Monthly Archives: January 2023

Earnie Stewart’s Departure Adds to Uncertain Times at U.S. Soccer

“On Wednesday night, the U.S. men’s national team and its interim coaching staff kicked off the 2026 World Cup cycle in administrative limbo. On Thursday morning, they awoke in Los Angeles to what U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) president Cindy Parlow Cone called ‘a clean canvas.’ Already without a full-time manager for the foreseeable future thanks to the review and investigation into Gregg Berhalter’s on-field performance and off-field conduct, the USSF now finds itself without a sporting director and a men’s general manager. …”


‘Barca pulling ‘levers’? Real did it first’ — Jaume Roures, the man who crosses Spain’s conflicting football worlds

“On the 16th floor of an office complex in downtown Barcelona, we’re inside a meeting room that’s surrounded by glass walls and filled with trophies. This is the main headquarters of Mediapro, a Spanish communication group founded by Jaume Roures in 1994. Maybe you haven’t heard of Roures, but there are plenty of reasons The Athletic has come to meet him. …”
The Athletic

A player taking a short corner then finishing off the move — could it catch on?

“Imagine this situation: you’re playing in a game of football and your side have won a corner kick. The planned routine is a short corner and your task is to get on the end of the eventual ball into the box. What if you could 100 per cent guarantee you would have several yards of space at the start of this move and you could be relatively sure that no one would track your run? …”
The Athletic – Michael Cox

Manchester City are winning, but have problems in possession

“The problem for A-grade students all over the world is that a B on any test raises eyebrows. Despite their recent victories, Manchester City’s performance on the ball has not been as convincing as it was early in the season, or recent years. The movement and the dynamics against Wolverhampton Wanderers last Sunday felt like City were picking up their rhythm, but against Arsenal it was off the pace again. …”
The Athletic

Russian teams playing friendly matches in Turkey despite UEFA and FIFA bans

“Beneath the winter sun in the grounds of the five-star Sueno Hotel in Antalya on Turkey’s southern coast, where golf buggies help guests navigate the lengthy distances from their hotel rooms to plush facilities, a modest crowd is gathered between two football pitches. Austria Vienna are taking on Partizan Belgrade of Serbia on one pitch. Both clubs are big hitters in the top flights of their respective countries, and both are members of UEFA, European football’s organising body. Two teams that are trying to keep fit and focused as their leagues take a winter break. …”
The Athletic

The CONCACAF/CONMEBOL partnership: Everything we know so far — Copa America, W Gold Cup and beyond

“CONCACAF and CONMEBOL on Friday unveiled a wide-ranging partnership on Friday that will have significant ramifications for both men’s and women’s soccer in the western hemisphere, with the 2024 Copa America set to be hosted in the United States, the 2024 CONCACAF W Gold Cup to include four teams from South America and a new tournament featuring two men’s clubs from each federation set to come online in 2024. …”
The Athletic

Everton’s Identity Crisis

“Frank Lampard can, at least, be sure that there will be no lasting damage. The disappointment of his firing as Everton manager will sting for a while, of course, but there is little reason to believe it will be held against him. A failure to meet expectations at Everton has long since become the sort of thing that might happen to anyone. It did not, after all, stop Carlo Ancelotti — who steered Everton to the dizzying heights of 10th in the Premier League in his sole full season at Goodison Park — from getting the Real Madrid job. …”
NY Times

Premier League mid-season review: Who wins the title? Who gets top four? Best signing?

