Matchweek 19

Weekend’s Record: 4-4-2
All-Time Record: 137-121-28 

We have finally hit the halfway mark of the season, with 4 and a half months down and 5 more months to go. Unlike American sports, the Premier League ramps up its schedule during the halfway mark of the season with each team playing 4 games across a 15 day span. Lucky for us, NBC Sports will be covering 40 live games across these next 14 days making sure we get our fix during the holiday season. Obviously the players and managers complain a lot, but who gives a crap they make millions of dollars a year for our viewing pleasure. That’s business baby!

This weekend has an absolute tasty spread of matches including Liverpool @ Arsenal, Roma @ Juventus, and of course the game we all wait for every year; El Clasico with Barcelona visiting Real Madrid. You don’t find a collection of matches this awesome all the time. Tis’ the freaking season!

Friday:
2:45

Liverpool @ Arsenal, NBCSN

Liverpool travel to North London having not lost a match in the league, or in any competition, since October when they traveled to Tottenham. Liverpool have been in amazing form and have been scoring goals at will this season. Arsenal meanwhile have only had 1 win where they won by more than one goal in the last month, going 4-2-2. They are also 1-1-3 against top 6 sides and haven’t found a true identity on the pitch this season and have been too volatile (Kulla, @ me bro). Out of their 18 matches this season, Arsenal have gotten points 13 times compared to Liverpool’s 16. Liverpool (Pick -105). 

Saturday:
7:00am

Barcelona @ Real Madrid, BEIN Sports

El Clasico. A match watched by 600 million people worldwide, with 269 total matches played, traditional Spain v. Catalonia, and of course Lionel Messi v. Cristiano Ronaldo sets the stage for yet another captivating match between these two historic sides. But this time, it is absolutely way more than just another Clasico. Since Catalonia’s secession vote, tensions have risen drastically between traditional Spain and its counterpart. This will undoubtedly add fuel to the fire for both teams, and more importantly their fans. Expect a very tense affair both on the pitch, in the stands and in the streets in Madrid Saturday morning.

Added to that, Real Madrid find themselves 11 points behind Barcelona and in 4th place in the La Liga standings. Los Blancos need a win or else they may let Barcelona get one hand on the trophy by Christmas, which is unheardofly (is that a word?) early. Barcelona are unbeaten in the league this season and have been playing outstanding football with Messi leading the league in scoring with 14 goals through 16 matches, and has somehow hit the post 14 other times. Real Madrid meanwhile have bounced back tremendously in the league after their horrid start to their campaign, going without a loss in their last 10 matches across all competitions. After Ronaldo’s slow start and average year in the league, Messi has taken over supremacy in the league yet agian. Here is how they are broken down statistically in the all-time Clasico matchup:

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Barcelona are in too much of a groove and I expect Messi to change the game and do something magical (shocker there!) like he did with his winning goal in the last second of their last matchup in the league. He’s the all-time leading Clasico scorer, all-time leading Clasico assist maker, has multiple game-winning Clasico goals and has the most hat tricks in Clasico history by the age of 30. Never put Barcelona and Lionel Messi as underdogs, NEVER. Barcelona (+0.5).

7:30am
Chelsea (-1) @ Everton – Yes, I said Everton were back last week before they beat Swansea 3-1. But Chelsea have only 1 loss in the league since October and Everton have as many losses as they do wins this season (7).

10:00am
Newcastle United (+0.5)
@ West Ham – I absolutely hate picking West Ham, mostly because they’re horrible and Moyes is a wanker… but Newcastle are also horrible so I’m going to go ahead in take the points in this toilet bowl of a match.

Crystal Palace (Pick -125) @ Swansea City – In version 2 of the toilet bowl match of the weekend, Palace travel to Wales to play the Swans. But actually Palace have begun to play outstanding after having the worst start to a Premier League season. They have gone their last 7 unbeaten, while Swansea sit in dead last.

West Brom (+0.5) @ Stoke City – Wait? Can it be? Another toilet bowl match? It is! But actually I like West Brom in this one a decent amount, as Stoke just can’t produce anything, winning just 1 match since November 4th.

Huddersfield (+1) @ Southampton – Southampton have won 1 match in their last 9, and Huddersfield have actually won two of their last 3 with their one loss coming against Chelsea. Huddersfield have a chance to crack the top 10, and I like the points in this one.

Bournemouth @ Manchester City (-2.5) – Yup. They’re the best team in the world and are on pace to becoming the best team in English history in a single season. They actually might win this game by 5.

Watford @ Brighton (Pick -115) – I’ve said it all year; don’t sleep on Watford! But sadly most of their team is either injured or have picked up red cards/card accumulation suspensions. Bad Boy Watford! Brighton will have the advantage of being healthy and at home.

12:30pm
Tottenham @ Burnley (+1) – Folks, I cant believe I’m saying this but Burnley are one of the best teams in England right now. Sean ‘Futbol Guy’ Dyche has brought grit to Turf Moor and actually have his Burnley squad sitting above Tottenham in 6th place. Burnley have only lost twice at home this season and only once their second match of the season (the second home loss coming against Arsenal). This match actually is going to be great and I love Burnley here. Tottenham are gonna feel the Burn…ley. *Buh dum ting*. Cue the gif of Dyche answering a reporters cell phone…giphy1

2:45pm
Manchester United (-120) @ Leicester City – Leicester have been average and United have been quite brilliant this season with 41 points. I don’t see Leicester pulling one out here.

