optimism is still very low. Bayern are far and away the team to beat in this competition and I don’t see them having too much trouble here. They’ll keep the ball more than Barca, they’ll have Kimmich tracking Messi (likely Messi’s toughest marker all season), and they will pick apart Barca’s defense in the final third. I was lucky enough to get Bayern at positive odds and I like them to win in regulation here. Bayern Munich -0.5 (+105).

Saturday, 3:00 EST

Manchester City v. Lyon – Lyon are clearly the outliers here as they couldn’t even finish in a European spot in Ligue 1 in their abbreviated season. Sadly, they have to get past Manchester City, a team who can suffocate you with possession or pressure in the final third. I really think City get through here but the spread was just too much for me at 1.5 or even some places at 2. Instead, I think this is a good spot to bet the over and both teams to score. Lyon aren’t going to just sit and take City’s pressure and I think both teams score here in a City victory. Over 3 Goals (-110) and Both Teams To Score (+100).

Stay kickin’ it. Peace.

Twitter: @canikickitpod
Twitter: @nicodegallo

Champions League Round of 16, Leg 2

Well Championship Sunday was an absolute debacle for me but I was able to climb back a bit with some picks over Twitter. We still have 12 Champions League matches left and an MLS cup final funtil I close my season out so let’s end on a high note.

All-Time Record: 688-635-170
Last Two Seasons: 425-386-103 (+15.2 units)
This Season: 213-216-55 (-1.8 Units)
Champ. Sunday + Twitter picks: 11-13 (-4.5 Units)

UEFA Champions League
Friday

Real Madrid (1) @ Manchester City (2) – City come into this with a very clear advantage, up 2-1 on aggregate with two away goals in their back pocket. If City can score first here, it will force Madrid to have to score 3 to get through without going to penalties. Real Madrid will be without Ramos which is a huge loss for them. Last year in their second leg loss to Ajax, Ramos was also missing and Madrid looked lost. I’m going to take a play on the under and City moneyline. I think City complete the tie and move onto the quarterfinals here. Manchester City -0.5 (-135) and Under 3 Goals (-100).

Lyon (1) @ Juventus (0) – Juventus are in a really interesting spot here. They face a dangerous Lyon team a leg down without the possibility of an away goal. Any Lyon goal would likely force Juve to score at least two more afterwards to overcome that. That puts Lyon at a very advantageous position and one I want to leverage. Lyon have barely played since early March and that’s not ideal, especially against a Ronaldo-led Juve team in the Champions League. But I can’t fade them at +1 here in the position they’re in. Lyon +1 (+110).

Saturday

Napoli (1) @ FC Barcelona (1) – Barca come into this with a slight advantage due to the away goal they scored in the first leg, but Napoli could do just that in the second leg as well. I don’t have faith in either of these teams and I think the spread of 1 is just too big for this match. Napoli will sit back and absorb Barca’s pressure and force the game to be decided in the second half. Messi will make a difference like he always does, but Barca haven’t been one to tear apart teams like Napoli this season, instead they’ve picked on the teams lower in the Spanish table who aren’t defensively stout. I like the under and the points in this match. Napoli +1 (-130) and Under 3 Goals (-125).

Chelsea (0) @ Bayern Munich (3) – I’m not touching this with a ten foot pole. Bayern will surely advance here and it’s not worth trying to figure out by how much or what will even happen in this second leg. Pass.

Stay kickin’ it. Peace.

Twitter: @canikickitpod
Twitter: @nicodegallo

How To Improve Nearly Perfect: Liverpool’s Ideal Offseason

Liverpool just capped a season in which they amassed 99 points (2nd most in history), won three trophies including their first Premier League title in 30 years, and seem destined to be title contenders for the next few seasons at least. So, the fan base is happy and satisfied, surely?

https://twitter.com/LFCLiverbird96/status/1290369067925340160?s=20

tenor

Look, I get the frustration. A lot of people simply want a top tier team like Liverpool, one of the 10 or so biggest brands in any sport in the world, to go out and buy top tier talent, without worrying about the owners’ purse strings. That’s all well and dandy, but FSG run a business first, and they won’t spend money unless it’s a smart investment. How on earth people can not comprehend that blows my mind to Kingdom Come. You also understand the flip side, that the fans don’t want the owners to be complacent and say “Job well done” and simply stop investing. If you can say anything about Liverpool fans, it’s that everything they do comes from a one-two combo of deep-rooted love for their club and fear of being hurt by them.

So, with all of that said, how does a team that just had a near perfect season carry that momentum into the offseason? Below I take a look at some transfer targets that both fit the mold of an FSG buy and Klopp player profiles.

