Manchester United vs. Liverpool, Sherwood’s struggles, MLS mega-match – 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 Tim Sherwood’s future at Tottenham Hotspur, Cardiff’s survival hopes, a massive “Rivalry Sunday” in the Premier League this weekend, which big teams could slip up and much more.

(MORE: VIEW FROM THE BOOTH ARCHIVE)

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.

With Tottenham’s capitulation against Chelsea on Saturday, is that the end of their top four chances? Do you fear for Tim Sherwood’s future… like he does?

I’ll let Tim Sherwood answer your question. After the 4-0 defeat to Chelsea, his response was this; “We’re miles away. You can’t finish top four if you can’t beat the top teams.” Spurs have won at Old Trafford. They also beat Everton at White Hart Lane in a big game recently. But against the true class of the Premier League, they have been blown away too many times. They’ve conceded 11 goals to Manchester City, they conceded five at home to Liverpool and now four at Chelsea. My fear for Spurs is that they’ll finish fifth and end up in the Europa League again.

I thought Sherwood devised a very interesting tactical plan at Stamford Bridge. I’m certain that they felt really good about things at half time. Bentaleb and Sandro were terrific in the center of the park and Kyle Walker was taking up some decent positions on both sides of the ball. But it all unraveled in the blink of an eye, and from a performance that should have been a great source of confidence for Spurs, it became a hammering and soon after, a potentially damaging post-match chastisement from the manager.

source: Getty Images
Is Sherwood’s time up at Spurs after three months? The English manager hasn’t done much wrong, according to Arlo.

Sherwood’s appointment has always had a temporary feel to it, but Tottenham’s results and performances have improved in comparison to the previous regime. It wasn’t Sherwood who sold Gareth Bale last summer, and it wasn’t Sherwood who recruited so many expensive players with the subsequent windfall (none of whom started at Stamford Bridge.)

(MORE: Cracks starting to appear in Sherwood’s leadership at Spurs)

As for the future, the Spurs job will be coveted by some very big managerial names, not least Luis van Gaal. Sherwood himself admits that he couldn’t be a number two at the club, and he’s unlikely to want to head back to the academy. If he is relieved of his duties, he would depart with his head held high, with a years severance money in his pocket and some valuable experience to take to another club. His talents would surely be utilized somewhere.

With Cardiff City beating Fulham in the relegation six-pointer, how important was that result? And has it complicated the fight for survival at the bottom of the table?

It was a huge result. I saw Cardiff lose narrowly at Tottenham in their previous game, and there were signs of life for Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s side. Their next two games are extremely tough outings against Everton and Liverpool, but it’s the run of five games after that which I think will define their season. They face West Brom, Crystal Palace, Southampton, Stoke and Sunderland. The Barclays Premier League is a tough place. It’s survival of the fittest. For Cardiff City, who have gone through all the trauma and turmoil that they have this season (most of it self inflicted), it is a dream run of games to try and save themselves.

(MORE: Latest Premier League standings)

Fulham are clearly struggling whilst West Brom are in free fall. Let’s see how Sunderland, who gave such a good account of themselves in the Capital One cup final, fair against relegation rivals Palace and Norwich in their next two games.

Looking ahead to this weekend, two massive derbies are playing out on Sunday, Manchester United vs. Liverpool and Tottenham vs. Arsenal, how do you see these games going?

source: AP
Liverpool and Manchester United continue their bitter rivalry at Old Trafford on Sunday live on NBCSN.

I bet Liverpool can hardly wait to get to Old Trafford on Sunday. They had a weekend off and must be raring to go. All the talk over the last couple of weeks has been about Chelsea and their new found grip on the title. Liverpool will still have a massive say in that, particularly as Chelsea have to go to Anfield in April.

My formative years following Football were in the 1980’s. Back then, Liverpool were the kings and United simply the pretenders. Then came Sir Alex Ferguson. It’s a long time since Liverpool visited Old Trafford as the title chasers, with United the also rans. The problem for the chasing pack at the moment is that Chelsea always seem to have extra games, and they keep winning them!

By the time Liverpool kick off on Sunday, Chelsea could be ten points clear of them if they win at Villa Park on Saturday, albeit having played two games more. The Reds have lost six consecutive games at Old Trafford in all competitions, but they’ll be hoping for a repeat of their last victory, a 4-1 romp in 2009. Now that would make a statement.

(WATCH: PST Extra – Traditional giants of England tangle this weekend)

I’ll be at the North London derby which follows the game at Old Trafford. Arsenal need a statement victory themselves. A performance that says to their rivals that they are still in the title race. Their response to going out of the Champions League last season was incredible, and they need more of the same this season to challenge for the top prize. It’s been a decent week for the Gunners just when it was all threatening to fall apart. They won through to the FA Cup semi final, saw the Cup field depleted by Manchester City’s defeat to Wigan and then exited the Champions League to Bayern Munich with their pride in tact. The imminent return of Aaron Ramsey could provide a huge boost.

