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August 9, 2019

HPS MLS Podcast Episode 8: Mesut Ozil and Re-Examining the MLS Single-Entity System

Avatar August 9, 2019

Another episode of the HPS MLS Pod is up!

Joining host Harrison Hamm this week is site-runner Chops.

Discussed…

  • The potential impact of Mesut Ozil joining D.C. United
  • How many MLS players could step into the Premier League right now?
  • The Aaron Long transfer saga and MLS as a selling league
Listen to “HPS MLS Podcast Episode 8 – Mesut Ozil and Re-examining MLS’ Single Entity System” on Spreaker.

Liverpool Player Ratings vs Norwich City – Matchday 1

High Press 10 August 9, 2019
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The 2019-20 Premier League season is underway! Liverpool kicks the season off against Norwich City. Before the Player Ratings, here’s how the Reds will line up.

An Anfield game against a recently promoted club should be a romp. And the season started off in a fitting way, as Andy Robertson threaded a ball to Divock Origi for a shot. Norwich OG’d it and Liverpool went up early.

The flood gates opened from there, as Liverpool put 4 total goals in by the half. Norwich defenders accurately represented here:

Genuinely concerning though is Alisson going down and out with an apparent leg injury. Liverpool can survive against Norwich without Alisson, but he’s needed for any trophy run.

After pouring 4 in the first half, Liverpool slowed down in the second. They conceded one as well. Final score: Liverpool 4, Norwich 1.

Worth nothing: good showing at the end by Norwich. They could’ve bagged it at the half but kept fighting. And their fans travel well, chanting that they won the second half 1-0. 👍

Liverpool Player Ratings

Manager

Jurgen Klopp (7) – Had the lads coming out strong in the first half. However, Klopp usually has the squad firing on all cylinders in the second half and Liverpool were flat. The energy dipped. Maybe they got bad news about Alisson, which is understandable. Klopp needs to seal up the defense by next week though. Probably not pleased with how the game ended.

Goalkeeper

Alisson (7) – Continued his poor Community Shield form with an almost costly giveaway in the 5th minute. Made up for it with a brilliant save in the 22nd minute. Came through with another dazzling punch out in the 26th.

Troubling potential serious injury brought him off the pitch in the 38th. This is not good.

Defenders

Trent Alexander-Arnold (6.5) – Set piece work isn’t crisp like it was last season yet. Buuuut…delivered a laser perfect pass to Divock Origi’s head for the fourth goal.

Utterly ripped a laser on a free kick that just missed in the 85th.

Virgil van Dijk (7) – Defense was still leaky early, giving up space for tight passes. That’s party on big Virg.

Made up for it by heading home a Salah corner in the 28th minute.

Shut down a really solid Teemu Pukki in the 35th.

Joe Gomez (7) – Somewhat of a suprise start over Joel Matip. In the Community Shield, Gomez looked stronger at right-back and Matip shined once subbed in and paired with VVD.

Let Pukki in behind him for the first Norwich goal of the season. Tightened up after that. Wonderful defending in stoppage time.

Andy Robertson (7.5) – Looks fantastic early. Perfectly weighted through-ball to Origi that led to the OG opener. Then boomed up the flank in the 9th minute delivering a near opportunity to Firmino. Also continued his end-of-last-season trend by ripping shots, just missing a bullet in the 16th. Remained strong on the attack and well-positioned on defense.

Midfielders

Jordan Henderson (6.5) – Not playing on the front foot like he closed out the 18-19 season. Got straight up juked in the 24th with some spotty defending.

Started second half stronger, delivering a rocket in the 48th out of a tough angle. Continued better run through the end of the game.

Fabinho (6.5) – Always in the right spot. Solid dispossessing. Even drilled a shot in the 55th.

Georginio Wijnaldum (5) – Did he play? One of those quiet but effective Gini nights.

Forwards

Roberto Firmino (8) – Made some great runs early though didn’t receive on the end of them. Brilliant vision and touch to spot Salah for an assist.

Just missed an all-timer in the 31st, taking the ball down with his body and Fernando Torres’ing it.

Almost delivered another stunner in the 48th. His touch and control is among the best in the world. Did well to earn a free kick in the 84th that TAA almost rocketed in. Deserved a goal this game.

Divock Origi (7) – Notches a start in place of the not-fit-yet Sadio Mane. It took all of 7 minutes for DIVOCK ORIGI TO HAPPEN. Some fancy footwork and shot led to the opening own goal. He won’t get the tally on the score sheet, but Origi made it happen again. A fitting way to start the season.

He did get one of his own by heading home a TAA service in the 42nd.

Subbed off in the 74th for Mane.

