Matchweek 14 flew by us, and if you were too busy shopping or eating turkey to watch, you missed some truly shocking results. The fact that I went 0-5-1 (Leicester’s one-goal win earned me a push in that bet) is telling: little went to plan in a weekend packed with surprises, except maybe Crystal Palace beating Burnley, which could have gone either way, and the draw between Wolves and Sheffield United. Newcastle shocked Manchester City in the opening match, earning a surprising yet well-deserved draw, followed by Liverpool eking out a win after Alisson’s red card. Chelsea promptly took advantage of Manchester City’s slip by losing to West Ham at home (a game I had Chelsea pegged at -2 for). Tottenham barely hung on to beat Bournemouth in a tense five-goal affair, Jose Mourinho’s team continuing to defend less and less like, well, a Jose Mourinho team—that’s two goals conceded in every match he’s been in charge. Southampton came back to beat Watford after being down until the 78th minute of the game, Arsenal earned itself the title of “most likely to never be bet on again by Connor” thanks to a pathetic draw against Norwich, Leicester barely hung on to beat Everton after winning their last several matches handily, and United drew with Aston Villa, capping off a week that left pundits scratching their heads. In addition, lest we forget, Unai Emery met his demise, as predicted. Next on the chopping block, along with West Ham’s Pellegrini: Marco Silva of Everton. Let’s recap:
4: Newcastle United are, shockingly, unbeaten in their last four home league matches against Manchester City.
13: the number of consecutive games West Ham had gone without victory at Stamford Bridge, dating back to 2002, until Saturday.
31: Liverpool have now tied their previous record of 31 unbeaten matches, last achieved by them in 1988.
21: Raul Jimenez has been involved in 21 goals in 25 appearances (all competitions) this season, the most of any Premier League player.
6: Jamie Vardy’s hot streak continues, with his goal against Everton making it six matches in a row he’s hit the back of the net.
7: Jack Grealish is doing his best to grab Gareth Southgate’s attention, having been directly involved in seven goals in the Premier League this season, the most of any English midfielder.
As mentioned, Pick ‘Em this week went down like a ton of bricks on a cat, leading me to question the efficacy of certain bets. I’ve decided to make bets as normal this week, but I’m going to be steering away from spread bets with a margin of two or more needed to win in the future, if possible. In addition, this will be a mega-Pick ‘Em, as I’m including matchweek 15 and 16 in this section, due to the fact I won’t be writing an article between 15’s end (Thursday night) and 16’s beginning (Saturday morning). Write to the FA schedulers thanking them for their impeccable scheduling, please. Anyway, here goes (usual disclaimers about betting advice, picks in bold):
Leicester City (-1.5, +105) versus Watford: solid bet. Leicester will still be playing their main players this match against a Watford side who are giving away goals like leftover turkey. Leicester will look to reclaim their spot in 2nd place after Manchester City’s win today.
Sheffield United (-.5, -125) versus Newcastle United: if Sheffield don’t win here I’ll be shocked. Their bread and butter this season has been winning against beatable teams, drawing against good ones, and occasionally pulling out surprises against the top six.
Everton versus Chelsea (-.5, +105): this is a low spread because Chelsea just lost to West Ham and Everton are at home, but Chelsea have the depth to navigate these rapid fixtures and will be looking to bounce back after that bad loss to West Ham.
Bournemouth versus Liverpool (-1.0, -145): Liverpool will win this match. They’ve only drawn once this season, and Bournemouth aren’t about to be the ones to make that twice. Whether or not they’ll win by more than one remains to be seen, but an even number in the spread makes this a safe bet.
Aston Villa versus Leicester City (-.5, -135): Leicester are also going to win this one, despite it being at Villa Park. Aston Villa have lost as many matches as they’ve drawn or won, and Leicester have only dropped 10 points all season.
Enjoy the rush of fixtures coming up—football/soccer is about to provide us with an abundance of excuses to avoid working for the foreseeable future!
Euro 2020 Draw
Talk about a mess. We’re playing Croatia in group stages? How about Czech Republic, who we’ve already played in the qualifiers? Not to mention the fact that the winners of the last four major tournaments are all in a single group together. In typical fashion, UEFA has managed to already create questions and controversy around the 2020 Euros, and we haven’t even kicked a ball yet. At this point, nothing will be done, but it begs the question, when? When will we address what’s obviously a fixable issue with major tournaments? It’s not fair that three of the best teams in the world are in a single group, and it’s certainly not appropriate to be playing a team we just played in qualifying, again in group stages.