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Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY
Pundits who dispute the assertion that the Premier League is the greatest domestic soccer league in the world had a tough week. All four Premier League teams that qualified for the Champions League this season survived the group stage and will be drawn into the knockout round.
But it wasn’t easy. Liverpool had to survive a very nervy home encounter with Napoli on Tuesday, and Tottenham Hotspur ground out a draw away to Barcelona that same evening. Nerves were less frayed for Manchester City and Manchester United, since both clubs had qualified to the knockout stage after Matchday 5. Pep Guardiola’s side enters that tournament as favorites with Liverpool close behind. United, not so much.
The midweek exertions of these four preeminent teams inform the selections this week. On to the Week 17 winners.
LIVERPOOL v. MANCHESTER UNITED
All hail Liverpool, your new leaders at the top of the Premier League table after City threw a shoe against Chelsea last weekend. Ordinarily, there would be no reason to think that boring, boring Man United could go into Anfield and get a result this weekend. Certainly the bookmakers don’t care for United’s chances, as Liverpool is 8/15 to win this match.
Conversely, United is 5/1 to win this match. That looked like a misprint to me when I saw that. 5/1 is longshot territory, and if we’re being honest with each other, it’s pretty ridiculous. United has been uneven this season, and Jose Mourinho is feuding with Paul Pogba, and United is almost certainly going to miss out on the Champions League places for 2019-2010 unless they win the tournament this season.
📺Watch the two most successful clubs in English football on Sky Sports Premier League from 3:30pm on Sunday pic.twitter.com/xKGbNOQqIV
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) December 14, 2018
But this is still Manchester United, and just because you can’t trust them against Crystal Palace or West Ham doesn’t mean they are going to roll over for Liverpool. United’s last three results against top-5 teams in the league were a draw away to Chelsea, a loss away to City, and a draw home to Arsenal. Mourinho still gets his teams up for big matches.
Plus, there’s an open question as to whether this qualifies as a big match for Liverpool. You could almost argue it’s a trap game, since Liverpool’s next three league matches are away to Wolves, home to Newcastle, home to Arsenal. This stretch is brutal, and it’s followed by a trip to the Etihad to tangle with City.
I don’t trust United to walk into Anfield and win the match, but I do expect United to stay within touching distance of the Reds and maybe even have an opportunity to steal a result (maybe even a win) in the closing stages. Take United to win OR draw at 29/20.
MANCHESTER CITY v. EVERTON
It’s not easy days for City, what with Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne both out injured until very recently and the club looking up at Liverpool in the league table. Both star men are back in training and each has a chance to appear in this match.
Everton is the club you have come to expect — consistent, workmanlike, and nondescript. Seventh in the league table, they are tied for the league lead in draws with Southampton at six. There is nothing exciting or particularly interesting about this Everton side, except occasional flashes from Gylfi Sigurdsson and Richarlison. The thing we can safely project with regard to Everton in this match is that they are going to try to take the air out of the ball. Against both Chelsea and Liverpool this season, Everton failed to score but also gave up just one goal (to Liverpool) in the entirety of those two matches. They also lost 2-0 to Arsenal earlier in the season.
📺Watch Man City v Everton on Sky Sports Premier League from 11:30am tomorrow pic.twitter.com/FKcqcjJYwv
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) December 14, 2018
This bet cost me last week when I picked United to beat Fulham to nil, only because United gave up a really unnecessary penalty. Still, all the indicators call for a tightly played match that City wins by a goal or two without conceding. Take City to win to nil at 5/4.
WOLVES v. BOURNEMOUTH
It’s “keep it simple, stupid” time with this pick. Bournemouth has lost five of their last six league matches — only beating relegation-bound Huddersfield Town during that stretch — and received a 4-0 hammering from Liverpool last weekend. Wolves has rebounded from a terrible two-match losing streak which saw them drop points to both Huddersfield Town and Cardiff City by beating Chelsea and Newcastle United in the past 10 days.
This pick is more of a selection against Bournemouth than an endorsement of Wolves, but the odds are right: Wolves is better, just by enough, so take Wolves to win at 10/11.
Good luck this weekend.
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS
Manchester United to win to nil over Fulham at 7/5: LOSS
Chelsea to win, draw no bet, over Manchester City at 4/5: WIN
Leicester City to win OR draw against Tottenham Hotspur at 4/5: LOSS
LAST WEEK: -$120
TOTAL TO DATE: -$775
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Sports Betting Updates
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What the hell is this? –
— Brad Stephens (@BradKCTV5) December 14, 2018
These guys definitely listen to Angelo Cataldi’s show. They love Nick Foles, hate Sam Hinkie, and think the Flyers need to get back to playing “old time hockey.”
Ironically, Andy Reid’s team choked away a 14-point fourth quarter lead last night.
So much for Jordan Mailata getting some snaps this season.
He was listed with a back injury this week, and now this:
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) December 14, 2018
24-year-old Brazilian Sergio Santos comes to us from Audax Italiano in the Chilean League. He’s swapping Chile for Chester.
