Matchweek 26: 6-3-1
All-Time Record: 172-154-41
There was plenty to talk about in Matchweek 26 and it started once Burnley earned a crucial draw against Man City. It was never going to be easy for City, as Burnley has held every top 6 side to tight matches this season. It was sealed after Raheem Sterling missed a sitter in front of the net. #NotToBrag but I had Burnley +2, which was just an insane spread if you look at the tactical matchup and how Burnley has been a rock at home.
The next big story occurred on Sunday when Tottenham went to Liverpool in a crucial matchup with Top 4 implications and drew 2-2 in one of the matches of the season. Liverpool went up early with a gift from the Spurs defense, as Salah got in behind and tucked one home. Wanyama responded with an absolute screamer from outside the box, only for Salah to put Liverpool up 2-1 in the 91st minute. But it didn’t end there as Spurs were gifted a penalty late into stoppage time. Kane converted the penalty to join the Premier League 100 goal club and secure a 2-2 draw for Spurs
The drama didn’t end there, as Chelsea had a bad trip to Watford on Monday. In a match where most people will focus on the Bakayoko red card, credit is due to Watford for breaking down Chelsea and winning 4-1. Many clubs would still have trouble breaking the Blues even being a man up, but Watford didn’t spoil the chance and capitalized on late chances to add to the Chelsea pain. (Bakayoko is shite btw).
This catapultes us into a WILD Premier League weekend with arguably one of the biggest matches, if not THE biggest match, of the season. Arsenal travel to Tottenham in the biggest rivalry in the Premier League, the North London Derby. That along with a Leicester v. Man City match wrap up a crucial weekend in the Premier League.
Arsenal @ Tottenham –If you ask a fan of either of these clubs who they hate the most, they’d say each other before you even could ask the question. A match so big they have to have it at 12:30 local time to avoid the fights and riots before kickoff. Spurs sit in 5th with 49 points (1 point from the top 4) and the Gunners who will need a win to keep the possibility of the Champions League alive sit in 6th with 45 points (5 points from the top 4). Arsenal come into this one with the chance of achieving the double (back-to-back wins) against Spurs for only the 4th time in their 194 meetings. But to contrast that trend, Spurs have only lost 1 of the last 7 matches against Arsenal. In fact the away team has only won once in the last 7 matches with the home team only winning 3, therefore the home team is 3-3-1 (W-D-L). Arsenal are starting to find an identity with Auba being a more potent pure striker than they’ve had in years, but are going against a Spurs team that are starting to look hard to get a win against. Spurs in Wembley in a North London Derby is hard to pick against.
Pick: Tottenham (-0.5)
Brighton @ Stoke City – Both teams are healthy in this match, but one squad finds themselves in dire straights. Stoke sit in 18th inside the relegation zone, but are only 4 points away from an outright 12th place. Brighton meanwhile sit tied for that 12th spot, with a recent run of good results. Stoke have been pretty decent at home this season but have only won two matches in their last 13 overall. I like Brighton with the points here.
Pick: Brighton (+0.5)
Burnley @ Swansea City – Swans are flying high these days as they’ve somehow climbed out of the relegation zone by going 3-3-1 in their last 7 in the league. They will be going against a Burnley side who are coming off of a big result against City but after being dominant for weeks, they haven’t won in any competition in the last 10 matches. In those 10 matches they have had 5 draws and in those 10 matches they have played City twice, Liverpool, Man U and Tottenham. They have their next 4 league games against non top 6 sides, and a result here is big. Since the style of play fits Burnley better and with the odds being a Pick, I love Burnley here.
Pick: Burnley +115
Watford @ West Ham – The Hammers are unbeaten in their last 4 home matches in all competitions and sit atop the purge zone, the area from 19th to 9th which is separated by 7 points. Watford meanwhile sit 3 points above them. I don’t know what it is but this match screams a big win for West Ham, as Watford’s win was only their 2nd win in the league in their last 12.
Pick: West Ham (Pick -120)
Crystal Palace @ Everton – These two teams face off being two of the most inconsistent teams in the league. Both were the two worst teams to start the season but have now found themselves in 10th (Everton) and 14th place (Palace). Everton outclass Palace here and even more so with Palace’s injuries. Expect Seamus Coleman to make an impact in this one, as they’ve been long awaiting his inclusion after a long term injury.
Leicester City @ Manchester City – The odds stand at 2 in this one, which is shocking to me due to the fact that City seem pretty vulnerable and Leicester can break down top 6 clubs. Yes City have still grinded out results since their Liverpool faltering, but they last played Leicester to a 1-1 penalty shootout win just 2 months ago. BUT, City’s last 5 league home matches have gone 3-0, 3-1, 3-1, 4-0, 4-1. They have been a complete, unstoppable force at home and I don’t see them stopping here. It may not be a 3-goal win, but I don’t see it being a 1-goal game either.
Pick: Man City (-2)
Schalke @ Bayern Munich –Some rare non Premier League analysis here as we swing to the Bundesliga for some German footy (shoutout Billy). Let’s be real here, Bayern are on fire and are slowly becoming the best team in Europe as everyone focuses on Barca and City. This may be a must win for Schalke to keep their top 4 dreams alive, but Bayern have won 16 of the last 19 meetings and most by more than one goal. They’ve been CRAZY good at home this season and I see that continuing here.
Pick: Bayern (-1.5)
Lazio @ Napoli – Napoli and Juve are locked in what may be the title race of the European landscape behind the Champions League. After a Friday win from Juve, Napoli find themselves 2 points behind with a game in hand while Lazio is in a distant 3rd 14 points back of Napoli. Napoli have only lost 1 match all season, are a tremendous team at home and they’ve won their last 4 Serie Matches convincingly. Even if this ends a 1-goal game, I think Napoli is the very safe play here.
Pick: Napoli (-1)
Bournemouth @ Huddersfield – Bournemouth is on a run right now only losing one match in their last 9 in all competitions and Huddersfield now find themselves in trouble, being in the relegation zone. Bournemouth absolutely crushed them 4-0 earlier in the year and I don’t see much changing here.
Pick: Bourenmouth (Pick -135)
Manchester United @ Newcastle United – For one of the better all-time home teams Newcastle United are a shocking 3-4-6 at home this season, the 2nd worst in the league. Meanwhile United are an impressive 7-3-3 away from home and have the 3rd best point total. I couldn’t love United more in this one.
Pick: Man United (-1)
Liverpool @ Southampton – Although Liverpool had a tough draw at home to Spurs, they showed that they can run with recent championship contenders. This is a funny match though as Southampton are known for selling all of their best players to Liverpool to rebuild and bring the club up financially. It has actually worked as Southampton have become a team who’s tough to beat in the league, but have never cracked the top 7. But for now Southampton haven’t lost in their last 4 Premier League matches and currently sit in 15th. Liverpool meanwhile sit in 4th after their draw with Tottenham, only 2 points into the top 4. I love how Liverpool is playing this season with their attack, and I don’t see them slowing down here.
Pick: Liverpool (-0.5)
West Brom @ Chelsea – Chelsea are coming off of a few bad results, losing 3 of their last 4 in all competitions. Chelsea won 4-0 at West Brom earlier this year and at home they have the ability to blow out this team. West Brom didn’t win a game for almost 25 weeks straight until January 13th and just won’t be able to contain Chelsea’s attack in this one.
Pick: Chelsea (-1.5)
That’s all for this week, and oh by the way, the Eagles are Super Bowl Champs #FlyEaglesFly.
Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.
Twitter: @nicodegallo // @canikickitblog // @j_kulla