Manchester United vs. Liverpool, Sherwood’s struggles, MLS mega-match – 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 Tim Sherwood’s future at Tottenham Hotspur, Cardiff’s survival hopes, a massive “Rivalry Sunday” in the Premier League this weekend, which big teams could slip up and much more.

(MORE: VIEW FROM THE BOOTH ARCHIVE)

You can hear Arlo calling live games every 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.

With Tottenham’s capitulation against Chelsea on Saturday, is that the end of their top four chances? Do you fear for Tim Sherwood’s future… like he does?

I’ll let Tim Sherwood answer your question. After the 4-0 defeat to Chelsea, his response was this; “We’re miles away. You can’t finish top four if you can’t beat the top teams.” Spurs have won at Old Trafford. They also beat Everton at White Hart Lane in a big game recently. But against the true class of the Premier League, they have been blown away too many times. They’ve conceded 11 goals to Manchester City, they conceded five at home to Liverpool and now four at Chelsea. My fear for Spurs is that they’ll finish fifth and end up in the Europa League again.

I thought Sherwood devised a very interesting tactical plan at Stamford Bridge. I’m certain that they felt really good about things at half time. Bentaleb and Sandro were terrific in the center of the park and Kyle Walker was taking up some decent positions on both sides of the ball. But it all unraveled in the blink of an eye, and from a performance that should have been a great source of confidence for Spurs, it became a hammering and soon after, a potentially damaging post-match chastisement from the manager.

source: Getty Images
Is Sherwood’s time up at Spurs after three months? The English manager hasn’t done much wrong, according to Arlo.

Sherwood’s appointment has always had a temporary feel to it, but Tottenham’s results and performances have improved in comparison to the previous regime. It wasn’t Sherwood who sold Gareth Bale last summer, and it wasn’t Sherwood who recruited so many expensive players with the subsequent windfall (none of whom started at Stamford Bridge.)

(MORE: Cracks starting to appear in Sherwood’s leadership at Spurs)

As for the future, the Spurs job will be coveted by some very big managerial names, not least Luis van Gaal. Sherwood himself admits that he couldn’t be a number two at the club, and he’s unlikely to want to head back to the academy. If he is relieved of his duties, he would depart with his head held high, with a years severance money in his pocket and some valuable experience to take to another club. His talents would surely be utilized somewhere.

With Cardiff City beating Fulham in the relegation six-pointer, how important was that result? And has it complicated the fight for survival at the bottom of the table?

It was a huge result. I saw Cardiff lose narrowly at Tottenham in their previous game, and there were signs of life for Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s side. Their next two games are extremely tough outings against Everton and Liverpool, but it’s the run of five games after that which I think will define their season. They face West Brom, Crystal Palace, Southampton, Stoke and Sunderland. The Barclays Premier League is a tough place. It’s survival of the fittest. For Cardiff City, who have gone through all the trauma and turmoil that they have this season (most of it self inflicted), it is a dream run of games to try and save themselves.

(MORE: Latest Premier League standings)

Fulham are clearly struggling whilst West Brom are in free fall. Let’s see how Sunderland, who gave such a good account of themselves in the Capital One cup final, fair against relegation rivals Palace and Norwich in their next two games.

Looking ahead to this weekend, two massive derbies are playing out on Sunday, Manchester United vs. Liverpool and Tottenham vs. Arsenal, how do you see these games going?

source: AP
Liverpool and Manchester United continue their bitter rivalry at Old Trafford on Sunday live on NBCSN.

I bet Liverpool can hardly wait to get to Old Trafford on Sunday. They had a weekend off and must be raring to go. All the talk over the last couple of weeks has been about Chelsea and their new found grip on the title. Liverpool will still have a massive say in that, particularly as Chelsea have to go to Anfield in April.

My formative years following Football were in the 1980’s. Back then, Liverpool were the kings and United simply the pretenders. Then came Sir Alex Ferguson. It’s a long time since Liverpool visited Old Trafford as the title chasers, with United the also rans. The problem for the chasing pack at the moment is that Chelsea always seem to have extra games, and they keep winning them!

By the time Liverpool kick off on Sunday, Chelsea could be ten points clear of them if they win at Villa Park on Saturday, albeit having played two games more. The Reds have lost six consecutive games at Old Trafford in all competitions, but they’ll be hoping for a repeat of their last victory, a 4-1 romp in 2009. Now that would make a statement.

