Why the Premier League is Arsenal’s to lose; Juventus rocking Italy with biggest scandal since Calciopoli

Why the Premier League is Arsenals to lose Juventus rocking

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It was an eventful weekend in the world of soccer. Arsenal cemented their position as title favorites in England, while the biggest scandal since Calciopoli is currently Italy, with Juventus as the main culprit. Liverpool and Chelsea also squared off. But maybe the less said, the better about that one. I’m Mike Goodman and we’re gonna break it all down on Monday’s Golazo Starting XI.

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📺 What we’re watching this week

On Paramount+ and/or CBS Sports Network (times U.S./Eastern):

⚽ Serie A: Bologna vs. Cremonese, Monday, 12:30 p.m. (Paramount+)
⚽ Serie A: Inter Milan vs. Empoli, Monday, 2:45 p.m. (Paramount+)
⚽ Serie A: Lazio vs. AC Milan, Tuesday, 2:45 p.m. (CBS Sports Network/Paramount+)

We are also keeping an eye on:

⚽ EPL: Fulham vs. Tottenham, Monday, 3 p.m.
⚽ EFL Cup semi: Southampton vs. Newcastle, Tuesday, 3 p.m.

⚽  The Forward Line

Arsenal cement Premier League lead

It’s an absolutely remarkable thing that the Premier League is Arsenal’s to lose. The Gunners cemented their place with a dramatic late winner to get past a resurgent Manchester United side 3-2. We are at the halfway mark of the season and we have watched the Gunners have go from competitive, to surprisingly good, to great at warp speed. Sunday’s win showed something else though. It was the kind of match that even good teams sometimes lose, where an opponent who doesn’t seem to be doing much somehow keeps finding the back of the net. But Arsenal gritted it out, dug deep and found a way to get it done even as Manchester United seemed close to stealing a point. James Benge explains:

  • Benge: “While this game felt close to a distant observer, there could be no doubt in hindsight that Mikel Arteta’s Premier League leaders had bossed this game. The statistics make for almost laughable reading. Bukayo Saka, who bullied Luke Shaw, ended the game with more touches in the box than Manchester United’s 12 in total. In 45 minutes, backup right back Takehiro Tomiyasu registered three touches in the opposition penalty area; no opponent bettered that tally. Martin Odegaard and Eddie Nketiah registered six shots. So did United.”

There’s still a long way to go, and Arsenal have yet to meet Manchester City, their only real rival at the top, this season. So the gap at the top could shrink dramatically. Interestingly enough, these two do actually face off on Friday, but in FA Cup play. You’re going to want to circle Feb. 15 and then April 26 on the EPL calendar. If City don’t come through and close the gap fast, it’s going to be a coronation for the Gunners down the stretch in what would become the most unlikely Premier League champions since Leicester City in 2015-16.

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🔗  Midfield Link Play

Juventus face 15-point deduction

It’s a riddle the Sphynx could be proud of. How can a team draw a match and yet still leave the weekend with fewer points than they entered it? Well, if you’re Juventus, you do it in a six-goal, 3-3 thriller against Atalanta on Sunday, just two days removed from being hit with a massive 15-point penalty for fraudulent accounting practices. The whole saga is complicated, but the bottom line is that Juventus got caught inflating the value of their players for accounting reasons. As a result, 11 different execs were suspended and 15 points were deducted, pending appeal. Basically, after beating criminal charges, a civil case unearthed new information, including from ex-Juventus and current Tottenham executive Fabio ParaticiFrancesco Porzio explains it all here.

  • Porzio: “The chief prosecutor Giuseppe Chine, after launching an investigation on the club, said he felt convinced he had “new elements of evidence that demonstrate the existence of the crimes,” according to La Gazzetta della Sport. In this case, we are talking about wiretap and new documents which came to light during the civil trial, including Paratici’s so-called ‘black book’ detailing the club’s capital gains over the past two seasons. The federal prosecutor did not initially have that piece of information from Paratici at his disposal during the first criminal trial last year.”

And now let’s get to some links:

💰  The Back Line

Best bets

Some intriguing matches to take a look at the next few days. All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook and all times U.S./Eastern.

  • Premier League: Fulham vs. Tottenham, Monday, 3 p.m.
    💰 THE PICK:  Tottenham (+110) — It’s hard to explain just how good Fulham are running these days. All the things that we know a team has little control over has been breaking their way. They’ve had the most penalty kicks awarded to them of any EPL team. They’ve had an amazing five red cards awarded to their opponents. No other team has had more than one player sent off against them. They’re just not that good and eventually the breaks stop coming. Follow SportsLine’s best bets here.
  • Serie A: Lazio vs. AC Milan, Tuesday, 2:45 p.m. (Paramount+)
    💰 THE PICK: Milan (+130) — While its not as extreme as the Fulham case, Lazio have had some pretty darn good luck. Somehow they’ve got a goal difference of +16 with an expected goal difference just under +3. Is it possible they’re tricking the models? Sure. Is it much more like they’re just a team that’s much closer in skill to Fiorentina than Milan? Yes. That one.  Follow SportsLine’s best bets here.

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