There's nothing particularly exciting about hiring Sean Dyche. While Dyche is usually mischaracterized amongst fans as a boring long-ball merchant, that's not the reality as much as it's the situation he was forced to deal with during his time managing Burnley.
Playing beautiful, expansive football isn't your best route when you're in charge of a club with no money to spend, and you're being asked to compete and survive in the Premier League. You have to be pragmatic. Still, Dyche's Burnley teams weren't the "low-block and counter" teams they were portrayed as. They pressed frequently and high, no differently than Liverpool and others. The difference was they didn't have the same level of players, which made scoring goals a lot more cookie-cutter. Just hoof a cross into the box and hope one of the giant strikers can get their head on it.
It worked for a long time.
At Everton now, Dyche inherits a team with no money to spend and desperately hoping to survive the season. It's a situation he's familiar with, so he's the most sensible hire Everton could make. What I'm most interested in, however, is what will happen after this season. If Dyche keeps Everton up, will he be given a chance to manage the team in a way he never had the chance to at Burnley? Or will Everton quickly move on to somebody else like they've done too many times in recent seasons?
Maybe boring football should be the way to go for Everton for a while. Boring is certainly better than bad.
All odds via Caesars Sportsbook.
Inter Milan vs. AC Milan
Date: Sunday, Feb. 5 | Time: 2:45 p.m. ET | Watch: Paramount+
This is the most interesting Derby della Madonnina in years. OK, maybe since last year when both teams were battling for the Scudetto. This year both teams find themselves in very different territory, as they seem lost. Inter enter the weekend in second place in Serie A, but they're 13 points behind Napoli. This club won the scudetto under Antonio Conte two seasons ago, but seem to be lacking the ruthlessness they had in front of goal under Conte and for most of last season under Simone Inzaghi.
Still, I'd rather be Inter than Milan right now. Stefano Pioli led AC Milan to the Scudetto last season, but after 165 games with the club, I get the strong sense the team has checked out. It happens with nearly every manager, and when you combine it with the burnout from last year's title run and the World Cup being played during the season, this team looks like a squad ready for the season to be over. That's not great, with about half of it still to play! Perhaps this rivalry will be the spark that rejuvenates the reigning champions, but I'm not betting on it. The Pick: Inter (-103)
Wolverhampton vs. Liverpool
Date: Saturday, Feb. 4 | Time: 10 a.m. ET | Watch: Peacock
Speaking of great clubs going through it right now... Liverpool, ladies and gentlemen! Liverpool aren't having the season anybody expected of them. There's a long way to go, and things can change quickly, but Liverpool enter the weekend in ninth place in the Premier League behind teams like Brighton, Fulham and Brentford. That's not how any of this is supposed to work! Still, while Liverpool's struggles are real, and there's little reason to believe that they're going to "figure it out" soon, the line on this match seems way off to me.
Wolves are battling for relegation. It's only goal differential keeping them out of the bottom three. Julen Lopetegui replaced Bruno Lage in November, and while he won his first Premier League match against Everton, there hasn't been much of a new manager bounce. The problems that existed before (an inability to create good chances and trouble stopping opponents from generating chances against them) continue unabated. Even against an injury-depleted Liverpool, Wolves are getting far too much credit in the market. Buy low on Liverpool. The Pick: Liverpool (-117)
Barcelona vs. Sevilla
Date: Sunday, Feb. 5 | Time: 3 p.m. ET | Watch: ESPN+
For all Barcelona's problems off the field, things are working pretty well on it. They have a five-point lead over Real Madrid in La Liga, but while they're second in the league in goals scored and expected goals (xG), their attack is not the team's strength. If Barcelona win the league, it'll be because of an impenetrable defense.
Through 19 matches, Barcelona have allowed seven goals. Granted, they have an xG allowed of 15.2, which suggests there's been some luck, but I don't believe it's as much luck as the numbers suggest. They've allowed only 40 shots on target all season. Also, while Barcelona scored 39 goals this season, 28 came in the team's first 11 matches. They've scored only 11 goals in their last eight, but more importantly, they've allowed only three goals in that time. That means the last eight Barcelona matches have averaged 1.38 goals per match. This team is happy getting its goal and shutting up shop. The Pick: Under 2.5 (+115)
It's only a three-leg parlay this weekend, but it pays pretty well at +186.
- PSG (-280)
- Roma (-210)
- Real Sociedad (-235)