“Will Arsenal hold off the challenge of Manchester City to win their first Premier League title since 2004? Who has been the best signing of 2022-23? And what about the worst? What’s been your goal of the season? And how about your favourite game? We asked a group of our writers to review the Premier League season so far — and their responses feature a lot of Mikel Arteta and Erling Haaland… ”
The Athletic

Preston ready to bring the noise for Spurs visit tinged with Cup history

“More than 13 years have passed since the 68th and previous staging of a fixture which is 123 years old but on Saturday has only a fourth edition since 1972: Preston North End v Tottenham Hotspur. The last time the northern and southern Lilywhites clashed came on 23 September 2009 at Deepdale when Alan Irvine’s Preston suffered a 5-1 loss to the Spurs of Harry Redknapp in a League Cup tie decorated by Peter Crouch’s hat-trick and strikes from Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe, the visitors also fielding Jermaine Jenas, Wilson Palacios and a youthful Gareth Bale. …”

How Wilfried Gnonto Became Leeds United’s Unexpected Star Attraction

“It was 19 August 2022 – a day before Leeds were set to host Chelsea – with Jesse Marsch doing his usual pre-match press conference. The defining days of the transfer window were fast approaching, and an interest in Wilfried Gnonto, an 18-year-old forward at FC Zürich, had been circulating in the days leading up to the match. With Marsch rarely one to return an abrupt answer, it was always worth asking him to shed some light. …”
The Analyst

Mohamed Salah’s Liverpool slump explained – a team failure, not an individual one

“When Mohamed Salah finished joint top of the Premier League’s scoring charts with Tottenham’s Son Heung-min in May, it earned the Liverpool attacker his third Golden Boot in five seasons. In the absence of a major international tournament, Salah then had an extended summer break and his contract saga was resolved when he signed a new three-year contract worth more than £350,000 per week — making him the highest-paid player in the club’s history. …”
The Athletic

Kovac steers Wolves out of the woods amid shambles of Hertha Berlin

Wolves are built to thrive in bitter winter, so with the champions still struggling to de-ice the windscreen and get the motor running, who better to assume the role of Bayern for now? In a glacial Olympiastadion in Berlin on Tuesday, Wolfsburg flamed their hosts, Hertha, 5-0 to make it two wins, 11 goals scored and none conceded. They remain seventh, but three points off third place and with a better goal difference, and defensive record, than any team beyond Bayern. …”

Arsenal’s clever corners and their importance in the Premier League title race

“On April 10, 1993, Manchester United needed a win to regain top spot in the inaugural Premier League season. A draw against Sheffield Wednesday would not have been enough to return to the summit with only five games remaining afterwards. The final minutes of that game played a major role in United’s first Premier League title. …”
The Athletic

Diogo Dalot and the role of the modern fullback

Positions are constantly evolving in modern football. Or rather, there are no new ideas in football. Just new contexts in which old ideas seem revitalised. None more so than the role of the full back. Liverpool’s Robertson and Alexander-Arnold appeared to have redefined the modern full back, but more recently we are seeing ‘inverted’ full backs. And some full backs, like Diogo Dalot can be like Robertson and Alexander-Arnold, and invert. Jon Mackenzie explains how. Marco Bevilacqua illustrates.

Football row brings bitter Algeria-Morocco rivalry to forefront

“The beautiful game is often able to unite the world, but when it comes to Algeria and Morocco, even football is failing to bridge the decades-long rivalry between the North African neighbours. The latest controversy occurred this month when Morocco withdrew from the African Nations Championship, held in Algeria. The Moroccans announced hours before the tournament began on January 13 that they would not be going because they had not been given permission to fly directly from Rabat to the Algerian city of Constantine and they refused to travel by an indirect route. …”
Aljazeera (Video)
Aljazeera: Morocco condemns ‘provocative’ acts at Algeria football cup (Video)

Why Man United’s poor organisation out of possession was likely to end in tears

“If Arsenal’s 3-2 victory over Manchester United on Sunday afternoon felt particularly momentous, it’s because it was essentially two types of big win combined. On one hand, it was about Arsenal completely outplaying United, dominating possession and territory, and creating far more chances. On the other, there was the drama of a late winner providing a definitive, exhilarating moment. …”
The Athletic – Michael Cox
The Athletic – Arsenal 3-2 Manchester United analysed: Are Arteta’s men really going to win this title?

