Inside AFTV a decade since its launch: The controversies, criticism, changes and future


“Last month, AFTV turned 10 years old. The channel has now provided a decade of post-match catharsis for Arsenal supporters. … This is, in business terms, a clear success story. At the time of writing, AFTV is on the verge of reaching 1.5 million YouTube subscribers. It has amassed more than a billion views. Its other social-media profiles have grown too, with more than a million followers on Instagram. This is a significant media organisation. …”
The Athletic (Video)

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Gabriel Jesus is not just a pressing striker – Arsenal benefit from his top tackling too

Arsenal’s 1-0 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday was slender in terms of scoreline, but considerably more convincing in terms of performance. Mikel Arteta’s side scored the winner from a set piece. But their dominance in open play was obvious — and, in a subtle way, the winner was perfect. The goal itself was an inswinging Bukayo Saka corner, missed by everyone and turned into the net from precisely a yard out by Gabriel Magalhaes. But if you work backwards, you find the key to Arsenal’s performance. The corner came from an Edouard Mendy save, from a Gabriel Jesus shot, and the move for that shot started when Thiago Silva was tackled by Jesus. …”
The Athletic – Michael Cox

Football has elevated time-wasting into a sophisticated art form

“As a pastime, or indeed lifestyle, time-wasting is undervalued. To do nothing takes real imagination; to produce nothing requires a strong moral core. The idle person does not, among other things, perform unnecessary cosmetic surgery or release an album of swing covers. The most courageous way of experiencing time is through inaction – to remain quite still and feel the minutes crawl across the face. Time-wasting in football, however, is the preserve of knaves and shysters. …”
Guardian

Every 2022-23 Premier League third kit rated

“Yes, we’re into the second half of October but only now can The Athletic rate the good, the bad and the ugly of this season’s Premier League third kits, as it’s taken this long for them all to finally be unveiled. Bizarre colour schemes, tributes to bridges and digital front-graphic panels, third kits are usually a heady cocktail of the experimental and the sublime, and this year is no different. …”
The Athletic

Liverpool have lost balance and confidence. Regaining both is not easy

“It’s never just one thing. Football, whatever the cliche may say, is not a simple game. A team is a hugely complex organism: a malfunction in one area can have profound consequences elsewhere. Everything is connected and contingent; nothing is independent. Jürgen Klopp must feel at the moment as though he is engaged in a game of Whac-A-Mole, bashing at problems here and there, and yet also knowing that these moles are related, that a mole in one corner is breeding moles elsewhere. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Manchester United top the table (in paying off departed managers)

“The relentless pursuit of success comes at a cost. For Manchester United, the cost is an estimated £60million spent on sacking managers and their backroom staff since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in May 2013. David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick all received compensation. This financial outlay is more than Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have spent changing their manager in the same 10-year timeframe. …”
The Athletic

How Arsenal Found Its Voice

“LONDON — On the night before the biggest game of Arsenal’s season so far, the fans slipped inside the Emirates Stadium to make sure everything was in place. Their leader and a handful of friends had spent weeks drawing up their plans: raising money, contacting suppliers, brainstorming themes, designing images, cutting out stencils, spray-painting letters. Now, late on a Friday night, there was just one job left to do. They had to check that every seat in Block 25 of the stadium’s Clock End contained a flag, either red or white, for the culmination of the display. …”
NY Times

Watching three Premier League derbies in three days


Arsenal fans make their way to the Emirates from Gillespie Road on derby day
“Super League proposals, globalisation, games potentially being played abroad, the hunger for European football… it’s felt for a while that this might be the future of the game. Ask your typical English football supporter which fixture they first look for in June and chances are they’ll say their team’s local derby. …”
The Athletic

The Crisis Clubs: a Weekly Guide to Premier League Turmoil

“In case you hadn’t noticed, each week the Premier League has a specific team in crisis. Bad form, shock results, poor management, unforced errors; some or all of these factors can plunge one of the division’s 20 sides into momentary turmoil, transforming them into the main character in Premier League narrative for that week. More often than not the crisis club will be a member of the Big Six but not always and, no matter who it is, the next set of fixtures will invariably throw up a new team to take up the crisis mantle, and the nation’s attention will pivot instantly to the league’s new whipping boys for the week. Here, then, is an ongoing guide to the Premier League’s crisis clubs in 2022-23. …”
The Analyst

Premier League Big Six – when did they have their best days?

