Bendita Camino: Why I Love Atletico Madrid

April 23, 2014

“I ambled into a random bar near the center of the Spanish capital on September 18, 2005, looking to catch Atletico Madrid, which was hosting Barcelona at Vicente Calderon Stadium in a Sunday nightcap. There was a television bolted in the upper-left corner of the room, and rarely did eyes stray from it. It was standing room only in this old man’s bar. There were men who were born during the Spanish Civil War; men who were born to parents who lived through the war; almost everyone inside was alive during Franco’s reign. It was like stumbling into a house of worship on a holy day. Everyone knew why they were there.” Grantland

Atletico Madrid 0-0 Chelsea: Tactical Analysis | The battle for a compact midfield

April 23, 2014

“Atletico Madrid and Chelsea went head-to-head at the Vicente Calderon in the Champions League semi-finals. It was a tactical battle that was certainly not pleasing to the eyes, it was never going to be. Both sides are in their respective title races but Atletico Madrid are in a  much better situation while Chelsea’s contention could come to a halt this weekend. Mourinho has been desperate for a Champions League with Chelsea, and a record third with a different club while Atletico Madrid are looking forward to a first final in 40 years.Outside of the Boot

Champions League semi-finals: how last four teams compare

April 11, 2014

“Can Atlético Madrid last the pace? Will Pep Guardiola’s tinkering harm Bayern Munich’s hopes? Does José Mourinho have the right gameplan and will Real Madrid’s forward line be too strong for everyone? Here we analyse all four teams” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Jose Mourinho provides special touch as Chelsea makes CL semifinals

April 9, 2014

“All through the second half, there was a sense of pressure mounting, of Paris St-Germain’s belief ebbing and Chelsea’s correspondingly swelling. And then, with four minutes remaining, a Cesar Azpilicueta shot scudded across the box and was deflected into the path of Demba Ba, who forced the ball over the line from six yards. It was Chelsea’s day to reach the Champions League semifinals, doing so via away-goal tiebreaker after a 3-3 aggregate draw. It wasn’t the prettiest of goals, but it didn’t matter. Off went Jose Mourinho charging down the touchline as he had 10 years ago at Old Trafford when he announced himself to the English game with his exuberant celebration of Porto’s late winner over Manchester United in the last 16 of the Champions League.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Manchester United A-B-C, Chelsea 1-2-3

April 9, 2014

“It’s because of football that I know what the capital of Cameroon is. Football has also taught me to make quick mental calculations when working out the possible permutations for final group standings in World Cups. I also understand how football can be hijacked to serve the purposes of totalitarian propaganda, how it can assimilate all manner of scientific breakthroughs to enrich it as a spectacle and how it can rival any form of dance when it is executed with exquisite precision. In short, football has educated me in ways that transcend the narrow parameters of the pitch or the screen. It’s because of football that my understanding of the world is a little better.” Dispatches From A Football Sofa

Cavani’s chance to be the main man

April 9, 2014

“In the modern era, the importance of shirts numbered 1-11 has unquestionably declined, but it’s still pleasing to see combinations of players wearing traditional numbers: a left wing comprised of a no. 3 and a no. 11, for example, or a centre-back combination of 5 and 6. When PSG signed Edinson Cavani last summer, he was unveiled clutching the no. 9 shirt; traditionally the one worn by the main central striker. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, PSG’s other world-class striker, wears 10 (having initially worn 18 until Nene’s departure).” ESPN – Michael Cox (Video)

PSG 3-1 Chelsea: Tactical Analysis

April 5, 2014

“One of the most evenly balanced of all the quarter final games, PSG and Chelsea both came into the match trying to build each other up as favourites. The Parc Des Princes, the venue that hosted the first ever European Cup final, was decked up and full of noisy and expectant fans. The two teams come from very different leagues, and have had good seasons, but are in different positions. While PSG have been dominant and conquered all that has been put in front of them, Chelsea have stuttered at times, losing their advantage in the league. The clash between Laurent Blanc and Mourinho also promised to be a very interesting battle tactically, as some of the top players in Europe clashed.” Outside of the Boot