Left Back

Today, Melissa Reddy reported that Liverpool have made contact over a $10 million purchase of Jamal Lewis. Naturally, this is where Liverpool have done some of their best business of late, snatching up Gini Wijnaldum and Andy Robertson from relegated sides. Speaking of Robertson, let’s compare the two:

Screen Shot 2020-08-04 at 8.16.41 PM

These numbers compare Lewis’ season to that of Robertson’s 16-17 season with Hull City. While not quite the attacking force Robertson is, he does complete a higher number of passes, has shown a willingness to carry it forward with his passing, and actually created the same number of big chances despite 1/3 of the crossing rate. While not particularly suited to be a starter, he’s more than capable as a reliable cover, magnified by the fact that outside of Robertson, Liverpool have had no true left back behind him.

Centre Back

With Dejan Lovren out of the picture, having moved to Zenit St. Petersburg in an $11 million move, Liverpool will need another man in the middle to replace him. Ki-Jana Hoever and Sepp Van Den Berg are tantalizing prospects, but still a few years away from making a true impact in defense. So, who is there to replace him? There are a number of options that would be cheap and reliable. Malang Sarr would represent brilliant business, as the left-footed centre back can also play left back (versatility is a big plus for a Klopp profile). He’s currently a free agent after playing his entire career with Nice in France, and to get him on a Bosman would be shrewd, as the player is currently linked to Arsenal and AC Milan. He has a similar passing skillset to Joe Gomez, and comes with plenty of experience with over 100 matches under his belt, including playing in both UEFA competitions.

Mohamed Simakan would also represent a good piece of business, and with the defender valued at around $13 million, would be right on the edge of the bargain bin. Like Sarr, he has versatility (having also plied his trade as a right back) and he fits the age profile, having just turned 20 years old. While not blessed with great pace – a potential issue given how high a defensive line Klopp likes to play – he’s more than capable as a 4th centre back behind Matip as he develops.

Midfield

Okay, let’s get the obvious one out of the way. Thiago Alacantara would be a ridiculous addition to a pretty stacked midfield. While he actually represents the antithesis of an FSG purchase (29 years old, injury history, bought from a big club), he would add another dimension to the Liverpool attack. While Naby Keita is now the creative force in this midfield, he can’t be trusted to stay healthy at the minute. Thiago would represent an elite option in midfield with the ability to unlock defenses unlike anybody Liverpool have had since Coutinho’s departure. The biggest benefit of Thiago would be that it adds another way for Liverpool to attack you. Everybody knows that Liverpool aim to break you down with aggressive counter-pressing and through their full backs, but Thiago adds that extra bit of oomph to a midfield that can – at times – struggle for creativity. After a relatively uninspiring season, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Reds pass on him for somebody else if Bayern will not accept their terms.

Who else could they bring in? Good midfielders don’t come cheap, so one player that could be worth splashing the cash on would be Rodrigo Bentancur from Juventus. The 23 year old Argentinian had a solid season, amassing 7 assists in 30 appearances. He’s a hard worker who can play at the base of a midfield if necessary, and while his effort gets him in trouble (he also had 9 yellow cards in those appearances), he does everything a Klopp player should do, however he would likely come in at about $40-$50 million, so don’t exactly count on this. If you’re looking for a cheaper option, might I present Wendel from Sporting Lisbon. The Brazilian U-23 player made 28 appearances for the Portuguese giants this season, scoring 3 times and assisting twice. While he was outshone by his partner Bruno Fernandes, he was more the thunder to Bruno’s lightning. His hard work off the ball made a lot of Fernandes’ skillset work for Sporting. Given that he would only likely cost $20-$30 million, he would be an excellent replacement for Gini Wijnaldum, who is going into the last year of his contract.

Forwards

My favorite link to the Reds by far is Ismaila Sarr, from recently relegated Watford. Sarr is a good friend of Sadio Mane, who famously told Troy Deeney to “take care of his boy” after a Liverpool victory in December. Sarr then took care of Liverpool, eviscerating them and keying the victory that ended Liverpool’s perfect season. While not a perfect player, he’s the archetype of a Klopp player.

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Given the gulf between this year’s Watford side and a 15-16 Southampton team that finished 6th in the league, it might not be fair to compare Sarr’s season to Sadio Mane’s last year on the South shore, but there was a lot of promise. Sarr put up comparable assist totals, big chances created, and pass completion percentage, and actually put more balls in the box than Mane (who did play as a striker at times that season, to be fair). Given Watford’s relegation, it would make sense for Liverpool to bid at around $24 million, and hope that Watford bite as they begin clearing their wage bill for the Championship. Sarr is a less direct player than Mane, but his game changing speed can rip teams open, as Mane made clear to Andy Robertson before last season.