Mohamed Salah (8) – Kept up the habit of holding on to the ball a second too long. Made a great penetrating dribble in the 17th but ran it into a wall. Made up for it by slotting home the second goal with in inch of space.

Delivered an on the dime corner to Big Virg’s big noggin for the 3rd goal.

Remained active in the second half with two quality chances he didn’t convert. Continues to improve his recovery too.

Substitutions

Adrián (6) – Well, welcome to Anfield. Came on for Alisson in the 39th. Let the Pukki shot in but not much he could’ve done about it.

Sadio Mane (N/R) – Came in for Origi in the 74th. Took all of a minute to drive and almost connect with Firmino for a goal. Lively AF. Looks like a lightning bolt.

James Milner (N/R) – Late sub for Bobby.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Had Bobby found the net he’d get the nod, but Mo Salah was just as effective and did (plus an assist to go with it). Firmino was the man, but Mo gets the MoM.

2019-20 Premier League Preview: Manchester City and Liverpool

Chops August 9, 2019

It’s all you really want to know. Who will win the Premier League this season? Liverpool or Manchester City?

There are plenty of reasons to like both.

Liverpool has shown a resilience to dig deep and capture trophies they fell just short of the year prior.

City violates FFP regulations, buys whoever they want, and win with a total lack of class. 

First, to recap:

Also be sure to check out our 2019-20 Premier League Predictions.

Manchester City 2019-20 Premier League Preview

Last Season: 1st in Premier League, the “Fourmidables”
Last Time Champions: 2018-19
Stadium: The Etihad
Nickname: City, Citizens, “Fourmidables” 
Manager: Pep Guardiola
Key Additions: Rodri, João Cancelo, Angelino, Zack Steffan (loaned)
Best Player: Legitimately hard to pick. If healthy Kevin de Bruyne. Otherwise, Raheem Sterling. Or Bernardo Silva. Or maybe Rodri now🤷‍♀️

Mohamed Salah dusts Ederson in the first of consecutive Champions League quarterfinal bottlings by Man City.

Manchester City won the domestic treble last season. They recorded the second highest point total in Premier League history with 98. And their squad only got stronger this summer. 

Moving on…

A bit of Manchester City history:

  • They really didn’t have one before 2008.

Why you should like Manchester City:

  •  

Manchester City betting odds: (odds via DraftKings Sportsbook NJ)

  • To win Premier League: -200
  • To finish top 4: -5000
  • To finish top 6: Off the board
  • Relegation: Off the board
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Manchester City Outlook:

City is either winning the Premier League again or finishing a very close second to Liverpool. Not a lot of intrigue here.

An argument could be made that the trophy they most covet is the one they don’t have: the Champions League. If they actually make it past the UCL quarterfinals this season, perhaps they shift their focus entirely to being European champs and take their foot off the gas domestically.

I don’t buy that argument. 

As the Community Shield showed, these two teams measure themselves against each other. Jurgen Klopp clearly owns real estate in that shiny little dome of Pep’s head. Neither of these teams are letting up. This will be a battle to the finish. 

Last season, City led the Premier League in possession (64%, Chelsea was second at 59.9%), shots per game (18), pass accuracy (89%), goals scored (95), xG, xGA and goal differential (72). They return almost entirely the same squad, but reloaded with some difference-making acquisitions too (Rodri in particular).

They’re well-positioned to threepeat. It’s a matter of hunger and prioritization, nothing more. 

Liverpool 2019-20 Premier League Preview

Last Season: 2nd in Premier League, European champions
Last Time Champions: 1989-90
Stadium: Anfield
Nickname: The Reds
Manager: Jurgen Klopp
Key Additions: 😒
Best Player: This is a team that plays beautiful soccer together and every piece is interconnected to make the sum greater than the parts. Having said that, Mo Salah.

Virgil van Dijk was the PFA Player of the Year last season and helped Liverpool keep 21 clean domestic sheets.

Liverpool finished the 2018-19 season with 97 points. That would’ve won the Premier League / first division every other year in its history except for two. Unfortunately, last season was one of those two.

Liverpool made zero summer additions. Literally not one. There’s an argument to be made for continuity. If you follow Liverpool’s social channels, this is a team that gets on well together. That certainly means something.

So does having depth to compete for seven trophies, which they’ll be doing this year.

