Matchweek 26

Matchweeks 23 and 24: 8-10-2
All-Time Record: 166-151-40

An average 2-3 week span for ya boy but the beauty in those few weeks is that we’ve gotten some fun matches and some wonky results.

The big storylines from this week were Chelsea getting molly-whopped at home to Bournemouth 3-0 in some sort of Freaky Friday role reversal by the two clubs, Swansea beating a lackluster Arsenal at home and some big transfer moves.

Chelsea lost to Bournemouth 3-0 at home, giving Bournemouth their biggest away win in their history and it comes against the defending champions. Chelsea’s lack of depth was exposed with no striker available and an early defensive injury allowed Bournemouth to score 3 goals in 15 minutes with no answer from the Blues. Bournemouth extend their unbeaten streak to 6 and have gone from the relegation zone to 10th place in a matter of 5 weeks.

Swansea took down Arsenal 3-1 at home on Tuesday with Arsenal getting 75% possession but with the Gunners being outshot. Don’t look now but Swansea are starting to see the light at the end of the relegation tunnel and are two points from 14th place with the bottom of the table being so clogged. But there was some news to salvage for Arsenal fans as their signing of Aubameyang was announced on Wednesday, bringing close to their stellar January transfer window.

Aubamayeng to Arsenal, Giroud to Chelsea, Laporte to Man City, Lucas to Tottenham and Ozil signing an extension to stay at Arsenal all headlined one of the busiest January Transfer deadline days in history in the Premier League. The league seems to be getting more and more big international signings, and may start becoming a bigger force in the Champions League in the years to come.

The Premier League Table now looks like this:
(Top 4 make Champions League, 5th place makes Europa League and bottom 3 get relegated. Teams in green moved up in the table and teams in red moved down from last week).
MW 25 Table
As you can see things get super clogged from 10th place to the bottom, more specifically from 14th to 19th where it’s only separated by 1 point. There are a couple HUGE matchups this weekend that could give some clubs hope, or turn the season into darkness before the final third of the season begins.

Matchweek 25
Saturday
7:30am

Manchester City @ Burnley (+2) – A big matchup here against two completely contrasting styles, and club mentalities. Looking at total spending per point this season, Manchester have spend over $11 million per point in the league this season of their 68 total points, while Burnley haven’t even spent $3 million per point. Yet Burnley sit in 7th and boast the best record against the spread as well as the 3rd best goals against total. Manchester City’s full throttle offensive domination will go up against a defensive-minded and gritty team at Burnley where teams like Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal all only won 1-0 in tight matches. I just don’t see this one getting out of hand, as Burnley have an astonishing 80% win/push rate against the spread.

10:00am

Stoke City @ Bournemouth (-0.5) – Bournemouth come into this match on a 6 match unbeaten streak in this league, boasting 3 wins and 3 draws. Coming off their masterclass at Chelsea this team is flowing with confidence, and going up against a Stoke side who have won 6 of a possible 36 points away from home. In fact, Bournemouth have the second best record against the spread and Stoke are the worst away team in the league.

West Ham (+0.5) @ Brighton Brighton matched up well earlier in the year in their 3-0 win at West Ham, but have been on a poor run going 6 matches without a win in the league. West Ham meanwhile have only lost 1 match in their last 11 league fixtures and can sneak into the top 10 with a win if some results go their way. I like the way the Hammers are starting to play and I expect them to get at least a point here.

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The Green Street Hooligans approve ^

Swansea City @ Leicester City (-0.5) – THE SWANS ARE BACK WITH A VENGEANCE! After winning consecutive league games for the first time all year (against Arsenal and Liverpool mind you), they’re starting to sniff freedom from the relegation zone. But Leicester have only lost 1 of their last 7 Premier League home matches and are at a win/push rate of 60% this season. Leicester are just a better squad and even though Swansea have pulled together some great results, their style of play in those matches doesn’t fit going to Leicester and getting points.

Huddersfield Town @ Manchester United (-2) – As of late I’ve been trying to stay away from picking the favorite with spreads of 2 or more. This is one where  would usually I feel as if it would be good to stick with that strategy after United’s showing against Tottenham on Wednesday. They looked about as bad of a United team as I have ever seen and Mourinho was furious. But Huddersfield have been prone to some really bad losses this season especially against top 6 sides and United are going to find their mojo back at home. United boast a win/push rate of 60% this year and have only let up 5 goals total at home this season in 12 matches. This will most likely be a 2-0 scoreline but I will side with United.

Southampton (Pick +110) @ West Brom After Swansea’s recent shocking results, West Brom now find themselves at the basement of the table. Before their win against Brighton on the 13th, they astonishingly went without a win for 20 straight league matches. That is absolute cheeks, folks. On the other side, Southampton now sit in 18th at the top of the relegation zone looking for any type of points to bring them back to relative safety. Luckily they’ve been on a great run of play going undefeated in their last 5 in all competitions. This will be a draw most likely and a low scoring game (which means please don’t watch this, it’s bad for the brand) but I think Southampton would have the edge.

12:20pm

Everton @ Arsenal (-1.5) – Arsenal are in need of a huge win this weekend if they want any chance at squeezing into the top 4. They sit in 6th, 8 points off the Champions League qualification zone (Top 4) and with new signings coming into the fray it may be the perfect time for them to start clicking. Arsenal have been historically good against Everton with only 1 loss in their last 8 matches (most affairs having more than three goals *wink wink*). In fact, Everton haven’t beaten a top 6 side this season and have only 1 win away from home giving them the third worst away record. 1.5 is a lot of goals but I think the Gunners find their form and start to make a push up the table especially if Aubameyang can start/play in this match.

Sunday
9:15am

Newcastle United (+0.5) @ Crystal Palace This match may seem like a normal match, but it’s one of those that could be a make or break match for both these clubs. Palace sits in 13th on 26 points, while Newcastle sit in 14th in 24 points. If either team wins, they could find themselves almost breaching the top 10 and further distancing themselves from relegation. But they also sit only 1 and 3 points respectively above the drop zone and will NEED points desperately in order to keep the investors feeling safe (do I need to remind you that clubs lose close to $100 million when relegated). It’s going to be tight and I like a draw here, so I’m taking the points.