(WATCH: PST Extra – Traditional giants of England tangle this weekend)

I’ll be at the North London derby which follows the game at Old Trafford. Arsenal need a statement victory themselves. A performance that says to their rivals that they are still in the title race. Their response to going out of the Champions League last season was incredible, and they need more of the same this season to challenge for the top prize. It’s been a decent week for the Gunners just when it was all threatening to fall apart. They won through to the FA Cup semi final, saw the Cup field depleted by Manchester City’s defeat to Wigan and then exited the Champions League to Bayern Munich with their pride in tact. The imminent return of Aaron Ramsey could provide a huge boost.

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Man City’s midweek UCL defeat to Barcelona could see them slip up away at Hull on Saturday.

Perhaps Emmanuel Adebayor holds the key for Spurs. He seems to love the big game atmosphere, having scored 8 goals in his eleven north London derbies. Spurs will need him firing at the Lane on Sunday.

Chelsea and Manchester City both face tricky away games this weekend, which one of these title contenders is more likely to slip up?

Based on pure form, then Chelsea are the least likely to slip up when they travel to Aston Villa. They didn’t play in midweek, and they have the late kick off. Chelsea are purring nicely and must be favorites for the title despite Jose’s repeated assertion that the table isn’t “realistic.”

Manchester City spent a long time chasing Barcelona players around the enormous Nou Camp pitch on Wednesday night and they have a quick turn around at Hull City in the Saturday lunch time kick off. It’s the sort of game that City struggled in earlier this season, but they desperately need to win. The free scoring City of a few weeks ago have cooled off considerably recently. They’ve only managed eight goals in their last eight games. All of a sudden, talk of scoring records and unprecedented thrashings has ceased, but like Liverpool, City are free to concentrate purely on the Premier League run in.

source: AP
With Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley on board, Toronto’s clash with Dempsey and Seattle will be a stunner on Saturday.

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

Some MLS action! The Seattle Sounders against Toronto FC on NBCSN on Saturday afternoon. It’s a big day for the league. U.S. national team stars Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley will be on the field together, and that is a huge deal.

(WATCH: Seattle vs. Toronto FC, NBCSN, 4:30pm ET, Saturday)

Obafemi Martins and Jermaine Defoe playing up top for either side, is a terrific prospect. This game will showcase where MLS is heading as a league.

Have a great weekend everyone…

Championship Playoff Final preview: Huddersfield Town vs. Reading

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These two teams weren’t supposed to be here, at Wembley on Monday at 10:00 a.m. ET playing for a spot in the Premier League.

Everyone talked about how beautiful Fulham played. Everyone talked about how Sheffield kept on winning. Everyone kept talking about the favorites. Everyone wrote off the other guys.

Yet here we are. Reading, owner of a +4 goal differential. Huddersfield Town, owner of a -2 goal differential. Reading, winners over Fulham thanks to a bogus handball. Huddersfield, on to Wembley after a penalty shootout in the rain.

Here we are. The game that will catapult one team to the riches of the Premier League, the game that will send another team back to the depths of the Championship, consigned to progress with the heartbreak of knowing they were so close.

[ MORE: USMNT roster announced for upcoming World Cup qualifiers ]

The Championship playoff final is one of the biggest enigmas in the European soccer landscape. Teams like Reading looking to return to familiar lands of plentiful bounty, others like Huddersfield looking for glory never experienced before.

Huddersfield has not seen top flight action since 1972, and former American international David Wagner has them on the precipice. “There were a lot of statements before the semi-finals about momentum and about form,” Wagner said. “It is another example where we have proven that experience and what has happened in the past is irrelevant. After the 120 minutes against Sheffield Wednesday there were a lot of tired legs, but now after a training camp in Portugal and training on the grass here, everybody is ready to go.”

As far as form goes, Town is struggling. They drew both legs of the Sheffield Wednesday playoff semifinal 0-0, and finished the regular season on a three-match losing streak. They haven’t won a match since April 14th.

Reading, meanwhile, finished the year with wins in seven of their final nine regular season games, and they downed an attacking Fulham side 1-0 at home in the second leg of their semifinal. They’ve been stellar at winning close games all year, winning 18 regular season games by just a single goal, and losing just four, with seven draws. If Jaap Stam can lead his side back to the Premier League, it would mark just a four-year turnaround from their previous relegation from the top flight.

Riches await the winner. The sides couldn’t be more different, and yet on Monday, they both face the same brick wall.

Epic fake injury mars Hungarian league title match

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Sometimes it works out perfectly. Two teams, a title on the line, one match to decide it.

The top two teams in the Hungarian top flight, also known as the NB I, were set to play each other on the final day of the season to decide the title winner.

Budapest Honved hosted Videoton, with the winner set to win the league title. A draw would have given Videoton the victory on goal differential.

With the match 0-0 at halftime, it progressed tensely through the second half. So tense, in fact, that the teams felt they needed to do everything in their power to earn an edge. Even fake injuries. Terribly.

