While I played soccer my entire life — literally, I can not remember a time when I did not — I didn’t really begin to truly watch until my mid-20s just a few short of years ago.
For me — and, really, for most people trying to pick up an interest in the Premier League — I found it difficult to find a team to truly connect with. As a Jets and Mets fan, I understand that the importance of rooting for any team in any sport comes from your personal connection with that team. After all, why else would I root for the fucking Jets and Mets? Certainly not for my health. I root from them because my father does, as did his father before him. As the saying goes, sports are merely stories of fathers and sons.
So, when it came to finding a Premier League club, it was difficult simply due to the fact that I had no means of fostering a legitimate, personal, meaningful relationship with a football club that resides 4,500 miles away.
But then, a funny thing happened.
My entire life, I grew up a football fan — the American kind. That was my sport. I’d read endless articles about it, consume countless hours of SportsCenter, find myself restless as I’d await 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoons. But in the year 2017 (and in the subsequent years since), the NFL became so embroiled in off-the-field madness that keeping up with the game became a mental and emotional drag.
Whether it be the kneeling-during-the-anthem saga or the sport’s perpetually ramped up politicization, the increasingly gruesome on-the-field injuries and the life-changing concussions, watching American football became something of a chore and I realized I wanted something different. So I turned to the sport I grew up playing: football — the English kind.
In general, I like to think of life as a chaotic sequence of events that only link together out of sheer coincidence. Rarely are we in control of the hows, whys, and whens — we’re simply along for a 3D ride that gives you the illusion of choice. Sure, you can fool yourself into thinking that you’re in the driver’s seat every now and again, but really, your best bet is to simply strap yourself in and hope for the best.
In the year 2017, just as I losing touch with the sport I’d spent the last decade adoring, my mid-50s father got a new job. And where was that job?
Just like that, I had found my team. And life hasn’t been the same since.
Sauce Central Station – Viral Clips of the Week
Douglas Costa single-handedly dismantling Lokomotiv Moscow
Looking Back At Recent Liverpool/City Classics
Let’s Talk About (The Top) Six, Baby
Liverpool: Perhaps for the first time in years, Liverpool is heading into a match against Manchester City as favorites. Barely favorites, but favorites none the less. A win puts them a commanding nine points clear. A loss cuts that lead to just three. In simple terms, this weekend’s match is essentially a title-decider.
Manchester City: Yes, they continue to forge forward like a Terminator-esque machine, but Manchester City — for the first time since Pep’s first season — is showing signs of mortality.
Leicester City: Head and shoulders the third best club in the Premier League right now, I can see Leicester City absolutely tearing Arsenal to shreds on Saturday. While the Foxes don’t have the same fortune they did in 2016 — which was that all of the league’s major clubs were in disarray — it’s still a wonderful time to be a Leicester fan.
Chelsea: Chelsea is FLYING right now and should handle Crystal Palace at home prior to next weekend’s suddenly enticing match between the Blues and Manchester City.
Arsenal: If I’m an Arsenal fan, I am extremely (extremely extremely extremely) worried about Leicester City this weekend. Better coached, more talented, and more organized, there’s a serious chance that Arsenal gets played off the pitch.
Sheffield United: After weeks of Crystal Palace being the resident “what the fuck is that team doing so high in the table?” club in the Top 6, the Blades of Sheffield United have overtaken the Eagles to find themselves in contention for a place in Europe. The Premier League season may be just 11 games old, but Sheffield United’s defense is legit, as they’ve only given up eight goals thus far this season, which is tied for best in the league.
It’s A Wide, Wide World – Rest of the World Game of the Week
Der Klassiker!!! Bayern vs Dortmund, Saturday, November 9 — 12:30 p.m. on FS2
Juventus vs AC Milan, Sunday, November 10 — 2:45 p.m. on ESPN+
What Fucking Channel Is The Game On?
3 p.m. ET: Norwich v. Watford – NBCSports.com
7:30 a.m. ET: Chelsea v. Crystal Palace – NBCSN
10 a.m. ET: Tottenham v. Sheffield United – NBCSN
10 a.m. ET: Burnley v. West Ham – NBC Sports Gold
10 a.m. ET: Newcastle v. Bournemouth – NBC Sports Gold
10 a.m. ET: Southampton v. Everton – NBC Sports Gold
12:30 p.m. ET: Leicester City v. Arsenal – NBC
9 a.m. ET: Man United v. Brighton – NBCSN
9 a.m. ET: Wolves v. Aston Villa – NBC Sports Gold
11:30 a.m. ET: Liverpool v. Man City – NBCSN
Get Rich or Die Tryin’ – Underdog Lock of the Week
Yes, as I’ve already confessed, I’m a Liverpool fan. Full discretion. Butttt, that’s what makes what I’m about to say very poignant: I haven’t felt this good about a match against City in years.
Ravaged by injuries and dropping points at a higher rate than usual, Manchester City is beginning to show chinks in their armor (they didn’t have a shot on target against Southampton until after the 70th minute last weekend). Still, it just goes to show how comically powerful they are that this version of City — a team that is currently 8-1-2 — is considered a wounded animal.
Liverpool, conversely, while they have not been convincing, they’ve been effective, which is perhaps the biggest compliment you can pay them. The Reds — currently sitting at 10-1-0 this season — have been like a boxer that gains steam as the fight goes on. He needs to be punched in the face a little bit to wake up. Despite the various early blows they’ve suffered in recent games — Liverpool has conceded the first goal in their last three Premier League games — they’ve still found a way to win.
That said, I don’t think Liverpool can concede first and win this game, so I expect the Reds to blitz the injury-ravaged backline of City like they would in the earlier days of Klopp. Liverpool knows if they want to win the title, they have to win this game. If it were a boxing match, Liverpool would be throwing haymakers in the first round. Manchester City is like Ivan Drago and Liverpool is Rocky Balboa, and while the former may be scientifically engineered to be perfect, the latter — on this day — just has too much heart and know-how.
THE PICK: Liverpool TO WIN at home vs Manchester City: +150
Chalkity Chalk Chalk Chalk – Favorite Lock of the Week
Leicester City TO WIN at home vs Arsenal: -105
Frankly — and let’s keep this between me and you, shall we? — I find these odds to be shocking. Leicester City is leaps and bounds better than the perpetual existential crisis that is Arsenal Football Club and should smash the spineless Gunners in front of their electric home crowd.
THE PICK: Leicester City TO WIN at home vs Arsenal: -105
Instagram Flex of the Week
He Said What?!?!
“If the ‘dive’ will give me a penalty then I will do it. Why not?” – Sadio Mane on Pep Guardiola’s comments that he dives.
Eric is a New York City-based writer who still isn’t quite sure how he’s allowed to have this much fun for a living and will tell anyone who listens that Gotham City is canonically in New Jersey. Contact him on Twitter @eric_ital or via email email@example.com