Tottenham’s character questioned, can Saints shock Manchester United? – 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” NBC Sports’ lead soccer announcer Arlo White talks and touches on plenty more Premier League news.

(MORE: View from the Booth Archive)

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

Let’s get to it.

The early game on Saturday sees Newcastle host Liverpool, those two teams have a history of producing plenty of goals, will it be an open game up at St. James’ Park?

You can never guarantee goals in a fixture, but the omens are pretty good that we’ll see plenty of goal mouth action at St James’ Park on Saturday.

These sides have split the last 4 games they’ve played on Tyneside, sharing 18 goals in the process, with Liverpool registering massive wins of 5-1 in 2008, and 6-0 last season. In Daniel Sturridge and Loic Remy, we’ll see the Premier League’s top two goal scorers in action.

Luis Suarez look set to renew his partnership up front with Sturridge, and although Suarez has traveled back from South America, his spirits must be high after scoring for Uruguay in a victory over Argentina that at least sealed a World Cup play-off place. Both have scored in the last three Premier League matches.

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Steven Gerrard and Liverpool can dominate Newcastle once again.

Newcastle were a shambles in the first half at Everton recently, but since then they’ve managed to score 4 goals whilst conceding only one, and registered 3 points with a victory at Cardiff. It’ll be interesting to see who partners Fabricio Coloccini at the heart of their defense. Mike Willamson seems to have steadied things in place of the struggling Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, but the challenge presented by Suarez and Sturridge will undoubtedly unsettle whoever plays there.

It promises to be an open and entertaining game, and after his goal at Wembley sealed a place in the World Cup finals for England, don’t bet against Steven Gerrard scoring his 100th Premier League goal if he takes the field in the North East.

Southampton are flying high, and are a team you tipped to do well at the start of the season. Can they keep their good form going against Manchester United at Old Trafford? Mauricio Pochettino’s high pressure approach could cause United problems, as Liverpool found out at Anfield a few weeks ago…

West Brom hadn’t won at Old Trafford since 1978. Southampton haven’t won there since 1988, a run of 18 games. I’m sure the Baggies success has given many teams hope that they can go to the home of the champions and not just avoid a trouncing, but actually come away with points.

The Saints find themselves in the top 4 on the back of some tremendous defending, which starts by pressuring the opposition in their own half of the field. They haven’t conceded a Premier League goal for a whopping 302 minutes and kept a clean sheet in that famous win at Anfield last month. If Pablo Osvaldo and Rickie Lambert start banging in the goals, the Saints have only scored 7 in 7 games, then Southampton could get even better.

I was at Manchester United’s last game against Sunderland. At half time, Lee Dixon and I looked at each other and exhaled, with our eye brows raised. United trailed a winless, managerless, bottom of the table side 1-0, and hadn’t impressed at all.

Suddenly, it turned into the Adnan Januzaj show. Will the young Belgian/Serbian/Turk/Croat/Englishman start on Saturday? We shall see. One thing is for sure, Wayne Rooney was lights out for England in their crucial qualifiers and he will be a major force in driving United back to form. I’m sure it irks him that despite scoring 3 Premier League goals so far this season, he’s yet to find the net from open play.

source: Getty Images
More frustration for Manchester United and Wayne Rooney against Southampton this weekend?

What do you make of the whole situation at Cardiff City? I find it hard to believe Malkay Mackay will be fired after mastering a great rebuild over the summer and giving the Bluebirds more than a fighting chance of staying up. Discuss.

The appointment as head of recruitment of a 23-year-old friend of the owners son, who has no previous Football experience, sets alarm bells ringing. Cardiff fans must have been massively relieved that Malky Mackay not only stayed in his job, but was handed final approval on all transfers. But that assurance is bound to be tested in January.

Mr Tan is an interesting character. He has bank rolled Cardiff’s ascent to the top flight for the first time in 50 years but also caused consternation when he changed the clubs traditional colours from blue to red. The fans weren’t happy about it, but I’m sure they were placated by the success they were celebrating on the field. If Mr Tan’s perceived eccentricities become destabilising, and the club start to lurch towards the bottom of the table, then the fans could turn.

You are at two terrific looking games at the weekend. Let’s start on Saturday at Upton Park, West Ham take on Manchester City on NBC on What elements are you looking forward to?