Were Sarr not to be available, look for one of Bayer Leverkusen’s brilliant wingers Leon Bailey and Moussa Diaby to be an option. Both players have pace to burn, and Bailey has an extra bonus of being a set-piece taker on his left, which would give Liverpool a dearth of options with him and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Bailey is a genius with the football, and his intelligence can not go understated. Bailey has been linked to every top club under the sun, but Diaby is a bit more understated, and would probably come at a cheaper cost. A final option could be Goncalo Guedes, otherwise known as the man opposite Ferran Torres, Man City’s newest winger. Guedes can play up front as well which would be a big add given Divock Origi’s likely hit his ceiling and Rhian Brewster may need one more loan spell, and Guedes has a silky touch that’s reminiscent of Bobby Firmino that would really help link play.

 

And that’s it! Tune in later this week as I run through each Premier League team’s ideal offseason.

EPL Championship Sunday + MLS

Liverpool have finally lifted their first top flight title in 30 years but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing left to play on the final day in the Premier League. Five teams are fighting for European spots with four playing each other and three teams will fight for their lives at the bottom to avoid relegation, with only one eligible to prevail.

It’s always a fun betting matchday because of the implications and excitement that surround many of the fixtures so I’ve come up with as many picks as I can (14 of them!). Also included are MLS picks since the tournament has reached its knockout phase.

All-Time Record: 677-622-170
Last Two Seasons: 414-373-103 (+19.7 units)
This Season: 202-203-55 (+2.7 Units)
EPL MW 35 + MLS: 3-3-1 (+0.8 Units)

Premier League

Manchester United/Leicester City Over 2.5 Goals (-120) – These two teams have both been scoring lots of goals and conceding them over the last month. Although I don’t expect a barn-burner here with so much on the line, I do think 2.5 is a bit low. These teams will be desperate for three points as the winner makes the Champions League so I can see them completely going for it.

Wolves (+320) – This is strictly a value play. I think this match feels much more like a toss up than having Wolves at +320 to win. I’ll gladly take a stab at that price.

Wolves/Chelsea Over 2.5 Goals (-110) – Chelsea have only had one league match that has had less than three goals since the restart and I think once someone scores in this Champions/Europa League decider, the opposing team will throw everything they’ve got.

Watford +0.5 (-105) – I do not think Watford are the better team, but I do think they can make this a game with their club’s future hanging in the balance. A single point could keep them up against an Arsenal team who has nothing left to play for. Take the points.

Watford/Arsenal Over 3 (-100) – I don’t trust either of these defenses especially in a match where every goal for Watford could mean a step closer to safety. The over is set perfectly at 3 and I really don’t think there will be less goals than that. Perfect spot for a push/win.

Burnley (+130) – I was a little shocked to see Burnley at such a good price. They’ve been brilliant since the restart and have a shot to finish in 8th place if they do better than Sheffield. Plus, Brighton haven’t shown much to end the season, especially since they’ve been safe.

Aston Villa (+130) – It’s all or nothing for Villa at this point. Beating West Ham guarantees them safety as long as Watford don’t win by two more goals than them. I can see West Ham taking it a little easier as their holiday is around the corner as well.

Spurs -1 (-110) – This isn’t as much a pro-Spurs bet as it is an anti-Palace bet. Palace have been utterly atrocious since the restart and I’ll gladly fade them. Plus, Spurs do need a win and likely by a mulitple-goal margin.

Spurs/Palace Under 2.5 Goals (+105) – You might be wondering why I also picked the under when just a second ago I said Spurs should easily win and they need goals. Well, in true Jose Mourinho style, if a low-scoring win suits them, he will pack it in. This bet also acts as a fail-safe/hedge in case -1 doesn’t hit and Spurs just sit back with a lead.

Bournemouth/Everton Under 3 Goals (-115) – Bournemouth need a miracle. They need Watford and Villa to both lose and them to beat Everton here. I don’t see that happening and with the way Bournemouth have been scoring, I don’t see them putting in more than one here.

MLS

Philadelphia Union Pickem (+105) – The Union are currently the second most popular pick to win the MLS is Back tournament, yet they’ve been undervalued in every match so far. I chose the pickem because these matches can go into extra time and I want to ensure a push in that scenario. Take the U, #DOOP.