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Man City’s midweek UCL defeat to Barcelona could see them slip up away at Hull on Saturday.

Perhaps Emmanuel Adebayor holds the key for Spurs. He seems to love the big game atmosphere, having scored 8 goals in his eleven north London derbies. Spurs will need him firing at the Lane on Sunday.

Chelsea and Manchester City both face tricky away games this weekend, which one of these title contenders is more likely to slip up?

Based on pure form, then Chelsea are the least likely to slip up when they travel to Aston Villa. They didn’t play in midweek, and they have the late kick off. Chelsea are purring nicely and must be favorites for the title despite Jose’s repeated assertion that the table isn’t “realistic.”

Manchester City spent a long time chasing Barcelona players around the enormous Nou Camp pitch on Wednesday night and they have a quick turn around at Hull City in the Saturday lunch time kick off. It’s the sort of game that City struggled in earlier this season, but they desperately need to win. The free scoring City of a few weeks ago have cooled off considerably recently. They’ve only managed eight goals in their last eight games. All of a sudden, talk of scoring records and unprecedented thrashings has ceased, but like Liverpool, City are free to concentrate purely on the Premier League run in.

source: AP
With Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley on board, Toronto’s clash with Dempsey and Seattle will be a stunner on Saturday.

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

Some MLS action! The Seattle Sounders against Toronto FC on NBCSN on Saturday afternoon. It’s a big day for the league. U.S. national team stars Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley will be on the field together, and that is a huge deal.

(WATCH: Seattle vs. Toronto FC, NBCSN, 4:30pm ET, Saturday)

Obafemi Martins and Jermaine Defoe playing up top for either side, is a terrific prospect. This game will showcase where MLS is heading as a league.

Have a great weekend everyone…

Toronto score 4 goals in ET to bounce DCU, Rooney (video)

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The game in 200 words (or less): Toronto FC outplayed D.C. United by a wide margin but needed extra time — and a 13-minute explosion of goals — to book their place in the Eastern Conference semifinals, where they’ll face top-seeded New York City. The Reds led for exactly an hour, thanks to Marco Delgado’s goal just after the half-hour mark, only to throw their advantage away — after failing to convert a number of chances to go 2-0 up — in second-half stoppage time. The 1-1 scoreline lasted for all of about three minutes of game time before Toronto scored not once, not twice, not three times, but four times in the first period of extra time. Now, Greg Vanney’s side will cross its fingers and hope to get Jozy Altidore (quad) and Omar Gonzalez (hamstring), who didn’t play in this one, back for Wednesday’s game against NYCFC.

[ MORE: Lampard “pleased for Pulisic,” praises subs in Chelsea win ]

What did we learn?

  • Worst time for a goalkeeping error: You might be thinking, “Well, yes, duh, of course it is, there isn’t a good time for that.” The playoffs, however, are really not the right time, however, and United learned that the hard way when Bill Hamid failed to hold onto a simple bouncing ball in front of goal. Stefan Frei was lights out for the Seattle Sounders earlier on Saturday and Jesse Gonzalez recovered from a poor start (and was bailed out by three goals scored by FC Dallas), and Quentin Westberg was stellar for Toronto in this one.

  • Set-piece defending, once again: Earlier in the day, we saw Seattle fail to defend set pieces and let Dallas back into their game on multiple occasions. Toronto weren’t any better in the dying seconds of regular time. With under two minutes remaining, this is how they defended a United corner kick…

That’s comically bad for a regular season game in the middle of April, let alone for a dark-horse candidate in the playoffs, up a goal in stoppage time. Every chance counts tenfold in the playoffs, and set pieces are no different.

  • D.C.’s desire still in doubt: To lose in extra time, away from home, is one thing. To capitulate and concede four goals in 13 minutes — almost as if to say you didn’t want to score the late equalizer in the first place — is shameful. Wayne Rooney‘s time in MLS ends with his team down 5-1 in extra time and him being subbed off after 105 minutes.

 

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Jonathan Osorio

Goalscorers: Delgado (32′), Rodriguez (90’+3), Laryea (93′), Osorio (95′, 103′) DeLeon (105’+1)

Serie A: Juventus win 5th straight; Napoli cruise past Verona (video)

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Italy’s top flight…

[ LA LIGA: Real Madrid lose to Mallorca; Messi, Suarez, Griezmann send Barca top ]

Juventus 2-1 Bologna

Juve were made to work a bit — but not too much — en route to a 2-1 victory over Bologna. It’s their fifth straight win in league play and again puts them four points clear of Inter Milan, who are yet to play this weekend.

Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring with a pinpoint finish from a tight angle in the 19th minute, but Bologna hit back just seven minutes later when Danilo smashed home a half-volley after Juve failed to clear a corner kick. It was 1-1 at halftime, but not much longer than that. Miralem Pjanic picked out the near post and slotted home past the goalkeeper in the 54th minute to give Juve their deserved winner.

Napoli 2-0 Verona

Napoli, on the other hand, had their backs against the wall early when Verona visited the San Paolo Stadium. Goalkeeper Alex Meret was the hero early on with a fantastic double-save before Carlo Ancelotti’s side settled in and took control of the game.