Roma @ Juventus (-120) – Another cracking match for our holiday slate, as Roma travel to Turin to take on Juventus in a big matchup for both clubs. Juve, sitting in 2nd, have a chance to put more pressure on Napoli and depending on other results can take the lead in the league or pull away from Inter who sit in 3rd. Roma on the other hand could climb up to 2nd with Juve if they can secure the 3 points. But Juventus have won their last 7 at home against Roma and seem to be a fortress at home again this season.

What an awesome pre-Christmas set of matches we have in store. Whether you love or hate your family during this holiday season, there’s nothing like soccer to bring everyone together. Or just like everything else these days, it could tear everyone apart. Who knows! I wish everyone reading and following a Merry Christmas and expect a load of awesome articles and picks all the way through the new year (possible first episode of the podcast too?!?!). Until next time…

Stay kickin’ it. Peace
Twitter: @nicodegallo   @canikickitblog

Power Rankings: Week 18

What’s up fam! Back again with all the soccer knowledge you’ve been waiting for, and more importantly, my first round of Power Rankings. We had a lot of exciting action over the weekend throughout Europe’s power 5 leagues, so let’s take a look at where I believe Europe’s Top 10 squads belong on my list of Power Rankings.

 

Honorable Mentions

FC Porto, Roma, Manchester United, Chelsea, Atletico Madrid

 

10) Valencia

The La Liga powerhouse has done a superb job playing keep-up with Barcelona for the entirety of the season, however, were starting to see signs of fatigue. Los Che have already lost two matches in December, their only two losses of their campaign thus far as a matter of fact, but nonetheless, they are perhaps one of the most low-key teams in European Soccer this season, so for that I applaud you.

 

9) Liverpool

The Reds are well and alive again after dominating Bouremouth away in a 4-0 win. The fact that they are 4th in the Premier League table astonishes me given their ‘Fantastic Four’ up top, but so long as their defense lie in shambles, they will continue to see their offensive efforts offset.

 

8) Real Madrid

Hala Madrid y Nada. Were missing the “…y Nada Mas”, but at the moment Los Blancos don’t really deserve that tagline. Real are already a staggering 11 points behind their rivals Barcelona, a gap that surely cannot be narrowed. Although Real just won their second consecutive Club World Cup, that does not warrant a higher spot on this list. They’ll continue to stay around this half of the list until they can pull it together.

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7) Paris Saint-Germain

I really do wish I could throw PSG in the top 3 of this list, but I just don’t think that will ever happen so long as they continue to be a French football club. Ligue 1 is probably the worst of the Power 5 leagues in Europe, with virtually NO competition week in and week out. They’ll climb this ranking order if and when they prove me wrong in the Champions League.

6) Napoli

Napoli….. cubanyo! If I made a Power Ranking’s about a month ago, I would’ve had Napoli at #1. This is no lie. However, Napoli’s recent efforts have pushed them further down this list unfortunately. After a horrendous Champions League campaign, they further damaged their rank with a loss to Juventus and a boring draw with Fiorentina. While they remain atop the Serie A table at the moment, Roma, Juve, and Inter are breathing down their throats and waiting for Napoli to slip up.

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5) Juventus

Even with the most goals scored and the largest goal differential in Serie A, the Turin giants still don’t crack my top 3 on this list. Their style of play gives off, to me at least, a lack of effort, and for that reason they are not in my top 3. The Old Lady just picked up an excellent 3 points over Napoli (1st) and a draw with Inter (3rd), and given their ability to succeed against the big teams in the league, I expect Juve to move up this list as the season goes on.

 

4) Bayern Munich

Bayern have been as sturdy as could be, as expected. And without their rivals Dortmund usually sitting right behind them, Bayern can now focus on not just winning their 8293th Bundesliga Trophy in a row, but also the Champions League, a trophy they’ve really been after for the past few years.

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3) Inter Milan

Perhaps the Milan side with lower expectations heading into the season, Internazionale have been a force this season! Before their loss to Udinese yesterday, Inter were sitting at the top of Serie A, and with no European football, and virtually no other cups besides the Coppa Italia to play for, Inter can really put forth their full attention to winning Serie A.

 

2) Barcelona

After a sluggish start to the season, Barcelona, and Messi specifically, have found their groove. Messi is back as La Liga’s top scorer, AND did you know he’s hit the post 14 times! So factor in another 4-5 goals onto his tally, and Barcelona look their best once again.

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1) Manchester City

There’s really not much to be said about City at the moment. They are without a doubt THE team to beat in not just European Football, but WORLD Football. They have yet to lose a game in the Premier League this season, and just set the record for the longest win streak in Premier League History, shout out Arsenal. I have City winning the Premier League, and advancing to the Semi’s of the Champions League, so let’s see how the rest of their campaign pans out.

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Raheem Sterling buries one past Hugo Lloris in a dominant 4-1 effort over Tottenham.