11:30am

Tottenham (+0.5) @ Liverpool Since Liverpool’s loss to Spurs in October, they went on an 18 match unbeaten streak with 13 wins and 5 draws. But they somehow lost to Swansea 1-0 despite outshooting them 21-3. Liverpool sit in 3rd tied with Chelsea and only ahead on goal differential, while Spurs sit in 5th two points behind them. With a Liverpool win, they’ll be firmly in the drivers seat to obtain a top 4 spot for the time being, but a Spurs win and all of a sudden there is a 3 horse race for 3rd and 4th place. This is a tough one to lay a side on, but I like Tottenham’s form along with the points.giphy

Monday
3:00pm

Chelsea (-1) @ Watford What in God’s name happened to Chelsea this weekend? A 3-0 loss AT HOME to Bournemouth had the whole league scratching their heads. They crumbled and caved in which is a sign of weakness and it may be their depth as I pointed out before the season. Without Morata in the lineup they were left without a striker, but the signing of Giroud may fix that gap. Although I don’t like Giroud due to his lack of production in a full 90 minutes, he may provide some pure goal scoring spark to a more creative-minded Chelsea attack. Chelsea are actually the 2nd best team away from home this season with a 7-3-2 record and an average margin of victory of 1.25, while Watford are the worst team at home this season, losing by an average of 0.75 goals. I like Chelsea to bounce back in this one and win by at least 1.

Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.

Twitter: @nicodegallo // @canikickitblog // @j_kulla

Matchweek 25

A lot has gone down since my last blog last weekend (no blog this past weekend with FA Cup action going on, which at this stage isn’t worth too much of my time) so I’ll do my best to keep it compact. Or I’ll just ramble on like I usually do. We’ll see!

News:

Arsenal Making Money Moves:
Woaahh nelly! Could it be? Arsenal are finally making moves in the January transfer window, after letting go of their star player Alexis Sanchez and adding Henrikh Mkhitaryan. But they didn’t stop there, as reports have surfaced that they have agreed to terms with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. This is huge as replacing Alexis with two stars who connected well at Dortmund a few years ago and adding targets up front for their midfield to provide could push them back into the top 4. Arsenal are back and dare I say it…. #WengerIn ?

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Real Madrid Down to One Focus:
Yikes folks. After a *HOME* loss to lowly Leganes, Real Madrid are out of the Copa Del Rey, the domestic cup in Spain. They now have to win the Champions League in order to salvage this disaster season. I think Zidane should stay as coach, as this seems like an anomaly of a season, but there is still a long way to go and they could still end up in 3rd and even 2nd place in La Liga. Everyone calm down! Without a Champions League title, or at least a push deep into the later stages, Los Blancos fans will start to become reckless.

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FA Cup/Carabao Cup:
Liverpool have crashed out of the FA Cup, and now must secure a top 4 finish and/or a run into the Champions League to salvage their season as well. Meanwhile Spurs salvaged a late draw to set up a 2nd leg at Wembley against Newport County (I have absolutely no clue who that is, but they’re in the 3rd division). They will surely go through but it could provide some late storylines in the FA Cup. Meanwhile in the NIT of English domestic cups Arsenal and Manchester City will headline the Carabao Cup final, giving hope to Manchester City’s Quadruple (winning 4 titles overall in a season). It won’t happen, but it gives City a chance at some much needed domestic silverware. Arsenal now have a chance to continue Wenger’s success in domestic cups, maybe adding one more trophy before he rides off into the sunset. The Can I Kick It Cup will have another faceoff, this time in a cup final.

USMNT:
The US Men’s National Team played to a draw in a friendly Sunday night against Bosnia. It doesn’t mean much (or actually anything), but it was good to see young players go out there and get some much needed playing time before they enter the fray. More importantly, we anticipate the US Soccer Federation Presidential Elections to see who will try to resurrect the Federation in this dark time. Definitely an odd time to have a friendly…

Alright, alright I’m sorry now let’s get to the good stuff!

Matchweek 25:

Tuesday January 30th
2:45pm

Crystal Palace @ West Ham (Pick -110) – A London Derby on the cards here, but honestly this match doesn’t have the lust like the other derbies have had this season. But we carry on as both teams need points in order to climb away from the relegation zone. Both clubs have had decent form recently since their poor start, but have hit the injury bug. West Ham’s attack is basically all injured, while two of Palace’s midfield stars (Cabaye and Loftus Cheek) have been ruled out for this match. Palace though has had 1 win away from home in their last 4 away matches, while the Hammers have only lost 1 home match in their last 4. Take the home pickem!

Arsenal (-1) @ Swansea City A new wave of confidence has hit Arsenal, as they have two new signings coming in, but only one actually on the squad. Although the momentum may seem on their side, bottom of the table Swansea have only lost 1 match of their last 6 in all competitions. That win although, yes coming against Liverpool at home, was their first points they’ve gained against a top 6 side since September. Arsenal will find their footing here, even if this pushes.

Liverpool (-1.5) @ Huddersfield The last match on Tuesday is an odd matchup, as Liverpool find themselves in somewhat poor form after losses to Swansea in the league and West Brom in the FA Cup. They were 18 matches unbeaten before that, and need points in order to stay in the top 4. But Huddersfield haven’t won in the league in 7 matches and are susceptible to big losses. Roll the dice baby!

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Wednesday
2:45

Brighton (+0.5) @ Southampton Both teams find themselves near, or inside the relegation zone needing points to differentiate themselves from the darkness. Southampton have been a side who have played to expectations on a game by game basis, losing to the teams they should lose to and winning or taking a points from games they should take points from. But they have gone 11 matches without a win, and don’t seem to be playing their best footy which is worrying. Brighton meanwhile, outside of a big defeat to Liverpool and Chelsea, have been playing to solid draws and wins to teams their caliber. The points look good on this one.

Burnley (+0.5) @ Newcastle United After a bad stretch of home matches for Newcastle, they seem to be finding their footing. But they had a match this past weekend against Chelsea in the FA Cup leaving their squad tired. Meanwhile, after Burnley’s miracle start to the season putting them into the top 4, they have somewhat fallen off the wayside and now find themselves in 8th (still a good position). Without a match at the midweek they’ll be well rested and with good coaching, which they have, they’ll be ready for this one.

Leicester City (Pick -130) @ Everton Leicester are healthy and are starting to click. That can be dangerous for a team like Everton who have been inconsistent all season. Yes Leicester went 5 unbeaten and then 5 without a win before their recent good form, but that poor run came against City twice, United and Liverpool. Since then they have had a great win against Huddersfield, a big draw at Chelsea and a home win to Watford. Everton went 8 unbeaten from November to December, but since then have been one of the most unconvincing sides in the league.

Bournemouth @ Chelsea (-1.5) – Bournemouth actually find themselves in good form at the moment, but in their 8 matches this season against the top 6 they have only won 1 match and lost the other 7. That isn’t going to help you when you travel to London to play a Chelsea team who can pick you apart in a blink of an eye. They’ve been great against the spread, but Chelsea’s last league loss came almost 2 months ago and have only lost 2 matches in their last 22 in all competitions.

