Liverpool leading Everton in top four hunt, Chelsea and Spurs struggling – 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 Merseyside derby between old foes Everton and Liverpool, the clash at the top of the table (who thought we’d call it that) Arsenal vs. Southampton and chip in on worrying issues for a trip of London clubs Chelsea, West Ham and Spurs.

(VIEW FROM THE BOOTH ARCHIVE)

You can hear Arlo calling live games this 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.

Can you try and explain why Man City are so good at home but terrible away from the Etihad? Also, what do Spurs need to improve on to get a big win against City?

The contrast in City’s form, both home and away, is remarkable and slightly worrying for Manuel Pellegrini and the City fans. At home they are irresistible, they are energetic and they have a big field at the Etihad Stadium where they’ve enjoyed some massive wins. I was there to see them dismantle Manchester United in ruthless fashion and it was likewise against Norwich City in a 7-0 win, after a poor start against Everton they romped back and took care of business. Away from home they roll over like a puppy having their tummy tickled. Four points out of 18 on the road, compared with 15 out of 15 at home. It’s a situation that has to be addressed by City because they don’t want uncertainty to creep into their home form because they know how massively important it is to win at home when they’re not winning away. This is a big game for them to get three points on the board.

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Man City’s woe on the road continues as they’ve taken just four points from a possible 18.

Having said that, Spurs themselves are a tough proposition. They might not be scoring many goals, they might not be playing the free-flowinng football that AVB would like at this stage of the season but they’re not conceding goals either. It’s going to be a big test for both sides. One thing I would say about Spurs, they’ve spent big money in the offseason, they had a lot of games in the Europa League, but Roberto Soldado has only scored one goal in 883 minutes from open play. He’s scored three penalties, those games ended 1-0 so he did his job there, you can’t knock him for that. But one goal in 883 minutes is not a good return. Where is Erik Lamela? He hasn’t featured in the last three games. He scored his first goal in the Europa League, where is he? Christian Eriksen is injured, did he pull up any trees before he got injured? Capoue got enjoyed, so the jury is still out on him. Chadli started the first three, we’ve barely seen him since. Paulinho has been the main player in terms of a new signing and Andros Townsend, who was already on the books, has been a star.

I think AVB over the next few weeks is looking for some of these big name players he signed over the summer to really step up. He has to find a solution to the goalscoring problem. Both up top and in the attacking midfielders. The only way they’re going to start winning more games, starting on Sunday, is to start scoring more goals.

This season Everton and Liverpool seem to be closer than ever, which side has the better chance of finishing in the top four?

I think on paper you have to say Liverpool. They have a terrific side, Suarez and Sturridge up top are a formidable partnership and I’ve been talking to Daniel Sturridge for NBC Sports this week. He is so excited about the game, he can barely get the grin off his face. He’s playing superbly well and he said about that chipped goal against West Brom, ‘I probably wouldn’t have tried that at previous clubs because if I’d have missed and that would’ve gone wrong the repercussions would’ve been too great for me. But I feel so comfortable in the team and established in the team that I can try stuff like that.’ Long may that continue because he is terrific. Coutinho coming back is big for them if Gerrard can come back from this hip injury he will always contribute. Defensively they look solid and Lucas is always covering every blade of grass. Right now, Liverpool have the best opportunity to finish in the top four.

But that could change because Roberto Martinez has really got Everton playing. They are solid. Lukaku is always a threat, Barry and McCarthy in the center of the park have been an excellent partnership. They’re no mugs Everton but if I had to nail my colors to the mast in terms of a top four finish, it would have to be the Reds.

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Arlo believes Daniel Sturridge is the man Everton must stop in the Merseyside derby this Saturday.

A lot of people are firing criticism at West Ham for not having more strikers on board, is it Sam Allardyce’s fault or just bad luck through injuries? Also, what’s going on with Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea?

It’s an interesting question. It’s hard to know whether West Ham were aware of the seriousness of the Andy Carroll’s injury. The plantar fasciitis, I’ve seen it a couple of times in recent seasons with Major League Soccer players, and it’s an awful injury. It’s painful  for the players and it just takes ages to clear up… if indeed it does so. It may have to be an injury that’s managed in the future. He doesn’t appear to be any closer to returning and that was a huge investment for West Ham, although they got a bargain relative to the money that had been paid for Andy Carroll previously.

Now Carlton Cole has to come in, he should be up to speed fitness wise and he has to play that role. Modibo isn’t scoring goals, Vaz Te, is he up to it regularly in the Premier League? Playing with no striker worked at Spurs but they haven’t won since in four games. Carlton Cole against his former club has a big role to play if selected. Both sides are desperate for a win and West Ham have only won once in 10 since the opening day of the season. Their home record is poor and they’ve got to start winning in front of their own fans.

With Chelsea, you never know what you’re going to get, do you? They haven’t kept a clean sheet for six games, that’s a worry. Jose is getting a little bit irritated. He went out on a limb to say that the penalty against West Brom was a definite penalty and then it’s slightly embarrassing for him to see Mike Riley take that unprecedented step of apologizing to West Brom for the decision. As usual with Jose he entrenches himself even further and criticizes the referee for apologizing! He is turning, as usual, the debate and focus away from his players. Instead of defending what has been a relatively poor run, no win in two games, he’s gone on the front foot against the head of referees. It’s masking the deficiencies in his side. Who’s going to start at center back alongside John Terry? Is it David Luiz or Gary Cahill? We will have to wait and see. Oscar is his man… everything else is an absolute guess as to who starts.

If Chelsea do lose, they’re ever so slightly starting to get cut adrift and that’s alarming.

Manchester United hit a relative purple patch before the international break, can they keep that going away at Cardiff in an intimidating atmosphere?

I think they can. There’s no rocket science going on there. They are getting used to David Moyes, they are good players. People said last season that this wasn’t a vintage Manchester United side, well, guess what? They won the league easily. As we know it’s a different kettle of fish this year, so many clubs are stronger. Not just the establish big boys but the likes of Southampton and Everton are shaking it up. It’s a fantastic season.

Even Manchester United with this new manager, an end of an era, they’re going to pull back into the pack a bit. They did have some alarming results and that’s not to say that they’re going to waltz into Cardiff on Saturday and ease to victory. Who knows what’s going to happen this season, we’ve seen so many shocks. The general curve with United seems to be upwards and the closer we get to January and the potential reinforcements. David Moyes and Ed Woodward have now had time to sit down and strategize who their targets are going to be. If United keep along this road of recovery, get some reinforcements in key positions in January, then they’re going to be there or there abouts.

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Southampton’s high-pressure approach could help them stun Arsenal and sit top of the PL standings come tea-time on Saturday.

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

Arsenal against Southampton. What a fantastic game that will be, although you wouldn’t have thought so at the start of the season. Arsenal are playing some terrific football this season they’ve got the lead but they might be second place when that game kicks off depending on the Liverpool result. But I cant wait to see how Southampton stand up to this stern test, this pressing game that they’ve been playing has been incredibly successful so far this season. They appear to be the real deal. Can they play like that or will they play like that at Arsenal? That will be a big test because they could get picked apart if the first wave of defense, the strikers, don’t put enough pressure on Arsenal. I wonder if Southampton under Pochettino might just stay a little further back and look to counter the Gunners in this game. Tactically, it’s going to be an absolutely fascinating game.