Follow me on Twitter, I tweet about Arsenal a lot: @j_kulla

 

Matchweek 18

Heeyyyooo sup! You might be saying, “Woah, didn’t this loser post a blog like on Monday?” Why yes, this loser did. And his other loser friend Kulla did as well (if you missed it, click HERE like 5 times to support the cause). But yeah I warned you that the footy never stops, especially in December where there are multiple midweek batches of matches (rhymes!).

Enough of the nonsense though, let’s get down to brass tax.

Midweek Picks: 5-4-1
All-Time Picks: 133-117-26

Saturday:
7:30am

Crystal Palace @ Leicester City (-0.5) – Hooolllyyyy moooolllyyyy what is this??? Crystal Palace haven’t scored in 10 away league matches and Leicester have won their last 4 in the Premier League but somehow Leicester is barely a home favorite. Let’s eat boys!!

10:00am
Huddersfield @ Watford (-0.5) – Reasons to pick Watford: 1. Don’t sleep on Watford and 2. Huddersfield have been trash as of late. Good enough right?

West Ham (+0.5) @ Stoke City – I have absolutely no clue what to do about this one, but I will never, ever trust Stoke. Take the points (shouts Dubrow).

Southampton @ Chelsea (-1.5) – I hate going against Chelsea in anything, and in the words of my colleague Kulla, “Hoooooouse. Southampton are assss.” So, there ya go.

Burnley (Pick +105) @ Brighton – Burnley now find themselves in 6th place ahead of Arsenal and Leicester and Sean Dyche has this team playing some great footy. Utilize the Pickem!

Newcastle United @ Arsenal (-1.5) – I hate doing it, but I’m picking Arsenal and the only reason why is because they’re home. If they let me down again I may have to sacrifice Kulla AND my brother, who both are Gooner fans.

12:30pm

Tottenham @ Manchester City, NBC

This league literally doesn’t go a weekend without great matches anymore, and I LOVE it. Couple things about this match; Spurs are historically good at the Etihad Stadium (City haven’t won at home v Spurs since October 2014), City can become the first team ever to beat the other top 6 clubs before New Years and they have the opportunity to extend their record winning streak to 16. Stats aside, City should win this game but it would be unprecedented to not drop a result against any of the top 6 before New Years. But my one rule this season: DON’T BET AGAINST CITY. Manchester City (-1). 

Sunday:
9:15am

Manchester United (-1) @ West Brom – Man U have never been stellar against West Brom, a typically stingy team. But this year’s West Brom isn’t your father’s West Brom. West Brom haven’t won since August (FREAKING AUGUST!!).

11:30am

Liverpool (-1) @ Bournemouth  I hate this many points for a team who couldn’t defend if their lives depended on it, but whatever. Couldn’t let myself pick Bournemouth.

Monday:
3:00pm

Swansea City @ Everton (-0.5) – Everton are BACK baby. I don’t care if they haven’t beaten Swansea in their last 7 matchups, I genuinely don’t care. Everton are back.

That’s all for my picks for the weekend, please give a follow on the Twitter Machine while it’s still free. Also, 7 of my last 8 batches of picks have been positive so take advantage or don’t and be a loser. Also keep a lookout for a Can I Kick It podcast in 2018 (*eyes emoji*).

Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.

Twitter: @nicodegallo   @canikickitblog

Mid-Season Review: Premier League

Hello to all, and to all a Happy Tuesday! I’m sure a lot of you (maybe 3 people tops) have noticed my absence from Can I Kick It recently. Well, no, I didn’t quit writing about soccer just because Arsenal are ass n’ cheese, – fuckers – cha boys’ just been super busy with school! After all, school comes first, then soccer, or is it the other way around? Anyways, now that I’m off school for a ~cool~ month, I’ll be back posting regularly again for the foreseeable future.

Luckily for me, I’m coming back just in time for the midway point of the season, so let’s go over some of the winners and losers thus far, along with who I think will win the Prem, who will round out the Top 4 Champions League places, and unfortunately, who will be relegated.

 

Winners Winners Chicken Parm Dinners

Manchester City

What kind of mid-season analysis would we have if I didn’t speak on Manchester City first? Man City have been absolutely superb this season, and even that may be an understatement in itself. City have a staggering 46 points (!), having only dropped points ONE time all season to Everton; how Everton, I do not know. They have an 11 point lead on the rest of the pack, and Vegas bookmakers have them at -2000 to win the Premier League. For all you virgins, that means you have to throw $200 to win a measly $10. Value. Their front three might be the best I’ve ever seen in the Premier League, and they seem to only be getting better. Expect City to continue winning, sadly.

 

Burnley 

Yes Burnley. The Burnley boys find themselves sitting in 4th place in the table at the moment, currently in a CHAMPIONS LEAGUE position, let that set in for a minute or two. Burnley are as stingy a team as they come, and are tough as nails, having only conceded 12 goals thus far. Sean Dyche has his boys boolin’ and believing, and in all honesty, I expect them to finish the season out very strong given they don’t lose anyone to injury.

