Learn English Through Football Podcast: Tottenham & Liverpool – Top of the League

Top of the LeagueIn this short football language post the languagecaster team get together to talk about their teams’ start to the season. Damon is a Liverpool fan and Damian supports Tottenham, and, for a while, they were both top of the league divided only by goal difference. We will also take a look at some language of football too, including the phrase ‘benefit of the doubt‘. Check out our football glossary  and  football cliches pages for hundreds more explanations of the language of soccer. If you have questions or comments about this or any other phrase then email us at: admin@languagecaster.com.

Tottenham & Liverpool – Top of the League

DF: Hello everyone, this is Damian from the Learning English Through Football team – we hope you are all well. And down the line from Japan is Damon. Damon, it’s been a long time since we did a podcast together, how are you?

DB: Hi Damian, I’m well and it’s good to talk to you. As you said, it’s been a long time since we’ve done a show together.

DF: It is indeed. Now, the biggest football news this week, you could probably say the year in fact, was the passing of Diego Maradona, the Argentinian superstar that many, in fact  if not most, pundits believe is the greatest footballer of all time.

DB: Rest In Peace Diego. And Damian has done a short post on a headline about this story this week, so check that out for more about the this amazing man.

Tottenham and Liverpool’s Start to the Season

DF: OK, Damon, well, on this show we’re going to focus on our teams, Tottenham and Liverpool and their good starts to the Premier League season. But first here’s a message.

Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (in Italian).

DB: Yes, you are listening to languagecaster.com and that message was in Spanish. Send in your message in your language to admin@languagecaster.com along with any questions or suggestions you have. We’ll be answering a question we received from Raphael later in the show, but first Liverpool and Tottenham joint top of the league, which must be a first in languagecaster history. Damian, what’s been Spurs’ best game so far this season in the league?

Best game

DF: Well, after a terrible start to the season we have now remained unbeaten in the league for the last nine games and have played well in many of them. The 5-2 away win at Southampton; 2-0 at home against Manchester City and a scoreless draw away at Chelsea have been great performances but the best game of our season so far was the 6-1 thrashing of Manchester United in which both Kane and Son scored braces in our biggest win at Old Trafford for over 80 years. And you, Damon?

DB: For me, it was the match against Leicester last week. The reason is simple, Liverpool had the spine of their side out to injury – the spine of the side means the most important players from defense, through midfield, to attack – and Leicester came into the game having won all their away games and Vardy, their striker in great form. Van Dijk, our best defender, Gomez, number two in central defense, and Alexander-Arnold, the team’s top chance creator from the defense were all out were injured; the captain, Henderson was sidelined too; and the team’s top scorer, Salah, also couldn’t play after testing positive from COVID-19. That’s a lot of key players not in the team. In the end, Liverpool cruised to a 3-0 win and dominated a very dangerous Leicester.

Key Player

DB: OK, what about key player? For me, I could say Van Dijk and the fact that he is out for the season injured, but I’ll try and be more positive. It’s no surprise that I’ll choose Diogo Jota, the recent signing from Wolverhampton Wanders. The forward has slotted in nicely, he fits the team’s style of play, and has scored five goals in eight games. He’s added just the right amount of variety in attack. He can act as a replacement for any of Mané, Firmino, and Salah, or join all three to make a formidable strike force. How about Tottenham, Damian?

DF: Well, Son has been on fire, our defence has become stronger thanks to the new left back Reguilón signed from Real Madrid and Højbjerg a signing from Southampton but our star player has been Harry Kane. He has scored seven times and assisted nine times already after only 10 games.

Top at Christmas?

DF: Now, can Tottenham still be top at Christmas? Well it really depends on Kane – if  he stays fit there is always hope for Tottenham. Damon, who do you think will be top at Christmas?

DB: I think it will Tottenham or Liverpool, but which one will depend on the match coming up on the 12 December Liverpool vs Tottenham.

DF: OK, from our teams to football in general, and football language in particular. We recently received a question from Raphael Malungelo who wanted to know the meaning of ‘the benefit of the doubt’, and here’s Damon with a short explanation of this phrase.

Football Language – Benefit of the doubt

DB: Thanks for the question Raphael. OK, the phrase ‘benefit of the doubt’ is usually used with the verbs ‘give‘ or ‘get‘ – so, the referee gave the benefit of the doubt and the player got the benefit of the doubt. If you give someone the benefit of the doubt you believe them; usually, they have done something bad and they are explaining the it was an accident or it is not as bad as it may seem. In football, it’s used when a decision about a foul or a penalty is made and it is a difficult decision. The foul or penalty is not clear.

For example, it could be a handball in the box that stops a goal – this could be a red card offense and a penalty. The referee might have to decide if the handball was deliberate or an innocent accident. If the referee gives the player the benefit of the doubt, he or she believes the player did not stop the ball with their hand on purpose and they do not receive a red card. The phrase is used in these kinds of situations – handballs, fouls, dangerous tackles, and so on.

Here is an example from the Eurosport website:

There was a large element of doubt about City’s opener, Sterling possibly getting the slightest of touches on Silva’s goalbound shot but in an offside position. Even with the benefit of slow motion replays, contact was impossible to verify and the benefit of the doubt went with the hosts.

Now, with VAR, referees do not give the benefit of the doubt so much (technology decides foul or no foul).

DF: Nice one. I suppose the referee can still give the benefit of the doubt even with VAR. They could use the TV monitor on the side of the pitch and make their own judgement.

DB: That’s true, but I still think VAR could be cut from the process and the referee can be left to decide on the pitch. But it looks like VAR is here to stay.

Good Bye

DF: And just like VAR we are here to stay as well, bringing you football language each week.

DB: And if you want to support what we do, why don’t you think about becoming a supporter through patreon.com/languagecaster. We really do need your help in keeping our site up and running and these podcasts available for all.

DF: Just to remind you that we have been posting quite a few football language podcasts recently, including one on creating chances, another one on the phrase, ‘masterclass‘, another one on the phrase, ‘parent club‘ and we also did a couple of podcasts on the phrases connected to clean and dirty and thick and fast. Come along to languagecaster and have a look.

DB: Ta-ra.

DF: Bye, bye.


Check out our glossary of footballing phrases here. If you have any suggestions, contact us at admin@languagecaster.com
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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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