André Schürrle withdrawal allows PSG’s potent trio to dominate Chelsea

April 5, 2014

“The general consensus was that José Mourinho had erred on playing André Schürrle as a false nine on Wednesday night, yet it was after he had gone off to be replaced by Fernando Torres that Paris Saint-Germain scored twice. That’s a simplistic way of looking at things, and Torres had barely been on the field when David Luiz conceded a needless free-kick and then put through his own goal to give PSG the lead, but it does tally with Mourinho’s post-match claim that Chelsea had ‘controlled’ the game until Torres came on because of the way Schürrle kept ‘dropping deep’.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson (Video)

A League of Their Own

April 2, 2014

“Weaving through downtown Nairobi on a recent Saturday afternoon, I entered Lazaru’s Inn, a small bar in the heart of the city centre, to join the Kenya Arsenal Fan Club for the Arsenal v. Everton FA Cup quarterfinal match. By kickoff, there are over 100 Arsenal supporters sitting shoulder to shoulder; the rowdiest contingent is gathered around a screen in the back. Fans wearing red and yellow Arsenal jerseys with names and customized messages such as “The Unbeatable” and “Verminator,” for Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen, emblazoned across the back, are already shushing people. Enthusiasm turns to dismay when the SuperSport channel is changed to the West Brom vs. Manchester United match. The crowd in the back heaves, and people begin hurling insults towards the bar; one fan mutters that the video jockey is an ignorant Manchester United fan. The channel is changed back in enough time for the crowd to roar at Arsenal’s goal in the sixth minute.” Road and Kingdoms

Chelsea 6-0 Arsenal: Chelsea’s pressing wins the game within 20 minutes

March 26, 2014

“Jose Mourinho recorded his biggest league victory as Chelsea manager with a crushing win over Arsenal. Mourinho continued with Samuel Eto’o upfront rather than Fernando Torres – Eto’o only lasted 10 minutes, but scored the opener. In midfield, Mourinho was without Ramires and Willian, both suspended – he left out Frank Lampard and played David Luiz in the centre of midfield alongside Nemanja Matic. Arsene Wenger named the same side that defeated Tottenham the previous weekend. This game was done and dusted within the first quarter – Chelsea were 3-0 up, Arsenal were one man down, and the rest of the game was simply a question how how many Chelsea would score.” Zonal Marking

Poor Ox: Arsenal-Chelsea and the Mistaken-Identity Red Card
“Poor Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain. When you have a 15-minute stretch as poor as the one the Arsenal midfielder had against Chelsea on Saturday, you usually at least get to disappear afterward. A turnover leading directly to a goal, getting caught out of position up the field for a second, and then a (possibly harsh) red card for handling the ball on the line for a third goal is about as bad as it gets. After a quarter of an hour like that, a player’s only relief is that at least he gets to fade away, out of the limelight, back in the dressing room after being sent off. Poor Ox was denied even that.” Grantland

Tactics Board: Eriksen roams free, Schuerrle’s pace

March 24, 2014

“One of the idiosyncrasies of Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood’s tactics is that he fields Christian Eriksen, a playmaker by trade, on the left, and Nacer Chadli, signed to be more of a winger, in the middle. In the space of four days, Sherwood received two endorsements of the role reversal. The Belgian scored twice against Benfica and then the Dane did likewise against Southampton.” ESPN

Wenger’s Arsenal must go ‘vintage’ to beat Chelsea

March 22, 2014

“In a funny way, Arsenal’s 1-0 victory over Tottenham last weekend was ‘vintage’ Arsenal. Not the vintage Arsenal associated with the Arsene Wenger era, fast approaching its 1,000th game at Chelsea this weekend, but the vintage Arsenal of the pre-Wenger era — the George Graham era, when Arsenal were regarded as somewhat unexciting but extremely effective.” ESPN – Michael Cox

In return to Chelsea, Didier Drogba as subdued as his new squad

March 19, 2014

“The return of Didier Drogba to Stamford Bridge dominated the build-up to the second leg of Chelsea’s Champions League tie against Galatasaray and, as it turned out, his emotional wander around the pitch dominated the game. As a contest, this was all but a non-event — the dominance Chelsea had shown in the first hour in the first leg was repeated and this time translated into a comfortable 2-0 victory on the night, 3-1 on aggregate.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Benfica remain major threat to Tottenham despite Nemanja Matic sale