34-year-old Videoton striker Danko Lazovic, a veteran who has been around Europe with Zenit St. Petersburg, Bayer Leverkusen, and a host of Eredivisie teams,  looked to earn a foul in the attacking half. He put so much effort into selling the foul that, well, he went a little overboard. And by a little overboard, we mean he went berserk on the field, rolling around and flailing on his back.

There are many factors that make this an absolutely epic moment. First, his team had already earned a foul without the dive. The referee had blown the whistle for a shove moments before Lazovic went down. Second, his teammate looks to come over and help him sell the foul a little more realistically, and instead of accept his teammate’s assistance, he shrugs off the help and continues to flail. Third, as karma would have it, Honved would score the title-winning goal six minutes later as they would go on to win 1-0.

Kids, don’t try this at home. It’s not a good look.

MLS Snapshot: Atlanta United 3-1 NYCFC

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The game in 100 words (or less): Revenge, at the hands of a 3-1 scoreline. The match started out a little too fast for Atlanta, one of the quickest teams in MLS, but they settled things down and finished ruthlessly. NYCFC, meanwhile, defended miserably and failed to match the intensity of the hosts. First-round draft pick Julian Gressel was an utter menace down the right, and Miguel Almiron was decisive in front of net. NYCFC took advantage of the weekly Atlanta defensive mistake for a lifeline with 20 minutes to go, but it was too little too late.

Three moments that mattered

16′ – A big deflection off a NYCFC midfielder sprung an Atlanta attack, but the hosts took the chance well. Gressel latched onto the ball on the right edge of the box, and he cut the ball back where three Atlanta attackers were waiting unmarked. It came to Almiron, and while his finish was less than ideal, some ugly goalkeeping saw the ball slip under the armpit of a diving Sean Johnson who overshot the effort.

19′ – It came unraveled for NYCFC in a heartbeat. The right side of the defense fell asleep for a split second, allowing Hector Villaba to burst through on a ball by Yamil Asad, and Villaba finished expertly into the far top corner with Maxime Chanot unable to catch up.

23′ – Not even a half-hour gone and the game was already wrapped up, with the third goal sporting the most glaring defensive mistake by the visitors. As Gressel battled with Alexander Callens for a loose ball down the right, Callens appeared to have the edge, but instead of playing the ball, he went down under the slightest contact from Gressel. When the referee let play continue, Gressel was all by himself, and with a 4-on-1 developing, he found Almiron for the easiest of finishes.

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Man of the match: Juilan Gressel.

Goalscorers: Almiron (16′, 23′), Villaba (19′), Harrison (71′).

Serie A roundup: Roma pips Napoli for 2nd, Lazio falls

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Francesco Totti’s legendary career came to a close in fitting fashion as Roma scored a last-minute winner to secure 2nd place in the Serie A table.

On the final day of the season, Napoli’s win at Sampdoria moved them momentarily into second, but Roma snatched the spot back as Diego Perotti scored in the 90th minute to beat Genoa 3-2. Totti had come on as a 54th minute substitute.

[ MORE: Francesco Totti’s career achievements make him an all-time great ]

The win saw Roma end the season on 87 points, one above Napoli’s 86. That puts Roma into the Champions League group stage, while the third-place finish for Napoli places them in next season’s Champions League playoff round. They finish the season with a dominating 4-2 win over Sampdoria that saw four different Napoli goalscorers find the back of the net.

Below the Champions League battle, Atalanta held onto its fabulous fourth-place finish as Lazio fell 3-1 at Crotone. With Lazio already down 2-1 midway through the first half, Angolan defender Bastos received a second yellow card. Down to 10 men, Lazio still controlled the majority of possession but saw themselves outshot, only able to pop off three shots on target. The loss has no significant bearing, as both Atalanta and Lazio qualify for the Europa League group stage, while AC Milan seven points adrift in sixth makes the Europa League third qualifying round.

AC Milan finishes the season a point above rivals Inter despite a 2-1 final-day loss to Cagliari. The game was tied 1-1 down the stretch, but Gabriel Paletta was sent off with 15 minutes remaining, and Fabio Pisacane scored three minutes deep into stoppage time to give Cagliari the win.

Inter, meanwhile, finished the year on a high note as they hammered Udinese 5-2, most notably on a brace from Eder. Ivan Perisic and Marcelo Brozovic also scored in the win, while the fifth came on a late own goal. Inter finished the year on 62 points, five less than last season’s 67 which was good enough for fourth place.

Elsewhere, Fiorentina finished a disappointing season with a disappointing 2-2 home draw with last-placed Pescara, while Palermo beat Empoli 2-1 and five goalscorers helped Torino pound Sassuolo 5-2.