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Losers

Tottenham

Well this makes things easy on me, I mean, what better way to bash your rivals than to roast them on how they’ve not nearly met this season’s expectations! Before the season started, and as much as it pains me to say this, I had Tottenham either winning the league or coming in 2nd, and low and behold, here they are sitting in 7th place, outside of the European football places. They seem to be having a hard time finding the net when it matters, and as a result they have dropped a ton of points. Although Harry Kane is only one goal behind the top scorer in the Prem, Salah, Tottenham are lacking the chemistry factor that led them to Champions League football last season. Tssk tssk Tottenham.

 

Everton

Everton, what in the world is going on!? I doubt you’re reading this but Jacob can you tell me? I don’t think anyone predicted the horrible season that Everton are currently going through at the moment. They are currently at 10th in the table, however, they were sitting in the relegation zone until Big Sam came in and started fucking up some commas. Let’s look back to August. The transfer deadline is nearing close, boom Wayne Rooney, boom Sandro, boom Michael Keane! Everton made some quality signings over the summer, yet, they couldn’t seem to get anything going for the first couple months of the season, not to mention the fact that they got absolutely humiliated in Europa League this season. I’m actually a fan of Everton, and sincerely hope that they can get their shit together.

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Champions of the Premier League:

There is just not a doubt in my mind that Manchester City are going to win the Premier League; there’s just no way they don’t. The only way I see a collapse in the making is if they advance deep into the Champions League, which is plausible, and them losing a few guys to injury. Other than that, that trophy is wrapped up, sealed, and signed for the Citizens. Fuck off @zemach, and especially to the owner of this blog (hi nico).

 

Champions of the Relegation Zone:

There are three champions of the relegation zone, and here’s who I think they’ll be:

18) West Ham

19) AFC Bournemouth

20) Swansea City

I’d literally love nothing more than for West Ham to be relegated, the shite club that they are they deserve it. Bournemouth has just been a big nothing for me this season, and I think their time to head back down is now. Swansea have been fighting relegation for like 3 years now, and there’s just no way they don’t end up playing in the Championship next season. Sorry boys, better luck next time.

That’s all for now, and keep your eyes peeled for a Can I Kick It podcast, coming soon to an iPhone near you! Stay Kickin’ it yall, except for you City, you stay kicking it into your own goal.

 

Follow for a follow? @j_kulla

 

Matchweek 17

Last Weekend: 5-6
All-Time Record: 132-115-26

The run of 6 straight winning pick batches came to an end this weekend, and oddly enough there were no pushes even with 6 possible pushes. But hey, can’t win ’em all. Luckily for us, December footy literally never stops and is back this week some midweek action for all of you degenerates who are sad about college football not being on until the weekend. Sooooooooooo let’s grip it and rip it.

Quick Update: Man City defeated Man U by a score of 2-1, making their lead 11 points from second place and 14 points to third place. This win almost assures that they will win the Premier League this season not even halfway through the season, an unheard of start to a season. They now have set the record for the longest win streak in the league, with 14 and now have odds of -2000 to win it all.

Tuesday:

Stoke City @ Burnley (Pick -120) Burnley have been great all year, especially at home.

Chelsea @ Huddersfield Town (+1½) Yeah, it’s bold I know. But Chelsea have been shaky and without Morata, they may have trouble scoring goals. Huddersfield are also in form at home.

Watford (+½) @ Crystal Palace After a shockingly bad start to the season, Palace haven’t lost in their last 5. But 4 of those matches have been ties and I like the points here.

Wednesday:

Everton (Pick +115) @ Newcastle United Similar to Palace, Everton had a historically bad season for their standards, but have climbed back to crack the top 10. Their huge draw to Liverpool this weekend, preceded by 3 straight wins, should be the spark this team needs to climb back to the top 7.

Manchester City (-2) @ Swansea City Yup.

Leicester City (+½) @ Southampton  Leicester have won 3 straight and Southampton have been playing inconsistent this season with 1 win in their last 7 matches.

Brighton @ Tottenham (-2) – I hate Spurs with that many points and because they’re either playing like one of the best teams in Europe, or like a bottom-half of the table club. YOLO!

West Brom (+2) @ Liverpool  Liverpool showed their weakness after trying to cruise to a victory in lackadaisical in the Merseyside Derby and paid for it, letting in a late equalizer. The last 7 matches between these two have been decided by a goal or less.

Bournemouth @ Manchester United (-1½) – What do good teams do? They bounce back after a bad loss, and that’s what United will do here.

Arsenal (-1) @ West Ham I had my sister’s dog pick this one and she chose Arsenal.

That’s all for the matches on Tuesday and Wednesday. Kulla will be posting a blog this week (FINALLY), so that will be nice. Plus, I will probably be writing a Power Rankings along with a Champions League Round of 16 preview soon so get ready for that.

Stay Kickin’ It. Peace

Twitter: @nicodegallo   @canikickitblog

Matchweek 16

If you followed my midweek picks on twitter (@canikickitblog) then you would’ve reaped the benefits of some free $ this week. The last 6 batches of picks have been positive, and even though I’ll probably jinx myself this week, you’ll probably wanna ride the hot hand again.