March 12, 2014

Jorge Jesus
“Tottenham fans are not often grateful to Chelsea, particularly not where transfers are concerned, but on Thursday they can reflect that if Willian is not in their lineup, at least Nemanja Matic is not in Benfica’s. Or at least that’s the easy reading of it. Nobody would pretend that Matic is not a superb player or that he is not missed by Benfica, but the overall effect of selling him may have been beneficial.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Galatasaray 1-1 Chelsea: Mancini takes early action to correct his initial error

February 27, 2014

“Chelsea were completely dominant for the first half hour, but Roberto Mancini’s early substitution meant the game became more even. Mancini surprisingly named a 4-4-2 system from the start, with Izet Hajrovic on the right flank, and Wesley Sneijder tucking inside from the left. Jose Mourinho used Willian in the centre, two direct wide options down the flanks, and a mobile central midfield zone in the absence of cup-tied Nemanja Matic. Chelsea should have won the game in the opening half hour, but Galatasaray fought back commendably.” Zonal Marking

Sticks and Stones

February 23, 2014

“Jose Mourinho knows how to lie in a way that sounds deeper than the truth. Of his many usefully unscrupulous talents, this is one of the most useful and least scrupulous. He says things that he knows are untrue, and that you know are untrue, and that he knows you know are untrue, but that somehow or other just stick. In 2005, during his first run as the manager of Chelsea, he called Arsene Wenger a ‘voyeur’ when the Arsenal boss publicly questioned Mourinho’s transfer policy. It wasn’t fair, but neither is poetry. The jibe captured something weird and curdled in the impression the hawk-eyed Wenger makes; they were still talking about it in England eight years later. No one actually believes Wenger spends his free hours gazing into the rear courtyard, but that’s not the point. The goal of Mourinho’s lies isn’t to persuade you to believe anything. It’s to hit you at a level below belief, to shock your sense of reality into thinking it agrees with his.” Grantland – Brian Phillips

Manchester City 2-0 Chelsea: City stop Chelsea’s counter-attacks and win comfortably

February 19, 2014

“Manchester City gained revenge for their recent league defeat to Chelsea. Manuel Pellegrini’s side was very different from that match, with Costel Pantilimon, Joleon Lescott, Gael Clichy, Javi Garcia, James Milner and Stevan Jovetic all included. Jose Mourinho’s, however, named the closest thing possible to the XI that won at the Etihad. John Terry was out, so David Luiz moved back and John Obi Mikel came into the midfield. City were significantly superior throughout, amazingly so given how how confidently they were beaten less than a fortnight ago.” Zonal Marking

Transfer window: The winners, the losers – and the rest

February 2, 2014

“After another transfer window of wheeler-dealing, BBC Sport’s chief football writer Phil McNulty analyses the winners and losers as the Premier League clubs brace themselves for the season run-in…” BBC

Jose Mourinho: Chelsea boss wrong on 19th-Century football

January 31, 2014

“Jose Mourinho is an intelligent and articulate man and a talented manager, but he is not a historian. He said West Ham played “football from the 19th Century” after the Hammers’ defensive approach secured a 0-0 draw on Wednesday. Mourinho’s remarks were clearly meant more as a general slur alluding to the dark, unenlightened pre-Premier League days of English football than an accurate comparison to the game’s Victorian past.” BBC

Time for Man United to replace Nemanja Vidic?

January 21, 2014

“When judging a footballer’s probable impact over the next couple of seasons, there are certain rules you must never break. The longer you follow English football, the more reluctant you are to break them. Here are three…” ESPN – Michael Cox (Video)

Chelsea 3-1 Manchester United: Tactical Analysis | Wide areas make the difference
“In a very important game at Stamford Bridge, United crumbled and lost points that they really needed. Chelsea on the other hand kept in touch with the leaders of the Premier League, and are only 2 points behind cross town rivals Arsenal. United made their way there after a win last weekend against Swansea finally ended a miserable run of 3 defeats. They were never favourites to win the game, especially with Chelsea being in really impressive form in the last few weeks. In the end, Mourinho and Eto’o did enough to ensure that United made the long trip back home empty handed.” Outside of the Boot

Chelsea v Man Utd: What if United had chosen Jose Mourinho?

