Trust me, I’m well aware that this weekend’s marquee matchup in Major League Soccer is the Cascadia Cup clash between the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers (Sunday 9:30 pm ET) at CenturyLink Field.
While we give credit to the Seattle vs. Portland feud as one of MLS’s very best — if not the best — rivalries, there’s quite the deep hatred brewing between another pair of MLS teams, this time in “flyover country,” and it reared its ugly head again on Thursday, for no real apparent reason.
Speaking to the media ahead of Sporting Kansas City’s meeting with the Houston Dynamo (Saturday, 8:30 pm ET), another of Sporting KC’s recent rivals in MLS Cup Playoffs gone by, Sporting midfielder Benny Feilhaber was asked, “What’s the team that stands out to you that causes you to say to yourself, ‘I hate those guys,'” with the assumed intention of garnering a half-interesting quote about the Dynamo.
But Feilhaber quickly diverted attention away from Saturday’s opponent and took aim at the club’s other, and his own personal favorite, rival, Real Salt Lake.
“I’ve never liked Salt Lake. I think they’re…yeah, I don’t like them. I like playing against them. I like beating them, even though we haven’t been able to the last two years, but this year, we get to play them a couple more times.
“Salt Lake, I don’t know if it’s the game that I look forward to the most, but it’s the team that, like you said, I hate the most, I guess.”
Sure, the two teams met in that epic 2013 MLS Cup final, which required 10 rounds of penalty kicks to crown a champion, but the beef between Sporting and RSL is an animosity that goes back much further than that. Further than even Feilhaber’s time in Kansas City.
In 2011, a closed-door preseason game between the two teams was cut short after a series of hard tackles reportedly led to an all-out brawl between the two sides. More bad blood ensued later that season when Roger Espinoza was sent off for a hard tackle from behind on RSL captain Kyle Beckerman during a regular season meeting at Sporting Park.
In 2013, Feilhaber’s first season in Kansas City, then-RSL defender Chris Wingert leveled then-SKC winger Kei Kamara with a vicious shoulder to the head just six seconds into their league game at Rio Tinto Stadium. Later that year came the MLS Cup instant-classic.
2014’s lone matchup between SKC and RSL, just as their first meeting of 2015 two weeks ago, was an ugly, physical 0-0 draw played at Sporting Park. On the back of that, Feilhaber already had their next two encounters — June 21 and July 24 — on his mind and was more than happy to explain exactly from where his distaste for RSL comes.
“I just don’t like them. I’ll leave it at that.”
“Some individuals, I don’t hate. Some guys on the team, I like. But I guess, as a whole, I don’t like them too much.”
“I just think they’re…snobby, almost. They think they’re something special, when they’re not. So, that’s pretty much it.”
Living in Kansas City myself, I will assure anyone out there that everything in the above quotes conveys precisely the feelings that every SKC fan harbors for RSL.
This is a good feud, a strong feud, a real feud born out of high-quality, competitive play on the field; not from the marketing arm of a team or the league trying to drive interest in their product. Best of all, it looks set to burn white-hot for some time to come.
Liverpool plays its first Premier League match in 25 days when high-flying Brighton and Hove Albion debut a new manager as visitors at Anfield on Saturday (watch live, 10am ET online via Peacock Premium).
Roberto De Zerbi takes the wheel for the Seagulls following Graham Potter’s move to Chelsea, and Brighton will be staging its first match since a 5-2 demolition of Leicester City on Sept. 4.
Is Liverpool ready to turn chances into goals at a more familiar rate? The Reds’ expected goal total for this season is close to leaders Manchester City and Arsenal but its actual goal production is fifth and somewhat-inflated by their nine-goal beatdown of Bournemouth previously this season.
Brighton, meanwhile, has to show that it’s getting a handle on life after Graham Potter, as De Zerbi’s credentials say things might not look too different. The former Sassuolo and Shakhtar Donetsk boss craves possession in his teams and delivers chances as a boss in the manner you’d expect from a former attacking midfielder.
