Arsenal face tough test vs. Liverpool, MLS playoffs will dazzle – View from the Booth, with Arlo White


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 Fernando Torres’ revival, Joe Hart’s demise, the biggy between Arsenal and Liverpool, MLS playoff action on NBC and much more.


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

So, let’s get to it.

Rumors suggest Joe Hart will finally be dropped after yet another calamitous mistake in a big game for Man City. Did Tim Howard give you an insight to what is going wrong? Should Manuel Pellegrini cast Hart aside?

Well, I mean, being alongside Tim for the Chelsea Man City game was a terrific experience. He brought all of his experience and knowledge about goalkeeping to the fore. He told us, he said on air that he had a chat with Hart after the game at the Etihad a few weeks previous when Man City had won 3-1 And he said, words to the fact of, and I’m paraphrasing, ‘keep your chin up, put an arm round him and said, ‘you’re a very good goalkeeper, keep it going.’

source: Getty Images
Arlo believes Hat’s mistakes have been too much of late but expects him to bounce back.

Hart’s response was, ‘don’t worry, I’ll be fine I love the pressure,’ which suggests that he is a tough character mentally. But as we saw at the end of the game, it was another aberration on his part. I thought Tim, who was you know, in a slightly awkward position there, because he’s a current player, commenting on a current player, they do talk about the goalkeepers union and those guys sticking together. But he was working for NBC on the day, and it was his job I suppose was to break down exactly what happened. And what he said was, and I thought this was very skillfully done by Tim. In regards to Joe Hart, ‘You’ve got to let the defender, defend in that situation.’ Which I thought was very telling. Obviously for Nastasic, with the crowd, it was just bedlam at Stamford Bridge. He’s got his eye on the ball, he doesn’t know that Hart is tearing out of the goal. And there’s no need for him to be that far out, Nastasic seemed to have the situation under control.

Am I surprised that he’s been relieved out his duties? Perhaps not for the time being. Although this may create a few headaches for Roy Hodgson in the buildup to the World Cup finals for England as well.

Fernando Torres has got everyone believing he has returned to his best form, can he spearhead Chelsea to success? Or is he a different player now to what he was at Liverpool? Big test at Newcastle for the Blues. 

I think he is a different player, and I’ve been monitoring him closely and talking to people about him all season and I mentioned on a Podcast a few weeks ago that I felt, even in a small cameo appearance against Fulham a few weeks ago. He almost scored a header from the corner, and he created havoc for the last twenty minutes or so when he came on. He has a renewed figure, renewed enthusiasm. He seems to be in a great frame of mind. If he still has that situation hanging over him that he’s only scored one goal in the Premier League in 2013. We saw against Schalke that he’s back and he’s sharp.

source: AP
Chelsea have got their $75million man back.

What was very telling against Man City was that he missed a very very good chance in the first half. And he could have gone either way and Tim Howard asked, ‘Fernando Torres, is he going to go into a shell, or is he going to stick his chest out and try and make amends.’ And he did, he set up the Schurrle equalizer, curled an audacious attempt off the cross bar and then he kept going and chasing and harrying Nastasic until that mistake at the end. He was absolutely brilliant and if he continues likes this then Chelsea have got themselves the $75 million man they bought.

Arsenal vs. Liverpool is the big game this Saturday, live on NBC at 1:30pm ET, is this a huge indicator as to which one of these teams has the better chance of challenging for the title?

It is an indicator. But there are so many indicators throughout the season, because there are so many teams that appear to be in the mix at this early stage. Arsenal have had a fantastic start to the season but they’ve been blessed with a less than arduous opening fixture list. Let’s be honest. Although, they’ve gotten the job done. As we’ve seen, the ‘smaller teams’ are capable of producing surprise results.

Against Dortmund they came up a little bit short, against quality opposition. Against Crystal Palace, I thought they labored somewhat to a 2-0 victory and I thought Arsenal were a little bit off the pace and then they get beaten at home by Chelsea in the League Cup. This is a big game for Arsenal to really prove their start to the season was no fluke and they’re not about to recede back into the pack. Now for Liverpool, if they get Coutinho back on the field, along with Suarez, and Sturridge and the players that are in form. They are a genuine force, whether they’ve got the depth to be able to sustain it, we’ll wait and see. Right now, that’s an absolutely fascinating match. We say each week, that has the potential of being the match of the season so far.

Cardiff vs. Swansea on Sunday marks the first-time these two Welsh clubs have met in the Premier League… what can fans expect when they tune into this one?

A contrast, I think. Cardiff will pull their sleeves up, and they’ll get stuck in. Swansea are now an established Premier League team with an identifiable culture. They like to pass the ball. They play some lovely stuff and there not afraid of getting stuck in around the field as well. They’re going to have to be, because they can’t shirk anything against Cardiff at the weekend. It’s going to be a brilliant atmosphere, it’s going to be a ferocious game played at a terrific pace. Swansea have to live physically with Cardiff, because man for man they could play Cardiff off the park. But this idea that the heart and toughness that Cardiff are going to bring to the game could be a great leveller. I’m going to be fascinated to see how it shakes out, my head would say draw but let’s see if one of the two sides can nick it. I’d say Swansea based on their quality, may just edge it.

source: Getty Images
Cardiff’s passion could see them overcome Swansea.