A bit of Liverpool history:

  • They were founded in 1892.
  • Their 18 first division trophies are second best of all-time (behind Manchester United’s 20).
  • Their 6 Champions League trophies are the best among English teams. 
  • Other trophies include: 7 FA Cups, 8 League Cups, 3 UEFA Cups, and 3 UEFA Super Cups

Why you should like Liverpool:

Liverpool betting odds: (odds via DraftKings Sportsbook NJ)

  • To win Premier League: +275
  • To finish top 4: -1250
  • To finish top 6: -10000
  • Relegation: +500000
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Liverpool Outlook:

At this point, doubting Jurgen Klopp / FSG is like doubting Bill Belichick / Patriots. They’ve earned the benefit of the doubt. 

So…the fact that they didn’t buy anybody who will be on the first team this year shouldn’t raise any alarms or be cause for concern.

However…Klopp has also shown, time and again, that he’s capable of making mistakes and quickly learning from them and adjusting. He’s done it in-game many, many times. Don’t be surprised to see some January transfer activity.

Liverpool need one more attacking option. Yes, Rhian Brewster and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain look like they’re back and potential contributors. Maybe it’s one of them. Maybe it’s Naby Keita. Or maybe Nicolas Pepe would’ve made some more sense. Klopp will find someone if needed.

After Nathaniel Clyne went down with an ACL, a capable plug-and-play wingback should’ve been a priority. Kieran Tierney would’ve been perfect. Klopp will find someone else if needed. 

Then, there’s this:

They’re still a 3-to-1 shot of winning the EPL. As sporty cliche as it is, they now know how to win. This is a team that wants it.

If Liverpool stays healthy, they’ll give City all they can handle. Then it comes down to a little luck. Maybe this time, the 11 millimeters goes their way.

2019-20 Premier League Preseason Best XI

High Press 10 August 9, 2019
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Before each Premier League season, High Press Soccer will issue our best XI. Think of it like college football’s preseason All-American list.

This is part projecting, part looking back to who were the class of the previous campaign.

2019-20 Premier League Best XI

Not surprisingly, Liverpool and Manchester City make the bulk of the list.

Alisson: Well, when we made this, Alisson was fit and healthy. He went down before half with an apparent leg injury. If he’s out for an extended period of time, this spot goes to Ederson. If not, Alisson led the EPL in clean sheets and starts ahead of Ederson on the Brazilian team. He gets the nod.

Andy Robertson: With apologies to Lucas Digne, Robbo is the best left-back in the EPL and arguably the world. The way he powers the Liverpool attack is unlike anyone else in the league.

Aymeric Laporte: At 25, the Frenchman is just entering his prime. With so much attention paid to City’s attack, it’s easy to overlook how stingy their defense is. City only gave up 23 goals last year (1 more than Liverpool) and Laporte’s steady influence and organization was a major reason why.

Virgil van Dijk: No explanation needed. Y’all get it.

Trent Alexander-Arnold: Just copy+paste the Robbo paragraph and search+replace Robbo with TAA.

Bernardo Silva: At 24, the Portguese midfielder is entering his prime. He tallied 7 goals and 7 assists, doing it all for City last season. Expect an even better year from Silva.

Kevin de Bruyne: If healthy, KdB supplants Eden Hazard as the Premier League’s most skilled all-around player.

Felipe Anderson: Maybe a surprise to some, but Anderson does it all for a West Ham team that should make a top 6 run this year. He’ll make a devestating pair with his new do-it-all partner Sebastien Haller.

Raheem Sterling: A little over-rated of a season in 2018-19, but he’s unquestionably one of the best attacking players in the league. Expect 15+ goals and 10+ assists from T-Rex this season.

Harry Kane: Always a Golden Boot threat, there’s no more natural striker in the Premier League. If healthy, he’s a lock for 20+ goals.

Mo Salah: A genuinely under-rated season in 2018-19, expect Salah to deliver 25+ goals and 8-10 assists.

2019-20 Premier League Matchday 1 Odds (Repost)

High Press 10 August 9, 2019

The 2019-20 Premier League schedule kicks off one month from today!

With that in mind, let’s take a look at matchday 1 betting odds.

Premier League Matchday 1 Odds

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For a refresher, read how to bet soccer or how to bet Premier League. Home team is listed first.

Friday, Aug 09, 3pm ET
Liverpool -670Draw +700Norwich City +1900
Saturday, Aug 10, 7:30am ETWest Ham +900Draw +480Manchester City -345
Saturday, Aug 10, 10am ETBournemouth -112Draw +275Sheffield United +295
Saturday, Aug 10, 10am ET Burnley +160Draw +225Southampton +285
Saturday, Aug 10, 10am ET Crystal Palace +170Draw +225Everton +175
Saturday, Aug 10, 10am ET Leicester +135Draw +225Wolves +220
Saturday, Aug 10, 10am ET Watford -110Draw +235Brighton +340
Saturday, Aug 10, 12:30pm ETTottenham -385Draw +460Aston Villa +1200
Sunday, Aug 11, 9am ETNewcastle +265Draw +265Arsenal +100
Sunday, Aug 11, 11:30am ETManchester United +125Draw +230Chelsea +230

Odds & Ends

Note, this post was written on July 09, 2019. There are still summer transfers to come that may impact these lines. We’ll update this portion of the article closer towards matchday 1.