Total Record: 127-109-26 (58% non-loss rate)

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This weekend’s slate is as delicious as a late night cheesesteak from Sonny’s, with two MASSIVE derby’s in the Mersyside (Liverpool v. Everton) and the Manchester derby (Man United v. Man City). Those are both on Sunday and there is a Manchester derby preview that you can read HERE, but until then let’s get into the Saturday games first.

Saturday:
7:45 am 

Chelsea (-1) @ West Ham – Chelsea are playing well and haven’t lost in the league to the Hammers since December of 2012.

10:00 am

Stoke City @ Tottenham (-1½) – Spurs have beaten Stoke 4-0 in their last 3 encounters and they are in need of a big bounce back after a bad run of results.

Brighton (Pick -105) @ Huddersfield – It’s such an even matchup of two newly promoted teams, but Huddersfield just look lost right now in the league.

Bounemouth @ Crystal Palace (-110) – Another one I hate having to pick, but Palace slowly are looking like they’re finding an identity after having the worst start to a Premier League season in history. The Hodgson affect!

Watford @ Burnley (Pick -120) – I pick these teams almost every week because they are often undervalued and are playing at high levels this season. I love utilizing the Pick odds and Burnley have been a FORCE at home.

West Brom @ Swansea City (Pick -115) – Swansea haven’t won a match since mid-October and West Brom haven’t won in the league since Matchweek 2. Yeah this is the Shite Bowl. West Brom have had a couple big draws as of late but I think this is where it trns around for Swansea.

12:30 pm

Leicester City (Pick -115) @ Newcastle United – Leicester are starting to play some good football over the last few matches and Newcastle haven’t won in the league since late October (a winless run of 6 matches, with 5 losses).

2:45 pm Serie A (Italy)

Inter Milan @ Juventus (-140) – A huge matchup with possible title implications early on in the year, as Inter shockingly are at the top with a 1 point lead over Napoli and 2 points over Juve. Depending on the Napoli result, Juve have the opportunity to take top spot after the weekend’s dust settles.

Sunday:
7:00 am

Arsenal (-110) @ Southampton – I know arsenal are vulnerable and Southampton can be tricky but, WHAT ARE YOU DOING VEGAS!?!? Oh my lord Arsenal are still at another class than Southampton and should run allllllll over them (shout out Kulla).

9:15 am

Everton @ Liverpool

Annnndddd heeerrrreeee weeeee goooooo. It’s derby day in the Premier League and it starts with an old classic in Everton at Liverpool. These stadiums are literally seperated by a park in the middle of the city of Liverpool.2511907The Mersyside Derby is the longest consecutive running derby in English football, as it has been played every year since 1962 and first started in 1894. Everton started the campaign towards the bottom in shambles, but have climbed back winning their last few matches. Liverpool meanwhile have put in amazing performances the last 3 matches in all competitions, scoring 15 and letting in 1 goal. Liverpool haven’t lost in the derby in almost 7 years. Liverpool -1½.

11:30 am

Manchester City @ Manchester United

I gave this match a WHOPPING preview in my other blog this week (please check it out I’m quite proud of it), which you can view HERE. But briefly, City lost their first match of the season in a meaningless Champions League match this week but are still undefeated in the league this season. They can break the best win streak in a single league season with 14 with a win here, but are going against a United side who have a 24 match unbeaten streak at home. United are missing Pogba, their rock in the center of the midfield, and have played very poorly in the games he has missed this year. Manchester City (Pick -125). COME ON YOU CITY!!!

Tell your mom, your grandmom, your grandmom’s friends at the old person home and everyone you know about this weekend’s matches AND my blog. I hope we can all enjoy some footy with no college football on this weekend, especially the awesome derbies in store on Sunday. Let’s go baby!

Stay kickin’ it. Peace.

Twitter: @nicodegallo   @canikickitblog

The Manchester Derby

Manchester City @ Manchester United 11:30am ET Sunday, NBCSN

The city of Manchester will be divided on Sunday, as their two cross-town rivals square off in what is shaping up to be one of the matches of the season. There are sooo many things to get into in this matchup so I’ll do my best to get into it all. Oh and for all you footy noobs out there, a ‘Derby’ is pronounced ‘darby’ and refers to a big rivalry game usually including teams from the same city.

History of the Derby
Man United lead the all-time series with a 72W-52D-50L record against their rivals Man City, with the first contest occurring in 1881 (cue Darren Rovell fact from 1881). Wayne Rooney has the most goals in the competition with 11. In the last 10 matches against each other, United has won 3, City has won 5 and there has been 2 draws. United actually has lost 7 of their last 12 league matches against City, as many as they had lost in their previous 45 matches.

City’s Win Streak vs. United’s Unbeaten Home Streak
Manchester City tied Chelsea for the longest Premier League win streak in one season with 13 over the weekend after a late goal from Raheem Sterling. On Sunday, they will look to break the record against United. United meanwhile are boasting a 24 match unbeaten home streak, with 14 wins and 10 draws (their last home defeat was to City in September of 2016). United could draw and keep their streak alive, but City need a win in order to add onto their record-breaking start to the season.

