NBC's lead soccer announcer Arlo White

Man City’s big chance, Liverpool ready to pounce – 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 crazy title race, Manchester City’s trip to Everton, Chelsea vs. Norwich and Liverpool heading into the final two games no longer controlling their own destiny.

MORE: Full archive, View from the Booth

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.

This title race just keeps surprising us Arlo. Do you think there are a few more twists in the tale before the end of the season?

There could be three lead changes in the next three days if Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool win their three games. That would make it 25 changes this season so far, it is quite remarkable. All eyes, if those games go to form, will be on the Etihad on Wednesday for City against Aston Villa who may need something from that game, so you wouldn’t rule out a mercurial performance from Aston Villa. For neutrals, they hope the title race goes down to the final minute of the 38th and final game, it appears to be heading that way.

source: Getty Images
Can Everton and Tim Howard stop Man City’s title charge?

The toughest task remaining for any of the title hopefuls is Man City’s trip to face Everton on Saturday. How should City approach this?

They need to be as positive as they normally are. I spoke to Samir Nasri in the week and he seemed very positive about things. He called it a miracle to be back in this situation that City control their title challenge. It is incredible that Saturday will be the 260th day of the Premier League season and Manchester City have only spent eight days in first place, but that is where they could be if they beat Everton at Goodison Park with the caveat being that it is mainly down to them playing catch up. City have it in their own hands but they are not exactly in Championship form. They have only taken 11 points out of the last 18, they lost to Liverpool, they drew against Arsenal and Sunderland but they appear to be hitting form at the right time and they’ve been handed this second chance and seem determined to take it.

MORE: Latest Premier League Standings

Their record at Goodison is very poor, four defeats in a row, one win in their last 15 but Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero are back, David Silva could be back, even Martin Demichelis has limited his mistakes and has been getting some praise. There is plenty of talk of Everton lying down so they won’t help Liverpool win the title but Roberto Martinez has dismissed that and Tim Howard gave a rallying cry on NBC last week from Selhurst Park. It could be a fantastic afternoon.

As for Chelsea, they host Norwich after being humbled by Atletico Madrid in the UCL. Can the Blues still win the title? What about Norwich’s survival hopes?

When all is said and done, Chelsea will likely finish third and they will kick themselves. They beat Spurs 4-0 at Stamford Bridge a while back, I was there, and they were very good despite Spurs’ capitulation. Since then they have won four and lost three, they lost to Villa, Palace and Sunderland, scoring one goal in those games. If you look at the games they won in that time it includes victories over Liverpool and Arsenal and they scored 12 and didn’t concede any. It is very telling that they have got more points from the top six than the bottom six this season, those results against the lower sides have impacted their title challenge. Also, it will be interesting to see how Eden Hazard responds to the scathing criticism from Mourinho.

WATCH: Every Premier League game live online via NBC Sports Live Extra

As for Norwich they slipped into the bottom three, they were poor at Old Trafford, they’ve lost eight in a row away, five in a row overall and they are the lowest scorers in the league. I think their only hope is facing Arsenal on the final day of the season and if Arsenal have already clinched a top four spot and have a FA Cup final the week after, they may take their eye off the ball. Crazy things can happen on the final day of the season but for Norwich it is looking extremely difficult to stay in the league.

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Will Steven Gerrard’s mistake vs. Chelsea be the defining moment of Liverpool’s season?

Liverpool head to the tricky confides of Selhurst Park to play Crystal Palace on Monday. Do you see the Reds’ coming unstuck against the Eagles?

Liverpool could start the game in third place after so long at the top and having the title in their hands. If the mantra a couple of weeks ago was ‘we go again’ because of Steven Gerrard’s inspirational post-match teamtalk after the Manchester City victory, I think the motivation for them now is to not allow Gerrard’s slip at Anfield, which allowed Demba Ba to score, to be the defining moment of their title challenge. They have missed Jordan Henderson and Luis Suarez isn’t scoring as freely as he did throughout the season. They need to come out at Crystal Palace, who are a tough team to play against, and give it absolutely everything. Liverpool need to give themselves the chance that if Man City do slip up then they are prepared to pounce on any mistake and that means a convincing performance at Crystal Palace and then a tidal wave of emotion on the final day at Anfield against Newcastle.

They will never forgive themselves if Manchester City slip up and Liverpool don’t manage to get six points from the final two games.