CONIFA: Football’s Hidden Movement

“In Qatar, the dust, in both a literal and figurative sense, is just settling after a barnstorming three weeks of football produced a raft of historic moments; the drama, controversy, and intrigue which characterised the World Cup’s build-up somehow managing to permeate events on the field. A total of 206 nations may have vied for a place in the 2022 instalment of FIFA’s showpiece competition, but only 32 descended on the Middle East last November. But the glitz, glamour, and glory of the World Cup Finals didn’t evade just those 174 remaining member associations—many others, excluded from football’s international governance structures, were also consigned to watching the planet’s biggest sporting festival unfold from home. …”
Football Paradise
amazon: CONIFA: Football for the Forgotten

Diego Simeone and Atletico Madrid are set for change – their story looks close to an end

“‘How are things at Atletico Madrid at the moment?,’ The Athletic asked a former club employee last week. ‘Bad. Bad. Really bad,’ was the reply, delivered with a grimace. ‘Not just the results, but the play, the feelings. It’s not like before.’ That same downbeat and anxious tone was a feature of many conversations with over a dozen sources close to Atletico last week, each requesting anonymity to protect their positions. …”
The Athletic

Liverpool 0-0 Chelsea analysed: An attempt to tell you that was interesting

We knew it was going to be 0-0, it was 0-0, and we still committed to 16 Conclusions on Liverpool v Chelsea. Only ourselves to blame.
“Well, that wasn’t thrilling, was it? Last season, Liverpool and Chelsea played each other on the way to finishing second and third in the Premier League and contested both domestic cup finals. These clubs have won half of the past four Champions League finals. But their 2022-23 reality is a bit bleaker and they look very unlikely to compete for top-four places over the season’s remaining four months. …”
The Athletic
Liverpool 0-0 Chelsea: 16 Conclusions on a game that showed why ninth v tenth doesn’t usually get 16 Conclusions
Guardian: Mykhailo Mudryk cameo livens up Chelsea’s goalless draw at Liverpool (Video)

Kieran Trippier has it all: Set-piece specialist, overlapping runs and perfect vision

Newcastle’s 1-0 victory over Fulham last weekend solidified their place in the top four and marked a fifth consecutive Premier League clean sheet. The winning goal came in the 89th minute after an attack down the right saw Kieran Trippier set up Sean Longstaff, whose cross into the box was eventually headed home by Alexander Isak. …”
The Athletic

The Juventus scandal is awful for the whole of Serie A. It could be crippling

“Only in Serie A. It’s a common refrain, sometimes jocular — ‘Ah, those crazy Italians’ — and all too often dispiriting at what goes on in Italy’s biggest league. Some fans consider it a part of its appeal. All the dysfunction, the scandals, as if it were a football version of a true crime podcast or one of those shows about cults that top the Netflix charts. …”
The Athletic

Witness Says Inside Information Helped Fox Win World Cup Rights

“When the news broke a dozen years ago that Fox had been awarded the U.S. broadcast rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, many in television, and in soccer, were surprised. For decades, the sport’s showcase championship was the exclusive domain of ESPN, which had been instrumental in driving interest in the world’s most popular game in the world’s richest sports market. But according to a government witness testifying this week in federal court in Brooklyn, Fox didn’t acquire those tournaments on merit alone. …”
NY Times

Arteta and Ten Hag take inspiration from Cruyff in their full-back fluidity Luke Shaw and Ben White

“It was in the heat of summer that Mikel Arteta finally decided to press the button on a strategy he had been brewing for almost a year. For much of the previous season he had become convinced that Ben White was a right-back in the making: quick, calm on the ball and blessed with sound positional sense and a high level of tactical intelligence. The problem was everyone else. None of the squad, he decided, was capable of replacing White in the centre of defence. …”

Everton are engulfed in a civil war that could have a catastrophic end

Ugly fallout between the fanbase and the board places Frank Lampard’s struggling side in a dangerously precarious position
“It is too charitable to describe Everton as a club in crisis. A crisis can be solved with the right people in charge. Everton are engulfed in a civil war, the consequences could be catastrophic, and it is a measure of the turmoil that the potential endgame for a manager with the worst win ratio bar the hapless Mike Walker is not dominating their agenda before the trip to West Ham. Frank Lampard returns to his first club on Saturday having presided over 10 defeats in 13 matches and Everton’s descent to joint bottom of the Premier League. …”
Guardian: Everton protests are not about money, they are about hope and connection
NY Times: When the Owner Isn’t the (Only) Problem

Pep Guardiola’s extraordinary criticisms of Man City’s players and fans explained

“‘Of course I’m going to defend you until the last day of my life at the press conference,’ Pep Guardiola once memorably told his Manchester City players. Just how concerned must he be, then, to have come out with all of this? On Thursday night, after his side produced a stirring comeback from 2-0 down at half-time to beat visitors Tottenham Hotspur 4-2, he spoke at length about their lack of desire. …”
The Athletic (Video)

The tiny nation that produces amazing players

At the World Cup in Doha, the Dutch national team was captained by the Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk, while much of their tactical acumen comes from assistant manager Edgar Davids. Van Dijk and Davids, along with many others at the World Cup may have represented a different nation altogether – Suriname. This is the story of how the tiny nation of Suriname produces so many world-class players. Told by Adam Crafton, illustrated by Craig Silcock.”

Arsenal Just Might Actually Win This Thing

“There’s a meme that goes around Arsenal Twitter whenever the Gunners start doing well. It’s of a young man in a red Arsenal kit, leaning back with a hesitant smile that belies bone-deep anxiety, with the text ‘You know, as an Arsenal fan, it’s the hope that kills you.’ That’s the attitude Gooners have adopted for nearly the past two decades, since Arsenal last won the Premier League in 2004. In that time, promising young squads have turned sour, prospective star signings have opted for greener pastures—oftentimes scoffing at the idea of playing for the North London side—and encouraging starts have ended in heartrending finishes. …”
The Ringer

Real Madrid, Mbappe and the story that won’t go away. Get ready for more smoke and mirrors

Real Madrid have not forgotten about Kylian Mbappe and Mbappe has most definitely not forgotten about Real Madrid. From the outside, things might appear to be quite different. Madrid have talked down the prospect of signing the 24-year-old striker — both publicly and privately — because they do not want this topic to be in the media. After what happened with their failed attempts to sign Mbappe last summer, they are proceeding with caution. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Fixing Klopp’s Liverpool: Five quick changes that would help

“Jurgen Klopp said he could not recall a worse performance in his career as a manager than Liverpool’s defeat to Brighton on Saturday, adding on Monday that it “shouldn’t be that difficult” to play better against Wolves in the FA Cup replay on Tuesday evening, but how can he improve his team quickly? Klopp said they need to ‘go back to basics’, putting an emphasis on improving their defending. Having lost only twice in the league in the whole of 2021-22, Liverpool have already been beaten six times this season. …”
The Athletic

Niclas Füllkrug: Germany’s New ‘Old’ Striker Continues His Ascent

“Niclas Füllkrug isn’t your archetypal modern German striker. When the Germans warmed up for their 2022 World Cup campaign with a friendly against Oman in mid-November, Füllkrug came off the bench at half-time. In doing so, he became the oldest outfielder to make his debut for Germany in 20 years (29 years, 280 days). Did he make an impact? You could say that. He scored the only goal of the game within 35 minutes of his international introduction with what was only his second shot for the national team. …”
The Analyst

Scottish roundup: Rangers fight back to win but stay nine points adrift of Celtic

