Defending MLS Cup winners Atlanta United locked up their star striker Josef Martinez to a five-year contract extension.
With the departure of manager Tata Martino, securing a long-term commitment from reigning MVP Martinez, along with what seems like the unlikely departure of Miguel Almirón, are huge wins for Atlanta.
Martinez has really embraced the MLS and Atlanta, referring to the Five Stripes as his Barcelona or Real Madrid. He’s also spoken glowingly of his “home” in a Players Tribune tribute.
While MLS futures have not been released yet, the retention of Martinez and Almirón will surely make Atlanta among the favorites, along with the New York Red Bulls, DC United, LA Galaxy, and Portland Timbers.
Martinez bluntly and awesomely said of his extension:
“Surely right now in Venezuela, they’re saying negative things about me because they have a mediocre mentality. For them, they think I should be playing in Real Madrid. For me, this is my Barcelona or my Real Madrid. It’s not about me being a star. This team has 11 stars on the field, plus all the substitutes in the team, plus everyone who works here at the club.
I came from a humble neighborhood, so one dollar more or less isn’t going to change who I am … I’m not worried about the money. If I was, I’d go play in China. That’s not why I chose here. It’s because of the affection and the care that everyone has shown me from both the club and the city. That’s what’s important.”
— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) January 16, 2019
European soccer’s Saturday slate of games features a few top four fixtures.
In the Premier League, Chelsea visits Unai Emery’s suddenly sliding Chelsea. In Spain, Sevilla goes to Real Madrid in a battle for third in La Liga. And in Germany, RB Leipzig hope to solidify their top 4 position as Borussia Dortmund comes to visit.
View latest Premier League odds here.
Arsenal vs. Chelsea
This is the Premier League’s most interesting weekend match-up. If Arsenal wants to challenge for a top 4 spot this season, a win here is a must. They currently sit six points off Chelsea for 4th. A strong showing and a win will signal Arsenal is still a factor. A loss, dropping them 9 points from Chelsea (and potentially 10 from Tottenham) likely ends all hope for Gunners fans of a 2019-20 Champions League appearance.
On the other side of the coin with Chelsea, a win gives them some top 4 breathing room from Arsenal. With Manchester United surging, Chelsea needs to secure all of the points they can to assure they don’t go back-to-back years outside of the Champions League.
|Arsenal Odds to Win||Odds to Draw||Chelsea Odds to Win|
Both FiveThirtyEight and the odds-makers see this as a tight match-up with razor-thin margin for error. Arsenal at home is a dog around +200, with Chelsea priced at +130. A draw is +260. Based on FiveThirtyEight’s projections, there’s some value on Arsenal at these odds. FiveThirtyEight projects Arsenal at 36% to win, Chelsea at 37%. Arsenal at +200 would have some value here.
Real Madrid vs. Sevilla
With Manchester United seemingly straightened out, Real Madrid now takes the mantle as the world’s most dysfunctional club.
|Real Madrid Odds to Win||Odds to Draw||Chelsea Odds to Win|
Despite both clubs being even at third in La Liga table, Los Blancos are a heavy home favorite at -145. FiveThirtyEight projects them at 54% to win vs. 24% for Sevilla. Madrid’s recent form doesn’t inspire confidence, so perhaps the +310 draw carries the most value.
Borussia Dortmund vs. RB Leipzig
BVB’s impressive top-table run continues, with a critical match against fourth place RB Leipzig.
|RB Leipzig Odds to Win||Odds to Draw||BVB Odds to Win|
FiveThirtyEight gives both teams a 37% chance to win. This one is all about a gut feel. If BVB really intends to capture the Bundesliga, winning games like this is a must. The +145 isn’t a terrible price given how dominant they’ve been in Germany all year. They’re +12 goal differential compared to Leipzig, and are much more proficient offensively.