“Over the past few years, we have supposedly seen the ‘best ever’ club sides in the Premier League and even Europe. When Liverpool and Manchester City went head-to-head in 2019, some were quick to proclaim them the greatest of all time, but in 2019-20, City fell short and a year later, Liverpool’s defence of their Premier crown was rather tepid. The real test of a great team is consistency over a period of time and both of these clubs have shown they have that quality. …”
Game of the People

“Cup Sides”: Do they exist?

“Some sites are just good, right? They’re in the race for the most trophies most years, and while they invariably meet some disappointment along the way, the pots and pans usually start to pile up. Now think of Manchester City or Manchester United under Alex Fergurson or Liverpool in the 1970s and 1980s. However, other teams seem to do better as pure cup sides. A look back to the 1970s and 1980s and a look at the two major domestic cup competitions seems to confirm this. If we start our last ‘ah, those were the days’ in 1970 and look at that decade’s FA Cup competition, for example, we see certain teams with a distinct ‘cup pedigree’. …”
UK Daily

World Cup 2022 news round-up: Jesus’ Brazil snub, Pepi’s debut and Queiroz’s return

England and the USA have goalkeeper injury concerns, Ricardo Pepi has made his debut in Holland but Arsenal’s in-form Gabriel Jesus is suddenly out of favour with Brazil. With the transfer window shut and September international fixtures looming, a relentless domestic and European calendar is providing opportunities for players to shine and prepare for Qatar. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Manchester United showed why passing backwards to go forwards is so valuable

Manchester United’s opening goal against Arsenal was a thing of beauty. It wasn’t simply that the goal featured all 11 players, or the fact United cut through Arsenal’s lines smoothly. It was about how they created the situation — playing four backwards passes and going from level with the opposition penalty area right back to their goalkeeper. It was a perfect demonstration of the value of going backwards. …”
The Athletic: Michael Cox

Money to Burn: Lessons From the Premier League’s Transfer Window

“… This is what the Premier League does every year, of course: Every summer, and most winters, its clubs descend on Europe, the cash from infinitely spiraling television deals burning a hole in their pockets, and proceed to hose an entire continent with money. They swamp it, they flood it, they drown it with their wealth. And then, at the end of August, they go home, armed with a few more Brazilian playmakers and Swedish strikers, ready to play the games that will earn the money for them to do it all over again in a few months. …”
NY Times

Is this the worst Premier League foul ever?

“Some fouls leave you wincing. Some are debatable. And some leave players with lasting damage. The Premier League is widely regarded as the most competitive league in the world, so naturally, there have been some hefty challenges. But which is the worst foul committed in the Premier League? Seb Stafford-Bloor writes. Philippe Fenner.”
YouTube

Premier League at 30: How football has changed


“‘Football didn’t start in 1992.’ It did not, but it did change forever. Next week marks the 30th anniversary of the Premier League replacing the Football League First Division at the top of the English football tree. Here is what has happened in those 30 years and how the Premier League and the world has changed. …”
BBC (Video)

Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

“… 3) Hammers looking to find rhythm. David Moyes was in no mood to deliberate after West Ham slipped to a second successive defeat, though it was not for the want of trying at Nottingham Forest; they had a goal disallowed, twice hit the underside of the crossbar and Declan Rice saw a penalty saved. Moyes said he hopes their Europa Conference League playoff first leg at home to Viborg on Thursday will help them establish some rhythm after a disappointing start. …”
Guardian

Why the through ball is becoming a dying art in European football


“The number of through balls in the UEFA Champions League dropped 50 per cent between the 2018-19 and 2021-22 seasons. In Europe’s top five leagues, the number of through balls dropped on average 30 per cent over the same period. In the Europa League, it dropped 24 per cent. The through ball is not extinct, but it is endangered.Before examining why, we need to define the term. FBref data define a through ball as a: ‘Completed pass sent between the back defenders into open space.’ It is a complex pass to complete, hence the number of through balls is never particularly high and is in fact lower than the goals-per-game total in Europe’s top divisions. …”
The Athletic (Video)

