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.

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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.

Pep: “Celebrations weren’t too much”

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Pep Guardiola is staying as close-lipped as possible when it comes to the post-match derby dust-up between his Manchester City and Manchester United on Sunday.

Reports say United boss Mourinho charged into the visitors locker room to protest loud celebrations following City’s 2-1 win at Old Trafford. For his troubles, he allegedly got milk thrown at him and City assistant Mikel Arteta ended up with a cut face.

[ MORE: Klopp responds to interview hubbub ]

Guardiola said the celebrations were his idea, and he doesn’t want to say much more about United’s reactions.

“I am the guy who encouraged each other to celebrate. What happened, happened. We will make statement to the FA. I am not going to comment about that. Celebrations were’t too much.”

“Everybody fought hard to win. We could have scored more goals. After the game we celebrated with the fans and went to the changing room and celebrated the win.”

 

He’d only elaborate by saying, in essence, you celebrate when you win and don’t when you lose, and that other teams celebrate winning in similar rivalries in similar fashion.

Now we await Mourinho. He’s a wild card, but with legal entities involved we wouldn’t be surprised to get little to nothing.

Klopp says post-match interview not a big deal

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It wouldn’t be too wild to call Jurgen Klopp’s Sunday post-match interview the most circulated exchange in the soccer world, at least in recent memory.

Klopp was back behind a microphone on Tuesday as Liverpool prepares for West Bromwich Albion, and was asked about his testy exchange with a reporter following the Reds’ 1-1 draw with Everton in the Merseyside Derby.

[ RECAP: Liverpool 1-1 Everton ]

He says it’s in the past for him and pretty much everyone. From The Liverpool Echo:

“Now I’m completely relaxed, I wasn’t five minutes after the game. Sometimes you look into the eyes of journalists and you feel they aren’t too interested in what you have to say. I’m not an actor.”

“It was nothing, I didn’t use any words I have to take back. I don’t like it but I cannot change it because I felt like this at that moment. I cannot act differently, but I can keep myself calm. It’s just an interview. I don’t think anybody remembers it. It was just an interview, nothing else.”

We’ll say this about the 1-1 draw: it still feels hollow, as Everton executed one of the greatest thefts in the Premier League this season. Even the awarded PK — Dejan Lovren‘s two-handed shove to Dominic Calvert-Lewin was a silly play in a non-threatening spot — was one of those, “Well, sure, but…” calls.

Liverpool dominated the game, and didn’t get three points. Everton got a point, but will want most of its day back. Thank goodness we get another chance at an enjoyable Merseyside Derby in the FA Cup next month.

Wenger: Man City, United should look to sumo wrestlers

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Arsenal is readying for a visit to West Ham United, but Arsene Wenger‘s mind took a detour to Japan.

In a wide-ranging pre-match interview touching on Mesut Ozil, Olivier Giroud, and the Manchester Tunnel Fracas (TM), it was the last topic that had Wenger musing on the post-match actions of sumo wrestlers.

[ MORE: Premier League Tues. preview ]

For those who missed it, there was an alleged dust-up between Manchester City and Manchester United after Jose Mourinho and his men objected to boisterous City celebrations in the away locker room on Sunday.

Ever the politician, the rail thin manager called upon rather large athletes to make the point of what he’d like to see. From Sky Sports:

“It happened to us, it’s happened to them. It’s unfortunate. Ideally you would commit 100% on the pitch and be an angel after. It’s not always the case. You want to keep that passion on the pitch.

“It is difficult to take when you lose a game, to see the celebration. When I was in Japan, I liked sumo wrestling because you could never tell who had won. The winner never showed his happiness as there’s a deep respect for the opponent.”

Wenger’s last managerial stop came in 1996 with Nagoya Grampus Eight in Japan.

There was plenty more from Wenger, who was asked about the statuses of Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil.

For the latter, it’s relatively straight-forward: There’s still no new contract between the playmaker and Arsenal, though no final offer has been made and Wenger remains optimistic about the hiring.

As for Giroud, who’s been tipped for a move away from Arsenal for some time, Wenger admits it’s tricky. The super sub would start on most teams but is quite valuable to Arsenal as the usual backup to Alexandre Lacazette.

And it’s not like Arsenal has hurt the Frenchman’s stock with one of the best international sides in the world.

“He’s a very important player and I have big respect for him. Look how many French caps he has got since he came here. He’s not wasted his time. I can understand his frustrations. He’s played many games, much more than many speak about. He’s played more than Lacazette for example. When you are at a big club with many strikers, you can’t guarantee.

“Personally I want him to stay at the club until the end of the season. Then we will see.”

If Wenger can massage the full season out of Giroud and then sell him, Arsenal will have to call it a win. But how different might the Gunners look next August, with Giroud, Ozil, and Alexis Sanchez all expected to be out the door?

Mexico captain Guardado suffers hamstring injury

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With the World Cup still half a year away, there’s plenty of time to heal from injuries and get the body right after tweaking things during the club season.

And yet, there will still be some concern among Mexico fans.

Team captain Andres Guardado suffered a hamstring tear, his club Real Betis confirmed on Monday, and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks. That’s nothing to write home about when it comes to preparing for the big tournament, but with Guardado 31 years old and struggling with injuries in recent years, Mexico fans will be keenly aware that hamstring injuries can return with a vengeance if not given the right time to heal.

Guardado has shown his age in recent times, not necessarily with his play on the field, which has been critical to his country, but with his fitness. Guardado has just four full 90 minute performances for Mexico dating back to October of 2016, missing time with ankle, leg, and now hamstring injuries in that span.

The 31-year-old has had a fine season so far for Real Betis, scoring one goal and assisting six while appearing in all 15 La Liga matches for the club thus far. The club sits 12th in the La Liga table with 18 points.

Guardado will be fine with plenty of time to spare, but if not fully healed properly, there’s always the risk that muscle injuries can flare back up, and Mexico fans will hope that their captain’s club gives him plenty of rest to recover.