Arkadiusz Milik got on the end of Fabian Ruiz’s cross right in front of goal, leaving the Polish forward with the simplest of tap-ins to make it 1-0 in the 37 minute. Milik made it 2-0 when he got a glancing touch on a sensation free kick from Lorenzo Insigne in the 67th.

The victory sees Napoli hang onto fourth in the league table and move to within two points of second-place Inter.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Lazio 3-3 Atalanta

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Sassuolo v. Inter Milan — 6:30 a.m. ET
Sampdoria v. Roma — 9 a.m. ET
Udinese v. Torino — 9 a.m. ET
Cagliari v. SPAL — 9 a.m. ET
Parma v. Genoa — 12 p.m. ET
AC Milan v. Lecce — 2:45 p.m. ET

Sounders top Dallas in all-time, extra-time playoffs classic (video)

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The game in 200 words (or less): How about one word? Insanity. Simply put, an all-time classic in MLS Cup Playoffs history. It’s a small sample size, no doubt about it, but MLS’s new single-elimination playoff format appears to have solved the problem of uninspiring early-round action. Seattle advanced to the Western Conference semifinals, where they’ll face the winner of Real Salt Lake versus Portland Timbers, with a 4-3 extra-time victory, but it wasn’t without 120 minutes of nonstop drama. Seattle went from 2-0 up inside the first 25 minutes, to level at 2-2 inside 65, to 3-2 up 10 minutes later, to level again with under 10 minutes of regular time remaining. They needed 113 minutes to do it, but Seattle broke the deadlock for the final time when Jordan Morris completed the first hat trick of his career.

[ MORE: Lampard “pleased for Pulisic,” praises subs in Chelsea win ]

What did we learn?

  • Sounders making magic out wide: No matter how many times they saw it, Dallas simply couldn’t slow down the Sounders wide attackers and full backs from creating superb scoring chances from out wide. This has been one of the Sounders’ greatest strengths for a couple seasons now, yet Dallas seemed wholly unprepared for it. The speed and crossing ability they have out wide is a huge problem for a lot of teams, especially when Morris and Raul Ruidiaz are moving around freely in the box.

  • Sounders’ defensive struggles unsolved: For all the chances they created on one end, Seattle couldn’t control the game or even slow it down in middle and defensive thirds. Whether it was on the counter-attack, through sustained possession by Dallas or set pieces, Seattle struggled in the worst way. Even after going ahead in extra time, Seattle stood idly by as Dallas created a couple of golden scoring chances and were so close to finding themselves level again at 4-4. They won’t have (m)any more “get out of jail free” cards to play as they advance to the latter rounds.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Jordan Morris

Goalscorers: Ruidiaz (18′), Morris (22′, 74′, 113′), Cannon (39′), Hedges (64′), Acosta (82′)

La Liga: Real Madrid shocked by Mallorca; Messi, Suarez, Griezmann send Barca top

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: Lampard “pleased for Pulisic,” praises subs in Chelsea win ]

Eibar 0-3 Barcelona

Lionel Messi goal – check; Luis Suarez goal – check; Antoine Griezmann goal – check; clean sheet – check. If there exists a perfect recipe for a Barcelona victory this season, the Blaugrana put it to good use en route to a fourth straight La Liga victory and top spot in the league table on Saturday.

Griezmann opened the scoring in the 13th minute, followed by Messi in the 58th and Suarez in the 66th. Marc-Andre ter Stegen didn’t have to make a single save as Eibar managed just five shots in the game.

Mallorca 1-0 Real Madrid

Real Madrid’s unbeaten start to the season was snapped at eight games on Saturday, when Los Blancos went to Mallorca and suffered a hugely underwhelming 1-0 defeat. Zinedine Zidane’s side — already without the likes of Gareth Bale (calf), Luka Modric (bruise), Toni Kroos (adductor) and Marco Ascensio (knee), among others — finished the game with 10 men after Alvaro Odriozola earned his second yellow card in the 74th minute. The defeat sees Madrid fall off the top spot, now sitting second behind Barca.

Lago Junior scored the game’s only goal in the 7th minute and Mallorca held on for 83 more, allowing just four shots on target (12 in total). The early goal was Mallorca’s only shot on target over 90 minutes.

Atletico Madrid 1-1 Valencia

Atleti coughed up a late lead and settled for a 1-1 draw with Valencia, but the worst news of the day comes in the form of an injury suffered by Joao Felix. The 19-year-old’s ankle buckled underneath him late in the second half. Atleti finished with 10 men after their $140-million superstar was forced off.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Getafe 2-0 Leganes

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Alaves v. Celta Vigo — 6 a.m. ET
Real Sociedad v. Real Betis — 8 a.m. ET
Espanyol v. Villarreal — 10 a.m. ET
Athletic Bilbao v. Real Valladolid — 12:30 p.m. ET
Sevilla v. Levante — 3 p.m. ET