There is so much to look forward to. Big Sam Allardyce turns 59 on Saturday and for someone who is often dismissed as a dinosaur in the modern game, he produced a tactical master class at White Hart Lane last time out as the Hammers thrashed Spurs 3-0. His 4-6-0 formation worked a treat. After soaking up the Spurs pressure with relative ease, his side grabbed three goals in 13 minutes towards the end to grab the points.

The pick of the goals was scored by Ravel Morrison. It had shades of Michael Owen in the 1998 World Cup Finals about it, perhaps without the searing Owen pace of yesteryear. Morrison could be a terrific buy for West Ham, and could yet burst into the England World Cup squad. Allardyce will be hopeful that Morrison’s midweek spat with Wilfred Zaha whilst on Under 21 duty was just a blip, and that he can keep his head down and carry on his fast track development.

source: Reuters
How can AVB conjure more creativity from his new-look Spurs side?

Manchester City are winless in three games on the road so far this season. They need a big road performance before accusations start flying around that they are a very good team with a very soft underbelly. Sergio Aguero was released early from International duty this week, as Argentina had already qualified, which could be a real boost for Manuel Pelligrini.

And Sunday, Villa take on Spurs at Villa Park on NBCSN, Villa need a clean sheet at home don’t they?

If you look back to Boxing Day, Villa welcomed Spurs to Villa Park on the back of 3 consecutive clean sheets at home and on a run of one defeat in seven games. A Gareth Bale hat-trick later and Villa had been pounded 4-0. They haven’t kept a clean sheet at home in the subsequent 13 Premier League games, and were thumped 4-0 again by Spurs in the League Cup in September.

Villa’s home woe is extraordinary. They’ve only won 7 of their last 35 Premier League games. Paul Lambert has won more away games than home games as manager of Villa. It has to change. Villa Park must become a fortress again before Villa get sucked into another tussle towards the lower end of the table.

But the recent omens offer Villa fans some hope, and it’s thanks in no small part to the US National team Goalkeeper Brad Guzan. He’s kept two clean sheets in the last three games. His form has been so impressive, despite the porous defense in front of him, that his list of admirers is growing, including Arsenal according to reports this week.

Would the real Spurs please stand up. They are packed with talent, and all the summer signings are still bedding in. They’ve only scored six goals in seven games, and only four from open play in the whole season so far. How they respond to the home thrashing by West Ham will tell us a lot about the character of Andre Villas Boas’ side.

3 things learned: Man City v. Real Madrid

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Manchester City – Real Madrid was a fairly straightforward win for the hosts, as they reached the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals by beating the 13-time European champions 2-1 on the night and 4-2 on aggregate.

[ MORE: Champions League predictions ]

Raheem Sterling opened the scoring for Man City after a bad mistake from Raphael Varane was ruthlessly punished. Real’s Eden Hazard and Karim Benzema combined well at times and although Ederson denied them early on, Benzema pulled one back in the first half as Rodrygo’s cross was nodded home by the French striker.

Benzema and Jesus both went close for either team in the second half and the latter made the most of another big mistake from Varane to make it 2-1 and seal Man City’s spot in the quarterfinals for the third-straight season with relative ease.

[ LIVE: Champions League schedule ]

Here’s a look at what we learned from the Etihad, as Manchester City – Real Madrid was an open affair but the hosts always looked in control.


CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DREAM ALIVE FOR MAN CITY

Pep Guardiola is like Indiana Jones entering the desert on his way to reaching the holy grail. Lisbon is now his ‘Canyon of the Crescent Moon’ as Man City have a quarterfinal, semifinal and final between them and footballing immortality. Man City have longed for Champions League glory and given their successful appeal against their two-season UEFA ban, they will now stride into Lisbon, Portugal as the favorites to be crowned champions of Europe. They strolled past Real Madrid and even without the injured Sergio Aguero, you’d fancy them to sweep all before them to reach the promised land. Man City have always found a way to mess things up in the Champions League but this season feels different. They gave up their Premier League trophy easily to Liverpool but it seemed like the Champions League was always the main focus this season. They now face Lyon in the quarterfinals and then their toughest test, likely either Barcelona or Napoli in the semifinals. Guardiola knows the holy grail is within reach as he is closer than ever to finally delivering the trophy Man City’s Abu Dhabi owners have built this whole project to win.


