Mauricio Pochettino is building Spurs from the back, the opposite of Arsenal

November 10, 2015

“Once upon a time, pundits said that great teams were ‘built from the back.’ Concentrating on defence before attack was considered the optimum way to create a winning machine, but this has proved trickier in an era when almost every fan base is determined for their side to play ‘good football’ and managers aren’t given much time to impress. Besides, whereas great defending was once considered the domain of the back four, and maybe a screening midfield player too, it’s now a collective effort. Can great teams be built from the back if the defending starts from the front?” ESPN – Michael Cox

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Premier League’s limitations shown by dull Manchester derby draw

October 28, 2015

“Everyone who watched Sunday’s Manchester derby agreed it was a largely terrible game of football. Well, almost everyone. The counter argument was launched by Gary Neville, Britain’s finest television pundit, who has genuinely helped change perceptions of football through his brilliant Monday Night Football slot. Neville was a fine defender during his playing days, the type of footballer who became top-class because his intelligence was built upon experience, rather than through incredible natural talent. It’s not surprising, therefore, that he’s a fine commentator and marvels at good defensive organisation.” ESPN – Michael Cox


Crystal Palace, Leicester, West Ham using counter-attack to great effect

September 27, 2015

“Manchester City and Manchester United are occupying the top two positions in the Premier League table, but the real story is the over-achievement of some exciting underdogs. West Ham United, Leicester City and Crystal Palace have been among the most impressive teams in the division and are all sitting pretty towards the top. Interestingly, the trio have something very obvious in common: they’ve all been excellent on the counter-attack. The statistics summarise the situation. These three sides are among the worst teams in terms of possession: West Ham with 45 percent, Crystal Palace and Leicester with 44. Only Tony Pulis’ West Brom (42 percent) are beneath them.” ESPN – Michael Cox


Alexis Sanchez could be the forward Arsenal have been searching for

September 10, 2015

“The revelation that Danny Welbeck will miss half the season — days after the summer transfer window ended without Arsene Wenger’s buying a single senior outfielder — prompted anger from Arsenal fans frustrated by the lack of a superstar striker. Olivier Giroud has improved since joining in 2012, but he is unlikely to hit 20 league goals, while Theo Walcott still doesn’t look like a reliable out-and-out striker.” ESPN – Michael Cox


Tactical dilemmas for Pellegrini and Mourinho before Man City vs. Chelsea

August 14, 2015

“Manchester City vs. Chelsea might be a title decider if it were played on the second-to-last weekend of the season, rather than the second overall. It’s highly unusual to encounter such an important match so early in the new campaign and this is a meeting between the past two Premier League champions, who happen to be the two favourites to win it again.” ESPN – Michael Cox


Samir Nasri talks to ESPN FC about Man City, Manuel Pellegrini, Marseille

July 27, 2015

“Manchester City’s Samir Nasri is highly unusual among modern footballers, for two very different reasons. First, he’s forthcoming with opinions. This is a player who, for example, who was confronted by paparazzi while on holiday in Los Angeles this summer and ended up having a discussion about the FIFA crisis, one in which he welcomed FBI intervention. Few other footballers dared utter a word about the saga. Second, Nasri is a relentless football watcher. One of the notable things about professional footballers is how few enjoy watching the game; they love playing, they love the dressing room banter, some enjoy the fame, but in general, they’re not great spectators. Nasri, however, spends most of his free time watching football.” ESPN – Michael Cox


Brazil’s inadequacies echoed by Neymar’s lack of patience against Colombia

June 18, 2015

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“Disappointment would have been bad enough for Brazil, but after the final whistle it became disgrace. Defeat to Colombia, followed by Neymar’s red card, may not resonate like the 7-1 defeat to Germany in the World Cup semi-final last year did, but the shame is just as real. After all the talk of trying to find some sort of redemption in the Copa América, all the same old flaws were there, just without quite the same hysteria. This was a petulant, complacent, unimaginative Brazil and they now, almost unbelievably, must beat Venezuela in their final group game on Sunday to be sure of making it to the quarter-finals – and they will have to do it without the player on whom they have become so reliant.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Breaking down last night’s Colombia-Brazil nonsense with the power of GIF
“Last night, Brazil and Colombia met in a Copa América group stage game, almost one year after Brazil eliminated the Colombians in Forteleza in the 2014 World Cup quarterfinals. But this time was different. Colombia, having already succumbed to Venezuela in its opening game, managed to pull itself together and frustrate Brazil for 90 minutes, eeking out a 1-0 victory. Typically, that would be the story. Colombia exacts revenge on the Samba Boys. Or something basic like that. But that would be a disservice to the real story: These two teams wanted to murder each other, and they came damn close after the final whistle.” Fusion

Neymar’s brilliance and immaturity have been on display at Copa America
“There was a time not long ago when Brazil boasted countless world-class attackers. It was a time when, for example, Marcio Amoroso could finish as top goal scorer in Brazil, Italy and Germany, but count himself fortunate simply to be named in the Brazil squad. Mario Jardel scored 130 goals in 125 league games for Porto and collected only 10 caps, usually as a substitute. Giovane Elber, meanwhile, spent a decade banging in the Bundesliga goals and managed just 15 caps.” ESPN – Michael Cox