January 19, 2014

“When Manchester United were plotting the line of succession to Sir Alex Ferguson, it was the Scot himself who had the casting vote. The two men touted – albeit briefly – were managers who find themselves in opposition at Stamford Bridge on Sunday when United meet Chelsea. Ferguson went in favour of his fellow Scot David Moyes when many thought United might go for the more combustible, but also far more successful, Jose Mourinho.” BBC

Mikel and Anderson: victims of a distrust of creativity

January 17, 2014

“In Chelsea’s match with Manchester United this Sunday afternoon, arguably the most fascinating battleground will be the central midfield zone. That is entirely common in matches between two big clubs, but usually because of the vast quality on display. This weekend’s match is different, as both teams are weakest in that very position: the central midfield, the heart of the side. There are injury problems: Chelsea may be without Frank Lampard while David Moyes will probably still be unable to call upon Marouane Fellaini.” ESPN – Michael Cox

Why can’t Juan Mata and Jose Mourinho just get along?

January 11, 2014

“It would have been an enormous shock for Juan Mata last summer, when he realised he had been deemed unsuitable for the strategy of the incoming Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho. Not only had Mata been consistently exceptional throughout his first two seasons in English football, he’d also thrived under three different managers — and, arguably, in four very different systems. The first system was under Andre Villas-Boas, an ideologue who refused to compromise his major beliefs during his period at Chelsea. This involved a high defensive line, and transferring the ball quickly into attack. Mata had a huge responsibility — he arrived as the main playmaker for a club who’d been without a player of his creative potential for years, arguably since Gianfranco Zola in the pre-Abramovich days.” ESPN – Michael Cox (Video)

Tactical Analysis: What explains the rise, fall and rise again of the 4-4-2 in the Premier League?

January 6, 2014

“Since the arrival of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea in 2004, the 4-4-2 has been out of favor in England’s top flight. It hung on for a few more years, most notably in Tottenham Hotspur’s 2009/10 campaign when Spurs finished fourth while playing an extremely conventional 4-4-2 with two orthodox wingers, a target man up top, and a poacher playing alongside the target man. But there hasn’t been a title contender that played a strict 4-4-2 since Mourinho’s arrival–until this year. One of the most interesting developments in 2013 has been the return of 4-4-2, as Jonathan Wilson noted in his year in review piece for The Guardian. As it stands right now, the league leaders in Italy, France, and England all use a two striker system and Atletico Madrid, level with Barcelona on points at the summit of La Liga, has also favored such a system–so that’s the league leader or joint league leader in four of Europe’s five biggest leagues. It’s safe to say the two striker system is back. (It will be interesting to see how the four Bundesliga sides in the Champions League last 16 handle these teams that favor two strikers up top.) But in this piece we’re going to focus primarily on the Premier League and the three different types of 4-4-2 on display in 2013.” Think Football

Premier League mid-term report

January 2, 2014

“This weekend’s fixtures marked the mid-way point in this season’s Premier League, as a perfect time if any to take stock of this season’s participants and cast cruel judgement over their respective performances thus far. So without further-a-do…” Back Page Football – (part one), (part two)

Premier League: 2013 in numbers

January 2, 2014

“Thirteen Premier League titles, 27 years, 1,500 matches managed at Manchester United – Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement was the biggest story of the year. But what else happened in 2013? English football said goodbye to Gareth Bale and hello again to Jose Mourinho, while Luis Suarez provoked plenty of headlines – good and bad. Statisticians Opta have crunched the year’s numbers for us.” BBC

Who is the best full-back in the Premier League?

December 5, 2013

Ashley Cole
“In modern football there are increasingly few specialists, with advances in conditioning and analysis playing a pivotal role. Nowadays the majority of players are expected to be multi-fictional, able to impact a match in various phases of play. The role on the pitch that has perhaps adapted the most in this sense is that of the full-back.” ESPN

Statistical Analysis: Has Petr Cech let his form dip for Chelsea this season?

November 22, 2013

“Petr Cech has consistently proven that he is one of the best goal keepers in the Premier League and possibly in the World. Prior to getting his career threatening head injury he was arguably the best keeper in the league. Even in the aftermath, whilst having the odd shaky moment he was generally a very consistent performer for Chelsea. Has he though been below par this season?” Think Football

Tactics Board: Ozil goes missing against United

November 13, 2013

“MANCHESTER UNITED 1-0 ARSENAL. A feature of Mesut Ozil’s game normally is just how prominent he is. The Arsenal playmaker is willing to roam far and wide to get the ball. Yet in the first half at Old Trafford he was unusually anonymous. That reflected on how well Phil Jones, in particular, played against him and how United patrolled the area in front of their centre-backs. Ozil’s first-half pitch map shows how rarely his team-mates got him on the ball in the No. 10 position (in contrast, there are a cluster of dots near either touchline) and how United kept him out of the positions where he can do most damage. …” ESPN

Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal: Tactical Analysis
“The rivalry between Manchester United and Arsenal in the Premier League era has been intense with quite a few memorable encounters between the 2. Incidents such as the infamous tunnel confrontation between Viera and Keane and the bizarre ‘Pizzagate’ fiasco are ones that continue to be widely referenced years after their actual occurrence. Having said that, the rivalry has mellowed over the last few years owing largely to Arsenal’s rather long transition period. Robin van Persie’s transfer last season saw some of the edge return and with Arsenal flying high this season, this is a fixture that both sets of fans were desperate to win.” Outside of the Boot

Despite lopsided Champions League score, Chelsea far from convincing

November 7, 2013

“Jose Mourinho stretched out his arms and turned to his bench with a shrug. For the second time in the opening six minutes, Chelsea’s back line had been punctured with weird ease, Adam Szalai following Julian Draxler in sliding a shot just wide of the left-hand post. His bafflement seemed to sum up Chelsea this season: it may sit second in the Premier League and is top of its Champions League group after Wednesday’s 3-0 victory over Schalke 04, a point from qualification, but it has been far from convincing.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

November 1, 2013

“There could be a goalfest at the Emirates; Paul Lambert’s Hi Viz army will be out in force; Fernando Torres can continue his form; and Joe Hart faces an anxious wait” Guardian

Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City: counter-attack versus possession play but both attack in behind

October 30, 2013

“Two ex-Atletico strikers – Fernando Torres and Sergio Aguero – were the most prominent players in a fast-paced, exciting clash. Jose Mourinho played Gary Cahill rather than David Luiz, and left out Juan Mata with Andre Schurrle and Eden Hazard on the wings. Torres started after his two goals against Schalke in midweek. Manuel Pellegrini used Martin Demichelis for the first time, played three central midfielders with Yaya Toure pushed to the top of the triangle, two ball-players on the flanks, and Aguero upfront alone. Joe Hart’s huge error in the 90th minute decided the game, and overall this was evenly balanced.” Zonal Marking

Tactical Analysis: What is Branislav Ivanovic’s best position for Chelsea?

October 18, 2013

“Branislav Ivanovic has emerged as a top class player for Chelsea since he joined the club. The Serbian centre-back is a no nonsense centre-back or right back whose versatility has made him an asset for every manager whom he has served under. There is however a debate in some quarters over what his best position is, so is Ivanovic wasted at right back?” Think Football

DEBATE: Oscar vs Mata, Who’s the Number 10?

October 6, 2013

“At the beginning of this new season, Jose Mourinho has courted a lot of attention for some of his rather unusual team selection. Generally, a guy who has scored and assisted a truck load of goals, along with being a two time player of the year at the club, walks into the starting 11, but not at Chelsea apparently. The Special Juan has fallen behind Oscar for a place in the starting 11 as a play-maker at the start of this season, but only time will tell which one of the two is going to make the ‘No. 10 Role’ his own.” Outside of the Boot

Statistical Analysis: How did Juan Mata do on his return to the starting line-up for Chelsea?