“A double from Kyogo Furuhashi helped Celtic cruise to a 4-0 win over St Mirren and retain a nine-point lead at the top of the Premiership over Rangers, who were narrowly victorious at Kilmarnock. Celtic took the lead in the 15th minute when Liel Abada finished from inside the area and Furuhashi doubled the advantage 20 minutes later to take a 2-0 lead into the break. …”

Why introducing temporary concussion substitutes in football would be the right move

“In a World Cup full of notable moments, there was one early in the tournament that grabbed the attention more than most. Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand, in his team’s opening game with England, suffered a violent and high-speed clash of heads with a team-mate. Sitting on the turf with his swollen nose heavily bleeding onto his kit, Beiranvand was treated for several minutes on the pitch by medical staff. Despite clearly being in serious discomfort, he was allowed to continue. …”
The Athletic

FIFA Trial Could Implicate Fox, a Major Player in Soccer

“The World Cup may be over, but the FIFA corruption scandal never seems to end. Nearly eight years after a series of predawn raids exposed corruption at the highest levels of international soccer, and more than five years after the conclusion of the first trial in the Justice Department’s sprawling probe of bribery in the sport, a second trial is set to begin on Tuesday in federal court in Brooklyn. Once more, the defendants stand accused of being involved in complex schemes to pay millions of dollars in exchange for the rights to matches. …”
NY Times

Why Xavi swapped Pedri for Gavi on Barcelona’s left – and how it was key to beating Real Madrid

“It was a good week for Barcelona. Seven days after beating Atletico Madrid 1-0 at the Wanda Metropolitano, they defeated Real Madrid 3-1 to win the Super Cup, bringing Xavi Hernandez his first trophy as Barcelona manager. The performances were, in many ways, very similar. In another way, there was a crucial difference. …”
The Athletic – Michael Cox

Aleksandar Mitrovic exclusive: ‘I felt I wasn’t wanted but I knew my time would come’

“As Aleksandar Mitrovic pulls up his seat, a black and white cat appears at his feet and starts nuzzling its head against some of the more valuable legs in English football. It is clear we are not going to be alone for this interview. Any introductions? Well, yes, it turns out this cat wanders into Fulham’s training ground every day and miaows outside until someone opens the door. It has been christened Miaow Palhinha (to clarify: not Joao, but Miaow) and Mitrovic is stretching out one of those big, powerful arms to give his furry friend a bit of love. …”
The Athletic

Why Juventus are in crisis

In November 2022, Andrea Agnelli, the Chairman of Juventus, and the rest of the board announced they were resigning. Agnelli had been the Chairman for 12 years. They had decided to leave following an investigation into Juventus’ finances. Why were Juventus’ finances being investigated? What did the investigators find? Why did it cause the board to resign? What happens to Juventus now? James Horncastle explains. Philippe Fenner illustrates.”

Real Madrid 1-3 Barcelona: Xavi’s first trophy, brilliant Gavi and lacklustre Real

Barcelona won their first piece of silverware under Xavi as they comfortably beat Real Madrid 3-1 in the Supercopa de Espana final in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Gavi put Barca ahead in the 33rd minute after a slide-rule pass from Robert Lewandowski before returning the favour for the striker, who put his side in full control when he scored himself in the 45th minute. Pedri put the finishing touches on the rout when he turned home another fine pass from Gavi in the 69th minute. Karim Benzema scored a consolation goal in stoppage time, but it was nowhere near enough for Carlo Ancelotti’s side. …”
The Athletic (Video)
The Athletic: Barcelona vs Real Madrid – an alternative guide to the first Clasico of 2023
Guardian: Villarreal find their level after Setién ‘shock’ to see off Real Madrid

When is the best time to sack a manager?