Jose Mourinho vs. Pep Guardiola
A rivalry in its own will be taking shape on the sidelines on Sunday. Jim Schwartz v. Jim Harbaugh, Phil Jackson v. Pat Riley and Nick Saban v. Urban Meyer have nothing on the history of Guardiola and Mourinho. Their rivalry truly hit its boiling point when they were the coaches of Real Madrid (Mourinho) and Barcelona (Guardiola), one of the biggest rivalries in sports. Matches full of drama, goals and red cards fueled the comparisons between the two managers. Their styles, demeanor and media antics are very different, as Mourinho tends to be more controversial and complicated. Once teammates, Pep and Jose turned rivals after becoming arguably the two best managers in football and coaching against each other in big rivalry matches. Guardiola leads the way in the all-time record with 7 wins to Mourinho’s 3 (6 draws) and boasts a 73% all-time win percentage to Mourinho’s 66%. Odds they stop the game to fight at midfield? -125.

Title Implications
Manchester City have an unprecedented lead through 15 matches in the league, with an undefeated record of 14-1-0. They sit 8 points above Manchester United and can make that lead double digits with a win, almost locking up their title hopes before the new year. But United can lower that lead to 5 points and make City start to shake in their boots with their storied rivals on their tails. If United lose, it’s time to SLAM the panic button in the west side of Manchester.

The Actual Matchup
This is where things get tough. There isn’t really any consistency in these matchups and both teams will have played a lot of matches over the last few weeks, including one this midweek. The biggest variable is the Pogba absence, as he received a red card last weekend and will be suspended for 3 matches. United with Pogba in the lineup has 7 wins and 1 draw in 8 matches. Without him they had 2 losses and 1 draw with 4 wins when he was injured earlier in the year. With him they averaged 2.75 points per match and only 1.57 without him (simply put, the odds were that they would get 3 points, or a win with him and 1 point, a draw, without him).

But with that said, Man City may be missing their most important midfielder for the last 7 seasons in David Silva. He is doubtful for the match and could be a huge blow for City in their creative attack. But Silva’s absence is different than Pogba’s in that City have the weapons to replace Silva in their free-flowing style of offense. Pogba can’t be easily replaced by United and have proven to play half as well with him out of the lineup.

As in regards to form, City received their first loss of the season in Ukraine to Shakhtar Donetsk in a meaningless Champions League match as they’ve already won their group. It was an unconvincing performance from City, but taken with a grain of salt as they started only 4/5 starters. United closed out the Champions League group stage with a win at home to CSKA Moscow, 2-1. They, like City, won their group and seem to be back to European supremacy once again. David De Gea, the United goalkeeper, showed everyone and their mother why he may very well be the best goalie in the world right now.

As for position matchups here is how I’ll breakdown position groups:

Coaching: Advantage City
Goalkeeper: Advantage United
Defense: Advantage United
Midfield: Advantage City
Attack: Advantage City
Home field advantage: Advantage United
Matchups to watch: Lukaku v. the City defense, De Bruyne v. Matic, and David De Gea v. the City attacking 3. 

My pick: *MANCHESTER CITY (PICK -110)*

The Manchester Derby is never short of drama and intrigue, as they face off for the 175 time on Sunday. Between the title implications, Pep v. Jose, the streaks of both clubs and the Derby itself we are in for a treat.

Stay Kickin’ It. Peace!

@Nicodegallo
@Canikickitblog

Matchweek 15 Preview

-Nico Pelaez

117-103-24 total record (58% non-loss rate)

After Matchweek 13’s tough 3-5-3, I bounced back with a 9-4-1 record at the midweek for Matchweek 14 on Tuesday and Wednesday for a combined total of 12-9-4. Those midweek picks came on Twitter as there was no time for a full blog post about it. Don’t miss out on any of the action; follow us at @canikickitblog on Twitter.

The top 4 is as follows: 1. Man City (40pts) 2. Man United (32pts) 3. Chelsea (29pts) 4. Arsenal (28pts) with Liverpool and Burnley falling only 2 and 3 points behind the Gunners. Tottenham shockingly sit in 7th after only winning 1 of their last 5 league matches. The bottom 3 relegation zone goes as follows: 20. Crystal Palace (9pts) 19. Swansea City (9pts) 18. West Ham (10pts) with West Brom and Stoke just 2 and 3 points respectively from the drop zone.

Quick hits from both Matchweek 13 and 14: Liverpool and Chelsea tied in MW13 in thrilling fashion, as Willian came on to provide the equalizer late in the match. Spurs shockingly drew to West Brom at home in MW13 while Arsenal needed a questionable penalty call to beat Burnley 1-0. In the midweek matches during MW14, there was no shortage of drama. Leicester beat Spurs by the tune of 2-1, throwing Tottenham into turmoil while Arsenal hung 5 on Huddersfield after wonderful starts from Ramsey and Ozil. Wayne Rooney’s hat trick provided Everton with a much needed 4-0 victory climbing them out of danger. Manchester City needed another late late goal from Raheem Sterling to keep their win streak alive, beating Southampton 2-1. That is his 4th goal past the 82nd minute to either equalize or win the match in this league season alone.