3:00pm

West Brom @ Manchester City (-2) – This is a match between a world-class team and a team who sits in 19th in need of three points. City have seemed vulnerable as of late and after losing Sane to injury for at least a month to two months, people are starting to worry. But with only 2 points being laid down at the Etihad, this looks good for at least a push for the Cityzens. They’ve been playing amazing, but are starting to have results that are closer to draws than the 5-0 scorelines they had earlier in the year. They need to regain form before the Champions League starts to kick back up and it starts now.

Watford @ Stoke City (-0.5) – Watford are dealing with a wide range of injuries which have started to lure them into some poor results, and have only won 1 match in the league in their last 11. Stoke meanwhile are starting to find equilibrium after a very shaky start and at home I like them in this one.

Manchester United (Pick +110) @ Tottenham Tottenham are dealing with injuries and illnesses, but have only lost 1 match in their last 13 in all competitions. Spurs though are coming off of an interesting draw to a 3rd division team, and didn’t look themselves. Meanwhile since United’s Derby loss to City, they’ve woken up with 8 matches unbeaten and seem to be playing with some confidence. I like United going into Wembley and taking at least a point here.

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That’s all she wrote for this one, as the Premier League gets a little midweek action. Enjoy the matches and try to get your fix before you lay down a ton of money on stupid (yet awesome) props in the Super Bowl. Oh, speaking of that GO BIRDS BABY!!! LET’S GOOOOO!!!!

Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.

Twitter: @nicodegallo // @canikickitblog // @j_kulla

Matchweek 24

Manchester City’s unbeaten run came to an end in a thrilling match against Liverpool where although City looked good, Liverpool controlled the match from start to finish. Of course along with the my City pick, my week was a bad one. But we pick it up and we ‘Move Along’ like the All-American Rejects.

Matchweek 23: 3-6-1
All-Time Record: 158-141-38

A quick recap on what’s going on around the world of sokker:

The final unbeaten team in Europe’s top 5 leagues (a.k.a. the only ones people give a shit about) Barcelona lost their first match over the weekend. Messi missed a penalty (yikes) on their way to a 1-0 loss, but their lead at the top of La Liga is still yuuuuge.

Alexis Sanchez did the ol’ switcheroo and is now headed to Manchester United instead of Manchester City. Hey at least he doesn’t have to look for different real estate… savvy move Alexis, savvy move

In return, Arsenal seem to be set to land former Dortmund teammates Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan (no those are not jokes, those are their real names and they know how to ball). Aubameyang led the Bundesliga in goals last season and his former connection with Mkyitaryan will prove to be a potent addition to the Arsenal attack.

Alright let’s get to the good stuff…

Saturday
7:30am

Chelsea (-1) @ Brighton Oddly enough, Chelsea has had 5 straight draws in regulation in their last 5 matches. Brighton have actually been pretty good against the spread, pushing or winning in over 60% of their matches. Adding that to the fact that Chelsea had an FA Cup match on Wednesday that went the distance and needed a penalty shootout, makes me want to lean Brighton here. But the Blues only started about 4 possible starters, subbing in 4 other starters late enough in the match for them to be well-rested. This is where Chelsea need to make the push to solidify their place in the top 4. Even if (-1) pushes, I like Chelsea here. Hazard looking at that line like…
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10:00am

Bournemouth (+0.5) @ West Ham The Hammers have been en fuego as of late since David Moyes took over, who has done a phenominal job righting the ship (yeah I didn’t think I was ever going to say that about Moyes either). Both teams played midweek matches, but Bournemouth is riding the momentum of their win at home to Arsenal last weekend. Bournemouth are covering above 50%, one of only 4 teams who have done so this year (due to the amount of pushes in soccer). I like Bournemouth with the points here.

Watford @ Leicester City (-0.5) – After Watford’s hot start this season, their injuries and suspensions set them back and are now in the Purge Zone. *Purge Zone being the space between 9th and 16 which is separated by 4 points*. The fact that these two teams played in the league a few weeks ago where Leicester blew a 1-0 lead along with Leicester’s recent form leads me to believe they’ll get revenge at home this time around.

Huddersfield (+0.5) @ Stoke Stoke fired their manager before last weekend’s match, and still sit at the top of the relegation zone. Their hiring of Paul Lambert is a surprising one, and I think he’ll need some time to settle in. They’re one of only 3 teams with 5 draws or less in the bottom 10, and are covering at a abysmal rate of 26%. Huddersfield meanwhile have kept steady form all year long, and a win could see them theoretically jump back into the top 10. Expect a draw here so take the points. Huddersfield’s American manager David Wagner knows how to deal with it…
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West Brom @ Everton (-0.5) – Lookey here, the shite match of the weekend. Both teams look completely lost right now, with Everton only getting two points from their last 6 matches. Granted, 4 of those matches have come against Chelsea, Man United, Liverpool and Tottenham but regardless Everton have looked completely lost in those fixtures. West Brom meanwhile got their first win this last weekend in 21 matches, but I think it will be short lived. Everton are desperate to pull away from the Purge Zone, and need 3 points.

Manchester United @ Burnley (+1) – In one of the sneaky best (or not so sneaky anymore) matches of the weekend, Man U travel to Burnley to get revenge on their 2-2 draw at Old Trafford. After briefly entering the top 4 though, Burnley have yet to win in their last 6 in the league. But with a spread of 1, they don’t need to win and Burnley are the masters of keeping it a 1-goal game whether winning or losing. They’re bottom 5 in goals scored, but more importantly they’re top 4 in goals allowed. This one will be tight at Turf Moore.
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Crystal Palace (+1) @ Arsenal Another darling of a match here, and if I told you that after week 6 you would’ve laughed in my face. After a run of 12 straight league wins at home, Arsenal have yet to win in their last 4 at the Emirates. To add to Arsenal’s worries, after Palace’s run of 8 straight away league losses they have yet to lose in their last 5 away from home. The rumors of transfers surrounding Arsenal and #WengerOut are surely suffocating the players and the absences of Giroud and Sanchez won’t help them. This is the exact game where Arsenal don’t show up as they play to every team’s level. This may be my dumb pick of the weekend but you have to “Be Bolder” as Canelo Alvarez says.

12:30pm

Newcastle United @ Manchester City (-2.5) – This may sound really stupid, but this may be the biggest match of the season for City. Before you call the police to take my crazy ass away let me explain. 1. Coming off their first domestic loss of the season, they have to make sure they regain form immediately or the press will have a field day. 2. This game can either go 1-0 or 5-0 in the blink of an eye, and as of late City haven’t had big wins to make opponents fear them. A big win would restore the fear other teams have. 3. If they can get 3 points and keep their path to sealing the title, it gives City time to rest players and focus on the upcoming FA Cup/Carabao Cup/Champions League slate over these next few months. City have been historically good against Newcastle at home, and I think this will be a big statement bounce-back match from them. Orrrrrr they’ll win 2-0 and piss me off with the spread being 2.5 because God hates us all.

