Ozil’s secret weapon

September 14, 2013

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A heat map showing Mesut Ozil’s touches in La Liga during his three seasons at Real Madrid.
“In modern football, the vast majority of top-class European clubs agree on the basic principles of attacking play. It’s extremely rare to see a half-decent side knock a long ball from defence, and it’s become increasingly uncommon to witness relentless crossing from wide. Instead, top-level football is about short passing, through-balls, and exploiting pockets of space either side of the opposition defence. There are certain qualities you unquestionably require to play this way: patient midfield passers to initiate the buildup, incisive creators capable of penetration and quick forwards who can sprint beyond defences.” ESPN – Michael Cox (Video)


Tactical Analysis: Is Arsenal’s alleged need for a defensive midfielder exaggerated?

September 14, 2013

““They won’t go far. They needed a player in the middle of the park with grit, determination, someone who can get stuck in.” Sound familiar? Arsenal fans like myself have been subjected to such warnings from rival supporters. Sceptics who have been eager to assert that while the purchase of Ozil was admirable, what Arsenal really required was some “steel” in the midfield. It has even been suggested that instead of going all out to capture the “the best Number 10 in the world”, Manchester United new boy Maroune Fellaini was the player that Arsenal should have gone all out to buy. Surely he would have added much needed bite and steel to what appears to be a lightweight midfield.” Think Football


Anthony Stokes inspires a fine 3-1 away victory for Celtic at Hearts

September 14, 2013

“Even with Hearts in their current, diminished state, Celtic would never hand-pick a trip to Tynecastle immediately before a Champions League tie. What that in mind, Neil Lennon can consider this as a job well done in Edinburgh. The Celtic manager watched his players claim a victory they deserved over a Hearts side who, in fairness, offered more resistance than could have been expected. Gary Locke, the Hearts manager, is worthy of continued credit for his guidance of the administration-hit club as those off the field edge towards a deal which should return local ownership to these parts by Christmas.” Guardian


John O’Brien: all American hero

September 14, 2013

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2002 World Cup in South Korea, John O’Brien
“John O’Brien was once lauded as the greatest American footballer of his generation. He successfully conquered Europe with his exploits at Ajax in Holland’s Eredivisie and drew many plaudits for his performances for the US national team at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea. But for the Californian born soccer star, his career was left largely unfulfilled. Blighted by a history of chronic injuries, O’Brien never truly reached the level of performance that his potential promised, however, he did enjoy sustained success for a short time and his influence on football in the United States was no less important.” World Soccer


Middle Eastern investors target lower tier European clubs

September 14, 2013

“Middle Eastern investors have adopted a new strategy of buying low and selling high with a series of acquisitions of second and third tier European soccer clubs. In the most recent acquisition, Saudi Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad, the billionaire former president of Saudi Arabia’s most successful club Al Hilal and founder and chairman of the publicly-listed Saudi Paper Manufacturing Group, the largest paper tissue manufacturer in the Middle East, bought a 50 per cent stake in Sheffield United with the aim of helping the club graduate from the third league to England’s Premier League.” The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer


Leonid Slutsky – CSKA’s solution?

September 14, 2013

“Connor O’Neil and Xavier Leonovitch discuss CSKA’s chances in the Champions League this year and Leonid Slutsky’s role as CSKA manager: As we know, CSKA face reigning champions Bayern Munich, as well as Manchester City and Viktoria Plzen in their Champions League group. There are many questions about Leonid Slutsky’s ability as CSKA coach – can he lead his team to the round of 16? It’s a rather paradoxical question to ask when we examine Leonid Slutsky’s résumé since he took over CSKA Moscow in 2009…” Russian Football News


Roberto Martinez reveling in Everton’s challenge

September 14, 2013

Roberto Martinez
“For his next trick, Roberto Martinez will attempt the art of alchemy. The Catalan manager arrived at Goodison Park this summer once his powers of levitation and escapology had ultimately failed him after four seasons at Wigan Athletic. Everton have hovered agonizingly around the Champions League places for the past seven seasons under Martinez’s stoic predecessor, David Moyes. A gutsy underdog team with a rich tradition, whose mighty past had been outrun amidst the stampede of the Premier League gold rush. Martinez claims he was drawn to his new coaching challenge for reasons both emotional and rational.”
ESPN (Video)


Statistical Infographic: Inter vs Juve

September 14, 2013

“The first international break of the season has finally ended, and a return to club football beckons for the best footballers across the planet. The first 3 games of the season saw some lukewarm performances from most of the giants, but now that World Cup qualification is sealed for many of the players, and the season is well under way, we should see the intensity being upped. The return of club football has been marked by the return of one of the fiercest rivalries across football, and especially in the Serie A- the Derby D’ Italia. Aside from being 2 of the 3 most successful sides in the peninsula, the rivalry that Inter and Juve share is about much more than just trophies.” Outside of the Boot


Great Football League Teams 45: Hull City 1982-3

September 14, 2013

“We are delighted to welcome back Matthew Rudd for the latest post in our Great Football League Teams series; Matthew having previously penned a popular post on Hull City’s 1965-6 side. Now, he casts his mind back to the early eighties. … It’s amazing what being skint can do for a football club. In 1982, Hull City were certain to go out of business, probably before the season had actually finished. In 1983, not only were they solvent again, but playing some delightful, devastating football and achieving what still ranks as one of the truly great promotions in the club’s history.” thetwounfortunates