Liverpool team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: Calvin Ramsay (lower back), Curtis Jones (tibia), Ibrahima Konate (knee), Naby Keita (thigh), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (thigh), Andrew Robertson (knee), Caoimhin Kelleher (groin), Ibrahima Konate (knee),
Partey, Zinchenko underline importance: After missing the last few games through injury, this display summed up how important Partey and Zinchenko are to Arsenal. Partey broke up play masterfully and never allowed Spurs to dictate the tempo of the game. Zinchenko’s runs into midfield from left back bamboozled Spurs and his tactical flexibility and calmness on the ball is a joy to watch. Their leadership flows through every part of this team and when everyone is fit, this is a very balanced, young, exciting squad.
Statement win sums up steady progress: There is something special brewing at Arsenal. This run of wins to start the season should surprise nobody. After spending wisely on quality players this summer, this finally feels like Mikel Arteta’s side and it has felt that way since day one of preseason. Even after the disappointment of just missing out on Champions League qualification to Tottenham at the end of last season, Arsenal were heading in the right direction. They have been for some time and this start to the season will give them the confidence and belief they can fight for trophies and maybe, just maybe, have an outside chance of challenging for the title.
Clunky, unbalanced Spurs still yet to hit their stride: Even though Spurs went into this game as one of only two unbeaten teams in the Premier League so far this season, they haven’t played that well. They are clunky in possession, lack creativity in the final third and have relied on Kane, Son and Richarlison to finish off chances on the counter. That tactics clicked in a few times but with that trio starting together from the off, the balance just wasn’t right and Conte’s side couldn’t keep the ball well enough or link together in the final third. The good news is Spurs have still had a decent start to the season without hitting their stride at all. Emerson Royal’s sending off was a little harsh but Spurs deserved nothing from this game as Conte is still trying to get the balance right.
Granit Xhaka reaction: “From the first second we were the better team”
“We didn’t have a lot of weeks to prepare because of the international break, but we saw yesterday in training that we were ready,” Xhaka told BT Sport. “From the first second I think we were the better team. After we conceded we were struggling a little bit, but in the second half we were much better and I am so happy to score and help the team to win. My first derby goal in England. I’m more than happy to help the team. The team is the most important thing.”
Mikel Arteta reaction
Mikel Arteta on Arsenal's focus: "I could sense it straight away. We were ready and focused for it. It is so meaningful. We know what it at stake for this game. It is more than 3 points." #AFC#THFC#NorthLondonDerby
Antonio Conte: "In my opinion if I have to complain it is the first half. We felt the possibility to win the game. We had a lot of chances. We had a lot of spaces and many times we made a mistake in the last passes." #THFC
This game perfectly summed up the playing style of both of these teams. Arteta’s Arsenal kept the ball well, rotated through midfield and Zinchenko slotted inside to give them a one-man advantage in the engine room and they dominated most of this game. Spurs were dangerous on the counter, as always, but starting Son, Kane and Richarlison together impacted the balance of Conte’s side and they were overrun in midfield by Xhaka and Partey.
Oleksandr Zinchenko: Fired up from the very start and he’s so good on the ball and his movements into midfield helped Arsenal stay on top for large periods.
Bukayo Saka: Brilliant run and shot to set up the second goal and went close on a few other occasions. He gave Clement Lenglet a tough time.
Granit Xhaka: Scored the third goal and alongside Partey, they won the ball back so many times. What a resurgence he’s having.
Arsenal host Bodo/Glimt in the Europa League on Thursday before welcoming Liverpool to the Emirates for a huge clash next Sunday, Oct. 9. Tottenham are away at Eintracht Frankfurt in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday and then travel to Brighton on Saturday, Oct. 8.
How to watch Arsenal vs Tottenham live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 7:30am ET, Saturday TV Channel: USA Network Online: Stream via NBCSports.com
Arsenal vs Tottenham live analysis! – By Joe Prince-Wright at the Emirates Stadium
FULL TIME: Arsenal 3-1 Tottenham. Dominant win for Mikel Arteta’s side.
🔥🔴🕺The vibes, they are very good here at the Emirates Stadium!
It’s all Arsenal now. Spurs are in damage limitation mode.