“‘Stability must be the key to progression,’ wrote Everton owner Farhad Moshiri this week in his response to an open letter from the club’s fans’ forum that voiced their concerns over the direction of the club. His words offered a measure of support to Everton manager Frank Lampard, who heads into this weekend’s Premier League game against Southampton under considerable pressure. Everton haven’t won a league game since October and sunk into the relegation zone after their most recent defeat against Brighton. Lampard is not alone. …”
The Athletic

Netherlands: 2022-23 Eredivisie – Location-map, with 3 charts

“The map shows the 18 clubs in the 2022-23 Eredivisie, the top-flight of the Netherlands. The Eredivisie was founded in 1956, two years after the introduction of professionalism in the Netherlands. That makes this the 67th season of the competition. Currently [12 January 2023], after 15 of 36 rounds, Feyenoord leads, with Ajax and PSV 3 points back, and Twente and AZ 4 points back. On the left-hand side of the map-page is an Attendance chart which features 3 things: current Average Attendance (to 9 January 2023, with 15 of 36 rounds played), Venue-capacity, and Percent-capacity. Currently, the Dutch top flight is drawing very well. …”
W – 2022–23 Eredivisie

At Juventus, a Strange Season Takes Another Turn

“The start of Juventus’s season was miserable. A raft of injuries ravaged the club’s squad. The team’s results, in those first few weeks, were flecked with disappointment. Barely a month into the campaign, Manager Massimiliano Allegri was having to smooth over the impact of an interview in which he had suggested “something was missing” from his side, alienating several of his players. …”
NY Times

Ange Postecoglou’s VAR complaints feed familiar Old Firm biases

“Boredom will reach Ange Postecoglou eventually. Any manager or player with aspiration of competing in a challenging environment, where there are more than two horses – at most – sees life beyond Celtic. Had Postecoglou not arrived in Glasgow with a reputation for occasionally taking issue with the sporting world, onlookers would be entitled to sense the Australian is already chasing self-created excitement. …”

Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez analysed by Alan Shearer: the pace, the power, the misses

“Strikers dwell on misses, but the time you worry and the time that sleep deserts you is the time chances don’t come. Big moments can linger and you replay them in your mind — nothing stays with you like a penalty gone awry — but they’re rarely symptoms of sickness in your game. That’s why I have few concerns about Darwin Nunez and his form for Liverpool because his ability is obvious and the rest he can learn. If he wants to improve, he will. …”
The Athletic

Manchester United head into season’s second derby transformed by Ten Hag

“Manchester United’s turnaround between October’s derby with Manchester City and the return fixture on Saturday suggests Erik ten Hag can be the man who finally casts Sir Alex Ferguson’s gilded era in sepia. At the Etihad Stadium United were blitzed 6-3 by the champions, going 4-0 down before half-time and 6-1 down after 64 minutes, on a dark afternoon for the club that featured hat-tricks from Erling Haaland and Phil Foden. …”

Where will Sebastien Haller fit in at Borussia Dortmund?

“… 4-2-3-1 – Terzic employed this formation the most during the Hinrunde, and it appears ideally suited for a centre-forward like Haller. When Haller’s diagnosis was made, Dortmund brought in Anthony Modeste — a similar type of player to the Cote d’Ivoire international — as cover. The Frenchman didn’t shine, scoring just two Bundesliga goals, but Youssoufa Moukoko did better. …”
Bundesliga (Video)

A to Z of TotalEnergies CHAN 2022 in Algeria

“This year’s Total Energies African Nations Championship (CHAN) is the seventh edition of the unique competition meant exclusively for home-based players. The three-week long event is scheduled to commence on 13 January in four Algerian cities including the capital Algiers, Annaba, Constantine and Oran. The Desert Foxes are among the 18 countries playing in the tournament that will end on 4 February at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers. Here is everything you need to know about this year’s tournament, arranged alphabetically. …”
BBC – African Nations Championship: Political rows and talent spotting – CHAN preview
CAF: Why the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algeria?