Sunday 
11:00am

Tottenham (-1) @ Southampton Southampton have both been in poor form in the league as of late and against Spurs over their last few meetings. In Spurs’ last 11 matches, their only loss has been at Manchester City, and have been looking like a sure top 4 side over the last two months. Kane is scoring, Son is scoring, Alli is creating and Eriksen is back to his old self. I hate betting against desperation, as Southampton are 1 point out of the relegation zone but Spurs are just too good right now. Bet the form!

Monday
3:00pm

Liverpool @ Swansea City (+1.5) – This is a wonky one to pick. The Swans are in full desperation mode as they sit in dead last in need of any type of points. Outside of their 5-0 throttling in Liverpool a few weeks ago, the Swans have only lost by more than 1 goal twice in their last 10 meetings. For what it’s worth, the Swans haven’t been crushed outside of that loss at Liverpool and seem to be fighting for their lives. Call me crazy, I don’t care. #DoItForBigCat #JackArmy

*BONUS PICK — Sunday, 2:45*:
Roma @ Inter Milan (Pick -125)

That’s all I got for this weekend. I hope everyone can watch some quality footy before the Championship Sunday starts (please God have the eagles win). Not many high-quality matchups and no top 6 matchups, but the table from the top 4 to the Purge Zone will be shifted greatly this weekend in the Premier League. Until next time…

Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.

Twitter: @nicodegallo // @canikickitblog // @j_kulla

Arsenal January Transfer Period

What’s going on everyone? Sorry for the lack of posts lately, the way Arsenal have been performing lately has me in my feelings and all. Tonight I’d like to talk about something positive with Arsenal for a change, something that has been largely nonexistent and unlike the norm with us in the recent past – the January transfer period. It is evident, now more than ever, that Arsenal must make changes to the current squad in order to take away anything from this season, the question is, how the club will go about that. Let’s take a look at some realistic, and unrealistic, transfers that could take place before the window closes.

OUTs:

Alexis Sánchez

Arsenal fans have had their fair share of the Alexis exit rumors for some time now, dating back to last summer when the club struggled to strike a deal with the Chilean over a new contract. At this point I would say there is about a 100% chance that he will be leaving us, the question is will it be during this window, or in the summer. Fans, and the Club, will prefer to sell during this window due to the high selling fee clubs would pay for him of course, while were he to leave this Summer it would be have to be on a free. It looked like City were going to bring Sanchez to the Etihad, but a recent breakthrough in the recovery of Gabriel Jesus’ injury has led to disinterest in Sanchez from the club. It is now Manchester United that are on the front foot of signing the winger, but it’ll come at a cost: about $32m + Mkhitaryan. More on Mkhitaryan will be discussed further below.

Rumor Mill Level (1 being blasphemy, 10 being confirmed): 8

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Theo Walcott

Theo, Theo. What can I say, you’ve been loyal to us, and somewhat good for the club over these past 10 years. The Winger/Striker/CF/CAM/RM has scored over 100 goals in his decade spent at Arsenal. As sad as it is to see Theo go, it really is the right decision. Walcott had loads of potential, and it was simply unfulfilled, as his inconsistency really cemented a spot on the bench for him during the latter half of his Arsenal career. If this club are to make the leap to becoming an “elite club”, they are going to need more consistent players than Theo Walcott. Theo was spotted at Everton this morning completing a medical, so the announcement is imminent. It looks like the Toffees will be paying around £22m for him, money that can certainly be spent to build upon our current squad.

Rumor Mill Level: 10

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Olivier Giroud

I Can’t believe the day would come where I have to write about GiGi leaving Arsenal. My mans has been hated on by so many, for so long, and I have been there to support him in full, so this one is tough. This transfer, however, is more so dependent on what happens with the Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang transfer. It’s looking like Arsenal are willing to offer Giroud plus £30m for the Gabonese striker, which I believe Arsenal should quickly act on and follow through with.

Rumor Mill Level: 5

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Scorpion Master Giroud

 

INs:

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

According to multiple sources, Arsenal will only let Alexis go to Manchester United if we receive Mkhitaryan in return, however it has been reported that he is not particularly keen on joining the club. Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Armenian take Sanchez’ spot at the club; he’s got superb dribbling and pace, and is a goal-scoring threat. I can so see Arsenal selling Alexis to United and not getting Mkhitaryan in return, that’s just Arsenal, but we will see. Is he my first choice? No, but he’s a good start.

Rumor Mill Level: 6

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 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

PEA at Arsenal? Sign me up fam! This would be an ideal ~dream~ signing for the club. Auba is a proven killer in front of the net, and has been doing it on a consistent basis for the last 5-6 years. Having a potential front 2 of Auba and Lacazette with Ozil behind them makes me ooze from the mouth. Like I said before however, we would most likely have to give Dortmund Giroud in return for Auba, along with a lump sum of cash, but it would 100% be worth it. Auba is ready to move on from Dortmund, and as of today, Arsenal seems to be a very realistic landing spot for him. Not to mention, a potential reunion of the Mkhi-Auba partnership that led BVB to much success.

Rumor Mill Level: 7

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 Malcom

The Brazilian forward was in Arsenal’s scope the day the window opened up, and a move seemed plausible, however as of the last few days the reports of a move to the Emirates seems more and more unlikely, as talks between the two clubs (Bordeaux) have largely died down. I’m not really a big fan of Malcom however. The first reason for this has to do with his nationality. Arsenal haven’t signed too many Brazilians in the past, and most have underachieved at the club, with the exception of the legendary Gilberto Silva. Malcom’s potential and skills are tempting, and make for a good rationale to back him as an Alexis replacement, but I don’t think we should jump at this opportunity. And not to mention, the last player we signed from Bordeaux was an absolute joke. Spoiler, it was Chamakh, and he was ass n’ cheese.

Rumor Mill Level: 4

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 Riyad Mahrez

It has long been noted that Arsene Wenger has had his eye on the Leicester City stud. Arsenal almost struck a deal with the winger last summer, but it ultimately fell through. Mahrez led his squad to a Premier League title a few years back, and has continued to thrive at the club in tough times. This move seems like it’s died down unfortunately, but the fans can HOPE.

Rumor Mill Level: 2

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Hope you all enjoyed the piece, and to my Arsenal guys out there, big things are coming soon. #WengerOUT #AubaIN #SanchezOUT #AncelottiIN

Follow me on Tweeter: @j_kulla

 

Matchweek 23

It’s been almost two weeks since I last threw out a blog, so let me give you a quick recap on the world of footy.