October 2, 2013

“Juan Mata was, incredibly, marginalized to a degree at the beginning of the season. The two time Chelsea player of the year was left out of Chelsea’s squad for the 2-0 victory over Fulham at fortnight ago, but managed to claw his way back into the side after a strong 45 minutes against Spurs last weekend. On his return to the starting 11 versus Steaua, how can we rate his performance? Juan Mata had a strong game for Chelsea. The Spaniard featured mainly as the no.10, although he interchanged with Oscar, who started wide right. Mata was in good creative form in this role and created six chances for his team-mates in the process…” Think Football

Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Chelsea: Tactical Analysis

September 29, 2013

“Tottenham hosted Chelsea on a sunny Saturday afternoon for their second London derby of the season. The big draw however, was the battle between the two managers, AVB and Mourinho, who had worked together in the past. Of course, the other big motivation was AVB going up against his former club. In truth, a lot more was also at stake, with 3 key points being the biggest prize for the winner. Spurs started the game strongly, with a back-line of Walker, Vertonghen, Dawson and Naughton. In midfield, Dembele and Paulinho were the pivot, with Eriksen ahead of them. Townsend started on the right, and Sigurdsson on the left, Soldado was the one up front.” Outside of the Boot

Jose Mourinho & Andre Villas-Boas must focus on rebuilding jobs

September 29, 2013

“The debate and sub-plots surrounding the failed friendship of Andre Villas-Boas and Jose Mourinho, the man who shaped the Tottenham manager’s early coaching career at Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan, dominated the background to their first meeting in direct opposition.” BBC

Where Have All the Premier League Goals Gone?

September 22, 2013

“It hasn’t exactly been a scintillating start to the Premier League season. With 40 games played, there have been a grand total of 78 goals scored. That average of 1.95 goals per game is significantly behind last year’s average of 2.80, and also below the Premier League’s historic average (since 1992) of 2.63. It’s been particularly disappointing, given the preseason story lines that focused on new exciting, attacking teams. This raises the question: Why has scoring dried up in the Premier League?” Grantland

Seeds of doubt starting to sprout in Mourinho’s second Chelsea term

September 20, 2013

“It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Toward the end of last season, as it became increasingly clear that Jose Mourinho would be leaving Real Madrid, Chelsea fans began chanting his name. He was seen as the messiah, the coach whose second coming would end the chaos around Chelsea and restore them to the kind of success they enjoyed in his first spell at the club. That may yet happen, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that glory is not inevitable.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

New managers: Mourinho at Chelsea

September 18, 2013

“Jose Mourinho isn’t so much a ‘new’ manager as a returning manager, following nearly six years away from Chelsea. The obvious advantage Mourinho has over David Moyes and Manuel Pellegrini, the other two newcomers amongst top Premier League clubs, is that he has experience of competing (and triumphing) in a Premier League title fight. The downside, however, is that opposition coaches are now fully aware of his tricks, both in terms of psychology and tactics. Whether that means they’ll be able to counteract them with an intelligent strategy of their own, however, is a different matter.” Zonal Marking

Team Focus: Chelsea Wobble Not Yet Reason to Worry

September 16, 2013

“Defeats happen. It’s the nature of football, far more of which than we often like to imagine is rooted in luck. In Chris Anderson and David Sally’s book The Numbers Game, they estimate that the result of any individual game is based roughly 50% in luck: talent tends to win out over the course of a season, but there is a significant random factor over the course of 90 minutes. So good teams sometimes lose to bad teams. There are set backs that are down to nothing more than the bounce of the ball. Nobody should ever panic on the basis of one result.” Who Scored? – Jonathan Wilson

Premier League newcomers: 10 things you didn’t know

September 3, 2013

“You know the transfer fees and stats, have listened to the media-trained platitudes from the new signings and debated the winners and losers in the transfer window. However, amid the frenzied transfer activity, you may have missed some of the more quirky and curious snippets that have been reported about those players new to the Premier League this season. Here, BBC Sport picks 10 stories that have caught the eye…” BBC

Statistical Analysis: How badly do Manchester United need to sign a new winger?