The USMNT Scandal Reflects the Incestuous Nature of American Soccer

“For a federation that governs more than 12 million participants across a vast expanse of land, U.S. Soccer is a very small outfit. While the governing body for the sport in the country currently has more than 100 employees, it has been dominated for decades by a tiny elite. You have to go back a long way to find a men’s national team head coach who didn’t split off from the same coaching tree—with the notable exception of Jurgen Klinsmann. …”
The Ringer

‘Craziness’ at Crawley – NFTs, YouTubers and five managers in 10 months

‘There’s a sigh at the other end of the phone. That seems to happen quite a lot when you ask people about Crawley Town. ‘It’s a mess,’ said more than one person. They’re referring to the club’s situation since it was taken over by WAGMI United — a group of American NFT investors — in April 2022, with the new owners promising to take Crawley up the divisions using innovation. … Regardless, the basic facts aren’t great. Crawley are 21st in League Two and now look more likely to leave the division from the bottom rather than the top. …”
The Athletic (Video)

“It’s Not a Jürgen Klopp Team”: Analysing Liverpool’s Struggles in Midfield

“‘It’s not a Jürgen Klopp team.’ Jamie Carragher isn’t the first person to say something like that about Liverpool this season and we can’t imagine he will be the last. The Reds saw their four-game Premier League winning streak come to an end against Brentford last week, with the Bees winning 3-1, and are now seven points off a top-four spot. There is a real danger that the 2022 Champions League finalists will have to settle for a Europa League berth next campaign. …”
The Analyst

Nice’s embarrassing Coupe de France exit shows how big a mess they are in

Le Puy players celebrate after their victory over Nice in the Coupe de France.
“There are moments in a season that can provoke profound self-reflection in a club. Nice’s shock 1-0 defeat to Le Puy-en-Velay Foot 43 Auvergne in the round of 64 of the Coupe de France represents one of those moments, laying bare the incoherence of Ineos’ project. Flashback to last May and Nice, under the stewardship of now-PSG manager Christophe Galtier, were playing in the Coupe de France final against Nantes. …”

Ornstein: Arsenal hire ‘Tekkers Guru’, Zaha to stay at Palace, Hazard talks, West Ham in for En-Nesyri

Arsenal face an FA Cup third-round tie at League One side Oxford United tonight, as Mikel Arteta’s men attempt to continue their progress in a campaign that has seen them become Premier League front-runners. Arteta is at the centre of a rebuilding job which, after a troubled period, appears to be turning the side into a competitive force once again — and the efforts to improve show little sign of abating. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Do shirt sales pay for transfers?

We’ve been there every transfer season, a big transfer is justified because ‘they’ll pay the club back in shirt sales alone’. But will a player really be able to recoup their transfer fee from flogging shirts? Abhishek Raj explains how shirt sales work, how much a club earns on average from selling kit, and whether it ever justifies a transfer. Illustrated by Marco Bevilacqua. …”

UCL Dreams Dashed, Barcelona in Dire Need of La Liga Title Charge

Lewandowski has hit the ground running, and Barcelona will need every bit of his goalscoring prowess.
“There was a certain sense of inevitability that hung in the air at the Camp Nou. Bayern Munich winger Sadio Mané scored the opener in the ninth minute and hardly celebrated. A second went in in the 31st minute and all was already lost. The 84,000 supporters had seen this script play out before: Mighty FC Barcelona was simply not good enough against the German club. That didn’t stop the jeers from raining down at full time of Barca’s 3–0 loss, and it certainly didn’t ease the sting of what was a defeat of massive importance. Barcelona was out of the Champions League before the knockout stage in a season it needed to reach it more than any other. …”

How Brentford’s corners bamboozled Liverpool – changing targets and masterful movement

“If you open the Oxford English Dictionary and search for “set piece”, there is a chance there will soon be a picture of Brentford’s badge alongside the explanation. This is because the London club are becoming increasingly lethal from them. For a couple of years, Brentford have focused on set pieces to give them an edge in an era of football where marginal advantages make the difference. The fact their previous set-piece coaches, Gianni Vio and Nicolas Jover, have gone on to transform Tottenham and Arsenal’s set pieces in the past two years is an indication of how progressive Brentford’s thinking is in this area. …”
The Athletic

