Chelsea 0-1 Manchester City: Guardiola uses his full-backs & wingers to get De Bruyne into space

October 8, 2017


“Chelsea came into this game on the back of a midweek victory at Atletico Madrid, probably the tactical performance of the season so far – they showed defensive discipline, midfield control and completely outwitted Diego Simeone’s usually-formidable Atletico. The key was Antonio Conte’s use of 3-5-2, a modification upon the 3-4-3 that won Chelsea the league last season. This 3-5-2 allowed Eden Hazard to play centrally, and means Cesc Fabregas can be used in central midfield without Conte having to sacrifice one of his two disciplined defensive midfielders. Two big advantages. …” Zonal Marking

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Gareth Southgate should switch England to a three-man defence

October 8, 2017

“It’s difficult to imagine a starker contrast between performance and outcome than England’s 1-0 victory over Slovenia at Wembley on Thursday night. The narrow win, sealed by Harry Kane’s last-gasp goal, didn’t really mask an uninspiring performance from manager Gareth Southgate’s side. But ultimately it means England have qualified for next summer’s World Cup. Preparation starts now: The FA immediately announced home friendlies against Germany and Brazil next month, knowing those dates wouldn’t be needed for playoff matches, while Sunday’s trip to Lithuania effectively has become another friendly, a chance for experimentation. And experimentation is crucial if England have any chance of reaching the latter stages in Russia next year. …” ESPN


Pressing is the Premier League’s big trend, but it’s not without its problems

December 22, 2016

“If Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool win the Premier League title this season, we might look back upon Monday’s 1-0 victory over Everton as among their most significant triumphs. It was a classic ‘the mark of champions’ win: an away trip to local rivals, a poor game, a below-par performance and a late winner. Liverpool supporters haven’t celebrated so hard for years. For neutrals who anticipated a good game at Goodison Park, however, Monday was a damp squib.” ESPN – Michael Cox


Champions League last 16: Tie-by-tie analysis

December 12, 2016

“1) Manchester City v Monaco. Pep Guardiola will be content with this draw, but Monaco are among the most exciting sides in Europe and perhaps the most underrated team in the competition. Leonardo Jardim has created an exciting side who have scored an incredible 53 goals in 17 Ligue 1 matches. Although Monaco share the goals around impressively, it is notable that Radamel Falcao has found his shooting boots again, scoring five goals in Monaco’s past two games. They are also tactically flexible, able to play both 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1 effectively, as they demonstrated with 2-1 victories home and away against Tottenham Hotspur in the group stage.” Guardian – Michael Cox


Three at the back is a dream for Chelsea but a nightmare for Everton

November 6, 2016

“Tt is now five consecutive victories for Chelsea since Antonio Conte switched to a 3-4-3 system – 16 goals scored, none conceded – and this was their most impressive attacking display for years, a wonderful demonstration of efficient turnovers, intelligent running and intricate interplay. If there was any doubt about the difficulty of switching from a four-man defence to a back three, you only needed to look at Everton.” Guardian – Michael Cox


Jürgen Klopp teaches Liverpool the art of filling space dynamically

November 2, 2016

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“Liverpool remain a work in progress but it’s coming together promisingly. During Jürgen Klopp’s first campaign at Anfield the players adapted quickly to his high-energy, heavy-pressing system and regularly disrupted the opposition’s passing but they only sporadically formulated quick, incisive attacking moves themselves.” Guardian – Michael Cox, Michael Cox


Pep Guardiola wins tactical battle with José Mourinho in Manchester derby

September 12, 2016

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“José Mourinho was quick to criticise his players after Saturday’s 2-1 defeat by Manchester City. ‘A few players were below the level,’ he complained. ‘Sometimes players disappoint managers.’ But Mourinho’s tactical blunder was equally to blame for Manchester United’s poor first-half performance and their improvement after the break owed much to his change of formation. City’s most dangerous players in Pep Guardiola’s 4-3-3 system are the two advanced central midfielders, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne.” Guardian – Michael Cox

José Mourinho’s faith in Wayne Rooney faces biggest test in Manchester derby
“It’s probably just as well the Manchester derby is happening so early in the season. There’s only so much fevered anticipation, so much guarded politeness, so many unconvincing insistences that they get along fine that a league can take. Certainly, there’s only so often it can be pointed out that beating Bournemouth, Southampton and Hull or Sunderland, Stoke and West Ham is all very well but the real test will come in the derby.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson