Liverpool vs. Chelsea, Mourinho’s antics and Moyes’ reign – 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 Liverpool vs. Chelsea at Anfield, Jose Mourinho’s latest antics, David Moyes reign at Old Trafford 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.

The big game of the weekend sees Liverpool hosting Chelsea at Anfield. Can the home side hold their nerve?

This 11-game winning run has been a thrilling high-wire act and the Reds only have a few more steps to reach the other side. It hasn’t been all straightforward for them but they are reaping the rewards from adopting the only approach that could possibly win them the title: a positive, high-pressure, explosive brand of attacking football. They have thrashed some teams on this run, Arsenal, Everton, Spurs and Cardiff have been put to the sword but they’ve also snatched the odd goal in dramatic high-scoring affairs against Swansea, Manchester City and Norwich. They’ve wobbled but they haven’t toppled. They’ve bent but they have not broken. I’m sure that Jose Mourinho will devise a game plan to create anxiety at Anfield but with Brendan Rodgers in charge of Liverpool I think they have sufficient nerve in reserve throughout the rest of this title chase.

 

source: Getty Images
Liverpool and Chelsea square off at Anfield, with the Blues not having happy memories of Merseyside in past seasons.

Jose Mourinho has already started the mind games by saying he’ll play what is in essence his ‘B’ team. What do you make of all this?

Chelsea face the first leg of an FA Youth Cup semifinal on Monday, so I would be surprised if he uses many “kids” at Anfield. We know he is without Terry, Cech and Ramires but Lampard and Mikel are suspended for the second leg vs. Atletico so are therefore available, Salah and Matic are ineligible, therefore available, and Ashley Cole could get another start like he did in Madrid. For me, the options are one wide midfielder and the two center backs, does he want to risk one of Cahill and Luiz or both of them and a striker. After Sunday, he may feel as if he’s out of the title race so it just depends on what agenda he believes he is serving. Jose is in quite a dark mood at the moment. Does he want to hand Manchester City fresh impetus to win the title by beating Liverpool? Questionable. Does he want to make a point about having to play all of these Champions League ties and not being given time off or having games rearranged by the Premier League? That’s possible. Is he unhappy at FA charges against him? That’s possible as well.

Can you see Mourinho going to a place like Anfield and being able to suffer a defeat? I just don’t buy it. He’d love to win, I don’t think he’d be desperately unhappy with a draw. I certainly don’t think he wants to lose at a ground where he already has some very bad memories.

Manchester United finally fired David Moyes after just 10 months in charge at Old Trafford. Was his appointment a mistake and what were the major issues?

It is easy with hindsight to say that it was a mistake. It was always going to be a huge challenge. The timing worked against David Moyes and against Manchester United. Once Sir Alex Ferguson had retired there was now way that Manchester City and Chelsea were going to give United the same pass they did last season when the Red Devils deservedly won the title by 11 points. We’ve seen the emergence of Liverpool, Moyes leaving Everton opened up the hotseat for Roberto Martinez to revolutionize things and they’ve challenged for the top four. Moyes wasn’t helped by David Gill’s departure from the Chief Executive role either. Gill and Sir Alex leaving at the same time, you have to ask the club why that was allowed to happen because it created a vacuum of knowledge and experience at the very summit of a hugely successful football club.

source: AP
David Moyes, right, was fired on Tuesday and replaced by current Untied player Ryan Giggs, left, on an interim basis.

That said. United’s decline has been pretty shocking and Moyes is culpable if not solely responsible. If you’re a Manchester United manager and you start painting your team as an underdog or aspiring to be like your neighbors, I think you’re in trouble. United are all about aggression, being on the front foot, not sitting back, not containing. That was the style Moyes had at Everton and that was always going to be the style he brought to Manchester United. You could question the wisdom of originally appointing him. I always felt that the crucial issue was going to be, would they hand him the pot of $200-250 million for transfers and I always felt they’d be reluctant to do that. David has moved on, Ryan Giggs has come in and the first words he has used are passion, speed, tempo, bravery and imagination. Let’s read between the lines and surmise that Ryan Giggs feels that all those elements have been missing from Manchester United this season.

The relegation battle has really tightened up. Will Norwich and West Brom go down? Do you think Fulham, Cardiff and Sunderland have a chance?

Of course I am completely neutral but I do feel a bit sorry for Norwich. They have been handed a hellish last four games of the season and they battled really well against Liverpool last week. They must have looked at Manchester United and seen them so deflated after defeat at Everton and thought, we might have a chance here to go and do something at Old Trafford. Then David Moyes is fired and one of the all-time legends and greats of United history has taken over, you would expect that with only Rafael and RVP unfit to play, that United will come out and show the fans what they think of Ryan Giggs and they want to make a statement in a game that is on national TV. Poor old Norwich might  be on the end of a torrid evening this Saturday.

source: AP
Sunderland have given themselves a fighting chance of staying up after a draw at Man City and beating Chelsea.

Cardiff, Fulham and Sunderland must be thinking to themselves that if we can get to 33 points, we’ve got a chance because Norwich might just drop into that bottom three with the severity of their run in.

Cardiff vs. Sunderland is clearly a massive game on Sunday, Sunderland will go into that with huge confidence. I saw them at Stamford Bridge beating Chelsea, they got four points against Manchester City and Chelsea, both away from home last week. Connor Wickham has started scoring goals at a vital time of the season and Jozy Altidore had a key moment after winning the winning penalty at Stamford Bridge. Maybe Sunderland feel, particularly with a game in hand, that they can put a run together and get out of it. Having said that, we’ve been looking for all these teams at the bottom to put runs together and very few of them have apart from Crystal Palace. Making predictions at this time of the season is a mugs game.

Finally, what else are you looking forward to?

There is one for the purists, Southampton vs. Everton. The Toffees have an opportunity to maintain the pressure on Arsenal by playing in the early kick off on Saturday. Then, let’s see how the result of Liverpool vs. Chelsea affects Manchester City’s approach at Crystal Palace. That has developed into one of the toughest games in the Premier League. Tony Pulis has done such a magnificent job that if Liverpool do slip up against Chelsea, then there’s no guarantee City go to Palace and win easily particularly with some of the injuries they’ve got.

Once again, there is plenty of intrigue and things to look forward to. Enjoy the weekend.

Lampard: Pulisic back over “next week or two,” explains caution

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The latest batch of Christian Pulisic news is good: Chelsea boss Frank Lampard says the USMNT star is back training but still days away from being in contention to play in a match.

Pulisic, 22, is yet to play for the Blues this season after suffering an injury in this summer’s FA Cup Final.

[ MORE: West Brom-Chelsea preview ]

Like new addition Hakim Ziyech, Pulisic is getting closer but not quite ready. He hopes to see both players in match action within “the next week or two.”

The Chelsea boss was asked whether the club is being more careful with Pulisic given his series of muscle injuries that have short-circuited several star turns at Stamford Bridge.

From Chelsea’s site:

“There is always a concern about player fitness when their history shows there has been injuries and you try to find the right way and right balance to get the best out of Christian, which we saw in big periods last year. You make sure you don’t over-cook him and leave him susceptible to injury, and particularly with a player of his explosive pace and balance that is a fine line.

“We are working on that and Christian is very open to that. He wants to play, he is so hungry and he is very nearly fit now but it is certainly something we will have to manage this season. We have all seen the talent and it is something I want to get right. I am not saying it is a fundamental, chronic issue, it is not, but we want as many minutes of the great Christian we saw last season on the pitch.”

Makes sense.

In other Pulisic news, the American is being hailed for reaching out to a young Libyan who saved a man from drowning.

Mohammed Al-Arabi is described as one of the leaders of a Chelsea fan club in Libya. He heard someone in distress on a beach in Libya and rescued them from the water but was lost at sea for 20 minutes.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]

Al-Arabi ended up in a coma for 24 hours but has emerged with his health.

Pulisic sent a video to Al-Arabi describing the Libyan as “brave” and a “hero or a legend.”

Al-Arabi was stunned, via the BBC:

“What Pulisic did is surprising and I didn’t think that my actions would get such attention from the club that I have supported since I was a child,” he told BBC Sport Africa. “I love Chelsea very much and I try to go to their matches whenever circumstances allow me to travel. I’m not lying when I say Chelsea are the best thing for me in life: my friends tease me that I exaggerate my support, but this has made me love this club even more and more.”

“Pulisic’s words have not only raised my spirits but also urged me to do more to help others. Life is simple, and when you see a star encouraging a simple person it is a great incentive for many people to do help in such situations. I have to thank everyone who saved my life and the life of the other person, whose name I do not know, and everyone who supported me in this difficult experience.”

Nice nod from Pulisic, but even better from Al-Arabi. To a long and fruitful life!

Suarez unveiled by Atletico Madrid; Messi takes swipe at Barcelona

Luis Suarez Atletico Madrid
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The iconic partnership of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez at Barcelona is a thing of the past and the greatest player in the world is clearly unhappy to see it.

Meanwhile, the Uruguayan pairing of Suarez and manager Diego Simeone is just beginning (and we think Joao Felix may have something to say here, too).

Atletico Madrid announced the signing of ex-Liverpool star Suarez on Friday, injecting power into its attack in a bid to overtake Real Madrid and Barca and reclaim La Liga superiority.

Suarez will turn 34 in January. The two sides meet Nov. 22 in Madrid and May 9 at the Camp Nou.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk Unfiltered, Week 2 ]

He scored 20 or more goals in each of his six seasons at Barcelona, including a career-high 58 (with 40 league goals) in 2015-16. He bagged 21 goals and 11 assists despite being limited to under 2700 minutes last season due to injuries.

Could Suarez’s arrival have a bonus outcome and strengthen the resolve of countryman Jose María Gimenez to stay in Madrid? The aforementioned trio is part of a history of Uruguayan success at Atleti, as Diego Godin, Diego Forlan, and Fernando Correa have all delivered the goods.

Messi and Suarez enjoyed a terrific chemistry on- and off-the-field with Barcelona (Who can forget the photo of the pair calmly watching their kids play soccer, which is turned into a meme used by every soccer coach in the world to decry more volatile soccer parents and guardians).

The Argentine used Instagram to salute his CONMEBOL and now La Liga rival. He’s not happy. Here are some selections from his post, translated by Sky Sports.

“You deserved a fitting farewell for the person that you are: One of the best players in the club’s history, having achieved incredible things both individually and collectively. You didn’t deserve to be pushed out the way they did, but the truth is nothing surprises me anymore.”

“I was gradually accepting it, but when I got into the dressing room today, how hard it’s going to be to no longer have you around in the day-to-day on and off the pitch really dawned on me. We’re going to miss you so much. …. I wish you all the best for your new challenge. Sending love to you and your family. See you soon, mate.”

Messi tried to leave Barcelona earlier this summer but La Liga backed the club’s reading of his contract and the player was unwilling to expose his club to a court battle.

It’s going to be an interesting journey through Messi’s presumed final year at his beloved Barcelona. Will the club’s presidential elections and/or transfer actions do enough to keep him a one-club man beyond the summer of 2021?

MADRID, SPAIN – FEBRUARY 01: Messi and Suarez after a Barcelona goal against Atletico Madrid in 2017 (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

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Report: Man City offering Otamendi in package for Dias or Kounde

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Manchester City is moving on from Kalidou Koulibaly and has a package in mind as Pep Guardiola moves to improve his center back situation with a couple of weeks to go in the transfer window.

Reporter Fabrizio Romano says that City has offered veteran center back Nicolas Otamendi and money in a $60 million package to both Sevilla and Benfica in pursuit of Jules Kounde and Ruben Dias, respectively.

Gotta love it when the real transfer market looks like the FIFA video game transfer market.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]

Both prospective City additions are much younger than the 32-year-old Otamendi. Dias is 23 and Kounde is 21 and would join Nathan Ake and Aymeric Laporte in the City back line (and Eric Garcia, for now). Romano says Sevilla turned down the package last week.

