NBC's lead soccer announcer Arlo White

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?

source: Getty Images
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.

Blatter says he will accept verdict as CAS appeal begins

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JULY 25:  FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter speaks during the Preliminary Draw of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia at The Konstantin Palace on July 25, 2015 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.  (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)
Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter arrived for his appeal hearing against a six-year ban from football on Thursday, pledging to accept the verdict of the Court of Arbitration for Sport

“I do hope it will be positive for me,” Blatter, sporting a light gray beard, told reporters at around 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) ahead of a hearing expected to last several hours.

The court’s verdict is expected within several weeks, and could be challenged in a further appeal to Switzerland’s supreme court.

The 80-year-old Blatter denies wrongdoing in authorizing a $2 million payment to former FIFA vice president Michel Platini in 2011. They claimed it was for backdated and uncontracted salary for work Platini did in advising Blatter from 1999 to 2002.

[ MORE: Ranking Champions League groups ]

The so-called “disloyal payment” led Blatter to be put under investigation for criminal mismanagement by Swiss federal prosecutors last September. That investigation is ongoing.

FIFA’s ethics committee judged the $2 million deal was a conflict of interest and initially banned Blatter and Platini for eight years last December. FIFA’s appeal committee cut both bans to six years.

Platini’s appeal to CAS was already judged in May, when Blatter appeared in person as a witness. Platini promised a further appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal after his ban was only cut from six to four years.

Platini arrived at the hearing around midday local time to be a witness. Both men have denied any wrongdoing.

Blatter’s comments Thursday suggest he would not pursue a federal case. Federal judges can intervene only if legal process is abused.

“We are football players, we learned to win but also we learned to lose and it will not be the end of the world,” Blatter said outside CAS.

The three-member panel for Blatter’s case is expected to respect the verdict of a separate panel which judged Platini.

A failure to overturn the ban for Blatter would likely end his hope to one day be named FIFA honorary president by its 211 member federations.

[ MORE: Ranking Champions League groups ]

The case already ended Platini’s chance to replace Blatter as FIFA president, and also forced him out of European governing body UEFA.

On Sept. 14, UEFA members will elect a successor to replace Platini who had a mandate through March 2019. By imposing a four-year ban, the CAS panel ensured UEFA had to replace Platini, rather than wait for him to return.

The “disloyal payment” emerged last year when Platini was strongly favored to win the election to replace Blatter, who had announced his departure plans after 17 years as president amid pressure from American and Swiss federal investigations of corruption implicating senior FIFA officials.

[ MORE: Bundesliga season primer ]

Both men were questioned at FIFA headquarters last September by Swiss investigators who were waiting for them outside an executive committee meeting.

During the turmoil in world football, Platini’s right-hand man at UEFA, Gianni Infantino, submitted an election candidacy on the entry deadline day and won the vote in February.

Arriving at the hearing with his Zurich-based lawyer Lorenz Erni, Blatter said he hoped the CAS panel “will understand that the payment made to Platini was really a debt that we had against him.”

“This is a principle, if you have debts you pay them,” Blatter said.

NASL weekend preview: Miami, Minnesota meet playoff fortunes head on

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There are still two full months of soccer to go in the NASL’s Fall Season, but this weekend could be a major day for the title fortunes of one squad in particular.

Miami FC and Minnesota United are level on points with 15 heading into Saturday’s match at FIU Stadium.

[ MORE: MLS Weekend Preview ]

If you’re unfamiliar, the NASL Playoffs involve four teams: the Spring champion (Indy Eleven), the Fall champion, and two other teams with the best combined record between seasons.

Miami’s played one fewer game, and both it and Minnesota — fresh off the news it’s headed to MLS in 2017 — are seven points shy of first-place FC Edmonton.

But Minnesota is on pace to make the playoffs through combined schedule, while Miami had a poor first half and would be better served to win the Fall Season if it wants a shot at the NASL Soccer Bowl Trophy.