SLOPPY REAL MADRID EXIT WITH A WHIMPER

Missing captain and legendary Sergio Ramos through suspension from the first leg, Real Madrid needed young defender Edgar Militao to step up in is place. They did not need silky smooth defender Raphael Varane to give the ball away early on to give up a cheap and avoidable goal. Although Real recovered from that early error, they failed to get Luka Modric on the ball as much as they wanted to and Eden Hazard and Benzema only showed flashes of promise. Just when it seemed like Real would push hard for a second goal which would have taken the game to extra time, Varane made another big mistake. And that was that. After impressing in La Liga since the restart and winning the Spanish title, Real Madrid looked remarkably subdued as perhaps a few weeks off before this game impacted them. The Kings of Europe will have to wait another year to add another crown to their collection. Manchester City – Real Madrid was historic, as it marked the first time Zinedine Zidane has ever lost a Champions League game in the knockout rounds. The way his team limped out of Europe was surprising and disappointing for Real Madrid.


PEP BEATS ZIZOU, BUT FALSE NINE FAILS

It was a surprise to see Phil Foden start ahead of David Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva in a game of this magnitude but there’s always a method to Pep’s madness. And it isn’t madness, is it? It’s genius. Just like he did in the first leg at Real Madrid, Pep raised eyebrows as he started a central midfielder (Foden this time, Kevin de Bruyne in the first leg) as a false nine. Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling were rampant from each flank early on, putting defenders under pressure in their own box, and that was how they opened the scoring. But Man City then failed to build on that lead and let Real back into the game. Pep changed things around at half time and Jesus looked more comfortable centrally and so too did Foden. It was a small tweak but it got Man City back on track and Guardiola’s tactical nous made the difference, even though Man City were handed the win on a platter thanks to Real Madrid’s shaky defensive display.

Chelsea reveal Pulisic injury update

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The latest Christian Pulisic injury news has arrived and it is not as bad as it could have been, but not great either.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

In the FA Cup final last Saturday, Pulisic, 21, scored a superb opener at Wembley as he dazzled for Chelsea early on but right at the start of the second half he raced clear of the Arsenal defense, again, but injured his right hamstring and was in agony before he took a shot.

Speaking ahead of Chelsea’s UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg game at Bayern Munich on Saturday (they trail 3-0 from the first leg), Lampard confirmed that the latest Pulisic news is that he’s expected to be out for six weeks with his hamstring injury.

“We will get him fit and ready, if he misses the first one or two games, then we can wait for a firing Christian like he was from restart,” Lampard told reporters.

The latest Pulisic injury news means he will likely miss the whole of preseason and the opening few weeks of the 2020-21 Premier League season, as the new season kicks off on Sept. 12 due to the quick turnaround and the delays following the coronavirus pandemic.

When Pulisic came off injured against Arsenal, Chelsea missed him badly as they ended up losing the FA Cup final and the USMNT star being injured was a big reason for that defeat.

Right now Christian Pulisic is the first name on the team sheet for Chelsea and he was named as one of the nominees for the Premier League young player of the season during his debut campaign in England, plus he was one of the best players in the league since the restart.

It is good to hear Lampard said he will not rush Pulisic back, as it was clear for all to see how much more impactful and dynamic he was after having a few months rest. Before joining Chelsea he had played for many years straight as he played for the USMNT during the summers and with Borussia Dortmund.

Chelsea need Pulisic to be fit and firing if they’re going to improve on their fourth-place Premier League finish this season.

Sarri sacked: Juventus fire manager after one season

Sarri sacked
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Sarri sacked: Maurizio Sarri has been fired by Juventus after just one season in charge following the Bianconeri‘s shocking exit from the UEFA Champions League round of 16 on Friday.

[ MORE: Man City knock out Real Madrid ]

Juventus claimed its ninth straight Serie A title on the final day of the season last week, but bowing out of the one trophy which has eluded the Italian giants during their decade of dominance, at the hands of Lyon no less, was simply too much for chairman Andrea Agnelli to stomach.

The players struggled a great deal to adapt to Sarri’s tactical system and demands, as did Sarri to being back in Serie A, and things never seemed to click in the already-imperfect marriage. Star midfielder Miralem Pjanic summed up the differences between the sides rather succinctly after the loss to Lyon.

[ MORE: Guardiola: “We’re here to win the Champions League” ]

Juve thanked Sarri for his service in a brief statement on the club’s website.

