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

Thanks for dropping by and listening to the podcast for fans of football who wish to improve their English language skills. On this week’s show we try to predict the North-West Derby result between Liverpool and Manchester United, take a look at some footballing language, including Atlantic League, and review some of the footballing news from the week. 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-West Derby

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Transcript of the show

DB: You’re listening to languagecaster’s football podcast. Welcome football fans! My name’s Damon and I’m living in Tokyo, a long way away from England where I was born. But in England, hopefully, we’ll be able to speak to Damian in London. Damian, how are things going over there?

DF: Hello Damon. It is cold and wet today and I am a little disappointed at Spurs only drawing away at West Bromwich Albion yesterday in a game that we completely dominated.

DB: Now today is Sunday and, like last week, we are a little bit later than usual with the podcast. Apologies for that, but hopefully you’ll enjoy the show nonetheless! Of course, the international break for World Cup qualifiers has just finished and regular league football has started up again so we’ll be talking about some of the news from those games in our Good, the Bad and the Ugly review section. Then, we’ll have our regular weekly quiz and after that we will be focusing on some key language from the past week – including Atlantic League and Home nations, while we also look ahead to the big game in our predictions battle: Liverpool versus Manchester United.

Damian, what was good in the footballing news this week?


DF: Well, Damon, you mentioned the World Cup qualifiers that took place over the past week and it was good for Brazil as they won both their games, against Bolivia and Venezuela, to go top of the CONMEBOL group, that’S the South American league, isn’t it. It was also good for Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and Greece who all have 100% records after three games in the European qualifying sections. How about bad?


DB: It was a mixed bag for the home nations, Damian. Wales only managed a couple of draws in Group D – against Serbia and Georgia – and they are now two points behind Ireland and Serbia in third place. England just about managed an away point in Slovenia but they stay top of Group F with seven points from nine. In the same group, Scotland were thrashed 3-0 by Slovakia, which, along with a home draw versus Lithuania at the weekend, means that the Scots will find it difficult to qualify. Northern Ireland were outplayed by the world champions Germany and they find themselves in third place – four points behind surprise second-place team, Azerbaijan. Ugly?


DF: well Damon, FIFA boss Gianni Infantino has launched a plan to increase the number of participating teams at the 2026 World Cup to 48 teams. This would mean an extra 16 teams would be involved in the tournament with these teams playing off in a first round. It just makes no sense as teams would potentially only be participating for one game, it would make the tournament even longer than the one month it is at the moment and it would dilute – or weaken – the level of the competition. It seems that Infantino doesn’t really understand the meaning of qualifiers!

Quiz question

DB: He doesn’t indeed. They’ve just got to stop that idea. Now, OK. Before we get in to some football language, we have a quick quiz question for you about the big game in the Premier League this week, the North-West Derby between Liverpool and Manchester United.

DF: Yes, the two sides met four times last season – twice in the Premier League and then again over two legs in the Europa League. So, we want to know how those games finished last season? We’ll have the answer at the end of the show.

DB: Yes, you are listening to That was from one of our German friends. Please send in your recording of ‘your listening to’ with your name and where you’re from, and we’ll put it in the show!

DB: Right, next up we take a look at some of the football language from the week. Now, earlier in the show, Damian, you mentioned the home nations so I’m going to explain the meaning of this phrase.

Football Language: Home nations

DB: When we talk about the home nations or home countries in football we mean the teams that make up the United Kingdom, that’s England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. These teams, which were of course the first four international sides to be established, used to play in a tournament known as the Home Internationals at the end of each season. However, the last time that this competition took place was way back in 1984.  Sometimes commentators and football writers will include the Republic of Ireland when using the term despite the fact that Ireland is a separate country. For instance, when reporting on the Euro 2016 draw the BBC used the headline: ‘Home nations set to find out opponents‘ and then included information on the Republic of Ireland along with the other four nations.

DB: Damian, is there any other language that caught your eye this week?

Football Language: Atlantic League

DF: Yes, something that many fans may not have heard of before: Atlantic League. This phrase has been in the news this week after a representative from the Danish side F.C. Copenhagen announced that there had been talks about the possibility of starting an Atlantic League. This would include teams from Scotland, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Sweden and Norway. This type of league was first mentioned back in 2000 but so far nothing has been put into practice. It seems that federations from these countries are worried about the fact that the Champions League would leave their domestic leagues behind so they think an Atlantic League would help them attract sponsorship and better players. It will be interesting to see how UEFA, the respective FAs, the federations, and of course, the fans, react to this proposal. What do you think Damon?

