Due to the hordes of avid American Take readers clamoring for an article this week, I’ve decided to indulge them with something brief. While this one won’t have any stats, I’ll break down the results of the Euro 2020 Qualifiers (both my bets and England’s performance), discuss possible bets for this week’s action, and of course, Tottenham’s new manager! Let’s dive in:
Pochettino fired before the halfway mark of the 2019 campaign. Who would have guessed? Turns out—yours truly! I’ve been predicting it this entire campaign, since almost the first month of the season (go check the articles, he was mentioned as early as week four). Tottenham finally capitulated after a prolonged spell of lackluster performances, and, while it’s hard not to take pleasure at Tottenham’s troubles as a Chelsea fan, as a football pundit I’m interested in what their future holds. The only way Mourinho would have agreed to manage Tottenham is if they were promising to break open the piggy bank in the near future, and I have a feeling that with the proper player selection, Tottenham could well be challenging for titles as early as next season. If, on the other hand, through some bizarre chance, Tottenham convinced Mourinho to manage WITHOUT a large splash of cash in the two upcoming windows, Tottenham will head for disaster, and Mourinho will be gone before next Christmas. There. I said it first. Tottenham’s core of talented players will be well utilized by a manager like Mourinho, especially as he claims he’s in the best coaching shape of his life. I have no reason to doubt this and I wish him and Tottenham the best of luck (except against Chelsea).
Euro 2020 Qualifiers finished well, both for England and my pocketbook. Both bets I called for last week panned out, and a second bet on England and on Belgium in their final matches, as well as on Italy in their final qualifying match, also panned out, leaving me at 5-0 for the week. All three sides look strong moving into Euro 2020, as does Portugal, Germany, and to a lesser extent France and Spain. I took some exception to the way the final match was handled by Southgate, however. My general view on qualification matches is if you’re going to largely coast through a match (as they did against Kosovo), the youth contingent should get a chance to start. Tomori, Mount, Abraham, Maddison, Odoi, Rice, and Sancho all should have received minutes, and the only ones who did were Mount (as a sub), Odoi (for less than 60’), and Rice. The game was finally put away in the closing stages, but it was one that was subdued, unimaginative, and uninspired. After only recently dropping a game for the first time in ten years, one would assume Southgate to be full of desire to punish opponents, big and small, for the foreseeable future, or if not, test his up-and-coming talent at the very least. He accomplished neither of these objectives.
As for my picks this week (again, stop taking my advice!), here goes (again, picks in bold are the ones I’m actually taking):
Tottenham (-.5) at West Ham: I will be shocked if Tottenham do not win this game for their newly appointed manager. This is the kind of game that Mourinho will be looking to use to make a statement, and the players will look to impress a new manager.
Arsenal (-1.0) vs. Southampton: an even number plus a -18 goal differential for Southampton make this an easy bet. Look for Arsenal to push this bet (at minimum) and most likely win it.
Leicester (-.5) at Brighton: Leicester are playing like a team possessed recently, and this most recent international break will do little to slow them down. Look for them to grab a win here.
Bournemouth vs Wolves is too risky, as is Crystal Palace vs Liverpool after the news broke that Salah and Robertson are likely to miss this match. Everton vs. Norwich is a toss-up, as is Watford vs. Burnley, Sheffield United vs. Manchester United, and Aston VIlla vs. Newcastle. While I believe City will beat Chelsea, I’m unsure that it will be by two goals (the spread is -1.5), hence my reticence to take this bet. Proceed at your own risk (as with all bets!). Best of luck, and we’ll discuss what went wrong next week.