The club would like to thank the coach for having written a new page in Juventus’ history with the victory of the ninth-consecutive championship, the culmination of a personal journey that led him to climb all the divisions of Italian football.

Mauricio Pochettino is the first, and biggest name, currently being bandied about in connection with the Allianz Stadium job. The Argentine has been out of work since he was sacked by Tottenham Hotspur in November, but it stands to reason he did enough at Tottenham to have earned a chance at a club like Juve.

Outside of Cristiano Ronaldo’s mammoth contract, the majority of the squad could be turned over and refreshed with little to no trouble. Juve have never been shy to spend big money for big stars — a luxury Pochettino didn’t exactly enjoy at Spurs — so if they are interested in Pochettino, the prospect of a project on the scale of Juventus will almost certainly grab his attention.

Champions League: How to watch, odds, start time, predictions

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The UEFA Champions League and Europa League resume this week and I’m going to reveal my predictions for this next round as well as the latest odds for Europe’s top two continental tournaments.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

With Manchester City and Chelsea still in the Champions League and Manchester United and Wolves among the favorites to win the Europa League, there is a lot on the line for Premier League clubs in the coming weeks.

Just because the Premier League season is over, that doesn’t mean the action is over. Far from it.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores ]

In the next few days the Europa League and Champions League Round of 16 second legs will take place before mini tournaments begin.

Man City beat Real Madrid 4-2 on aggregate, while Chelsea trail Bayern 3-0 as they head to Germany for the return game. Man United and Wolves are both in the quarterfinals and favored to go far.

Lisbon, Portugal will host the Champions League games from the quarterfinal stage onwards, while the Europa League games will be hosted around Germany.

Below is a look at my predictions, the odds for the games this week and how to watch and follow all of the fixtures in the USA.


How to watch, stream Champions League and Europa League

Dates: August 5-23
Location: Round of 16 at home venues; Quarterfinals onwards in Lisbon/Germany
How to watch: CBS Sports
Live updates: UCL here at NBCSports.com & Europa League here at NBCSports.com


JPW’s Champions League predictions

Round of 16 (August 7-8)
Friday, August 7: Manchester City 1-1 Real Madrid (2-1)
Friday, August 7: Juventus 2-1 Lyon (0-1)
Saturday, August 8: Barcelona 3-1 Napoli (1-1)
Saturday, August 8: Bayern Munich 2-1 Chelsea (3-0)


JPW’s Europa League predictions

Round of 16 (August 5-6)
Copenhagen 1-2 Istanbul Basaksehir
Wolves 2-0 Olympiakos
Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 Rangers
Shakhtar Donetsk 1-3 Wolfsburg
Basel 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt
Manchester United 3-1 LASK
Inter Milan 3-0 Getafe
Sevilla 1-3 Roma


Champions League betting odds

Round of 16 (August 7-8)
(-139) Manchester City v. Real Madrid (+320). Tie: +340
(-230) Juventus v. Lyon (+650). Tie: +340
(-150) Barcelona v. Napoli (+400). Tie: +300
(-250) Bayern Munich v. Chelsea (+650). Tie: +410

Quarterfinals (August 12-13)
(+200) Atalanta v. Paris Saint-Germain (+120). Tie: +285
(+225) RB Leipzig v. Atletico Madrid (+133). Tie: 220

Outright winner
Manchester City (+350)
Bayern Munich (+365)
Paris Saint-Germain (+450)
Atletico Madrid (+700)
Atalanta (+950)
Barcelona (+1100)
RB Leipzig (+1500)
Juventus (+1700)


Europa League betting odds

Round of 16 (August 5-6)
(+155) Copenhagen v. Istanbul Basaksehir (+180). Tie: +235
(-134) Wolves v. Olympiakos (+390). Tie: +260
(-162) Bayer Leverkusen v. Rangers (+410). Tie: +310
(+135) Shakhtar Donetsk v. Wolfsburg (+185). Tie: +265
(+155) Basel v. Eintracht Frankfurt (+155). Tie: +275
(-455) Manchester United v. LASK (+1200). Tie: +550
(-143) Inter Milan v. Getafe (+385). Tie: +285
(+110) Sevilla v. Roma (+270). Tie: +230

Outright winner
Manchester United (+160)
Inter Milan (+500)
Bayer Leverkusen (+700)
Wolves (+800)
Sevilla (+900)