Scottish officials push for change to handball rule as VAR has intensified abuse

“St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson has called for the handball rule to be changed, Celtic are still fuming over it five days after the latest Old Firm game — and now the Scottish FA is set to establish the views of its Professional Game Board (PGB) members before sharing them with the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the body which writes the game’s laws. It is understood the SFA has put the subject of handball on the agenda for the next PGB meeting. Clubs will be asked to share their complaints and possible solutions so the association’s representative can feed those findings into IFAB’s discussion. …”
The Athletic (Video)

How to organize the defensive line as a goalkeeper

“As part of this site, I allow for questions to be thrown my way pertaining to performance problems on the pitch, and how players can solve complex issues. I received a great question a few days ago from a goalkeeper, looking to understand how they can organize the defensive line. With a wonderful view of the action, goalkeepers must be more than just shot stoppers, and participate actively and vocally in communicating with their mates. They should not be solely responsible for organizing the entire team, but have the ability to do so through the vantage point they have on the field, and often the fearless nature they behold. …”
The Mastermindsite

A single step that cost Kepa Arrizabalaga and Chelsea the only goal against Manchester City

“… There has been a big improvement in Kepa Arrizabalaga’s performances since Graham Potter and his staff took over at Chelsea but he was at fault for Riyad Mahrez’s winner for Manchester City. He failed to cut out Jack Grealish’s cross and Mahrez snuck in at the back post ahead of Marc Cucurella to finish. Where did it all go wrong? Arrizabalaga’s initial positioning was good. He was facing the ball but slightly angled with his body open to see the play in front of him. He was almost in the sweet spot of being aggressive off his line to cut out the cross, yet close enough to his near post should Grealish try and sneak one past him. …”
The Athletic
The Athletic: Man City’s Plan A looked doomed to fail at Chelsea – it was Plan C that worked in the end – Michael Cox
The Athletic: Manchester City were far from fluent against Chelsea but did what champions do – won (Video)

The Lowest Points Totals in Premier League History

“Southampton may be bottom of the league on 12 points after 18 games of the 2022-23 Premier League season, but one ounce of comfort is that they have already surpassed the worst points tally in a single Premier League campaign, set by Derby County in 2007-08. We look at the lowest points tallies in a single Premier League season. …”
The Analyst

Crypto chaos: how Crawley crumbled under owners’ reckless leadership

“The word ‘shambles’ comes up a lot when you ask people about Crawley Town. They sit 20th in League Two, are looking for their third permanent manager of the season after Matthew Etherington’s exit following 32 days in charge and have cast aside three of their senior players. When Wagmi United, a cryptocurrency sports company, bought the club in April its co-founder, Preston Johnson, said: ‘We think the club can do better and our fans deserve better.’ They finished in 12th last season, so clearly Wagmi United’s plans are not working out. …”

Gregg Berhalter issues statement on domestic violence incident, alleges blackmail attempt

Gregg Berhalter, who coached the U.S. men’s national team at the 2022 World Cup, put out a statement Tuesday acknowledging an incident in which Berhalter kicked his now-wife Rosalind in the legs during an argument 31 years ago while the pair were dating as students at the University of North Carolina. … The statement was signed by both Gregg and Rosalind Berhalter. …”
The Athletic
The Athletic – Gregg Berhalter and the Reyna family: A timeline of events leading to U.S. Soccer investigation
NY Times: U.S. Soccer Investigating Coach After Report From a Player’s Parent
The Athletic – Gregg Berhalter on past domestic violence incident: ‘We didn’t hide from (it) back then’ and aren’t hiding now
The Athletic: Gio Reyna’s mother reported incident involving Gregg Berhalter and wife to US Soccer