Rog previews the Premier League Weekend ahead. Plus, NWSL and a song for your Friday.
Hard to type rn. Today is a day of days. In a matter of hours, Everton -- Undefeated Everton, the only team in the Premier League this season not to concede a single goal past their tiny-armed goalkeeper -- will face Aston Villa [3:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN] and could go Top of the Table with a win. A fact which begets the following question: What could possibly go wrong now?
2. In the marquee matchup of the weekend, renewed hope’s Arsenal travel to Liverpool [Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET on Network NBC] for the clash of the last two teams with perfect records, despite their self-admitted imperfect form. Liverpool may have six points and a Super Duper Cup already this season, but the team appeared uncharacteristically slovenly last week in a traditional victory against their Beaker-from-the-Muppets-style sidekick, Southampton. The killer stat for me is that Jurgen Klopp's backline - so impervious last season - has already allowed 47 shots over the course of their first three games, having let just 19 slip in over the same mark last campaign.
That stat will make Arsenal’s potent Auba-Laca-Pep front three tingle on the way up to Anfield. The memory of last year’s Bobby Firmino-inspired 5-1 beatdown may be hard to repress, but where there is Dani Ceballos, there is hope. That man is like a bottle of Drakkar Noir made human and stuffed into a pair of nylon shorts and football boots. For Arsenal, he is The Prince who was Promised. You can watch our full match preview video HERE. This game will be Hot Girl Summer in Full Effect.
3. In other tinglers, Norwich’s Finnish King Teemu Pukki might lock up the Golden Boot with one more “Season O’ Balds” lusty display against Chelsea [Saturday at 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN] and Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will relish the arrival of struggling Crystal Palace in the Aaron Wan-Bissaka Memorial Derby [Saturday at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN].
Brighton vs. Southampton. Graham Potter is the Marianne Williamson of Premier League Managers.
Watford vs. West Ham. If you watch this, you are way into Football.
Sheffield United vs. Leicester. Stealth Great Game of the Weekend.
Bournemouth vs. Manchester City. Piñata vs. 11 men armed with big sticks.
Tottenham vs. Newcastle. Winner gets to keep DeAndre Yedlin.
Wolves vs. Burnley. I would pay money to watch Sean Dyche and Nuno MMA it in the Octagon.
5. With six weeks left in the NWSL regular season, the race for the playoffs is tighter than Sam Allardyce’s pants. Powerhouse Portland Thorns, they of Lindsey Horan, Tobin Heath, and Christie Sinclair, appear a level above. But the chasing pack, Chicago Red Stars, North Carolina Courage, Utah Royals, and Seattle Reign are all within two points of each other for those final three spots. The big game of the weekend is the ebullient Thorns against my Hero Sam Kerr and Chicago. It kicks off Sunday at 3 p.m. ET Sunday on ESPN News. Support the Game.
6. We are still buzzing after our Annual Premier League Inauguration at the beautiful surrounds of the British Embassy in Washington, DC on Monday night. Third time we have done it and it is truly one of the great joys of our year. Our guests were epic: Pro Bowl Cornerback Josh Norman is a man who genuinely adores soccer and talked with passion about how his relationship with the sport has changed his life on and off the NFL field; Wayne Rooney patiently broke down all three of his career halfway line wonder goals with us; and the great Rose Lavelle discussed her inimitable World Cup Journey with warmth, wisdom and real humility. I challenge you to find a more genuine, self-effacing World Cup Final Goal Scorer.
The event is magic for me personally, because I lived in DC in the mid-90s, drinking at the Toledo Lounge in Adams Morgan and revering Jim Vance, Olie Kolzig, and Gheorghe Mureșan. Back then, there was one Premier League game broadcast every Saturday morning. I would watch it with a handful of ex-pats at Planet Fred. To witness the passion the city now has for the game -- it is the No. 1 Premier League market in the U.S. -- is a reality of wonder.
You can listen to the entire night in Pod form HERE. It is also being turned into a television special that will air Sunday, Sept. 15 on NBCSN.
7. Talking of The Men in Blazers Television Show, we’ll be back two days in a row. First, the aforementioned Embassy Show Sept. 15. And Monday, Sept. 16, we’ll have a live show, recapping the entire weekend. For those who missed our season preview show, it is available in its entirety on the NBC Sports App and online HERE.
8. There is still time to join the MiB Fantasy League. CODE: tnvn4e. Join. Play. Watch me start Richarlison at every position. We are still working on a prize for the winner. We will also be giving periodic shoutouts to weekly winners on the Pod.
9. I am headed to Chicago next Thursday to throw out the first pitch at the White Sox game. The first ever baseball game I went to was Aug. 2, 1986 at Old Comiskey. Harold Baines smashed a home run against the Tigers in the first inning and I was completely entranced by a game which seemed to my eye like chess with Chewing Tobacco. It is a genuine thrill and an honor to head back to the city I love as much as Liverpool, and take the mound of a ball club who are really the Everton of MLB. Stat: Number of pitches I have thrown before in my life: 0 👊
10. I cannot encourage you loud enough to watch “Our Boys” on HBO. The first episode is ok, but eps two and three are stunning. In the same way as "Chernobyl," it is gruelingly devastating to watch, but the acting, scripting, and questions it frames make it humanly enriching. Savor it. Talking about "Chernobyl." A book. THIS BOOK! Svetlana Alexievich is my answer to the question: who is your dream pod guest?
Here is a song that has propelled me through the week. “Not” by Big Thief. I am a sucker for any song that builds in emotion until the singer can’t give anymore and the band has to just rock out.
PS from JW. My Case for Pickup Football. After years of adult leagues left my legs and ego bruised in equal measure, Kyle Martino’s Street FC has resuscitated my love for playing via a regular pickup game. And after meeting California GFOP Arturo Calisto, and talking about the role regular pickup games with loved ones play in his life, I wrote THIS PIECE about what I believe is football’s purest form.