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The English Premier League title race is coming down to the wire


All right. The race for the English Premier League soccer title is coming down to the wire. With just three weeks left in the season, London-based team Arsenal leads the reigning champions Manchester City by a single point. And Arsenal has just three games left to play as they try for their first title in 20 years. Meanwhile, their rival, Manchester City, is looking to become the first-ever team to claim four straight Premier League trophies. Here to help us break it down is ESPN soccer analyst Luis Miguel Echegaray. Welcome back to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

LUIS MIGUEL ECHEGARAY: Ailsa, thank you so much for having me back. It's an absolute honor, as always.

CHANG: So lovely to have you back. So tell me a little bit about these two teams. Like, what makes them so good? Like, why is this race to the finish so tight?

ECHEGARAY: Well, let's begin with Manchester City, right? They are one of the richest teams in the entire world, and it's been obviously proven by the football and the soccer that they play on the pitch. They are also coached by arguably the greatest manager in the game and probably will be regarded as the greatest manager in the game once he retires in Pep Guardiola, the Catalan manager, who used to manage Barcelona and Lionel Messi. And obviously, he's been here for a while. You know, it's no surprise that they're sticking around. Arsenal have a tremendous history in the Premier League, the North London club, but they haven't won the Premier League in 20 years.

CHANG: Yeah.

ECHEGARAY: And then the other narrative that makes it so amazing is that Pep Guardiola's former coach happens to be the head coach of Arsenal, Mikel Arteta. So there's so many intricate story lines here...

CHANG: Yeah.

ECHEGARAY: ...That all go down to these two teams in the final matches to go.

CHANG: Well, between Arsenal and Manchester City, which team do you think will win the Premier League?

ECHEGARAY: Oh, what a tough question.

CHANG: (Laughter) Pick. Pick. Pick.

ECHEGARAY: Obviously - I mean, so Arsenal lead the Premier League table with 80 points by 1 point, as you said in your introduction, to Manchester City, but Manchester City have a game in hand, right? So they have an extra game to play. So that's a very important part because now Arsenal don't control their own destiny. They have to hope that Manchester City, at some point, with four matches left remaining, will be able to do something that helps Arsenal 'cause Arsenal only have three games left. I mean, at the very beginning of the season, I predicted Arsenal to win this whole thing. It's taking everything in me to stick with it. Manchester City might just once again prove that they're just too strong, too powerful. But I hope I'm wrong because it would be great to see for Arsenal fans.

CHANG: Well, I'm very, very excited to hear you feel this conflicted about it. You know, we've seen British soccer teams like Arsenal and Manchester City traveling all over the U.S. to play exhibition matches during the summer. And I'm wondering. How have those preseason tours help the marketability of this league in America, you think?

ECHEGARAY: Yeah, good question. Well, I think everybody should know that the United States is obviously this growing golden treasure for soccer. It's no secret that from an axis perspective, so much can be watched over there. Of course, you need to pay a premium for a streaming service. But soccer and the Premier League has taken huge advantage of that. From a participation perspective, from just kids playing it, soccer is arguably the most popular sport in the United States. Now, it still has to reach the numbers of the NFL or the NBA when it comes to viewership, but it is growing. Just last summer was the first ever Premier League summer tour where multiple teams took over all across the United States, and it's just a tremendous successful relationship between American fan bases specifically interested in the Premier League, and it's just going to continue to grow.

CHANG: That is ESPN and soccer analyst Luis Miguel Echegaray. Thank you so much again, Luis Miguel.

ECHEGARAY: Thank you, Ailsa. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Christopher Intagliata is an editor at All Things Considered, where he writes news and edits interviews with politicians, musicians, restaurant owners, scientists and many of the other voices heard on the air.
Ailsa Chang
Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.