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Learn English Through Football Podcast: The 2016-17 North London Derby

Welcome everyone to the football podcast for learners of English. On this week’s show we’ll be looking ahead to the North London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal and also looking back at some of the big Champions League stories from the week. We also have some new football language to explain, including ‘to pepper the goal‘ , while we finish off with some predictions. You can read the transcript for the show in our post below (Damian = DF, Damon = DB).

Learn English Through Football Podcast: The 2016-17 North London Derby

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Transcript of the show

DF: You are listening to’s football language podcast. Welcome everyone to the show for all fans of football who wish to learn more about the language of the beautiful game. My name is Damian and I am here in a chilly London where we are getting ready for the 5th November firework celebrations here. Damon, of course, is in Tokyo, Japan. Damon, how are you getting on?

DB: Very well indeed, Damian. Lovely weather here, so all good.

DF: Now, as I mentioned, this weekend will see lots of firework displays taking place in the UK – how about in Japan, Damon, when is it usual to see fireworks?

DB: Summer is the big time for fireworks in Japan, and they are fantastic events if you have the chance to go. They’re often held next to rivers or by the sea, so they can be quite spectacular! Anyway, what do we have on today’s show?

Line up

DF: Well, on the podcast today we will be reviewing a few of the big football stories from the week in our Good, the Bad and the Ugly review section – that’s coming up next. Then, we’ll have our regular weekly quiz, followed by some English for football phrases which this week includes the phrase ‘to pepper the goal’. Then of course at the end of the show we will be featuring the north London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham in our predictions section along with Watford’s trip to Liverpool and Chelsea hosting Everton.

DF: OK, let’s start with our good, the bad and the ugly section. Damon, what was good for you this week?


DB: Well, it’s been good for Chelsea and their manager’s decision to change formation and go 3-4-3, that’s playing three centre backs. Their performances have been transformed and they won four on the bounce, or four in a row, and haven’t conceded in those games either! Good for the Blues, which might not be so good for those they are chasing at the top of the Premier League: Man City, Arsenal and Liverpool. How about bad?


DF: It has not been a good couple of weeks for my team Spurs. Since beating Manchester City at the start of October we have played six times in all competitions and won none scoring only three times. The latest setback occurred this week at Wembley (fast becoming our bogey ground) in the Champions League when Tottenham lost 0-1 to German side Bayer Leverkusen which leaves the London side in third place in the group. They need to beat Monaco and CSKA Moscow in their final games to stand any chance of progressing to the knock-out stage of the competition. Ah, Tottenham, Tottenham! How about ugly, Damon?


DB: Tottenham indeed. Well, I’m going to go with something particular to the UK, especially England, and that’s the wearing of the poppy symbol on football shirts. The tradition of wearing the red flower, which symbolises the loss and sacrifice soldiers made in WWI and WWII, used to be a very private and personal choice, but now, all teams in England seem to have to print a poppy on their kit at this time of year. The actual day for remembering the deaths is on the 11th of November but as early as last week, team’s were wearing the symbol. I’m really not for this kind of thing in football and actually agree with FIFA, who want to stop England and Scotland from using the symbol when they meet next week – and if I agree with a FIFA ruling, that’s got to be ugly!

DF: Yes, it’s a big debate here in England at the moment.

DF: Yes, you are listening to And that was in Greek. Now, we’re looking for the message, ‘You are listening to’ in another language -  think we have about 20 so far – so, if you are interested in sending on your recording you can do so by emailing here us at

Quiz question

DB: Right Damian, do we have a quiz question this week?

DF: Yes, as it’s the North London derby I thought I’d ask a question about Tottenham versus Arsenal. I would like to know who has scored the most North London derby goals since the Premier League started in 1992. So, was it:

a. Gareth Bale?

b. Robin Van Persie?

c. Emmanuele Adebayor?

DB: We’ll have the answer at the end of the show. And if you’d like to ask a quiz question, drop us a line here at Right, next up we take a look at some of the football language from the week.

Football Language: Condiments and football – ‘the cross had too much mustard’

DF: Yes, one of the phrases from this week was inspired by one of our listeners, Will, who asked on our Facebook page:

I don’t know if this qualifies as a cliché as I’ve only heard it once, but the commentator on BBC Radio Sheffield yesterday said of a cross that it “had too much mustard on it“. I assume he meant that it was too powerful but it’s hard to say with radio.’

Now Damon, I had never head this phrase before either but I agree with Will that it probably means the cross was over hit – the cross had too much mustard on it – fantastic stuff indeed. Well, this question from Will produced a host of other words and phrases that are connected to condiments – things that we add to our food such as salt or sauce – from our other followers on Facebook, including Steve who told us about a wonderful comment on a game from the Championship in England:

‘Fans at Oakwell were left devastated today as Barnsley died for want of lobster sauce, needlessly giving away a late penalty with a careless handball inside the box …’.

Now again, I had never heard of this phrase before but I did know that the phrase ‘for want of something‘ means that something is lacking and then I found out that according to the free dictionary the phrase ‘to die for want of lobster sauce’ means to be very upset due to a minor or small mistake. In fact, the website goes on to suggest that the origin of the phrase may be due to when a chef committed suicide on discovering he was unable to make a lobster sauce for King Louis XIV of France!