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

I think the Arsenal vs. Liverpool game will be fantastic. I will be watching that from a hotel room in Houston. We’re doing the MLS playoffs at the moment, so it’s great to get back to the States for a little spell, I will miss my Premier League at the weekend but we are doing Houston vs. New York Red Bulls live on NBC on Sunday at 3:30pm ET, that’s going to be fascinating after New York won the shield and Houston are always so good in the playoffs. It’s a delight to be back, I really enjoy MLS and I always have done. I’m excited be at the Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders game on Thursday, it will be the defining game in that series between the two great rivals in the Pacific Northwest. That’s going to be fantastic.

Benzema: ‘I’m F1’ quality compared to ‘go-kart’ Giroud

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It would appear that Karim Benzema lives for exactly two things in life: scoring goals and creating/participating in very public drama.

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

Benzema, who hasn’t feature for France’s national team since he was allegedly involved in a scandal to blackmail teammate Mathieu Valbuena with a sex tape in 2015, slammed compatriot forward Olivier Giroud as the “go-karting” alternative to his own “F1” quality.

His main gripe with Giroud doesn’t appear to actually be with the player himself, but the fact the two get compared to one another so frequently. In Benzema’s absence from Les Bleus, Giroud has been the main beneficiary, leading many to wonder if the team could have reached greater heights with Benzmea in the team instead — quotes from Sky Sports:

“You shouldn’t confuse F1 and go karting and that’s me being kind. On to the next topic. I’m not talking about him [Giroud] anymore. I just know that I’m F1.

“He has his career, he does what he wants and scores the goals that he wants to score. He’s in his corner and I’m in mine, I’m not thinking about him. If we’re talking about playing style, his suits France well.

“It’s good because there are fast players like (Kylian) Mbappe and (Antoine) Griezmann who play out wide or feed off the centre-forward. When Giroud is up front, he’s a handful for defenses, which gives the other two plenty of space to show what they can do.

“He occupies defenders and it works. It might not be brilliant to watch and you won’t say, ‘Wow, that was incredible.’ Does everyone like that style of play? I don’t know, but it suits France well.”

Giroud: 39 goals (third-highest) in 97 appearances for France. Benzema: 27 goals in 81 appearances.

Guardiola: ‘We will come back stronger, kinder … and a bit fatter’

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Through all of the innumerable challenges and tragedies the world is currently facing during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is doing his best to not only help the fight back in his native Spain, but also give everyone a chance to smile and laugh at their own expense.

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

Guardiola, who last week donated $1.1 million to fight the virus in Catalonia, released a video message of encouragement and hope on Monday — encouraging everyone to stay inside, and hopeful of returning to a sense of normalcy in short order:

“We miss football. We miss the life that we had a few days ago but now is the time to listen, to follow our scientists, doctors and nurses.

“You are my football family and we are going to do everything possible to make you feel better. We’ll come back from this stronger, better, kinder … and a little bit fatter. Stay inside, stay safe.”

Germany’s UCL clubs pledge support for cash-strapped clubs

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DUSSELDORF, Germany — Four German soccer clubs have pledged a combined $21.9 million to support other teams struggling to stay afloat after games in the country were suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak.

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

Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen will forgo $13.7 million in as-yet undistributed TV money and add another $8.2 million from their own funds. All four clubs played in the Champions League this season, giving them extra income.

The German Football League, which oversees the top two divisions, will decide how the money is distributed. The league has previously said it fears many clubs could face financial collapse if games can’t resume.

“In these difficult times, it’s important that the stronger shoulders support the weaker shoulders,” Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said on Thursday.

It’s the latest in a string of gestures to help those in need in German soccer. Players at clubs including Bayern, Borussia Monchengladbach and second-tier Karlsruhe have agreed to voluntary pay cuts to help other staff.

[ MORE: Tottenham offer stadium to help with coronavirus effort ]

Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said clubs had a responsibility to keep other teams running in what could be a long period without income from ticket sales and sponsors.

“We have always said that we would show solidarity if clubs, through no fault of their own, should run into difficulties that they can no longer overcome themselves,” Watzke said in a statement.

“BVB is currently having a major impact on society through a wide range of initiatives. And naturally we are prepared to help out other professional football clubs if it is ultimately a matter of cushioning the financial effects of the pandemic.”

Transfer rumor roundup: Sancho to Man Utd; Madrid’s Haaland backup plan

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A roundup of all of Monday’s biggest transfer rumors, including those involving Premier League clubs…

[ MORE: Tottenham offer stadium to help with coronavirus effort ]

Jadon Sancho is a virtual lock to leave Borussia Dortmund and return to the PL this summer, and the 20-year-old winger will almost certainly command a transfer fee of more than $150 million just three years after signing from Manchester City for just $10 million. Today, it’s Manchester United who are rumored as frontrunners for Sancho’s services, based upon reports that Sancho has “unofficially confirmed” he will choose to join Man United when the transfer window opens.

Updating a transfer rumor from last week, Real Madrid are still very much in on another Dortmund starlet, Erling Haaland, but that doesn’t mean they’re putting all of their eggs in one basket. Los Blancos are reportedly eyeing Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a former Dortmund man himself, as a backup option should Haaland remain at Dortmund or land elsewhere this summer. Aubameyang, who’ll turn 31 this summer, isn’t likely to move for less than $60 million, which could prove a stumbling block.

If the rumors are to be believed, this summer will be a costly one for Man United, who are also interested in Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez. The price tag on the 25-year-old? Close to $170 million. It would seem unlikely that United could afford Niguez (at that price) without getting $100 million (at least) for Paul Pogba.

Another current Arsenal (and former Dortmund) player, midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan, hopes to turn his loan to Roma into a permanent move this summer. Arsenal are expected to ask $22 for the 31-year-old, but the Serie A side is hoping to pay closer to $12 million instead.