GOALLL! Granit Xhaka slots home. ‘We are top of the league!’ sing the Arsenal fans. The Emirates has gone absolutely bonkers. What an atmosphere here!
RED CARD! Emerson Royal catches Gabriel Martinelli high on the ankle and gets a straight red card. Cue a melee between the players as Arsenal’s fans are delighted. That was a late challenge and it was high. But that probably falls into the orange card category.
Spurs looking a threat on the counter again now as Kane, Son and Richarlison are getting on the ball.
MISS! Gabriel Jesus nods wide. That is a big chance for Arsenal to extend their lead. Tottenham being pinned back just like the start to the first half.
GOALLLL! That pressure told. Bukayo Saka cuts inside and his low shot is parried by Hugo Lloris and Cristian Romero can’t clear as Gabriel Jesus bundles home. Cue pandemonium at the Emirates. Arsenal retake the lead! What a start to the second half.
Gabriel Jesus pounces on the rebound and fires Arsenal back into the lead! #AFC
HALF TIME: Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham – Very good game, this. Tactically intriguing and Spurs have battled back into this well after Arsenal dominated most of the first half.
This first half sums up Arsenal and Tottenham so far this season. #AFC full of creativity, confidence and swagger but still have the odd mistake in them.#THFC robust and clunky but lethal on the counter.
Arsenal are very nervous at the back now. Buoyed by that equalizer, Spurs look very sharp on the counter.
GOALLL! After one long ball finds Son who finds Richarlison after hesitation from Gabriel, Arsenal get themselves into a heck of a mess as Gabriel brings down Richarlison for a clear penalty kick. Harry Kane (Mr. North London Derby) slams home the penalty to score his 14th goal in 18 appearances against Arsenal to extend his own record as the leading scorer in the history of this magnificent fixture. Just like that, Spurs are level. They don’t deserve it but Conte won’t care and neither do the Spurs fans in the away end. Absolute limbs.
Harry Kane scores from the spot against Arsenal yet again!
Wave after wave of Arsenal attack on the Tottenham goal now. Spurs cannot hold the Gunners back.
GOALLLL! Wow. Thomas Partey curls home a stunner from outside the box. What a goal. The Emirates goes wild. How did he have that much space there!? “1-0 to the Arsenalllll!” is the chant from the home fans. And it should be more. They totally deserve this lead.
SAVE! Aaron Ramsdale denies Richarlison from close range when he looked certain to score. Was Ben White playing everyone onside? Lovely clipped free kick from Son towards Dier but Richarlison couldn’t get proper contact on it.
CHANCE! What a clearance from Lenglet as a long throw is flicked on and drops inside the six-yard box with Jesus lurking. What a start that nearly was for Arsenal. Moments later Martinelli clips the outside of the post.
KICK OFF: We are underway. It is LOUDDDDDD in here.
My thoughts on this massive clash. I can hardly hear myself here!
The team news is out and here are the lineups hot (I’d probably go with lukewarm) off the press. Partey and Zinchenko are back in central midfield and left back respectively, which is a huge boost for Arsenal. Kulusevski is out for Spurs so Son comes back into the lineup as he starts in attack with Kane and Richarlison in a very attacking lineup from Antonio Conte. Intriguing.
Team sheet from here at the Emirates.
Huge news for Arsenal as Partey and Zinchenko are back for #AFC.
Hello and welcome to a beautiful morning here in north London! There is a huge buzz of anticipation and excitement in the early autumn air. The Premier League is back and what better way to restart things with a bitter rivalry clash between Arsenal and Tottenham?
Arteta’s Arsenal have been absolutely superb so far this season and they could easily be perfect as they lost at Manchester United but dominated the majority of the only game where they’ve dropped points. There is a great balance to the Gunners with young attacking players flying all over the place — led by the incredible Jesus who has slotted in seamlessly — and a solid defense with Partey and Xhaka very important in the holding midfield roles. Arteta knows that a big win against Spurs will give his young side further confidence as they aim for a top four finish, and maybe more, this season.