Coutinho to Barcelona

Phillipe Coutinho has been sold from Liverpool to Barcelona for a mere $170 Million, just 5 years after he was acquired for $10 Million. Safe to say that’s a hell of a return on investment for Liverpool, who will most likely (hopefully, at least for Liverpool fans) spend the money towards fixing their goalie situation. To be honest I think Coutinho is somewhat replaceable with what Liverpool has in attack, and $170 Million is A LOT of money. For Barca, well, they’re even better than they were before even after selling Neymar this summer. They will now have a fully healthy squad once Coutinho gets back in the lineup, with Dembele returning from injury. Smells like a Champions League campaign, since they’ve basically locked up the league.

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Arsenal Struggling

Yeeeaaahhhh soooo, Arsenal are in deep deep doodoo. After crashing out of the FA Cup, realistically the only thing they have to play for this season is getting into the top 4, which doesn’t even look likely. To add to the pain, they seem on the verge of selling Alexis Sanchez to Manchester City for about 1/4 his value because his contract will be up after the year. That means they have no leverage, as they either sell him now for a low fee or let him walk for free in the summer. #WengerOut.

Real Madrid Tumbling

Real Madrid have now won just 1 of their last 4 matches and sit in 4th place 16 points behind leaders and rivals Barcelona. Ronaldo is starting to slow, with only 4 goals in 13 La Liga matches this season and they aren’t controlling matches like they did all of last season. It goes to show that success doesn’t always translate year to year, showing just how magical that run Madrid had for the last 2 years was.

Now that we have that out of the way we can get started on the real business; looking ahead to this weekend’s matches which includes a huge Liverpool v. Manchester City match on Sunday. Let’s grip it and rip it…

Matchweek 22: 6-1-2
All-Time Record: 155-135-37

Saturday
10:00am

Leicester City @ Chelsea (-1.5) – I absolutely hate picking this match, but will thoroughly enjoy watching it. In one of the best matches of the weekend we have two attacking sides who love scoring goals, with little defensive discipline. When it comes down to a match like that I always see who has the better keeper, with Chelsea getting the edge with Courtois. Chelsea have won by less than two goals only once in their last 4 matches against Leicester, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they take control here either.

Swansea City @ Newcastle United (-0.5) – Newcastle may be in 13th place, but the bottom half of the table is separated by only 5 points. If they lose they technically have the opportunity to drop into 18th, making this a must win. Newcastle believs in ‘Everybody Eats’ as all of their forwards have goals this season. On the other side of the match, Swansea sit in dead last with 16 points and need more than 3 points to climb out of the drop zone. Thus, making it a must-win for both clubs. But right now Swansea is complete trash and Newcastle have won 3 of their last 5, with only 1 loss.

West Ham @ Huddersfield (Pick -115) – West Ham are not only dealing with injuries, but have won 1 match away from home all season long. Huddersfield meanwhile have quietly been pretty good at home with their only two home losses coming against City and Tottenham, and even sneaking a home win against United. German-American manager David Wagner has his boys playing good footy this season as they have been the best promoted side.

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Southampton @ Watford (Pick -120) – Southampton are one of those teams in that volatile zone in the bottom half of the table, only surviving due to their goal differential. Watford meanwhile sit atop that zone, in 10th place. Watford won the first match in September at Southampton, but since then have been super inconsistent. A good FA cup win and some rest for their injuries should do the trick and bring them back to their old form.

Brighton (+0.5) @ West Brom Again, another match inside this zone where there aren’t many points separating almost 10 clubs. Brighton won their home side of the head to head earlier in the year quite comfortably, and West Brom haven’t won in the league in their last 20 matches (there have been 22 matches in the league). Brighton seem a strong pick here with the points.

Burnley (+0.5) @ Crystal Palace Low key, low low key, this may be one of the matches of the week. Palace have been on a TEAR since Roy Hodgson took the wheel as manager, climbing from the bowels of the table with the worst start in league history to only 1 loss in their last 11. Burnley meanwhile, have been the darlings of the league this year sitting in 7th and boasting the best against the spread numbers by a mile in the league. They’re win/push rate is at a tasty 82% this season, while also boasting the best win % against the spread with 59%.

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12:30pm

Everton @ Tottenham (-1.5) – In the ‘Primetime’ Saturday match we find ourselves with what would usually be a great match, but this year has an interesting tinge to it. Everton have been a shell of themselves, and after selling Ross Barkley to Chelsea there seems to be less and less confidence in the squad. These teams may be only 4 spots away from each other in the table, but they are separated by 14 points. Everton haven’t won in their last 6 matches and are coming off of playing Man U and Liverpool successively with little rest in between, a tough task for any squad. Spurs meanwhile are beginning to play some really nice football with 1 loss in their last 6 league matches, that loss coming at Manchester City. Expect Wembley to be rocking as the tide in North London begins to change.

Sunday
8:30am

Arsenal @ Bournemouth (+0.5) – Shockingly enough, Bournemouth have been the second best team against the spread this season. Arsenal find themselves in serious trouble, with rumors clouding their players and their manager and they don’t seem to be finding good form. Although they drew at Chelsea on Wednesday, they’ve only won 1 of their last 6 in all competitions. I can’t believe I’m doing this but Bournemouth at home with points seems like the safe pick here.

Manchester City (Pick -140) @ Liverpool – (Pick -140 as of 9:00am on 1/12) The match of the weekend comes at 11:00am before the 1:00pm NFL kickoff, which may be the best 1-2 punch this season. To be honest as a City fan, this is the first match I’ve truly been worried about losing. City bring in their undefeated record to Anfield, where Liverpool haven’t lost at home to City in their last 14 league matches. Liverpool haven’t lost a match in all competitions since October 22nd and have won their last 4. They’ve been playing amazing football and although Coutinho is gone, he hasn’t played much for them all season due to ‘injuries’. But with the way Manchester City have been playing, it takes more than this Liverpool team to pick against them. Manchester City currently lead the league in shots on target per match, accurate passes per match, possession and goals per match. Kevin De Bruyne dares you to pick against them…

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Monday
3:00pm

Stoke City @ Manchester United (-2) – It took Stoke long enough to fire Mark Hughes, as they have been arguably one of the worst teams in England this year. Although their last 3 matchups have ended in draws, Manchester United will feel comfortable at home against a Stoke side who lost by 5 at Chelsesa and 4 at Tottenham all in the last month. They won’t have a manager which rarely bodes well for a team who is in horrible form and surely to be relegated. Until they find a manager and figure it out, the dumpster fire will continue for Stoke.

That is all for this weekend’s preview, expect Kulla to come out with an Arsenal transfer rant blog at some point in the near future (if he’s man enough). Tough times out here for an Arsenal fan. Don’t forget to tell any of your loser soccer friends about the blog, and to follow us on Twitter. There may be something new coming as a review for the matches over the weekend so keep an eye out for that (*eye emojis*). Until then…

Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.