DB: I can understand the clubs’ idea, as it’s getting increasingly difficult to compete with the big five European countries and their teams, but I’m always wary of creating new leagues, which are not based on grassroots football and the local areas and the countries that teams play in. It seems to loosen the connection with the clubs’ histories.

DF: Yes, I agree. Damon, any other language from this week?

Playing a blinder

DB: Yes, I am going to talk about a football cliche – to play a blinder which means to play very, very well. Usually, the phrase refers to a player’s performance rather than a whole team’s; so we would hear, for example, that Gerrard played a blinder at the weekend but not that Liverpool had played a blinder against Everton – in this case we would say something like Liverpool blew Everton away or Liverpool played Everton off the park. In yesterday’s Premier League match between Manchester City and Everton, the Everton keeper Maarten Stekelenburg played a blinder as he helped his side earn an away point: he saved not one but two penalties in the 1-1 draw.

DF: Yes, I saw those saves on TV and they were great – he played a blinder, but Sergio Agüero may need some more time practising penalties as that is his fourth penalty miss this season!

Follow us

DB: Incredible. Great stuff from the Everton keeper. Now before we look at some predictions, we’d just like to remind you that you can contact us here at You can also follow us on twitter, that’s @languagecaster, or by coming along to 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 huge football language glossary. We’d like to say hi to all those who are now following us including: Saqib, Domenico, Sara and Dang and for all those who have shared or liked our posts.

DF: Yes, indeed. We’d also like to say hi and thanks to Gooner7 (who I am guessing may be an Arsenal fan) for his contributions to our post on the language of playing football. He used such phrases as ‘show for him‘ and ‘push on‘. Damon, what do these mean for listeners who may not be so familiar with them?

DB: Well, as Gooner7 says, ‘to show for the ball‘ means to ‘give some support to the player with the ball- move in to space to receive the ball’, while to ‘push on‘ means ‘a player can let go, leave, his opponent and close down the ball – as you will cover for him or her’.

DF: Damon, as a right back would you say that to your midfielder ahead of you?

DB: Well, instead of push on, I might say ‘go’ or ‘close him down’. I wouldn’t say ‘show for the ball’ on the pitch, but might use it when describing what we should do in a game.

DF: Thanks a lot to Gooner7 for that and you can read more examples by going along to that post on ‘playing the game‘ here at OK Damon, it’s time for this week’s predictions.


DB: Yes indeed. Now regular listeners to the show will know that we have a Premier League predictions competition where you can take on the languagecaster team each week. You sign up for that by coming along to our site, logging in and then you can see the predictions competition at the top of the menu bar on our website. We also have monthly competitions so if you have not yet signed up then you can join and play in our October competition.

DF: Now, as we mentioned at the start of the show the big game this weekend actually takes place on Monday – Manchester United travel to Anfield, Liverpool’s ground, Damon, what do you think?

DB:  I am really really nervous about this one. I think the international break suited Manchester United more than Liverpool, who were flying before. Manchester United tend to well against Liverpool, often by nicking a goal or two against the run of play. But, I’m going to have faith in Klopp’s men and go for a 3-0  home win. You?

DF: I’m going for a 1-1 draw between the two rivals.

Quiz Answer

DB: Damian, what about the quiz question?

DF: Right, we asked about the games played between these two sides last season and this is how they finished. Manchester United did the double over Liverpool in the league: 3-1 at home and then 1-0 away but Liverpool overcame the Red Devils in Europe winning 2-0 at home and drawing 1-1 away to qualify for the quarter-finals. Well done if you managed to get that one right. We’ll have another question for you next week.

Good bye

DB: Bye everyone. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

DF: See you all next week when we will be looking back at the latest Champions League matches and looking ahead to Jose Mourinho’s return to Chelsea with Manchester United. Bye!

Check out our glossary of footballing phrases here.
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Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football

I was born and brought up near Chester in the north west of England. I have always loved playing and talking about sport, especially football!
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