Kounde debuted for Bordeaux at the age of 19 and moved to Sevilla in 2019. Between the clubs, he’s played in 111 matches and scored six times. He was named to the Europa League Squad of the Season when Sevilla won the tournament this summer.

Dias is a Benfica lifer and already has 19 caps for the Portuguese national team, a standout member of the side that won the UEFA Nations League. He was linked with Manchester United last year.

As for Otamendi, the Argentine has won nine trophies at Man City over 210 appearances in five seasons. He was also a member of the 2017-18 PFA Team of the Year when City set a number of Premier League records.

The players look similar when put side-by-side in WhoScored’s Player Comparison tool, though obviously there’s a required allotment for the differences in league.

But Dias’ vision and range of passing makes him the top option in the bunch. We’ll see what happens as the days move forward.

WhoScored
whoscored.com/PlayerComparison

Transfer news: Cyprien to Newcastle; Chelsea, Rice agree terms

Cyprien to Newcastle
Photo by JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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We’ve got a bargain price — Wyatt Cyprien to Newcastle — and one that could hardly be described as anything near a discount — Declan Rice to Chelsea — in our Premier League transfer rumors for Friday.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]

Chelsea’s opening offer to West Ham was about what it paid Leicester City for Ben Chilwell. West Ham is reportedly asking a touch more than the English record Manchester United paid the Foxes for Harry Maguire.

In related news, Leicester knows how to maximize its profits on Three Lions players.


Rice to Chelsea

Declan Rice wants to go home again.

The West Ham midfielder and former Chelsea youth has agreed terms with the Blues on a five-year deal as Frank Lampard aims to buy Rice.

The Express reports that Chelsea has so far offered $57 million to West Ham, who wants about $102 million for the 21-year-old.

Chelsea has already spent more than $300 million this summer after last summer’s transfer ban cost them any new additions.

Rice would join Edouard Mendy, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell, and Kai Havertz as big money buys by the Blues in 2020.

Only eight defensive midfielders are ranked higher in value by Transfermarkt: Rodri, Joshua Kimmich, Casemiro, Fabinho, Jorginho, Ruben Neves, and Marcelo Brozovic.

He could become the sixth most expensive English player in history if he costs any more than the $58 million price tag slapped on Chilwell.

That… is something.

Most expensive English player transfers (Transfermarkt)

  • Harry Maguire, Leicester -> Man Utd, $101 million
  • Raheem Sterling, Liverpool -> Man City, $74 million
  • John Stones, Everton -> Man City, $65 million
  • Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Palace -> Man Utd, $64 million
  • Kyle Walker, Spurs -> Man City, $61 million
  • Ben Chilwell, Leicester -> Chelsea, $58 million

West Ham has to get a huge figure for Rice, especially if the player is sold to a crosstown rival. The Irons have already faced criticism for failures in the transfer market and the sale of Grady Diangana to West Brom had captain Mark Noble speaking publicly about his displeasure.

There are also rumors that David Moyes’ targets are too rich and the players being offered the selective Scot are not up to his standards. Maybe the Rice money allows Moyes to get “one of his own” but that’s a significant risk for a man who’s yet to prove he’s an upgrade on Manuel Pellegrini.

Cyprien to Newcastle

Newcastle United’s biggest hole is in the center of the park and the Magpies are again being linked with Nice’s Wylan Cyprien.

Bordeaux is said to be leading the race for the 25-year-old who is out-of-contract at the end of the season and said to be available for a $12 million price tag which would not put off the Magpies.

Cyprien has 23 goals and 12 assists in 127 league outings for Nice, who is coached by Arsenal legend and former NYCFC boss Patrick Vieira.

He is an excellent passer who doesn’t mind a shot and is strong on set pieces, scoring seven times last season. That’s one off his career-best in Ligue 1 goals set in 2016-17.

It’s a report Newcastle fans will probably hope to speak into existence.