What you may have missed on the Premier League’s opening weekend


“The Premier League is back — and it was a dramatic opening weekend with promoted Fulham holding would-be champions Liverpool to a draw, Erling Haaland scoring two goals on debut for Manchester City and Manchester United losing at home, with Cristiano Ronaldo starting the visit of Brighton on the bench. But away from the main talking points, our The Athletic staff have picked out some of things you may have missed from the first round of 10 matches. Let us know what you spotted in the comments section below. …”
The Athletic

The Ted Lasso fan’s guide to the Premier League: Your starting point for the 2022-23 season


“We’re not sure when Ted Lasso’s third and (maybe) final season will drop, but it’s never too early to start preparing for how you’ll fill the void once it ends — and this week provides the perfect opportunity. AFC Richmond won promotion back up to the Premier League at the end of the show’s second season, but the real thing kicks off on Friday for another year with plenty of comedy and drama of its own. So if you’re one of the many Ted Lasso fans who haven’t gotten invested in the real-life Premier League just yet, now’s the time to dive in — if only so you’ll be prepared for all the new details sure to be included in season three. Ted Lasso’s landmark licensing deal with the Premier League means lines between the two will be blurred more than ever when it does return. …”
The Athletic (Video)
BBC – Premier League 2022-23: Everything you need to know as new season starts (Video)
NY Times: They Got to the Premier League. Staying? That’s the Hard Part.

Predicting the transfer market: Nunez, Haaland and league exchange rates


“It was hardly surprising that at least three of the Premier League’s leading clubs were interested and, ultimately, that one of them ended up taking the plunge. The striker had scored freely in his domestic league, was a good age and, on the face of it, had all the attributes — physical in particular but technical too — to succeed in England. … Either way, it is interesting to cast your eye down the table below and wonder what the numbers will look like for Manchester City’s Erland Haaland and Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez — the Premier League’s two biggest imports this summer — at the end of their first season in England. Nunez came off the bench to score in Saturday’s Community Shield victory whereas Haaland missed a sitter late on, but how will their contribution be viewed in May next year? …”
The Athletic (Video)

What is Arsenal? Why are teams called United? What is a Hotspur? A history of English football names


“There are 13 clubs known as United in English football’s top four divisions. Aside from its array of Citys and Towns, ‘the 92’ also include three Wanderers, five Rovers, a couple of Athletics and a Rangers. There are a trio of Albions and just as many Countys. In contrast, as those from a corner of Devon will insist, there is only one Argyle. On top of all those suffixes can be added, among other quirks, an Arsenal and a Vale. There are names to conjure images of elegant stately homes or gleaming palaces of glass, all memories from yesteryear… as well as a day of the week. …”
The Athletic

Arsenal’s US tour: What I learned – daily table plans, transfer clauses and staff changes


“In the lobby of Arsenal’s Orlando hotel lodge, there was evidence of footballers at rest: a table tennis table, a pool table, and — plugged into the widescreen television — the ubiquitous PlayStation. Even in their downtime, competition continues. A tour is a very particular experience for a footballer — the training is intense and the regime relatively strict. There are media commitments and matches. The fans come to party; the players are there to work. …”
The Athletic

Premier League owners: Who is in charge of your club?


“With the 2022-23 campaign quickly coming into focus and the summer transfer window in full flow, many Premier League owners are in the spotlight once again. Following the Chelsea takeover and the promotion of Fulham, Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest, there will be some new faces at the table this season. So, who owns your lot? See below for a breakdown of the ownership structure and board make-up of all 20 Premier League clubs…”
The Athletic

Premier League five-a-side teams: who would you pick for your club?


