Intro by Tim Boddy, interview by Rishi Modha

How many times have you watched Wilshire's 'Wengerball' goal against Norwich over the past week? Reached 50+ viewings yet? I've enjoyed multiple watches by focussing on a different player each time. Try it, it's fun - even if you focus on just one Norwich defender being turned inside-out, a confused body possessed by some chthonic entity while screaming for salvation, or for their mother.

In case you missed it, our favourite Hubristic hero Zlatan also scored a wondergoal on the same weekend for PSG, with this scorpion kick against Bastia. Of course being Zlatan, the Kanye of the footballing world, this is not a beautifully constructed team effort as such (although the build-up play isn't bad), but more a supreme piece of individual skilful spontaneity.

The 9th week of The 405 Prediction League sees We Are Scientists' Chris Cain take on the latest set of fixtures. I'm often unsure as to whether Americans can really 'get' football and Chris' confused allegiances (both national and club) didn't little to allay my fears. Nonetheless, we spoke about the perception of football in the USA, what it is that can make an American root for England and the deep complexities of World Cup Anthems. But first, back to which team(s) Chris follows...

Their 'Business Casual' EP is out now.

Which team do you support?

I'm kind of torn between two teams, those being Arsenal and Tottenham. I should acknowledge that my commitment is essentially inherited and I'm basically split between two friends who are incredibly passionate and both of whom would be very upset if they learned that I didn't support their team. So I have to pretend to be a huge Arsenal fan when I'm with Tim and a huge Tottenham fan when I'm with John.

You do know they're rivals...

Yes, I do... if I were in a room with both those gentlemen I'd be stuck in a tight spot.

I agree. I wanted to ask about your 2010 England World Cup anthem 'Goal! England'...

It began as a shameless publicity ploy. Our label at the time clued us into the genre of football anthems. We weren't even aware of it, to be honest, they played us some classics and told us if we were inspired that we should write one, because people like them. We got the practise space and messed around with a riff and liked what we came up with, then came up with lyrics based on our extremely limited knowledge of the game. Which is why the lyrics to the song present a toddler's comprehension level of football, with suggestions such as 'kick the ball into the goal'.

To be fair, football songs aren't renowned for their deep lyrics.

I do recall thinking that we would not necessarily be ruled out of participating in the genre due to lacking a nuanced understanding of the sport. It didn't seem at the time that football songs tend to really focus on the nuts and bolts, so we felt comfortable treading out into that territory. England in the World Cup was certainly the team we were supporting. Despite being Americans in the UK, we were spending most of our summer there - we played Glastonbury on the day England lost to Germany. There are a lot of Americans that care about the World Cup, but they aren't as concentrated. So in the UK, as you know, you get swept up in it and there's a lot of passion, so it was easy for us to declare our loyalty to the England national team and participate in the excitement.

And with England succumbing to a crushing defeat, you experienced it in its full glory.

It was a shame because it happened two hours before we went on. It wasn't until close to our set whether we knew if we should be playing 'Goal! England' or better off ignoring the subject. As it turned out, we ended up entirely ignoring football, as we tried to keep everyone's mind off the sport.

From that tournament, do you remember watching the match between England and the USA?

I do recall it. We watched that game at our label head's house in North London. It was a very pro-England crowd. Despite the fact that we considered ourselves to be pro-England, on that day we were forced into the position of rooting for America. It was not an easy place to be. There was a lot of ale, there was a point where we feared for our very lives. Luckily civilisation's boundaries held and we escaped. But I do remember that game, it fills me with a sensation of fear just thinking about it.

You mentioned listening to football anthems before making your own, do you remember which?

There's a New Order one, right?

'World In Motion' featuring John Barnes!

I certainly remember that one. I wouldn't say I thought it was good.

Really? I'd say that's the only good one! (disclaimer: I forgot about Three Lions, obviously) Now, as a result, I'm going to ask you a horrible question - can you explain the offside rule?

Umm... shit. I kind of know what it is, but I don't think I can explain it. You can't pass to someone if they are behind all of the opposing team's players? Is that it? Or specific players?

Close enough.

I get the concept, good.

One question I've got, regarding your teams - I've seen that NBC are running pretty extensive Premier League coverage. Gareth Bale was on a billboard in Times Square, was he an appropriate global poster boy for English football?

He's certainly not as widely known a figure as Beckham was and continues to be. Even around the last World Cup, Wayne Rooney was probably bigger, so he's not that big. Though there are comparatively high awareness levels about him.

You mention David Beckham, how big an impact do you think he had upon American perceptions of football?

He's still very much a celebrity over here. And actually he's played better in recent years than he did when he first got to the Galaxy, in fact his first two years were kind of miserable, the general perception is that he actually started to care about the team doing well etc. in recent years. For soccer fans here, I think people like him more than ever. In the general population, he's never been bigger than when he first came over, but he's still arguably the most famous British footballer to an American who doesn't follow the game closely.

Without having any access to numbers, I'd say the interest in football has increased by orders of magnitude in the last decade. American professional soccer is infinitely higher than what it was in the late 90s. Even awareness of the World Cup and European Cup soccer is something you could see here and read about in the sport section of the paper. The fact that Mexico has been riding the line for World Cup qualification is something people are aware of, which is something I don't think you'd have seen 10 years ago. There's also a partnership between Man United and the Yankees. I don't know what the result of it is, but the Yankees have a cable channel which broadcasts Man United games, which represents an obvious increase in the popularity of the sport - it wouldn't be happening unless a bunch of marketing dudes thought there was an audience for it.

The rules:
Three points for an exact scoreline.
One point for a correct result.
Each act will play twice over the course of the season (think home and away if you prefer to adhere to football vernacular).
See the base of the page to see how Little Comets performed last week.

Gameweek 9 Predictions:

  • Crystal Palace 1-4 Arsenal
  • Aston Villa 3-1 Everton
  • Liverpool 1-0 West Brom
  • Man Utd 5-1 Stoke
  • Norwich 3-1 Cardiff
  • Southampton 3-1 Fulham
  • Sunderland 3-4 Newcastle
  • Chelsea 2-0 Man City
  • Swansea 1-0 West Ham
  • Tottenham 2-1 Hull

I'll go ahead and predict that there'll also be a scandalous eruption from one of the players, be it a racial epithet or a political barb - it will make news. I'd like a point added to my score if that comes true.


  • RECAP: Gameweek 8 Predictions - The 405
  • Prediction: Newcastle 1-2 Liverpool Score: Newcastle 2-2 Liverpool [-]
  • Prediction: Arsenal 3-1 Norwich Score: Arsenal 4-1 Norwich [1]
  • Prediction: Chelsea 1-0 Cardiff Score: Chelsea 4-1 Cardiff [1]
  • Prediction: Everton 2-0 Hull Score: Everton 2-1 Hull [1]
  • Prediction: Man Utd 2-1 Southampton Score: Man Utd 1-1 Southampton [-]
  • Prediction: Stoke 0-0 West Brom Score: Stoke 0-0 West Brom [3]
  • Prediction: Swansea 1-0 Sunderland Score: Swansea 4-0 Sunderland [1]
  • Prediction: West Ham 1-2 Man City Score: West Ham 1-3 Man City [1]
  • Prediction: Aston Villa 2-2 Tottenham Score: Aston Villa 0-2 Tottenham [-]
  • Prediction: Crystal Palace 0-1 Fulham Score: Crystal Palace 1-4 Fulham [1]

Total Points: 9

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