Title tussle between Man City and Arsenal, Spurs to impress – View from the Booth, with Arlo White

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When watching soccer on TV, have you ever sat there and wondered what the man behind the microphone really thinks?

Maybe this will go someway to helping with that.

In the latest edition of “View from the Booth” we chat with NBC Sports’ lead soccer announcer Arlo White about the monster clash between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad on Saturday as the Premier League title contenders lock horns. We chat about how Spurs can beat Liverpool and Arlo also lets us know what else he’s looking forward to this weekend.

(MORE: VIEW FROM THE BOOTH ARCHIVE)

You can hear Arlo calling live games this weekend on NBC Sports Network and NBC, and watch every single game available live online via NBC Sports Live Extra,

So, let’s get to it.

Man City had a great result away at Bayern, while Arsenal have had a little wobble of late. Does this clash see the two favorites for the PL title square off?

Let’s hope that Saturday’s game can live up to the hype, because it promises to be a cracker.

The numbers swirling around Manchester City’s home form are staggering. They’ve won all seven games so far on home turf, scoring 29 goals and conceding only twice, put seven past Norwich and Spurs were thrashed 6-0. In fact, it’s hats off to Hull City, the only Premier League team not to concede at least three goals in a Premier League game at the Etihad.

source: Getty Images
Can the Gunners end City’s winning streak at home?

Where I think City have the edge with a lunch time kick-off in Manchester, is the talent that Manuel Pelligrini can call upon to freshen up the team that won at Bayern Munich during the week. That victory has been over shadowed somewhat by the startling admission by the City boss that he thought his side needed to win 5-2 at the Allianz Arena, and not 4-2, to win the group and thus avoid the European super powers in the last 16 of the Champions League. It was an incredible oversight at this level. But his side over came poor away form, and over turned a 2-0 deficit against the holders, all without Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany, Samir Nasri and the suspended Yaya Toure. Plus Alvaro Negredo started the game on the bench before entering the game for a late 2nd half cameo.

That’s not a bad set of fresh legs to bring into a match of this magnitude.

But Arsenal have been terrific on their travels this season. They’ve won 5 out of 7 games so far and no one has scored more goals or conceded fewer on the road than the league leaders. But with only 63 hours or so between the final whistle in Naples on Wednesday, and the first whistle at the Etihad, they have precious little time to recover sufficiently.

Arsene Wenger insists that his side can’t use their busy schedule as an excuse, and has claimed that it’s City who are under “negative” pressure to win the game. If they do, the gap will be down to 3 points, but if City lose, the Gunners will have opened up a yawning 9 point gap on them.

Tottenham vs. Liverpool is live on NBCSN this Sunday, which way do you see this going? Can Spurs stop Liverpool’s free-scoring ways?

source: AP
Spurs have dug in after their embarrassing defeat to Man City. Will AVB’s men take down Liverpool?

Speaking of Manchester City’s 6-0 thrashing of Spurs, the North Londoners have recovered pretty well from it. Michael Dawson spoke to the NBC team this week, and talked to us about a very positive meeting the team had the day after that Etihad debacle.  He said it was an opportunity for some to air their views, and the squad came away with fresh resolve to put that “disaster” behind them.

Whilst they have yet to truly hit the heights this season, AVB’s men responded very well in their 2-2 draw with Manchester United and the 2-1 wins at Fulham and Sunderland. The only way for the manager to deflect the newspaper’s insatiable appetite for crisis, was simply to win Football matches.

Could they use more wins at home? Yes. More goals at home? Sure. Maybe Sunday will kick-start a stuttering home campaign.

Liverpool arrive at White Hart Lane in free scoring form, and are 11 points better off than at the same stage last season. But they are without the services of Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard. Dawson joked with us that the tactic of keeping Luis Suarez far away from goal as possible is being reviewed after seeing his 4 goal salvo v Norwich. The Uruguayan is playing out of his skin, and will have to maintain that level to help cover for two significant absentees.

Spurs have been goal shy this season. Liverpool have kept one clean sheet in their last 12 and have lost their last 6 games at White Hart Lane. Both will be keen to improve those respective trends.

Finally, what else are you looking forward to this weekend?

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Will the Magpies stay top of the form table when the Saints roll into town?

If I could choose a third game to be at in the Barclays Premier League this weekend, I’d take myself up to Newcastle v Southampton. Newcastle are coming off a famous win at Old Trafford last weekend, whilst an injury hit Southampton were sensational at times in a 1-1 draw against Manchester City.