“… We tasked our Premier League reporters with picking a five-a-side team from the club that they cover. There are some obvious picks — and some less obvious ones. The rules: *The ball is not allowed over head height  *Slide tackles are forbidden *Each team must have a goalkeeper and they can’t come out of the area *Outfield players are not allowed in the area *They can score from anywhere outside the area. Here we go then. Please feel free to disagree wholeheartedly with their picks in the comments section…”
The Athletic

Premier League winners and losers: set pieces, sprinting, nutmegging and fouling


“Manchester City are champions, Tottenham Hotspur grabbed the final Champions League spot and Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min share the golden boot trophy. The main prizes have now been handed out, but take a look under the bonnet and there are plenty of alternative awards to be handed out to players and teams. Some of them are insightful, some of them are utterly pointless. All of them are fun. Here we go… ”
The Athletic
The Analyst
Guardian – Premier League 2021-22 season review: our writers’ best and worst
***ESPN: How VAR decisions affected every Premier League club in 2021-22 (Video)
***W – 2021–22 Premier League

Ranked: The top 10 defensive midfielders in the Premier League


“Defensive midfield is one of the most underrated and undervalued positions in modern football. These pivots are so often crucial to the success of their teams but can so often be overlooked for individual recognition, or in Manchester United’s case just overlooked entirely from the squad. So we’ve looked over the 2021/22 Premier League season and, taking into account the players enduring class in the years prior as well as their performances this season, come up with a list of the 10 best defensive midfielders in the Premier League. …”
squawka

Introducing playstyle wheels – The Athletic’s way of capturing ways a team play well (or not)


“There are a lot of numbers in football that measure success. Goals and points are the original analytics, and newer stats such as expected goals and possession value are just increasingly fine-grained ways to model how likely goals are to happen. They’ll give you the bottom line: is this team or player doing things that help put the ball in the net or keep it out? Basically, are they good at football? It’s harder to measure how they’re good at football. …”
The Athletic

Sean Dyche, Ulla Klopp and whoever saves Everton: Who deserves a statue at your Premier League club?


“Ten years on from ‘Aguerooooooooo!’ and Manchester City’s first Premier League title win, the club yesterday unveiled a statue of their former striker at the Etihad Stadium. Aguero’s iconic stoppage-time winner in their 3-2 victory against Queens Park Rangers on the final day of the 2011-12 season will be remembered forever by City fans, so it is only right that he has been immortalised in galvanised steel. But who deserves a statue at your Premier League club? And who will be next at City? We’ve asked our Premier League club reporters to explain their choices and if you think they’ve got it drastically wrong then please let us know in the comment. …”
The Athletic

The Most Decisive Goals in Premier League History


“Today marks 10 years since Aguero. You remember: 93:20. Balotelli’s assist. The Goal That Changed Everything. The Match That Had Everything. Joe Hart on throw-in duties. Joey Barton’s long walk off. A surprisingly iconic QPR away kit. I think Edin Dzeko did something or other. Drink it in. I swear you’ll never see anything like this again. Sometimes goals are so iconic that they don’t need a date or a time. Just a single name. Michael Thomas, Jimmy Glass. Aguero. …”
The Analyst (Video)

Martin Odegaard and the hillside pitch where his journey began


“Light sprinkles of April snow are falling on the patch of artificial grass, overlooked by statues of Nordic animals on the surrounding rocks and grassy mounds, in the hills above Drammen. If you didn’t know, you would wonder what on earth a perfect pitch was doing here on the highest edge of town, a quiet neighbourhood with not much around except stylishly-painted clapboard houses dotted along the winding road and a small school. This is Martin Odegaard’s place. …”
The Athletic (Audio)
W – Martin Ødegaard

When Were the 2021-22 Premier League Teams Last Relegated From the Top Flight?


Woolwich Arsenal, playing at Highbury, in the Second Division, in 1913. Crazy but true.
“The demotion season is upon us. In the next few weeks three teams will drop out of the Premier League, to be replaced by Fulham (promoted this week) and two others. As it stands it will be Norwich City, Watford and Burnley going down, but just how long is it since each of the 20 clubs currently in the Premier League last experienced relegation? Because make no mistake, they all have, just some more recently than others. …”
The Analyst (Video)