Twitter: @nicodegallo // @canikickitblog // @j_kulla

Arsenal – Chelsea Preview

What’s going on soccer and non-soccer folks! Hope your holidays were filled with lot’s of food, friendship, and successful betting on great sporting events that include but are not limited to: soccer, Bowl pick’em, basketball, NFL, UFC 219, and the Winter Classic. Well, the festive period is just about over, which means getting used to watching only one soccer match a week…..that is until the Champions League returns. As I’m sure most of you know, tomorrow Arsenal take on their bitter rivals Chelsea in a yuuuuge game, so let’s take a look at how I think this match will play out, but first I’d like to share my thoughts on our last match against West Bromwich, only because so many members of my Gunner family have reached out to me about this, and I’ll keep it to-the-point.

Post Match West Brom. Thoughts

Were we robbed of a win? Absolutely yes. Referee Mike Dean has been fucking Arsenal for years, and side note, did you know he is an admitted Tottenham fan? Sketchy. Super sketchy. It was not a hand ball and I don’t need to explain why, just watch for yourself. After the whistle I was fuming, just like all Arsenal fans, and rightfully so. But then I realized, how on Earth did we ever even deserve those three points? Let’s be honest, Arsenal were horrific, dreadful, and pathetic in that match. I’ve always been one to blame, or commend, an individual’s effort in a loss or win, as opposed to just an overall poor/strong team effort, so that’s what I’ll do here. Alex Iwobi, bruv, what do you bring to the table? Spoiler alert, nothing. Hector Bellerín, the same fans who chanted “you are not fit for the kit” last season at Palace, will soon be singing that again if you don’t step up; you were terrible that match. Petr Cech, do not get me started. You are supposed to be a world-class keeper, and one of the best the Premier League has EVER SEEN, yet you can’t save a fucking penalty! 0/14 on pen saves I believe you are for Arsenal, keep up the great work. Alright I’m done, moving onto tomorrow’s preview.

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Arsenal – Chelsea Preview

Tomorrow’s match is much bigger than you’d think. Clearly the race for the Premier League title is over, I don’t care what anyone says, Man City have won it and by the way, it’s only January. For Arsenal, it is now about finishing the season strong and fighting for a Champions League spot, and taking home some silverware, whether that be the League Cup, FA Cup, Europa League, or all three for that matter. A Top 4 finish and a trophy or two would warrant a somewhat successful season in my eyes. Contrary to what most Arsenal people on Twitter say, continuing to fight for the above mentioned things matter. With that being said, let’s look ahead at tomorrow’s match.

The two teams couldn’t be trending in more opposite directions. Currently Chelsea sit 3rd on the table and could find themselves in second if they win tomorrow and with a game in hand, while Arsenal are coming off their second draw in three matches. But asides from both teams’ positions in the league, thing’s couldn’t be more different. Arsenal seem to struggle with every single opponent they have faced this season, and more times than not, make it extremely difficult for themselves to get anything out of a match. If we win, Lacazette or Alexis get pissed off because they’re subbed off too early. If we lose, the team lacked anything upfront or on the creative end. If we draw, we deserved it because we got robbed of a call, presumably from Mike Dean.

Meanwhile, Chelsea are coming off a battering of Stoke and a solid 2-0 victory over Brighton. They’ve really played well in the league throughout the season, and find themselves in the Round of 16 in the Champions League against a very, very tough Barcelona side. Not saying that they’ll be able to accomplish anything there, but hey at least they made it that far, something Arsenal could not do.

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In regards to the actual match, I really don’t like Arsenal’s chances. The only reason to believe they can muster anything out of this is simply due to the fact that we are playing at the Emirates, which some people have seemed to shrug off or forget how toxic that atmosphere can be. So, is it really an advantage playing at home for us? Arsenal are also dealing with quite a few injuries, as Giroud, Ozil, Ramsey, Monreal, Kolasinac, and Koscielny have picked up knocks, with that latter of those four certainly not being able to play Arsene has admitted. Great. Chelsea on the other hand are working with a full squad with the exception of Victor Moses.

 

Predicted Line-ups

Arsenal: Cech; Bellerin, Chambers, Mertesacker, Mustafi, Maitland-Niles; Xhaka, Wilshere; Iwobi, Alexis; Lacazette

Chelsea: Courtois; Zappacosta, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Cahill, Alonso; Bakayoko, Kante, Fabregas; Hazard, Morata

Prediction

Not really sure how anyone can fancy Arsenal in this one, that’s how bad it’s gotten, but given our recent form against Chelsea and our desire to play somewhat well in the big games at home, I can see this one ending in a draw, but not today. Arsenal 1 – 2 Chelsea.

Stay tuned for my second edition of European Power Rankings when the rest of the big 5 leagues resume play. Stay Kickin’ It!

 

Twitter: @j_kulla

 

Matchweek 22

Well that was a wonky weekend of footy. Man City’s win streak is halted at 18 with a 0-0 draw at Palace with two of their star players going down injured, United drop points with a 0-0 draw at home to Southampton, Arsenal get robbed late with a very questionable penalty call and Chelsea stroll into 2nd place with a massive 5-0 victory. City’s loss was more meaningful to their streak and the injuries than it was to the standings, as they still seem to have locked up the title. De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus’ injuries may slow down their offensive production depending on the length of time they will miss, and could open a glimmer of hope for the likes of Chelsea to start capitalizing on points.

giphy4When you lose your win streak and two of your best players on the same day.

As a reminder the soccer continues through the New Year because the FA hates their players. They are the only league to have their players play on Christmas and New Years, despite the outcry from managers and players. It’s literally the Thursday Night Football equivalent, the league just doesn’t give a crap. But that just means more soccer for us, and you won’t find me complaining.

Although I had my worst week in a while, you just gotta pick yourself up and keep riding the wave (shrreeedddd ittttt). Weird results like the Man U and City scoreless draws and the Arsenal 1-1 draw left me with a 3-6 record, a swing which if it went my way would’ve put me at 6-3. But like I said you just have to pick yourself up, everybody can’t go positive every week.

Matchweek Results: 3-6-0
All-Time Results: 149-134-34

Monday, Jan. 1
7:30am

Bournemouth (+0.5) @ Brighton Ever since playing 4 of the top 6 in a row, Bournemouth have been playing well enough to earn 4 points in 2 matches. Although they are short with squad numbers due to injuries, this one smells like a draw. Take the points.

10:00am

Newcastle United (+0.5) @ Stoke City Despite having a decent home record, Stoke have given up 19 goals in 10 home matches, the second highest in the league. Although they rested many of their starters in their 5-0 trouncing at Chelsea, the big loss will surely leave a mark on their form. Stoke also have the worst record against the spread in the league this year, yikes. Again, take the points here.