Courtois: Chelsea can still win title without Costa

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26:  Thibaut Courtois of Chelsea celebrates his team's second goal during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge on November 26, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
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A week from now, Diego Costa may still be a Chelsea player; he may also very well be off to the Chinese Super League by then.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

The beauty insanity of the transfer market — and a volatile figure like Costa, in particular — is that no one knows which path he’ll take. After being made to train on his own on Monday, the best anyone can tell you is, “It’s 50-50.”

There aren’t many sides in the world that could stand to lose the league’s top goal-scorer (14 goals in 19 appearances this season; Chelsea have played 21 games) and still win the league title, but Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois believes that the current Blues squad is one that could hold onto its seven-point lead with 17 games remaining — quotes from FourFourTwo:

“Of course we have enough quality to replace Diego. Diego is important for us, but if he’s not there for one game, we know we can handle it as well.

“Was this a message to our rivals? Yes, just to see Chelsea won 3-0 and that loss at Spurs didn’t affect us and we can play without Diego if need be. I think everybody hoped for us to drop points and we didn’t so that was very good.”

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday | Friday | Thursday ]

Eden Hazard has chipped in with nine goals of his own this season — his performances have been bordering on brilliance at points — while Pedro and Willian each have five league goals to their name. 19 goals from three secondary-type scorers is what champions are made of, until you consider the only other true striker currently in the squad, 23-year-old Premier League newcomer Michy Batshuayi, has 1) made just 13 PL appearances (all as a substitute); 2) scored just once, all the way back in August.

Louis van Gone: Ex-Man United, Barca boss LvG retires from coaching

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 21:  Louis van Gaal Manager of Manchester United celebrates after winning The Emirates FA Cup Final match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at Wembley Stadium on May 21, 2016 in London, England. Man Utd won 2-1 after extra time.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
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It wasn’t supposed to end like this for Louis Van Gaal.

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In his mind, he probably imagine himself manager Manchester United for the duration of his three-year contract before riding off into the sunset after restoring the Red Devils as Premier League champions four months from now. At the very least, he’d agree to stay on one more season to complete a bit of unfinished business after narrowly missing out on the title in his third season in charge at Old Trafford.

Instead, he was fired last May, two days after lifting the FA Cup at Wembley Stadium, and has been out of a job ever since. Van Gaal’s unemployment will now continue for the rest of his days, as the 65-year-old announced on Monday that he has retired from coaching after 26 years at Ajax, Barcelona (twice), AZ Alkmaar, Netherlands (twice), Bayern Munich and Manchester United — quote from the BBC:

“I thought maybe I would stop, then I thought it would be a sabbatical, but now I do not think I will return to coaching.”

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday | Friday | Thursday ]

After the stress put upon his shoulders while at Man United, the last eight months must have felt like heaven to Van Gaal. Why on earth would anyone ever go back?

AFCON: DR Congo go top of Group C with win; Ivory Coast, Togo draw

Congo's Lomalisa Mutambala, right, with Morocco's Faycal Fajr, left, during their African Cup of Nations Group C soccer match between Congo and Morocco at the Stade de Oyem in Oyem, Gabon, Monday Jan. 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
AP Photo/Sunday Alamba
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A roundup of all of Monday’s action in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations…

Ivory Coast 0-0 Togo

OYEM, Gabon (AP) Ivory Coast’s Europe-based stars stumbled in the heat of northern Gabon in their African Cup of Nations opener, with the defending champion held by Togo to 0-0 on Monday in another twist to start the tournament.

Ivory Coast’s title-winning coach fared worse as Congo beat Herve Renard’s Morocco 1-0 in the day’s second game.

Congo, a team that was on strike and refusing to train two days ago, finished with nine men on the field and on top of Group D.

Ivory Coast created few clear chances against Togo, with Wilfried Zaha‘s blocked shot in the second half after a clever run probably its best. Zaha was substituted two minutes later and, although Ivory Coast pressed hard in stages, it never broke open Togo’s well-drilled defense in the first game in Group C in the northern jungle town of Oyem.

Togo was competitive in the first half and had two good openings with around 10 minutes to go, when Kodjo Laba missed with a header from in front of goal and Mathieu Dossevi’s deflected shot dropped onto the roof of the net.

Four of the first six games at the African Cup have been draws, with Ivory Coast’s fellow title challenger, Algeria, held to 2-2 by Zimbabwe, a team that hasn’t qualified for the African Cup in over a decade. Also, host Gabon couldn’t beat outsider and tournament debutant Guinea-Bissau in the opening game.