FA Cup and Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend


Brennan Johnson puts an arm round Ryan Yates after the midfielder
“… 4) Saints must take heart from City dates. Southampton will draw considerable strength from previous results this season against the Premier League leaders. They shared the points home and away with Pep Guardiola’s side, a head-to-head record bettered only by Crystal Palace and Tottenham. No reason to feel intimidated then, especially with Manchester City’s usually smooth engine spluttering ever so slightly. On the downside for Southampton, arguably the best prolonged spell of form since Ralph Hassenhüttl arrived has been abruptly ended by three straight defeats in the league. Booking a place in the FA Cup semi-finals would be just the tonic. …”
Guardian (Video)

Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend


Douglas Luiz midfielder Aston Villa
“… 4) Gerrard seeks Villa midfield spark. Steven Gerrard has lost more matches than he has won as Aston Villa manager. There were redeeming qualities in the defeats to Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea, but nothing to admire in last week’s awful performance at Newcastle. The centre-backs performed competently but their attackers were hardly involved, principally because Villa’s midfield allowed Jonjo Shelvey and Joelinton to run the show. That is damning of John McGinn and Douglas Luiz and helps explain why Gerrard was so keen to sign Brighton’s Yves Bissouma in January. …”
Guardian

The road to Arsenal runs through the community


“Even in his wildest dreams Nico Manduzio couldn’t have imagined how great things would pan out for him when, ambitiously, he began sending his CV around the world in 2020. The then fitness coach of Hout Bay United in South Africa was on the hunt for a new job during tough economic times. He endured several rejections before English giants Arsenal came with the offer of a role as one of their community coaches. …”
New Frame

Premier League without VAR: Arsenal in Champions League places; Everton soar to safety


“It’s now five long years since Arsenal last played in the Champions League, and in fact this season is their first without any kind of European football since 1995-96. Mikel Arteta is trying to put that right, but finds his team in sixth place which, at best, is only going to be good enough for a place in the Europa League — where the Gunners were marooned for the past four seasons. But ESPN can reveal that without the decisions of the VAR, Arsenal would already be sitting pretty in fourth spot and dreaming of that place back among Europe’s elite. This season we’re looking at all VAR (video assistant referee) decisions across the Premier League, and seeing how they might have affected the outcome of games. …”
ESPN (Video)

Newcastle Are Moving Fast and Breaking Things in a Bid to Stay Alive


“Look: Manchester City will win the Premier League title. If you’d like to foster the belief that alternative outcomes are possible, then by all means characterize the two-point swing in the title race just before the international break as ‘significant’ or even inconvenient for the reigning champions. Southampton’s Kyle Walker-Peters darting across City’s back line and striking a blow against Pep Guardiola’s Goliath; Hakim Ziyech’s magnum opus against Tottenham; Liverpool triumphing over Crystal Palace in a must-win game amid penalty controversy—this is all the kind of blockbuster stuff that suggests the pulse of the title race is quickening. It amounts to City now being just nine points clear at the top of the table now. …”
The Ringer

How do you value a player?


“Last year a Premier League club invited their scouts to a training day where one of the exercises focused on valuations, starting with the price of a large latte from Starbucks. Everyone had to log on via an app and enter the value. A pint of beer in the local pub was next, followed by a four-bedroom detached house in a particular town in the north west. … What is Mbappe worth with six months remaining on his contract? Actually, what is any player worth? …”
The Athletic

What if every Premier League club could make one exciting (but plausible) signing before the deadline?


“Each club in the Premier League has different needs in the transfer market. Some are constrained by finances. All are constrained by time. But what if they weren’t? We’ve gone through every single Premier League side and come up with one signing they would love to make before deadline day. …’
Squawka

A trip to Dubai, ‘Yellow days’ or time off: What will your club’s players be doing during the Premier League break?


“It has snuck up on us in a whirl of postponed fixtures, the FA Cup’s third round and the Carabao Cup semi-finals but this weekend is the last push before the Premier League takes a two-week break. Don’t worry, there’s going to be plenty of football to keep us going in the meantime — with the EFL continuing, the Africa Cup of Nations’ knockout phase, World Cup qualifiers and the FA Cup fourth round to keep us entertained — but it’s an opportunity for many Premier League squads to get some time on the training pitch or simply take a well-deserved rest. Ralf Rangnick has opted to give his Manchester United players six days off, and the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea will also have extended breaks. But Newcastle United (Saudi Arabia) and Arsenal (Dubai) are off to warmer climes. Here, The Athletic’s club writers give you the rundown of what your lads are going to be up to over the next couple of weeks…”
The Athletic
W – 2022 EFL Cup Final