Huddersfield @ Leicester City (-0.5) – Leicester are just better than Huddersfield and are in need of some new momentum. Huddersfield have also had trouble scoring goals this year away from home.

Liverpool @ Burnley (+1) – Burnley have been unbelievable this season against the spread, going 12-3-5 and they have the best goals against record in the league this year. Although Liverpool haven’t lost a match since late October, Burnley have only lost by more than a goal at home once this season. Lots of points for Sean ‘Football Guy’ Dyche and his Burnley squad.
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12:30pm
Manchester United (-0.5) @ Everton This will be the classic Man United recovering from a bad few matches and people will be raving about how class they can be. They’ve yet to win with Pogba getting back in the lineup and still deserve my “Michael Scott Snip Snap Award” for most inconsistent team this season. Mourinho has done a good job deflecting with excuses to take everyone’s mind off their poor performance, but this is a must-win. giphy3

Tuesday, Jan 2
2:45pm
Crystal Palace @ Southampton (-0.5) – It’s actually insane how Palace have been playing since their poor start. They just tied the best team in the world in Man City and have lost only one game in their last 10 matches. These two teams haven’t had a draw in their last 15 matchups, which doesn’t really mean anything I just thought it was cool. Southampton haven’t won in their last 8 matches, but all things must come to and end. Expect them to eek out a 1-0 win here.

Tottenham (-1.5) @ Swansea Swansea had a massive comeback win over the weekend to start their climb out of the bottom, but they have never lost to a Premier League team more than they have to Tottenham. Spurs have won 5 of their last 6, and in those wins have outscored their opponent by a total of 18-3. Add that to the fact that the Swans have the worst home Premier League record in the league and it equals out to a Tottenham can of whoop ass.

West Brom @ West Ham (-0.5) – Both of these teams are trash. Both of these teams have the word West in them. That’s about all the analysis I have for this one. I had my sister’s dog pick it, and she picked West Ham.

Watford @ Manchester City (-2) – Manchester City suffered more than one blow on Sunday morning, as their 18 game win streak ended just 1 shy of tying the European record and they lose two stars to injury, one who was leading the MVP race. This team will bounce back because their depth is the best in the league, and so is their coaching.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe New Years and can watch the matches early on Monday before the college football extravaganza begins, and if you don’t work on Tuesday you can watch those all day as well. It may be a new year but United still sucks.

Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.

Twitter: @nicodegallo // @canikickitblog

Matchweek 21

Heeeyyyyoooo sup! I tried telling all ya’ll that the soccer/football/futbol/sokker never stops from August to May…. then June to July… then August to May and rinse and repeat forever and ever. After our Christmas spread of games, we transition right into the weekend with more matches. Let’s see how we fared this midweek:

Matchweek Results: 3-3-4
All-Time Results: 146-128-34

That all-time record includes a 60% non-loss rate and it has never been negative in the 308 matches I’ve picked #WeirdBrag. Heading into the new year I’m pretty proud of that record and how this blog is going, with hundreds of visitors a month. Tell your friends, your friends’ friends and your friends’ friends’ friends about what’s good!

This next week or so is a wild cluster of matches in the Premier League with 7 on Saturday, 2 on Sunday, 5 on Monday, 5 on Tuesday and 1 on Wednesday and Thursday. That means most teams will be playing twice in three or four days, a very tough end to an extreme stretch of matches. I’ll do my best to post one before the second string of matches which start on the 2nd.

Let’s jump right into the matches for this weekend…

Saturday
10:00am

Brighton @ Newcastle United (+110) – Both teams only have 1 win in their last 5 matches, but Newcastle showed that they are a tough team to get a result against when they tested Manchester City and held them to a 1-0 win. Though they lost, they showed that at home they aren’t an opposition to be overlooked. I hate passing up the (+0.5) odds but Brighton just don’t have it figured out right now.

Burnley (+0.5) @ Huddersfield Yoooo Burnley are playing out of their mind. Just when everyone gets high on them, they lose big to Tottenham at home only to turn it around and give Trashchester United (Man U) a draw at Old Trafford. Sean ‘Futbol Guy’ Dyche has his Burnley squad playing rock solid footy and I don’t see that changing. They’re tied for 4th lowest goals scored, but also have the 4th best goals against tally going for them. Only 5 points away from the top 4, Burnley will have to get crucial results as they play City twice and Liverpool and United once each in their 6 matches after this.
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Stoke City @ Chelsea (-2) – Chelsea have won 25 of the last possible 27 points against Stoke at home and Stoke have been the 2nd worst away team in the league this year. I know, I know I haven’t been good on spread of 2 or more all season but I’m going to keep sticking to my gut and take the Blues in this one at home.

Leicester City @ Liverpool (-1.5) – These two teams historically have high-scoring matchups with an average of 4.7 gpg in their last 3 clashes. Take that as what you will, but I focus on spreads here and my instinct is to take the points here. But Liverpool have the best goals against record at home this season (3, the only team under 5) and I learned my lesson with picking Swansea this past week.

Swansea City @ Watford (-0.5) – Swans are trash. Watford started off hot, but only have 1 win in their last 5. Swansea have 1 win in 10 matches away from home and have scored 5 goals. Don’t sleep on Watford. That is all.

Everton @ Bournemouth (Pick -135) – Bournemouth find themselves in trouble in 18th place, but a huge comeback draw (is it still a comeback if you blew a lead earlier in the game?) has them in good spirits. Everton only have 1 win away from home and it may be a must-win/draw for the Cherries.

12:30pm
Southampton @ Manchester United (-1.5) – I may switch my Michael Scott ‘Snip Snap Snip Snap’ Award for the team who is either really good or bad from Tottenham to Man U. One minute they’re world class and the next minute they have a loss against Bristol City in the Cup, and draws to Leicester while a man up and at home to Burnley. But they have the 2nd best goal differential at home and Southampton are winless in their last 7 and Southampton have been sub-par away from home including a 5-2 loss at Tottenham the other day. I just hope this isn’t the 1-0 ‘Mourinho Masterclass’ match that we see from United so often. giphy3

Sunday
7:00am

Manchester City (-1.5) @ Crystal Palace You guys know the rule! Don’t bet against Manchester City, as they are currently on the 2nd longest win streak in European football history (18). Even crazier, they have won all 10 matches away from home with a crazy +25 goal differential which is 9 better than the next best. Palace was letting Arsenal run wild in their final third all Thursday night, which will not bode well for them against the best team in the world right now.

11:30am  

Arsenal (-0.5) @ West Brom Arsenal have been atrocious away from London this season, with a 3-3-4 record and a -3 goal differential. West Brom meanwhile have been even worse at home somehow, with only 1 win this season (with 6 draws though). To be honest I know I give @jordankulla a lot of crap, but Arsenal have just been odd this season. They give up weird goals and don’t seem to be on the same page offensively some matches, but they are just cut from a much better cloth than West Brom. It is also Arsene Wenger’s 811th match, the most ever of any Premier League manager, expect the Gunners to come out swinging for their manager.