The schedule now hits the end of the very rough 7-10 days for the Premier League as all of the clubs will now have played 3 matches in 7-10 days. Let’s get right into it…

Friday, Dec. 1 (Serie A in Italy)
2:45pm
Juventus @ Napoli (Pick -135)… Napoli come into this one with a 2 point lead over Inter and a 4 point lead over Juventus. The Naples side haven’t lost in the league this season and Juventus have had some shaky away results as of late. Utilize this Pick!

Saturday, Dec. 2
7:30 am
Newcastle @ Chelsea (-1½)… Chelsea just in another class than Newcastle.

10:00 am
Liverpool @ Brighton (+1)… Brighton unbeaten in their last 5 home matches and Liverpool play to the level of their opponents.

Burnley @ Leicester City (-130)… I hate picking against Burnley but Leicester is too good at home and Burnley’s run of form will slow down with the workload this past week.

Huddersfield @ Everton (-140)… Everton are finally finding their form and are great at home both against newly promoted clubs but also with new managers. Big Sam time baby!

Swansea City @ Stoke City (-115)… Swansea are absolute ass, only winning one match away from home and Stoke have never lost to the Swans in the league.

Tottenham @ Watford (+1)… Watford are playing well and this is a crucial game as they’re 3 points behind Spurs in the table and Spurs are in bad form especially away from home. (Don’t sleep on Watford).

Crystal Palace (+½) @ West Brom… West Brom haven’t won in the league since the first two matches in the season and Palace, although in last place, have only lost 1 of their last 4 matches.

12:30pm
Manchester United @ Arsenal (Pick -135)

The big one of this weekend’s matches other than the huge Napoli v Juventus match. Manchester United travel to London 8 points behind their rivals City, while Arsenal are in terrific form. Arsenal have WON their last 12 home Premier League and their star players (Ozil, Sanchez, Lacazette, Ramsey and Giroud) are all beginning to find their form. Being a (Pick) makes this easy, take the home in form and with the much better home form. Arsenal (Pick -135).

Sunday, Dec. 4
8:30am
Southampton (Pick -125) @ Bournemouth… Wooowww what a great one we have here!! (sarcasm). Pick your poison here (puns!) with these two.

11:00am
West Ham United @ Manchester City (-2½)… I will not bet against City this season (well, maybe). With a win they will tie the longest win streak in the league and they go up against one of the worst clubs in the league this season this weekend. LET. CITY. EAT.

That’s all for the picks this weekend, I hope you can soak in some REAL footy before the college football conference championships and before the NFL games on Sunday. Both are more than doable! Oh and if you’re a betting man maybe win some keish while I’m on a bit of a hot streak. Power Rankings and other fun stuff will resume after this weekend’s matches. Until then…

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

Matchweek 13 Preview

After a weekend which included 3 massive derbys, the dust has finally settled. London is red, Madrid is… red and white, and Rome belongs to Roma. After Arsenal’s triumphant win, they sit only a point behind Spurs who are in 4th. In fact the Premier League race is so tight that 2nd place and 7th place are 4 points apart with City leading the charge with a commanding 8 point lead.

In Spain, Barcelona become the real winners of the Madrid Derby’s draw as Atletico and Real fall 10 points behind them. Real’s offense still looks like they are yet to find their identity which is shocking, as their only hope to make an impact this year looks like it will have to be in the Champions League. Messi says thank you…

giphy12

These next few weeks begin a wild slate of matches, one that managers in the Premier League are not happy about. Matches this past weekend, matches this upcoming weekend, more next week in the midweek and then wrapping up with next weekend again. That means that teams may be playing 3 matches in 8-9 days, leaving little to no time to prepare. Buuuutttt that means we get to indulge in some delicious footy as the holiday season begins to come around. I ain’t complaining that’s for sure.

Let’s get into this week.

Friday:

3:00pm
Leicester City (Pick-110) @ West Ham United

Leicester have not lost a match (outside this past weekend against City which I just won’t count) since the start of September, leaving the PICK a delicious choice. West Ham are in some trouble as they haven’t won in the league since the end of September.

Bonus Pick:

Strasbourg @ Saint-Etienne (-115)

Saturday:

10:00am
Stoke City (+½) @ Crystal Palace

Shockingly, last place Palace haven’t lost a home Premier League game in 4 home matches after having the worst start in Premier League history. Stoke haven’t lost in their last 3 tilts and have started to score some goals.

Brighton @ Manchester United (-2)

United have been playing well outside of their Europa League loss on Thursday, and the return of Pogba and Rojo have given them more support. They’ve been really good at home, scoring and winning by multiple goals against non top-6 sides.

Watford (+½) @ Newcastle United

I’ve said it a lot recently; don’t sleep on Watford. They haven’t lost by more than a goal against non top-6 teams and are starting to play some solid footy. Newcastle meanwhile have lost 3 in a row in the league, and haven’t gotten a W in a month.

Bournemouth (Pick -110) @ Swansea City

Bournemouth are starting to find some form, winning 4 of their last 5. Swansea meanwhile, well, they’ve been shit (sorry Big Cat). They’ve lost all of their last 5 matches, and 7 of their last 8. 5 of those 8 games have been at home…

West Brom @ Tottenham (-1½)

Tottenham are just a much better side and have played well recently with wins against teams like Real Madrid and Dortmund. Their only losses recently have come against Man U and Arsenal, and I don’t see hem finding trouble at home against West Brom.