“After Algeria-Zimbabwe and Gabon-Guinea-Bissau, we were very careful,” Ivory Coast coach Michel Dussuyer said. “But we still have two (group) matches so we are still confident.”

Togo even started better, and Dossevi was clear on goal in the 29th minute only for Ivorian goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo to smother the chance.

Zaha was at the heart of Ivory Coast’s two best attacks, first in the first half when he sped down the right wing and sent across a dangerous low cross that was scrambled away. Then, in the 68th minute, he tricked his marker with a clever turn, cut inside, and hit a low shot that was headed to goal before two Togo defenders managed to get in the way.

Senegal and Congo are the only teams to win at the tournament.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday | Friday | Thursday ]

DR Congo 1-0 Morocco

Junior Kabananga got the winner for Congo in the 55th minute after a mistake from Morocco `keeper Monir el-Kajoui. Congo’s Lomalisa Mutambala was sent off for a wild tackle in the 81st and played the last six minutes of normal time plus six minutes of injury time with nine men when captain Gabriel Zakuani went off injured with all their substitutes used up.

Still, victory was a major mood-changer for Congo, whose players refused to train on Friday and Saturday, claiming they hadn’t been paid tournament bonuses. They also posted a video on social media during their strike, where they complained about their treatment.

On Monday, Morocco was the one frustrated: Midfielder M’Bark Boussoufa hit the crossbar in the second minute. Goalkeeper El-Kajoui tried to block a cross with his feet and managed only to divert the ball to Kabananga to score the winning goal. Then, substitutes Youssef En Nesyri and Youssef el-Arabi missed late chances.

Although Ivory Coast and later Renard failed their first tests at the tournament, the Stade d’Oyem held up despite a desperate race to be ready in time, which saw workers scrambling around the venue finishing all sorts of jobs on the day of the game. Television viewers won’t have seen the construction debris that surrounds the outside of the stadium, which juts out of dense jungle canopy around 15 kilometers outside of Oyem.

Even organizers couldn’t do anything about the heat during the opening match, though, with Togo coach Claude le Roy’s shirt covered in dark sweat patches after urging his team on to a promising draw against the defending champion Ivorians.

“It was very hot. We were sweating so much,” Le Roy said. “We did what it takes. We are satisfied with the draw.”

Tuesday’s AFCON schedule

Ghana vs. Uganda — 11 a.m. ET
Mali vs. Egypt — 2 p.m. ET

Report: RBNY send McCarty to Chicago for hefty allocation fee

New York Red Bulls midfielder Dax McCarty reacts towards the fans after an MLS playoff soccer match against the D.C. United, at RFK Stadium, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, in Washington. McCarty scored the only goal and New York won 1-0. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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UPDATE: The Fire and Red Bulls have officially announced the trade. The deal will send $200,000 of allocation money to RBNY in 2017, and $200,000 again in 2018.

Don’t look now, but the Chicago Fire are building something noteworthy in Bridgeview.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Three weeks after signing three-time MLS Cup-winning (LA Galaxy) midfielder Juninho to anchor the midfield in Veljko Paunovic’s second season in charge, the Fire sent a hefty chunk of general allocation money to the New York Red Bulls in exchange for do-everything stalwart Dax McCarty, who’ll partner the Brazilian in comprising one of MLS’s toughest midfield duos.

According to a report on FourFourTwo.com, the Fire will send $400,000 of general allocation money to the Red Bulls, which represents the largest sum of MLS dollars to change hands since the league began announcing figures during the 2017 SuperDraft on Friday (New York City FC traded $250,000 to the Fire in exchange for the no. 3 overall pick, which helped fund the acquisition of McCarty). In total, McCarty made 169 regular-season appearances for the Red Bulls, serving the last two seasons as club captain, and helping the red half of New York to the only two major trophies in club history, the 2013 and 2015 Supporters’ Shields. The 29-year-old (he’ll turn 30 in April) is currently participating in January camp with the U.S. national team.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday | Friday | Thursday ]

The Fire also signed 28-year-old Hungarian striker Nemanja Nikolic to a Designated Player contract last month. Nikolic has nearly 200 goals to his name in 326 career games played.

With seven weeks still to go before First Kick 2017, the Fire’s opening-day starting lineup is shaping up to look something like this…

Nikolic

Accam — De Leeuw — ???

Juninho — McCarty

Vincent — Meira — Campbell — ???

Bava

The Fire might be good this year.