Toronto FC (+125) – NYCFC have yet to win a game in this tournament, have scored only two goals in three matches and Toronto have one of the best playmakers in the league in Pozuelo. I don’t see NYCFC competing here and +125 is too good to pass up.

Toronto FC/NYCFC Over 3 Goals (-105) – This plays into the TFC moneyline rationale. I think Toronto could push this over by themselves and in MLS, the over is never a bad bet.

LAFC (-105) – LAFC are by far the best team in MLS even without league MVP Carlos Vela in this tournament. Unlike other clubs who lost their star strikers/main production, LAFC have had no issues filling those gaps scoring 11 goals in their three matches so far. UPDATE: 3 UNITS AS OF 9:30 7/27

Thanks to everyone who has read during this wild European season. My betting season will run through to the Champions League Final with MLS bets in between so don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere. As always…

Stay kickin’ it. Peace.

Twitter: @canikickitpod
Twitter: @nicodegallo

Matchweek 36 (+MLS picks)

Decent week last week to continue my run of +5.1 units over the last three sets of picks.

All-Time Record: 674-608-169
Last Two Seasons: 411-369-102 (+18.9 units)
This Season: 199-200-54 (+1.9 Units)
EPL MW 34 + MLS: 4-4-1 (+1.6 Units)

Below are the picks for this week’s matches in the Premier League and MLS. Enjoy and good luck!

Premier League

Sheffield United (+110)
Wolves -1 (-110)
Manchester City -1.5 (-115)
2 UNITS *as of Tuesday @ 12:10 pm EST*
Chelsea +0.5 (-120)

MLS

Philadelphia Union Pickem (-115)
Toronto FC (+130)
Columbus Crew Pickem (-110)

Stay kickin’ it. Peace.

Twitter: @canikickitpod
Twitter: @nicodegallo

Matchweek 35 Preview (+MLS Bonus Picks)

Another good weekend puts me back in positive units for the season as we near its close. Let’s build on that momentum.

All-Time Record: 670-604-168
Last Two Seasons: 407-365-101 (+17.3 units)
This Season: 195-196-53 (+0.3 Units)
EPL MW 34 + MLS: 6-4 (+1.8 Units)

Premier League

Burnley +0.5 (-105) – I had trouble picking this one but in the end I can’t ignore Burnley’s form and their upward trend. Their only loss was to City at the start of Project Restart and since they’ve gained 11 points from a possible 15 with draws against Chelsea and Sheffield. I’ll take the points.

Liverpool/Arsenal Over 3 (-110) – It’s hard to see how Liverpool are going to play week to week now, but I’m not in a position to fade them up against a team who is prone to so many errors at the back. Liverpool’s defense also only has one clean sheet in their last four games since winning the title so I’m expecting goals in this one.

Sheffield United +0.5 (-120) – Leicester have been pretty poor since the restart with only one win. Meanwhile, Sheffield have gone four straight without a loss with three wins against Chelsea, Wolves and Spurs as well as a draw against an in-form Burnley side. I’ll gladly take the points again.

Aston Villa/Everton Over 2.5 Goals (-115) – This is one of those bets that you see and immediately feel like you have to take. Villa have conceded the second most goals this season and Everton the sixth most, making this one a no-brainer.

Manchester United -1.5 (+105) – This feels like a trap game but I’m taking it regardless. Why would a red-hot Manchester United team (yes even after the Southampton draw) be only 1.5 point favorites against a Palace team who has lost five straight with a goal differential of -11? No idea, but I can’t fade them here.

Southampton (+130) – Why did I say to ignore the Southampton draw against United? Because Southampton have been one of the better teams since the restart and there’s not much buzz about them. Their only loss came to Arsenal when they arguably played better, they’ve beaten City 1-0 (only Wolves have had a better scoreline this season) and just drew United stopping their 18-match unbeaten run.

West Ham (+140) – I was wrong about West Ham, I’ll put my hand up. I had no faith in them to climb out of the relegation zone yet here they are. And here I am, picking them to beat Watford and all but secure their safety for next season. These are too good of odds for a team who needs three points while in good enough form.

MLS

Philadelphia Union (+135) 2 Units – The Union are a cohesive unit returning after a great season last year and a win earlier in this tournament against a solid NYCFC team. Miami are new and lost to a team nobody wants to lose to, Orlando. For accounting purposes:

Atlanta -1 (-120) – Like I said in my last blog, fade Cincinnati at all costs. This one was easy.

Stay kickin’ it. Peace.

Twitter: @canikickitpod
Twitter: @nicodegallo