  • Champions League winner Liverpool ushers in the new season at home against promoted Norwich City. With the game at Anfield, they’re the heaviest favorite of the week. The 3-0 correct score prop bet (+525) and 4-0 (+750) are worth looking at more closely.
  • The next couple of bullets have the caveat of “let’s see how transfers impact these lines,” but we’re high on teams looking to punch through the Big 6 this season. So Everton (+175) as the slightest of underdogs away at Palace is interesting.
  • Same for Wolves (+220) at Leicester City.
  • Southampton feels like a mid-table team this campaign. That +285 away against Burnley is appealing.
  • This may change depending on the manager selection but Newcastle at home (+265) could catch an Arsenal squad (+100) that is potentially on the decline.

2019-20 Premier League Predictions: Who Wins Golden Boot? First Manager Sacked? And How Will Christian Pulisic Do?

Chops August 9, 2019
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Earlier this week, we made our 2019-20 Premier League title, top 4, and relegation predictions.

Now we’re going to take a look at some individual player and manager performance and prop bets for the season. Back again are site contributors Tyler Everett, ex-Newcastle forward Carl Cort, and Statsbomb writer and High Press Soccer contributor Grace Robertson

Who will win the Golden Boot for top Premier League goal scorer this year?

Odds from FanDuel Sportsbook: Harry Kane +350, Mohamed Salah +500,
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang +650, Sergio Aguero +650, Raheem Sterling +1600, Sadio Mane +1600, Jamie Vardy +1800, Alexandre Lacazette +2600, Gabriel Jesus +2900, Marcus Rashford +2900, Moise Kean +3400, Sebastien Haller +3400, Roberto Firmino +3400, Nicolas Pepe +4500

ChopsWell, if you look at the odds, it’s Harry Kane (+350), Mo Salah (+500), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (+650), Sergio Aguero (+650) and everyone else. 

Of those, while I think Harry Kane will be lights-out this year, how can you go against Mo Salah? He’s won it the past two seasons. He’s going to finish more chances this year than he did last year (although he couldn’t finish a sentence in the Community Shield). It’s hard not to like Mo.

It’s worth noting though if you’re looking for value, Raheem Sterling at +1600 is interesting and Nicolas Pepe at +4500 is crazy.
TylerWill Kane enjoy good enough health to be a more prolific scorer than he was a year ago? You would have to imagine so. Still, I think he’ll be closer to last year’s tally (17) than the numbers he posted in ‘16-17 (29) and ‘17-18 (30). With Son Heung-min and this team’s growing number of dangerous midfielders, there will be enough balance to prevent Kane from leading the EPL in goals. 

I’d probably lean toward Salah even if his and Kane’s odds were the same, so the fact that the payout is bigger if the Egyptian wins this race makes this an easy choice. Let’s say the Salah we should expect over the coming years is the average of last year (22) and his monster ‘17-18 (32) — that would be 27, which ought to be plenty.
GraceI tend to favour Salah on this front. After a perceived down year last time, I think he’ll find space a little easier to come by with opposing defenders not marking him quite so tightly. Aubameyang could easily score a lot of goals again. If you’re looking for an outside bet, I’ll take a swing and suggest Sebastien Haller (+3400).
CarlIt’s a close call for me between Sadio Mane and Aubameyang but I’m going to have to go with Mane through this campaign. Not that I think he’s the best out and out goal scorer in the league. But he is definitely one of the most dynamic attacking players surrounded by exceptional quality. 
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Who will be the first manager sacked?

Odds from various sites: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer +500, Roy Hodgson +600, Graham Potter +800, Steve Bruce +800, Marco Silva +1400, Sean Dyche +1600, Frank Lampard +1600

ChopsFirst, it’s hard to ignore OGS (+500) and Frank Lampard (+1600) if for no other reason than the instability of their organizations. Being a Chelsea manager is like being the drummer in Spinal Tap.

In OGS’ case, it would be a stunning admission of incompetence by management to sack him this soon. In Lampard’s case, because it’s a transitional year, and he’s a veritable Blues legend, Chelski will give him a full season.

