Wondering what you think U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati's future will hold if the USA's bid for the 2022 World Cup falls short? Is this a make-or-break scenario for the bigwigs at the Soccer House in Chicago?
--Brian Morse, Charleston, S.C.
I don't think it's make-or-break. Keep in mind, nobody even ran against Gulati at this year's election (which keeps him in office until 2014), and I don't see any credible challengers right now. (That's a problem in itself, but a topic for another day.) Also, if the U.S. loses out on the '22 World Cup bid, it will be a huge thing for soccer people in America, but I'm not so sure it would get that much mainstream media coverage here. My guess is it would pale in comparison to the coverage Chicago got for missing out on the Olympics after President Obama went to Copenhagen and spoke in support of that bid.
Are the wheels falling off at Arsenal? What's going on at the Emirates?
I wouldn't say the wheels are falling off yet, not least because other contenders are also struggling in the Premier League lately. But Arsenal's three losses at home are definitely cause for huge concern. Championship teams don't let Tottenham come back from a 2-0 deficit the way Arsenal did the other day, or lose at home to middling teams like West Brom and Newcastle. The Gunners can still look overpowering at times (see the first half against Spurs), but players like Laurent Koscielny may just not be good enough for the Prem.
What are your thoughts on Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos earning second yellows for Real Madrid by stalling on free kicks?
Bad move by Madrid and José Mourinho. UEFA is now looking into what appears to be a purposeful move by the two to get their suspension out of the way before the knockout round.
How worried should I be about Qatar's World Cup bid?
Well, Qatar is the slight favorite to win the '22 World Cup bid on the major betting sites, followed closely by Australia and then the United States. (South Korea and Japan are considered longshots.) Russia is the slight favorite to win the 2018 bid (ahead of England and Spain/Portugal). We'll see how it plays out next week, but I'll tell you this: If Russia and Qatar are the big winners, it will send a clear message that having big oil money pays off. And I'm not sure if that's a message the FIFA wants to send.
You're an Arabian prince starting a team. Do you buy Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi first?
I think it would be hard to go wrong with either, but I'd choose Messi. He's 23, two years younger than Ronaldo, and I like his temperament on the field slightly better than Ronaldo's.
That's all for this week. Have a happy Thanksgiving, and I'll see you next week from the World Cup bid announcements in Zürich!