I plan on getting a blog out on New Year’s Eve for the Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday slate of matches in the league. Also keep an eye out for a possible podcast in 2018 from the Can I Kick It crew (*eyes emoji*). Thanks for making this year an awesome inaugural year for the blog, and hopefully there’s many more! Until next time…

Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.

Twitter: @nicodegallo   @canikickitblog

Matchweek 20 (Boxing Day)

Meeeerrrrryyyy Chriiissttmassss!!! What’s the best part of Christmas? NBA games? Nope. NFL games? Nope. Christmas morning mimosas? Well, maybe. But the real gem of the Christmas season is celebrating another country’s useless holiday as an excuse to have a bunch of soccer games on one day. What is Boxing Day? I have absolutely no clue and honestly I could care less because it means the Premier League comes in full force the day after Christmas. That’s good enough for me!

As a quick recap, Messi absolutely pantsed Real Madrid and set 5 different records in the process. A goal and an assist for the little magic man has now put a 14 point lead over Real Madrid who sit in 4th place, while the rest of the top 4 lost. Barcelona have now been gifted the title by Christmas.

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So I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas, and if you have to go to work on the 26th like me, I’m dearly sorry. Let’s jump right into it like Santa’s dangerous dive down the chimney.

Weekend’s Record: 6-4-2
All-time Record: 143-125-30 (yet to have a losing total record… nbd)

Tuesday:
7:30am

Southampton @ Tottenham (-1.5) – Spurs are beginning to find their form and after Kane’s hat trick performance, they don’t seem to be slowing down. He’s one goal behind Messi for most goals in this calendar year.

10:00am

Burnley (+1.5) @ Manchester United United showed that they just aren’t good enough sometimes to run through teams and get 3 points. After being up 2-1 and a man up on Leicester, they played lazy defense and pompous football and let up a last-second equalizer. Mourinho has to get his squad more disciplined or else they may fall off the pace behind Man City and even the top 4.

Leicester City (Pick -105) @ Watford After Watford’s brilliant start, they find themselves winless in their last 6 matches. I’ve been saying don’t sleep on Watford, but it seems like they’ve slept on themselves. I don’t like where Watford is right now with their injuries and suspensions, take Leicester and the momentum after the big draw against Man U.

West Ham @ Bournemouth (Pick -110) – I hate picking either of these teams, as they are the definition of trash. Always side with the Home Pickem when you don’t want to decide though.

Stoke City @ Huddersfield (Pick -125) – Huddersfield haven’t lost a game at home against non-top 6 sides this season, and have actually fared pretty well overall at home. Stoke are prone to big losses and have only won 1 match away from home all year.

Everton (Pick +105) @ West Brom After winning their first two league matches, West Brom haven’t won since. That’s cheeks and Everton are back baby.

Brighton @ Chelsea (-2) – I wanted to take the points with Brighton, but out of their matches against the Top 6 clubs, only one of them has been a loss by less than two goals. Do the math, Chelsea are favored by two. Easy enough.

12:30pm
Swansea City (+2)
@ Liverpool Since Liverpool’s stretch of big wins a few weeks ago, they have only won 1 match and drew 3 others. This is the dumbest thing I may have ever done, but Swansea are in desperation mode being in dead last so fuggit.

Wednesday
2:45pm

Manchester City (-2) @ Newcastle United You guys should know the drill at this point, City have an insane 13 point lead over Trashchester United (Man U) by Christmas. That is unheard of and they have yet to slow down. It’s gotten so crazy that if City isn’t up by the 20th minute, City fans (including myself) start to get restless. Come On City!!

Thursday
3:00pm

Arsenal (-135) @ Crystal Palace Oddly enough these two teams have had the exact same record in the last 5 matches, in the exact same order (D-W-W-D-D). I don’t know what that means, but it’s gotta mean something. Take the higher-quality side in this one (which would be Arsenal).

The ridiculous run of matches continues and Boxing Day is always entertaining with usually high-scoring matches. Enjoy the matches whether at work, on the couch, away on vacation (Alan, how’s Spain?) or wherever you are. Merry Christmas ya filthy animals.

Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.
Twitter: @nicodegallo   @canikickitblog

El Clásico Preview

This Saturday come 7am, the World’s greatest Soccer Rivalry will be taking place, no not Arsenal-Tottenham, but El Clásico. This prestigious and momentous match occurs twice every year, and has major implications for who will be crowned La Liga Campéon. This matchup tends to be very tactical, and more times than often, plays out in a draw. The only difference this year however, is the gap in points between the two all-star teams. Los Blancos find themselves 11 points behind leaders Barcelona, a gap that can almost be written off as impossible to comeback from. Let’s take a look at how I think this rivalry will play out, predicted XI’s, some key matchups on the pitch, and who I think will take home the 3 points.

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Predicted XI:

Barcelona: Ter (tookerderbs) Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Vermaelen, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Messi, Suarez

Real Madrid: Navas; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric; Isco; Benzema, Ronaldo

 

Key Matchups:

Ronaldo vs. Roberto/Semedo:

So it has not been confirmed whether Sergi Roberto or Nelson Semedo will be starting at the RB position, but regardless of who does start, there is no doubt that they will have their plate full with Ronaldo running at them for 90 minutes. CR7 is coming back from nursing an injury, and Zidane has stated that he will start tomorrow. Let’s be honest, nobody can contain Ronaldo, the key here will be trying to slow him down a bit. Regardless, look for relentless sprints and dribbles from CR7 down the right flank.

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Busquets vs. Isco:

The little Spaniard has impressed us all this season, to say the least. Not only has he cemented a spot in the starting XI, but he has bullied the midfield throughout the season. Busquets on the other hand, is as solid a rock as can be. He is the glue that holds together the midfield, and without him, Isco and Co. could severely exploit Barcelona’s midfield.

Spain Soccer La Liga

 

Benzema vs. Pique:

Gerard Pique will likely be tasked with marking the Frenchman tomorrow morning. Benzema will try to hold up play up top whilst his midfield and winger tandem will race in behind Barcelona’s CBs. I favor Pique in this matchup given his experience and strength, but don’t be surprised to see Benzema get involved in the action.

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Prediction:

This matchup is always a tense one, and both teams are destined to score goals given the talent they have. With that being said, I believe with a fully fit squad and 80,000+ fans rallying behind them, Real Madrid will win this one in a thriller for the ages.

Final Score: Real Madrid 3-2 FC Barcelona

Lock in those bets, and then follow me on Twitter: @j_kulla

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