August 30, 2013

“Manchester United are a side that has traditionally played with a lot of width. From George Best, to David Beckham, through to Cristiano Ronaldo and even the ever present Ryan Giggs, the club have always possessed quality wingers in abundance. That however has not been the case in the last two seasons or so. United’s wingers have gone from being a primary strength to arguably their greatest weakness. So does David Moyes need to sign a new winger for United?” Think Football

Manchester United, Chelsea play to a defensive stalemate

August 27, 2013

“After a couple of years of harum-scarum goalfests between the big sides, Monday’s meeting between Manchester United and Chelsea was a return to attrition. It’s dangerous always to read too much into one game, but the indications are that defending is back at the top level of the English game — and it may be that that leads to improved performances in the Champions League. Many will suggest that is the influence of the return of Jose Mourinho, and it is true that he has no qualms about playing reactive football, but the stalemate at Old Trafford was just as much to do with the approach of David Moyes.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea- Tactical Analysis
“A game between United and Chelsea is always monumental. This particular fixture, the first big game of the season, was further intensifying, as it marked David Moyes debut as United boss at the Old Trafford. Mourinho returned to the scene of some of his greatest successes, and with all the speculation surrounding Wayne Rooney (involving the two clubs), the game was further spiced up. The final score of Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea seemed a fair result, a scoreline that both sides played for and will be content with. Neither would particularly like to drop too many points this early in the Premier League season.” Outside of the Boot

An A-to-Zed Guide to the EPL

August 22, 2013

“With its 21st season under way, here’s a highly selective, wholly subjective refresher guide to the English Premier League, from A to Zed…” SI

The Shape of the Premier League to Come

August 17, 2013

“A survey of the players, managers, ideas, tactical developments, and themes to watch out for in the 2013-14 Premier League season. Chris Ryan: The above video is of William Gallas scoring a game-winning goal for Chelsea, against Tottenham, back in 2006. Chelsea won the league that season, finishing eight points clear of Manchester United. Spurs keeper Paul Robinson likely spent three months in a room, by himself, with a roast beef platter and a copy of The Queen Is Dead after this goal, but it’s not the goal that Gallas scored that interests me, it’s who he celebrated it with. …” Grantland (Video)

Premier League 2013-14: Phil McNulty’s predictions
“The Premier League’s top three – along with Everton and Stoke – are under new management, star players at Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool are under a cloud and Cardiff, Hull and Crystal Palace will all be experiencing the anticipation and trepidation of newcomers. The new season starts on Saturday. Can Manchester United win their 21st title? Can Manchester City wrestle it back from Old Trafford? Can Jose Mourinho recreate former glories at Chelsea?” BBC

New man, new strategies

August 14, 2013

“In a world in which the rich are getting even richer and success seems increasingly the preserve of a select handful of clubs, this season’s Premier League promises a rare openness, with the big three of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea all changing manager. It is an instability that could just open the door for Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and, with a couple more signings, perhaps Liverpool.” World Soccer – Jonathan Wilson

Anzhi chaos could send Samuel Eto’o falling into José Mourinho’s arms

August 14, 2013

“There were two big stories in Belarus in the last week of July. On the plus side, their premier, Alexander Lukashenko caught a catfish bigger than the pike Vladimir Putin had landed in Siberia a few days earlier. More difficult to comprehend, though, was the news that Uralkali, a Russian firm run by Suleiman Kerimov, had broken off a business agreement with a Belarusian company that effectively fixed global potash prices. It’s hard to say precisely what the consequences will be, but pressure has already been placed on the Belarusian rouble, while a surge in the supply of potash should lead to a decrease in the cost of fertiliser (and thus perhaps food). It could also lead to the sale of Samuel Eto’o to Chelsea.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Premier League 2013-14 season: Club-by-club guide

August 12, 2013

“The 2013-14 Premier League season could be one of the most unpredictable to date with so many changes at the top. This will be the first Premier League campaign without Sir Alex Ferguson in charge of Manchester United and there are at least four teams hoping to take advantage of David Moyes’s inexperience of winning trophies. Manchester City and Chelsea, both also under new management, and Tottenham have all spent big this summer, while Arsenal have kept hold of their key players and still have money to spend.” BBC

New man, new strategies

August 12, 2013

“In a world in which the rich are getting even richer and success seems increasingly the preserve of a select handful of clubs, this season’s Premier League promises a rare openness, with the big three of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea all changing manager. It is an instability that could just open the door for Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and, with a couple more signings, perhaps Liverpool.” World Soccer


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