I’ve really enjoyed watching the Saints this season. To think that the combined age of their full backs Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers last week was just 36. They were excellent. James Ward-Prowse and Steven Davis were very good in the middle of the park, whilst Jay Rodriguez and Adam Lallana were as busy as ever further forward. Add the sheer brilliance and x-factor provided by Dani Osvaldo, and they are an organized and dangerous side even without the injured duo of Schneiderlin and Wanyama.

Enjoy the weekend everyone.

Hernandez, Araujo score in 1st half, Mexico beats Costa Rica

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MEXICO CITY (AP) Javier Hernandez and Nestor Araujo scored in the first half, and Mexico overcame the absence of half a dozen players to beat Costa Rica 2-0 on Friday night in a World Cup qualifying match.

Hernandez scored on a cross from Carlos Vela to open the score in the seventh and Araujo added a goal on a header in the 45th.

[ USMNT: Recap & videoPlayer ratings ]

Hernandez scored his 46th goal with the Mexican team and tied Jared Borgetti as the all-time leading scorer.

With the win, Mexico remains undefeated and has seven points after three rounds to take sole command in the six-nation tournament. Costa Rica stays on six points and is second and Panama is third with four.

The top three teams qualified for the Russia 2018 World Cup.

Mexico beat Costa Rica for the first time since September 11, 2012, when they prevailed 1-0.

Running Away With It

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Christian Pulisic scored and played a part in three other goals as the United States rained goals down on Honduras in a 6-0 win at Avaya Stadium in San Jose early Saturday morning.

Clint Dempsey scored two goals, and Michael Bradley and Sebastian Lletget also scored as the U.S. moved into fourth place in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. Their next match is Tuesday in Panama.

[ MORE: Player ratings | Three things ]

The United States men’s national team’s bid to recover their 2018 World Cup hopes got off to a flying start.

Sloppy Honduran defending caused a turnover outside the 18, and Jozy Altidore played Christian Pulisic in on goal. Keeper Donis Escober got a piece of Pulisic’s shot, but no one followed Lletget to the back post and the ex-West Ham and current LA Galaxy man quickly put the Yanks up 1-0.

The Yanks didn’t stop, and Lletget drew a yellow card when he beat Ever Alvarado down the right flank and forced a take down from the Honduran defender.

Alberth Elis slipped John Brooks’ mark, and the Houston Dynamo man turned to fire on goal. Tim Howard was well positioned to scoop it up.

Lletget turned out to be injured by the Alvarado foul, and Bruce Arena turned to Alejandro Bedoya in the 17th minute.

Geoff Cameron was given a yellow card in the 25th minute for a foul on Roger Espinoza. That gave a free kick to Honduras from 30 yards out, and Romell Quioto fired right at Tim Howard.

Then it was the captain who doubled the lead, as Honduras inexplicably gave him the room to walk across the arc of the 18 to rip a shot across goal. 2-0.

It was Clint Dempsey’s turn in the 33rd minute, after an otherworldly scooped pass from Pulisic.

What. A. Pass. Kid.

Honduras then took a bigger hit: the loss of star attacker Romell Quioto (Houston Dynamo) to an apparent shoulder injury.

Brooks bailed out an out-of-position Gonzalez just before halftime to keep the lead 3-0.

The Yanks needed 15 seconds to make it 4-0, with Dempsey winning a 50-50 tussle and finding Altidore for a flick to Pulisic. He netted his fourth USMNT goal. He’s 18.

Pulisic then won a free kick 25 yards out from goal by embellishing a foul, and Dempsey’s free kick tricked Escober. 6-0. For real.

A scary moment late as a dazed and wobbly John Brooks was forced off despite no apparent injury. Fox’s Jenny Taft said he was dehydrated, which is a relief.

LINEUP

USMNT: Howard; Villafana, Gonzalez, Brooks (Ream, 70′), Cameron (Zusi, 58′); Bradley, Lletget (Bedoya, 18′), Nagbe; Pulisic, Dempsey, Altidore.

Goals: Lletget (5′), Bradley (27′), Dempsey (33′, 49′, 54′), Pulisic (46′)

 

Player ratings from USMNT’s pounding of Honduras

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Battered. Throttled. Eviscerated.

Pick your verb of dominance, the United States likely fit it well in a 6-0 destruction of Honduras at Avaya Stadium in San Jose.

[ MORE: Recap + video | Three things ]

The win boosts the U.S. in World Cup qualifying after their 0-2 start, but how did the individuals fare? Obviously well.