The rumor popped up a few weeks ago on Twitter, with Santos apparently breaking the news on a radio station down there. He also had interest from Mexican side Necaxa but preferred to play in MLS.
I don’t know much about the guy. He scored ten goals for Audax across all competitions last season and Transfermarkt has him listed as a left-footed center forward who can also play as a left winger and second striker.
Here’s a blurb from the Union website:
Santos boasts speed and strength, and it’s the directness of his game that should prove to be a good fit in the Union’s transition-oriented system next year. The 181 pound Brazilian is a mismatch for fullbacks with his size, and he presents huge problems for center backs with his speed. In short, he has shown the kind of raw ability that can make him a versatile option up front for the Union as they seek to flexibly adapt their tactics throughout the 2019 season.
6’0″, 181 is pretty solid. That’s the type of build for a tweener forward who can play up top but also do some damage on the wing or play in a pressing system. Houston’s Alberth Elis I think is a good comparison in the size and weight department.
Sporting Director Ernst Tanner spoke to the media today and said this, after the jump:
Carson Wentz will fly to Los Angeles this weekend, which seems kind of pointless for a guy with a cracked vertebra.
Another combative press conference down at NovaCare today. Doug Pederson didn’t have much interest in talking about the Wentz situation at all, but revealed that his QB will be listed as questionable despite apparently needing a few months for his back to heal.
Would you put a guy with a broken back on a plane to California? Seems like a dumb idea.
Here’s a rundown of Wentz-related stuff Pederson said at today’s press conference:
- It’s a “stress injury, this thing has evolved over time and it requires zero surgery to heal.”
- Doug doubled-down on the idea that the injury “evolved over time” and did not pinpoint a specific incident or game or period in which the injury occurred. Pederson wants to keep specifics in-house. “He’s listed as questionable, and that’s the way it is.”
- Injury has not affected his play-calling at all.
- Doesn’t want to put a timetable on recovery, but said it could be possibly three months.
- It they put him out there, “there has to be 100% chance” that there’s no risk of making the injury worse.”
- He also pushed back on the idea that the injury was keeping Carson from running more. Credits defenses on that more than anything else.
- The fracture was discovered after a test was done on Tuesday.
- This injury does not have anything to do with Wentz compensating for his ACL injury.
- Doug has a high level of confidence with the medical staff and the team always does tests and scans on injured players on a weekly basis.
- There’s a “fine line” on pushing guys to come back to play. Each athlete has a protocol based on their individual injuries and they want to be back on the field.
- Doug’s back injury was different than Carson’s injury, so it’s not fair to compare each of those situations.
So let’s recap:
- Carson has a cracked vertebra
- He’s listed as questionable and will fly to Los Angeles…
- …but he needs “possibly three months” for the injury to heal without surgery
Anyway, here’s video of testy Doug after the jump:
Sixers head coach Brett Brown was on the 97.5 the Fanatic morning show today with Marc Farzetta, Tra Thomas, Bob Cooney, and Jamie Lynch.
Not surprisingly, the discussion began with a couple of questions about Joel Embiid’s post-Toronto comments, those fleeting couple of hours where he expressed discomfort with his role via an article from the Inquirer’s Keith Pompey. All of that was squashed rather quickly, but Brown shed a bit more light on the situation today.
Farzetta: We haven’t talked to you since it came out, but it feels like it was one of those stories that could have caught wildfire, Joel Embiid voicing his frustration then quickly shifting to ‘he loves everybody,’ – it seems like that story more or less blew over.
Brown: Yeah and I think that it should have. I think when people read into it , we all sort of get the passion Joel has. I think a lot of it was a reaction to us not wanting him to play and trying to force-feed a rest. It’s a snap shot of him wanting to play. We move on. I do not believe the story had the legs it needed to continue.
Farzetta: Did you have any takeaway from the story, of Joel being a perfectionist at least?
Brown: There’s always lots to take away from a story, and the following day I was with him for probably four hours on an off day. It’s just a constant reminder how you have to stay on top of things with the coach. You daily sort of fight for the soul and spirit of the team and try to keep our ecosystem balanced. There’s some subtle truth to using Joel, and part of his challenge, which is a strength and a curse, is he can score and he can be used in so many ways. He’s not Shaquille O’Neal. He can be, but he’s also able to step out and do some things. His versatility at times makes his life a little conflicted in a positive way. He’s that skilled. The point is that we all bunker in and get back on track as a team.
More after the jump:
All I can do is laugh at this exchange, which started with Howard Eskin ripping Emmanuel Acho after the ex-Bird criticized the Eagles’ medical staff on Thursday:
You are still a clown. You are so bitter regardless of saying you are not. Still on #eagles medical staff rant. Just heard you @SportsRadioWIP sounded like idiot. You needed a visitors pass to get into trainers room. U were cut waived or resigned 15 times. https://t.co/3LIJq9KuZY
— Howard Eskin (@howardeskin) December 13, 2018
— Malcolm Jenkins (@MalcolmJenkins) December 14, 2018
Fletcher Cox sliding in now, after the jump: