Pep Guardiola may show up this week in a t-shirt and sneakers, too. Photo Credit: Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY.
Another heartbreaker of a week for your friendly prognosticator. Last week my hopes for a winning week came down to Manchester City beating Tottenham Hotspur (with both teams scoring) at Wembley Stadium a little more than 24 hours after the Eagles had beaten the Jaguars on the same field. I knew the turf would take a beating, but it turns out I didn’t really understand even a little bit just how bad it was going to be:
— Planet Fútbol (@si_soccer) October 29, 2018
It is pretty hard to believe that Manchester City consented to send its highly-paid, often injury-prone mercenaries out onto that mess. But they did, and the 1-0 City win doomed me to another losing week.
As the search for that first winning week here slogs on, it dawns on me that you need to crawl before you walk, walk before you run, etc. So these picks are not going to be especially thrilling. But they are very likely winners, and the journey of a thousand miles…never mind.
MANCHESTER CITY v. SOUTHAMPTON
It is really very tempting to reach out for an exotic wager here. City are at the top of the table with Liverpool, leading the Reds on goal difference, while Southampton are suspended precariously above the drop zone in 16th place. The Saints haven’t scored in their last five — FIVE — Premier League matches, and are riding a two-match goalless draw streak that would put anyone to sleep. They still haven’t won in the league since September 1. Conversely, City haven’t lost in the league yet, and have conceded three goals in 10 league matches while scoring 27. So it’s going to be a bloodletting, right?
Well, it probably will be. But here’s the thing: Lately, City manager Pep Guardiola is doing that annoying “score just enough to win” thing that screws up every cute “City to win and over 3.5 goals” wager that offers decent odds. As poor as these picks have been, the time has come to take short odds, cash them and move on. I am very tempted to take (you guessed it) City to win and over 3.5 goals at 20/23. Unfortunately, they’ve let me down too many times before. Take City to lead at the half AND at full-time at 4/9.
CHELSEA v. CRYSTAL PALACE
It’s that time again — time to look up after another sorry, disappointing Chelsea season and see that they have once again figured everything out and back among England’s best. Chelsea finished fifth last season, earning them a tour through the Europa League and the easier matches that competition brings. Not surprisingly, then, they are sitting third in the current league table, joining Liverpool and City as the last potential invincibles this season. Chelsea hasn’t lost in any competition this season, and they annihilated Burnley 4-0 last week in a match that I somehow failed to pick.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) October 28, 2018
I won’t make that mistake twice. Crystal Palace continue to live in that footballing purgatory where drawing Arsenal thanks to being awarded two penalties at home somehow constitutes progress. The Palace is terrible, Chelsea are excellent, and buying Chelsea these days is a wise investment. Take Chelsea to win AND over 2.5 goals at 3/4.
CARDIFF CITY v. LEICESTER CITY
Premier League fans will never forget the 2015-2016 Leicester City side that overcame ridiculous preseason odds to win the league at a canter. It’s hard to imagine, but the Foxes won the league by 10 points. Smash-cut to two-plus years later, and it is no surprise that the richest clubs in the league have restored order by outspending the likes of Leicester (and everyone else). In a way, that Leicester title is to blame for the way the Prem now looks like La Liga did for the past ten seasons, you know, before Messi and Ronaldo got old.
Leicester supporters suffered a cruel blow last weekend when the club’s owner’s helicopter crashed outside the King Power Stadium, killing him and four others:
RIP Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha & the other 4 people who have tragically lost their lives in the Leicester helicopter crash. He gave us all the belief that anything is possible when he guided his club to the Premier League title against all odds. He allowed us to dream. Thank you. pic.twitter.com/SQ67sfdiQq
— Spencer FC (@SpencerOwen) October 28, 2018
Leicester understandably postponed its midweek League Cup fixture with Southampton which was set to be played at the King Power this past Tuesday. No one was ready for that. So their first match after their owner’s tragic passing comes against a very poor Cardiff City side coming off a 4-1 drubbing by Liverpool. It’s true that Cardiff got their first win of the campaign two weeks ago. It’s also true that that win came over Fulham, who is exactly as dreadful as Cardiff is.
Watch sports long enough, and the narratives tend to write themselves. If Leicester was set to play Arsenal this weekend, or Chelsea, or even Manchester United, you might not pick them. But the forces have aligned to put Leicester in with a terrible opponent the week after their beloved owner passed unexpectedly. Hearts will be healed, even if only for a moment. Take Leicester to win at 23/20, and if you can get odds on Jamie Vardy scoring and saying he did it for Vichai in the post-match presser, take them too.
Best of luck this weekend.
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS
City to win and both teams to score at 21/10: LOSS
Arsenal to beat Crystal Palace at 8/11: LOSS
United to beat Everton at 7/10: WIN
LAST WEEK: -$130
TOTAL TO DATE: -$896