12:30pm

Chelsea (+½) @ Liverpool NBC 12:30

Chelsea travel to Liverpool in the match of the weekend, as both teams have been in great form. Chelsea have yet to lose in the league since their shock defeat to Palace in mid-October. Liverpool haven’t won by less than 3 goals in their last 3 matches in the league since their defeat at Tottenham. But to me, Chelsea are better almost top to bottom than Liverpool but it is always tough to go to Anfield and get a win. But to not be favored in this is almost an insult to Chelsea and I love it. Take Chelsea (+½).

Sunday:

8:30am
Everton @ Southampton (-120)

There’s no way around it, Everton have been horrible this season with 12 points through 12 matches and a -12 goal differential. Southampton haven’t been much better, but are historically good at home against Everton. Regardless, don’t watch this game as it’s probably gonna suck.

9:00am
Arsenal @ Burnley (+1)

Burnley have been the story of the season so far, as they sit tied in 6th with their opponents on Sunday Arsenal. They’ve only scored 12 goals, but have only let up 9 which is 4th best in the league. They’ve won their last 3 and haven’t lost in the league since August (AUGUST!!!!). Let Burnley eat!

11:00am
Manchester City (-2) @ Huddersfield Town

I was an idiot and picked Leicester against City last week for the first time all year. Not making that mistake again. I expect myself to pick City every week as they’ve been unstoppable and seem to have no limit to what they can do. Come on you City!!
The start to the most grueling portion of the season begins, and I hope we can all indulge in these games through this next week or so as much as we all enjoyed our Thanksgiving dinners.

Matchweek 12 Preview

Heeeyyyyyooooo!! Thank. The. Lord. that the International Break is over; with that being said congratulations to Peru, Denmark, Australia, Switzerland, Sweden and the other nations who found their way into that ‘tournament that’s supposedly/allegedly happening in Russia next summer’. Oh and thoughts and prayers to Italy and Ireland who join other notables like the U.S., Chile, Ghana, Netherlands and Cameroon among others to not make the big ol’ tourney in Russia next summer.

But now we’re back to business with club play until January (the next International Break/Holiday break for some leagues). Not only is soccer back, but it’s Tiger Woods back with 3 MASSIVE rivalries around the world. Kulla will get into a preview of the famous and insane North London Derby between Tottenham and Arsenal so don’t worry about that preview (uhhhhh lemme guess who he’s gonna pick…).

Let’s rock and rollllllll.

All-Time Record: 98-90-17 (56% win/draw rate)

Saturday:

Tottenham @ Arsenal 7:30 am ET

You may be wondering… why would they make one of the biggest matches of the season so early (12:30 in England)? Well because they want to limit the drinking and fights/brawls leading up to the game because this game becomes a safety issue in London. That’s how big of a deal this game is. An Arsenal player even one time tore his ACL mid game, but put his fingers up to show ‘2-0’ to the Tottenham fans to remind them they were still losing.

Kulla will get into this match into much deeper detail, but I’ll still give you some nuggets of info and a pick. Arsenal are currently on their longest winless run against their London rivals, with no wins in their last 6 encounters, but have been a tough opponent to beat at home this season. Pochettino, the Spurs manager, has yet to lose to the North London foes but has drawn each of the 3 times they’ve met at Arsenal. Naturally the game is a PICK in Vegas, but I like Tottenham because of their more consistent play and form right now. Tottenham PICK (Even).

10:00:

Southampton (+1½) @ Liverpool
Manchester City @ Leicester City (+1½)
Everton @ Crystal Palace (Pick -120)
Swansea City @ Burnley (-½)
Chelsea (-1) 
@ West Brom
Huddersfield Town (+½) @ Bournemouth

12:00 Serie A (Italy)

Lazio @ Roma (Pick -120)

12:30

Newcastle United @ Manchester United (-1½)

2:45 

Real Madrid @ Atletico Madrid 12:45 ET

Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid come into the Madrid Derby both tied in 3rd place with 23 points through 11 matches, but Real owns the tiebreaker with +13 goal differential (3 more than their Madrid rivals). Ronnie only has 1 goal through 7 matches for Real, his lowest in a long time and it clearly seems to be impacting them this season. They started slow and then rebounded, only to lose 2 of their last 4 matches in all competitions. Atletico meanwhile, have yet to lose a game this season in the league, with 6 wins and 5 draws through their 11 matches. They are unbeaten at home in the league this season in their new stadium, but have had lackluster performances as of late. I love Atletico not being favored here, as they love to pack it in and keep it low scoring. I see a draw here for Real’s first trip to the new Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. Ateltico Madrid (+½).

AC Milan @ Napoli (-1)… (Insigne Revenge Game)

Sunday:

West Ham United @ Watford (-½)… (Don’t sleep on Watford!)

Monday:

Stoke City @ Brighton & Hove Albion (Pick -130)

That’s all from this weekend’s games. The Rome Derby, the Madrid Derby, and of course the North London Derby dominate this weekend’s slate of sexy games. I hope you can wake up for these games, eat some breakfast, have a cup of coffee and shotgun a beer before your Saturday/Sunday football indulgences.

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