Conte’s Spurs have been workmanlike so far and Harry Kane, Heung-min Son and Richarlison are all among the goals and are popping up at key moments when they’re needed. Defensively Spurs look solid in their 3-4-3 formation and you always fancy them to grab at least a few goals. Tottenham are seen as many as title contenders this season and a win at their bitter rivals will see that feeling grow.
In-form players to keep an eye on
Gabriel Jesus continues to lead the line superbly for Arsenal and he is bringing their entire attacking unit to life. Granit Xhaka has also been incredibly important and was excellent away at Brentford before the international break as he wore the captain’s armband once again and Arsenal’s fans were full of praise for the Swiss international midfielder.
Son has finally found his scoring boots and bagged a hat trick off the bench in Spurs’ demolition of Leicester City and he looked very good for South Korea over the international break. Eric Dier and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg have barely put a foot wrong and are a big reason why Spurs remain unbeaten this season and look so robust. Harry Kane loves a north London derby and he always seems to take his game to a new level when this game rolls around.
Arsenal team news, injuries, lineup options
Emile Smith Rowe is out until December after undergoing surgery on a groin injury, while Reiss Nelson and Mohamed Elneny remain out. Kieran Tierney, Thomas Partey, Cedric Soares and Oleksandr Zinchenko are all battling to be fit to feature. If Partey is out, Albert Sambi Lokonga is likely to come in and partner Granit Xhaka in central midfield or perhaps Odegaard could slot back into a deeper role and Fabio Vieira may play in the No. 10 role after his fine goal at Brentford?
Tottenham team news, injuries, lineup options
The main injury concern for Spurs is Dejan Kulusevski after he suffered an injury while on international duty with Sweden. Hugo Lloris and Ben Davies have had thigh and knee injuries respectively and will be battling to be fit, while Lucas Moura is definitely out as he continues to work his way back from a calf injury.
LONDON — Emerson’s straight red in the 62nd minute took much of the suspense out of what had been another nervy north London derby, as a rattled Tottenham never seriously threatened over the final half-hour in a 3-1 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates.
Thomas Partey’s return from a knee injury sustained during international duty proved crucial for Mikel Arteta’s men, with the Ghanian opening the scoring in the first half and allowing the Gunners to largely control things in midfield.
Spurs were compact and resilient as always, but counter-attacking opportunities were difficult to come by and Antonio Conte was short on answers once his team went down to 10 men.
Below are the Arsenal vs Tottenham player ratings out of 10, with analysis on each player who took part.
Aaron Ramsdale: 6 – Hardly tested in the second half but was played on Harry Kane’s down-the-middle penalty attempt and never seemed fully confident or comfortable. Distribution was solid.
Ben White: 7 – Arteta’s tactical switch after half allowed him to create several chances on dangerous overlapping runs, particularly with Saka. Tallied one assist and could easily have had one more.
Gabriel Magalhaes: 5 – Rash challenge in the box when he seemed to have the time to avoid going to ground set up Kane’s equalizing penalty, though he does deserve credit for bouncing back afterward.
William Saliba: 7.5 – Remained calm and composed at the back for the most part, including closing down Son and Richarlison in the box at different points. Won the ball back time and time again.
Oleksandr Zinchenko: 7 – Typically technical performance as he feels his way back from injury. His metronomic passing helps the Gunners control the speed of the game and he proved his importance.
Granit Xhaka: 8 – You’d have a compelling case for either he or Partey to be man of the match, as one half of Arsenal’s dominant midfield duo was relentless generating chances and finally grabbed the Gunners an insurance goal in the 67th, but he found himself out of position on occasion in the opening 45.
Thomas Partey: 8.5 – Once again proved to be the lynchpin for Arsenal on both ends, with both his opening goal and his pressing play showing just how crucial his fitness will be moving forward.
Gabriel Martinelli: 7 – Drew the decisive red from Emerson and generally wreaked havoc with individual runs throughout the day.
Martin Odegaard: 6 – A surprisingly quiet day from Arsenal’s captain, who always seemed a step away from finding himself on the ball in dangerous areas.
Bukayo Saka: 7 – Spent most of the early going isolated against multiple defenders, but exhibited an impressive work rate and drew plenty of attention. Great work for the second goal.