Saturday
Carolina Railhawks at New York Cosmos
Rayo OKC at Tampa Bay Rowdies
Minnesota United at Miami FC

Sunday
Indy Eleven at Ottawa Fury
Puerto Rico at FC Edmonton

Arsenal reportedly set for $69 million double Friday buy

MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 14:  Lucas Perez of RC Deportivo la Coruna reacts during the La Liga match between Rayo Vallecano and RC Deportivo La Coruna at Estadio Teresa Rivero on September 14, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
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Arsene Wenger‘s much-maligned transfer business is about to take the “much” off the verb.

Lucas Perez of Deportiva de la Coruna is reportedly going to be joining Arsenal on Friday, and the Gunners are also close to finally landing Valencia center back Shkodran Mustafi.

[ MORE: Bundesliga season primer ]

Perez, 27, broke out for a career-best 17 goals last season, and scored on debut last weekend. He’s set to cost $22.5 million, while Mustafi makes up the other $46.5 million.

The 12-times capped German center back stands 6-foot, and would bring stability to a Gunners unit which has (again) been beset by injuries.

From the BBC:

Spaniard Lucas, 27, scored 17 goals in 37 games last season and Arsenal will meet a 20m euro (£17.1m) buyout clause.

Germany international Mustafi, 24, is set to join for a fee in excess of £35m.

Is this, coupled with the Granit Xhaka buy, enough to help Wenger right the ship? Mustafi, especially, would be a key piece. Perez is a bit of a lesser-known quality.

MLS Weekend Preview: Desperation mounts as rivals meet in Oregon

Portland Timbers defender Vytas Andriuskevicius, second from right, trips up Seattle Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan, right, in the second half of a MLS soccer match, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016, in Seattle. Andriuskevicius was called for a foul on the play, and the Sounders' Clint Dempsey scored a goal on the resulting penalty kick. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
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Desperation is up-and-down the schedule this weekend in Major League Soccer, as the playoff race really heats up.

The calendar turns to September next week, and teams will end this weekend with a clear view of their runs into the season’s final Sunday: Oct. 23.

[ MORE: Bundesliga season primer ]

The tumult that is an MLS season means only one team is more than two wins out of a playoff spot right now, and that’s Houston (7 points back of Western No. 6 Portland).

Here’s who is feeling the heat of their matches this weekend:

Portland and Seattle: The Cascadia Cup rivals tangle Sunday in Oregon, with the Timbers holding a one-point edge on the Sounders for the West’s final playoff spot. Seattle has played one fewer games than Portland, and a win on Sunday would be a double-whammy for PDX; The Timbers would be level on points with Seattle and Vancouver in the Cascadia Cup standings with just one match to go (compared to their opponents’ two).

Vancouver: The ‘Caps don’t have a Cup game this weekend, but will face an L.A. team which hasn’t lost at home. Vancouver is in real danger of moving more than one win behind in the fight for a playoff spot. If they lose to L.A. and both San Jose and Portland win, the Whitecaps will be five points back of a playoff spot. Of course, this being MLS, a win and help could see Vancouver in sixth when the smoke clears.

Columbus and New England: No one likes to comment on job status, but Revs’ boss Jay Heaps and his Columbus counterpart (Gregg Berhalter) have to be a bit concerned at this point. New England is a total mess, opening up a goalkeeping controversy, and is pinning its hopes on some Open Cup final karma. The Crew was supposed to contend for a title after last year’s final run, but is currently in the East’s cellar with just three home wins from 13 matches.

Schedule

Friday
Colorado at Real Salt Lake — 8 p.m. EDT

Saturday
Chicago at DC United — 7 p.m. EDT
Sporting KC at Philadelphia — 7 p.m. EDT
San Jose at Columbus — 7:30 p.m. EDT
Montreal at Toronto FC — 7:30 p.m. EDT
FC Dallas at Houston — 9 p.m. EDT
Vancouver at LA Galaxy — 10:30 p.m. EDT

Sunday
New England at New York Red Bulls — 2:30 p.m. EDT
Seattle at Portland — 5 p.m. EDT
New York City at Orlando City — 7 p.m. EDT