Starting XI

Tim Howard — 7 — The team just feels in a safer place with the veteran back there. If the U.S. goes to the 2018 World Cup, Howard remains their No. 1 (and there probably never should have been a question. Sorry Brad).

Jorge Villafana — 7 — Tidy passing and a low-risk game from the Santos Laguna man.

John Brooks (Off 70′) — 7 — An early error before recovering to be his usual free-clearing, athletic self. Scary injury took him out late, as he looked dazed. Fox’s Jenny Taft said he was dehydrated, which is a relief.

Omar Gonzalez — 5  — He wasn’t bad, but Gonzalez is still a positional question mark. Bailed out a couple times by Brooks.

Geoff Cameron (Off 59′) — 6 — Out of position and a bit hobbled, he wasn’t at his best.

Michael Bradley — 7 — One of his better USMNT games in a long time.

Sebastian Lletget (Off 17′) — 8 — Scored, then got hurt on a roasting run down the right.

Darlington Nagbe — 6 — One or two electric moments in the first half, but overall a quiet enough night for the Timbers man.

Christian Pulisic — 9 — Hard to not to hand the kid a 10. He’s quite frankly the most exciting American talent in the history of the program.

Clint Dempsey — 10 — Along with Howard, the sort of player you knew would make sure this game ended with three points. The fact that he nabbed three goals, too, is just a bonus.

Jozy Altidore — 7  — Pretty darn good night holding up the ball, and passed as well as ever, but did he drop a bit too deep too often? The answer is probably, “Who cares? They won 6-0, dude.”

Subs

Alejandro Bedoya (On 18′)  — 6 — Typical high energy, space eating job in the middle of the park from the Union man.

Graham Zusi (On 58′)  — 6 — Good late clearance preserved the shutout.

Tim Ream (On 70′)  — 6 — Interesting to note that Arena went to him over Walker Zimmerman or Matt Besler.

Three things to take away from USMNT 6-0 Honduras

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The United States men’s national team pulled a Leicester City.

[ MORE: Recap & videoPlayer ratings ]

That’s a joke with truth wrapped around it, because the Yanks have had plenty of time and even a pair of friendlies to respond from the firing of Jurgen Klinsmann.

But in their first serious match without their old coach, the U.S. looked a team renewed and unleashed. Now the Americans may find themselves back in an automatic World Cup qualifying spot with a win on Tuesday in Panama.

Things change.

Vindicated

U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati and all of the USMNT players waited months and months to get the chance to answer their critics following a pair of embarrassing losses to open the final round of World Cup qualifying.

Sure, having Clint Dempsey, Geoff Cameron, and Tim Howard back helped a whole lot, and the seasoning Christian Pulisic is getting at Borussia Dortmund is unquestionably good for an 18-year-old.

But there’s little doubt Michael Bradley and Co. were fired up to silence their critics. Whether they admit it or not, this is a bunch that was stung by those who said they failed their old coach.

Most expected the U.S. to get a point or better against Honduras, but to do it the way they did is an unexpected bonus. A win in Panama on Tuesday would boost them into the Top Three.

And don’t worry, the old boss was pleased for his former charges.


The future is now…

I Tweeted the following after a late second half pass from Pulisic, and there was little disagreement.

Pulisic won’t be credited with an assist for his shot which rebounded to Sebastian Lletget for the opener, but he will walk away with his fourth international goal and two proper assists.

One was an absurd scoop to Clint Dempsey’s chest, and the other was a long avenue that shouldn’t have existed. Still, Pulisic found that street and provided an absolutely dynamic force all over the park.

There have been U.S. teens at big European clubs, and U.S. teens who’ve made impacts on the national team, but never both at the same time and never both at this level. Pulisic is for real, and finding his ceiling is an adventure we’re all undertaking with great enjoyment.


…But the legends sure helped

Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard will go down as two of the most important players in United States men’s national team history.

Actually, they may be duking it out for Nos. 1 and 2 when it’s all said and done.

Dempsey’s hat trick was his career in a nutshell. The first saw him body off a defender while collecting a Pulisic pass off his chest, then lashing a shot with power despite said defender dragging him down.

The second was a burst of speed to run onto Pulisic’s through ball and classic calm in the face of an onrushing keeper, holding onto the ball before sliding it home from an acute angle.

The third was this free kick. A bit aided by goalkeeper Donis Escober, but such is life.

And don’t sleep on Howard’s early performance as Honduras tried to find some sort of foothold in the match. Always well-positioned, the team just feels safer with the Colorado Rapids man between the sticks.