DB: Amazing stuff! I haven’t heard that phrase either. Now that’s not to be confused of course with last week’s football language point which was prawn sandwich brigade! Totally different.

DF: That’s right! Thanks to everyone who posted comments and suggestions on that thread on Facebook: Will, of course for getting the whole thing started, Steve, Paul, Beatrice and Chris who added a couple of lovely condiment-related puns using the words relish, dip and ketchup!

DB: Great stuff. Now we would be interested to hear from our listeners about condiment words and phrases such as salt, pepper and sauces that are used in football in your own language. If you know of any then let us know by posting a comment here at Now, Damian you said that this week’s football language phrase was related to the …this previous discussion – what are you going to explain?

Football Language: To pepper the goal

DF: Well Damon, I’m going to talk about the phrase ‘to pepper the goal‘. In football we use the phrase ‘to pepper the goal‘ when we want to say that a team has had a lot of attacks and has created a lot of chances to score. The verb ‘to pepper‘ means to hit something repeatedly so ‘to pepper the goal with shots‘ means that a team repeatedly shoots at goal. So, for example, we can say that Tottenham peppered the West Brom goal but could not find a way past the keeper. To pepper the goal – to have a lot of shots on goal.

DF: Anything else Damon?

Football Language: To turn the game on its head

DB: Yes, I am going to finish this section with ‘to turn the game on its head‘ so this phrase was used this week in one of the big Champions League matches. Sometimes in football a team appears to be in complete control of a game – they are dominating their opponent – and are maybe winning by one or two goals, say 1-0 or 2-0. Now as we know, football is a funny old game and anything can happen in a match which also means that the game can dramatically change in an instant. In a recent Champions League game between Manchester City and Barcelona, the Catalan side were leading 1-0 and looking certain of another victory against City when suddenly the home side equalised after a defensive lapse. This energised the players and the supporters and in the second half City ran out 3-1 winners – the game had been turned on its head – one minute Barcelona had looked favourites to win but in the end it was City who won.

DF: Yes, that was a great game on Tuesday night, really, really good top-quality Champions League stuff. Well done City.

Follow us

DF: Now before we look at some predictions, we’d just like to remind you that you can contact us here at, follow us on twitter, that’s @languagecaster, or visit us at our Facebook page Learn English Through Football, you can let us know if there is any football language that you would like us to explain or add to our massive football language glossary. We’d like to say hi to all those who are now following or liking us including: Mohamed, Rizwan and Domenico – welcome to you all and keep spreading the word about us!

Now, next up is this week’s predictions.


DB: And listener you can join in too in our Premier League predictions competition by coming along to the site. It’s a great time to sign up for our November predictions as this week sees the first games of the month. So far Damian has won both September and October competitions so let’s see if we can beat him this month. Now, in order to play, come along to our site, log in and then you can see the predictions competition at the top of the menu bar on our website. Make your choices and then submit!

Arsenal vs Tottenham

DF: OK, let’s start with the North London derby which takes place on Sunday at midday – a strange time for a football match in my opinion – Damon, what do you think?

DB: Well, this is a game close to your heart obviously, isn’t it Damian? And I know you’re going to be nervous … erm, but I don’t think you’re going to have to bother because I think this is going to be a nil-nil draw.

DF: A couple of weeks ago I would have been confident but we are going through a sticky patch – a bad run of form – so I am not sure now. I think I would take a draw but will go for a 2-0 away win! COYS!

DB: Yay!

Liverpool vs Watford

DF: Now Damon, your team are on fire at the moment and pundits and fans are talking about a title run. This week Liverpool host Watford, what do you reckon?

DB: Yes, well Watford are in a bit of good form – they’re, you know, solid in mid-table or just a little above. They’re winning games, they’re not going to be a pushover. However, Liverpool at home I think this season are looking pretty good. So, I’m going to go for maybe a 3-1…victory to the Reds.

DF: Yes, I’m going for a comfortable 2-0 home win.

Chelsea vs Everton

DB: OK and the last game we’re going to look at is Chelsea versus Everton. So, as we’ve mentioned another team in top form is Chelsea who’ve won four games in a row without conceding a goal – lots of clean sheets for Conte’s men. What do you think?

DF: I think this one will finish 1-1 with one of Chelsea’s old boys Lukaku scoring for Everton. What about you?

DB: Yes, I’d like a 1-1 draw, you know, that’d be nice for my team Liverpool in their push for the championship. But I’ve got a feeling that Chelsea are going to go and squeeze out perhaps a 2-1 win.

Quiz Answer

DB: Now just before we go, what was the answer to this week’s quiz question?

DF: Yes, we asked you who has scored most North London derby goals since the Premier League started and the answer was C – Adebayor he has scored eight times – twice for Spurs and six times for Arsenal. Now Bale and Van Persie both have scored five times in this fixture – maybe Gareth Bale will come back and play for Tottenham again?

DB: Stop dreaming!

Good bye

DF: Enjoy all the football and we’ll see you again next week when we will be looking ahead to some more World Cup qualifiers.

DB: Bye!

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Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football

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