I type with fingers filled with Khalil Mack-energy. A Premier League weekend is upon us. The world might seem like it is falling apart… but… Football…!!!
1. The big game of this round is Arsenal’s Monday visit to that sacked fortress Old Trafford, which Manchester United are in danger of turning into a footballing Grey Gardens. The good news for Ole Gunnar Berhalter is that Paul Pogba is back. Yet, even with the presence of that talent-soaked distraction in human form, United still needed penalties to fend off the seismic challenge of League One Rochdale in midweek Carabao Cuppity-Cup action.
Unai Emery’s mob arrive on a micro-upswing after their 10 men heroic victory against Aston Villa about which epic poems have been written, reinforced by Carabao action in which their junior varsity team smashed Nottingham Forest. United fans take note: Arsenal are never more vulnerable than the moment when their fans begin to imagine an audacious trophy-filled future is within touching distance. [Monday 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN]
2. The Premier League continues its experimental avant-garde marketing attempts to engage snuff film enthusiasts with Manchester City's visit to Everton, the prospect of which, as an Everton fan, is competitively on par with a battle between my arm and a Threshing Machine. Pep G. If you are reading this, please make it quick. I cannot stand the prospect of valiant, false hope created by a brave Everton rearguard that only crumbles in the dying embers of the game. [Saturday 12:30PM EDT on Network NBC]
3. In other seismic games, Liverpool play at Sheffield United, who no doubt take the field with Everton’s blood still all over their hands [Saturday 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN], and Chelsea host Brighton [Sunday 9:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN]. Christian Pulisic will have played alongside 18-year-old midfield boss Billy Gilmour and 19-year-old Reece James as Chelsea smashed Grimsby 7-1 midweek, and wondered if, at 21, he is actually too old for Frank Lampard’s Babies. The rest of the weekend’s schedule can be found HERE.
3b. We will do a Twitter Q&A about all of this weekend's games (and anything else you'd like to discuss) today at Noon ET. Send us all of your questions using the hashtag #AskMiB.
4. Bad news: The Men In Blazers Show is BACK THIS MONDAY 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Right after that Manchester United-Arsenal weepfest, our Rosh Hashana special features the quite brilliant Larry Nance Jr. (the best Junior since Stanislas) of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Larry is a magical bloke. Chelsea mad. He flies over to Stamford Bridge on a regular basis to revel in the Premier League live and in person. He also crushes me in his Fantasy League. We will delve into the story of his love affair with the game.
If you were lucky enough to miss this week's Podcast in which we discussed the Mentos in a Diet Coke that was Chelsea 1 - 2 Liverpool, you can listen on iTunes, Spotify and SoundCloud.
And the third episode of my Promoted Series: Aston Villa debuts Sunday at 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN. It includes interviews with passionate Villa fan turned Villa manager Dean Smith, passionate Villa fan turned Villa Captain - and Rog Hair Hero - Jack Grealish, and the truly inspirational Tyrone Mings. You can catch the other episodes on Norwich HERE and Sheffield United HERE.
4. In NWSL news: We debuted a new feature, MiB’s This Week in NWSL, a recap of all you need to know about the weekend’s action in the American Women’s Club Game. We ask that you please, please spread it as far and wide as you can on a weekly basis so the NWSL can gain the exposure it needs to go next level in claiming a portion of football fans’ weekly bandwidth.
In Wednesday’s action, a goal and assist from Merseyside’s finest, Jodie Taylor, gave Reign FC a massive win over fellow playoff aspirants Utah Royals. With two games to go in their season, Becky Sauerbrunn’s Royals desperately need to win against Chicago Death Stars, and pray the Thorns stop the Reign. Those seismic clashes are Saturday at 8:00 p.m. ET on Yahoo Sports! and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. ET on ESPN2, respectively. And we’ll be recapping them both on next week’s edition of our roundup.
5. MiB will be broadcasting live from Austin, Texas Friday, Oct. 25. We cannot wait to be in the best Austin since Charlie. The NBC studio will still be in build-out mode as we broadcast, so we will not be able to shoot in front of a live audience. However, we will be doing a drink at a pub after the show so we can meet all you GFOPs who have been in touch. Stand by for details and EMAIL US Austin food recommendations.
6. I was delighted to partner with HBO Films on the creation of a bunch of digital interviews and a podcast to support the release of their quite phenomenal documentary, “Diego Maradona,” directed by Academy Award winner, Asif Kapadia -- a gent who, despite being a Liverpool fan, is one of my favorite filmmakers in the world.
Anyone who has seen Asif’s previous documentaries, “Senna” and “Amy,” will know why. His creations are emotionally, humanly told. Almost spiritual.
His latest film, “Diego Maradona,” premieres on HBO on Tuesday night, Oct. 1. It is a feature-length masterpiece chronicling the career of the most celebrated and polarizing soccer player of his generation. A man whose life became a cautionary tale. Imagine if the career arcs of Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman were crushed into one bloke. The tale is told brilliantly. Asif sat with Maradona for over nine hours of interviews after discovering over 500 hours of never-before-seen film footage from the Argentine legend’s personal archives. HBO's “Diego Maradona” airs Tuesday Oct. 1 at 9:00 p.m. or stream it on demand on HBO. Our podcast with Asif will debut Monday, Sept. 30 and our digital interviews will appear on HBO platforms throughout the week.
7. The NFL turns 100 this year. Davo and I were delighted to be part of those celebrations by recording our favorite memories. Here’s our video take on Roger Staubach’s 1975 invention of the “Hail Mary.” It was lovely to talk about a sport we knew something about for once.
8. Music: I have been in a melancholy mood this week. Here’s the track that has propelled much of it. “Joy” by Cousin Tony’s Brand New Firebird, a Melbourne band who have created the perfect soundtrack for Everton’s 2019-20 season.
A Book:I talked about the breezy read “Astroball” by Ben Reiter on the podcast this week. It is a book that will make every fan of every team believe they can go from worst to first. Even you, Dolphins fans.
An Article:I love the work of Kevin Baxter for the Los Angeles Times. This piece he wrote on the lost soccer history of LA and the soccer club created by Holocaust survivors that once dominated the city is phenomenal work. A reminder of the proud footballing history that lives in our nation if you know where to look.
9. “Holy Crap. What if Rog was right about beers having huge heads???" (Thanks to GFOP Fritz Lenemann for sending this in)
On behalf of MiB: @meninblazers Davo: @embassydavies Producer JW: @JonoWilly