Gabriel Jesus: 7.5 – Relatively quiet in the first 45 but Spurs didn’t have an answer after half, deserved his goal and had several other quality chances that went begging.
Albert Sambi Lokonga (73′ on for Partey): 6 – Showed real, encouraging panache against a Spurs side down to 10 men.
Kieran Tierney (73′ on for Zinchenko): 6 – Probed well as an inverted fullback after coming on to give the still-recovering Zinchenko deserved rest.
Fabio Vieira (80’ on for Odegaard): N/A
Eddie Nketiah (80’ on for Jesus): N/A
Takehiro Tomiyasu (89’ on for White): N/A
Tottenham player ratings
Hugo Lloris: 4.5 – Uncharacteristically sloppy with his passing and canceled out a couple nice saves with a poor effort on Arsenal’s second goal.
Cristian Romero: 5 – Didn’t cover himself in glory on that second goal either, and he seemed to narrowly avoid a booking multiple times, but he did kickstart multiple counterattacks.
Eric Dier: 5.5 – Played well and marked Jesus capably in the first half, but came a bit undone after Emerson’s red card like the rest of his club.
Clement Lenglet: 6 – Consistently stuck to Saka despite struggling with his trickery and sparked a couple of productive counters. Solid enough.
Ivan Perisic: 5.5 – Found room down the left-hand side several times during the first half but got caught out a bit in the second 45.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg: 6 – Had a thankless task once Spurs went down to 10 men but had some nice moments handling Arsenal in midfield, stepping into tackles and producing changes of possession.
Rodrigo Bentancur: 6.5 – Felt like the best Spurs player on the pitch, never panicking despite Tottenham being outnumbered in central midfield and starting several attacks.
Richarlison: 6 – Disappeared at times, as is his wont, but acquitted himself well enough digging in to help in defense and (as also is his wont) generating great runs seemingly out of nowhere, including on the drawn penalty.
Harry Kane: 6.5 – A classic Kane performance even in defeat, from the penalty goal to his ability to never lose his cool and find ways to take the pressure off his side in a hostile environment.
Heung-min Son: 6 – There were flashes of the Son we’ve grown to know, a first touch here or a dribble there, but the link-up play always seemed to go awry in some small way.
Substitutes Yves Bissouma(71′ on for Perisic): 5 – Part of Conte’s group substitution that was mostly there to see out the defeat.
Davinson Sanchez (’71 on for Lenglet): 5 – see above
Matt Doherty (72′ on for Son): 4 – Some much-needed match time, although some nervy moments in there.
Ryan Sessegnon (’71 on for Richarlison) 5 – Conte opted for damage control down to 10 men, turning Sessegnon from a wing-back to part of a back-five.
Oliver Skipp (75′ on for Hojbjerg) 5 – Encouraging off the ball, discouraging on it, to be expected for a rusty player
Fulham vs Newcastle live: Score, how to watch, stream link, team news
Fulham and Newcastle United look set to entertain when Aleksandar Mitrovic entertains his old mates for a Saturday morning tilt at Craven Cottage on Saturday (watch live, 10am ET online via Peacock Premium).
The Magpies are injury-hit but Eddie Howe has enjoyed pushing for offense and has largely found chances regardless of who’s been on the field, while Marco Silva’s Cottagers are healthy and have been on the front foot as often as possible during their Premier League return.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Fulham vs Newcastle.
Somewhere in the multiverse, Mitrovic’s tied for the Golden Boot lead because Erling Haaland is an actual superhero. The Fulham man has six goals to tie Harry Kane five behind Man City’s prolific Norwegian hitman. Kenny Tete’s assisted three of those goals, and Tete’s also top six in tackles. Teammate Joao Palhinha is first.
Newcastle, meanwhile, is dealing with a ridiculous amount of injuries to key players, as Bruno Guimares, Chris Wood, and Alexander Isak were both hurt on international break to join Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin as walking wounded attackers.
Fulham team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: Palhinha (suspended), Manor Soloman (knee), Harry Wilson (knee), Antonee Robinson (ankle)