To me, it comes down to Roy Hodgson and Steve Bruce. I’m leaning towards Hodgson. Palace feels set up to fail early on, and Hodgson will pay the price. 
TylerI think there’s a good reason OGS is +500 here. There are a million ways this ManU season can go wrong, and the good feelings OGS engendered last spring will be distant memories if this team struggles for more than a week or two. Though managing Chelsea is always dicey, no matter who you are, I think a coaching change is more likely in Manchester than in west London.
GraceIs Solskjaer that bad? I mean, he’s not great. But the club have emotionally invested a lot in him and, while they didn’t get everything done that they wanted, it looks a stronger squad to me right now than last season. I don’t see anything brilliant happening at Man Utd, but I think he holds on for a while.

Elsewhere I think Marco Silva isn’t as safe as some perceive him to be. We saw it two years ago that Everton were not afraid to sack Ronald Koeman after spending big and not seeing instant results. It wouldn’t shock me if the same thing happened again.
CarlI have to agree with you on this one Chops. It seems as though Newcastle have accepted mediocrity and this fact will keep Steve Bruce in the Job longer than he should be. Hodgson will be the first to see the door! 

Which new transfer will have the greatest impact on his team?

ChopsI want to go with Nicholas Pepe, and not just because he’s on my fantasy team. However, scoring goals wasn’t Arsenal’s biggest issue last year. Pepe will have a solid year and contribute to Arsenal’s top 4 run, but his exact impact may be harder to quantify. 

However, I’m on Sébastien Haller’s corner. He’s in his prime. He fills a need for the Hammers. If West Ham are sniffing around the top 6 in April as I suspect they will be, we’ll all be talking about Haller’s impact.
TylerI like both Pepe and Haller a lot — and expect big seasons from both — but I’m going to go with … Christian Pulisic? As bullish as I am on our USMNT’s own, not quite. For me, it’s Tanguy Ndombele at Tottenham. There’s a reason he was as coveted as just about anyone this summer, and I think he’ll turn heads. I’m buying the hype on the 22-year-old, who will quickly blossom under Pochettino.
GraceIt’s gotta be Ndombele for me. Spurs were a mess in midfield last season and played their best stuff by often bypassing it altogether. In order to rejuvenate that area of the pitch, they needed someone who could do a bit of everything, and they got exactly the man they needed in the Frenchman.

In terms of others to make a big impact, it’s a sink or swim move, but I think Pablo Fornals could do really well for West Ham. The Spaniard is a perfect Manuel Pellegrini player and can fill the kind of role that David Silva played on his Man City team. It could be a disaster and he’ll be back to Spain in a year. Or it could really work and he’ll make a move to a top 6 club.
CarlI still believe Arsenal will surprise the league this season. What brings me to this conclusion is the addition of Nicolas Pepe, who I think will have a huge impact on their success  and the greatest impact of the new transfers.

What do you think Christian Pulisic’s total goal and total assists will be for the season?

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Odds from FanDuel — Goals: Over 9.5 (-134), Over 12.5 (+320) | Assists Over 9.5 (-223), Over 12.5 (+200)

Also read: Christian Pulisic prop bets

ChopsWow. So oddsmakers are bullish on Pulisic’s impact this year. He’s odds-on for at least 10 goals and 10 assists. If he hits those marks, he’d be the new answer for “biggest impact player.”

I like Pulisic, he’s looked great in preseason. But can we temper our expectations on him a bit? Kid is 20. The good news for him is he’ll have plenty of opportunity in Lampard’s offense. Let’s keep in mind though he wasn’t regularly starting for BVB last season. The Premier League is a different beast than the Bundesliga. 

Pulisic: 7 goals, 11 assists (which would be a fantastic debut season)
TylerI’m with Chops. As excited as I am to watch him, 10 goals and 10 assists would be a pleasant surprise. As we discussed on the most recent High Press Pod (LINK IF POSSIBLE), I think the O/U on goals should have been more like 8 or 8.5. In that case, I would have bet the over. And I’ll say he comes as close as he can to 9.5 assists without actually hitting it.

Pulisic: 9 goals, 9 assists.
GraceHe’s clearly a really talented kid and I don’t have too many doubts that he’ll be an excellent signing for Chelsea in the long term. But if we’re talking right now, it could be a tough long season for Pulisic. Chelsea could be a mess this year, and he’s got a brutal spot in filling Eden Hazard’s shoes. I’m going for 7 each, which would still be the most he’s had in his career.
CarlPulisic is an exciting player to watch. He seems to play with no fear and possess the capabilities of beating players. With that being said I just don’t think he’s going to have a significant impact on the league this season. Firstly he’s still 20 years old, lacking experience and going into a club in transition. Secondly this is the Premier League!! Nothing he’s experienced before can come close. I do think he’s one for the future but for me this season is too soon.

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