Players to Watch in 2021-22: The Analyst 50 (Part I)


“After a summer of frantic international football tournaments across the globe, the new domestic league season is now on the horizon. Ninety-eight teams will battle it out across the top five European leagues, with titles to be won, European football to be secured and relegation to be avoided and we wanted to give you a guide on some of the players to watch in 2021-22. We recruited the very best of Stats Perform’s data editors to give us a list of 50 players. These players aren’t who they think are the greatest – you’ve all read that. This is a selection of 50 players that we think will make an impact in 2021-22. Some are obvious, some less so. Let’s dive in to The Analyst 50, with the first 25 players. …”
The Analyst (July 2021) Part I (Video), Part II (Video)

Cliques in football dressing rooms: The good, the bad and the ugly


“‘When it comes to dressing-room dynamics, one of the major issues you’ve got is that there’s no other industry in the world where, on the most important day of the week, over 50 per cent of the workforce isn’t used for the big moment,’ a Premier League coach tells The Athletic. … We are talking about dressing-room cliques: why they form, what damage they can do, and how managers can try to prevent divides and schisms from creating bigger problems. …”
The Athletic

‘How Liverpool can climb Everest again’ – Danny Murphy on why title race is not over yet


“With Manchester City’s brilliance and the way they are so relentless and clinical when it comes to winning games, it looks like Liverpool are climbing Everest with their title bid this season. It’s worth remembering they have done it before, though. Right now, catching City looks extremely unlikely but then Jurgen Klopp’s side have already beaten the odds to triumph a few times in recent years. So, although it is going to take an absolutely unbelievable effort for them to stop City retaining their Premier League crown from here, there are a few reasons I would not write the Reds off yet. …”
BBC (Video)

UEFA Champions League round of 16 classics


“Taking in José Mourinho’s touchline charge, La Remontada and plenty more besides, UEFA.com picks out a classic last-16 tie from each of the last 18 seasons. The 2021/22 UEFA Champions League is the 19th edition since the knockout round of 16 replaced the second group stage. UEFA.com picks out a classic tie from each of the past 18 seasons – all headline scores are aggregate. …”
UEFA (Video)

Africa Cup of Nations: Which Premier League players are going?


Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Edouard Mendy, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Maxwel Cornet and more will be gone for several weeks
“The Africa Cup of Nations begins next month, with over 30 Premier League players set to miss several weeks of the season as they head to Cameroon. Arsenal, Leicester City and Watford are each set to lose a league-high four players. Liverpool will lose three – including forwards Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane – as will Crystal Palace. Chelsea are going to be without keeper Edouard Mendy, who could miss the Fifa Club World Cup and league games against Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham, among others. …”
BBC

Explained: How and when the Premier League will reschedule its postponed fixtures


“The Premier League postponements just keep on coming. After gameweek 18 on December 18 and 19 was decimated by COVID-19 outbreaks at several clubs, with six of the round’s 10 fixtures being pushed back, the Premier League’s Boxing Day programme was also hit by a further three postponements among the nine scheduled games. Further disruption is inevitable as the highly transmissible Omicron variant continues to spread. Gameweek 20, on December 28 to 30, already shorn of two fixtures and increased uncertainty over Everton’s home match against Newcastle United on Thursday. The postponements present the Premier League officials with a problem. …”
The Athletic

Premier League: Man City on top but no team in control of title race – Alan Shearer analysis


“Manchester City will be top at Christmas after winning eight straight games but I don’t think any team will take control of this Premier League title race for a long time yet. At the moment, it is City’s turn to make everyone say ‘wow’ at the way they are playing. Some of their football is amazing and they are strolling through many of their matches. They currently look the team to stop, but I have thought the same about Liverpool and Chelsea at different times this season and I am sure we will soon be talking again how strong those two look….”
BBC (Video)

Who are the 10 best players in the Premier League?


“First things first. Let’s not even pretend this is a serious piece of journalism. It’s a game, a fun bit of distraction to force us all to argue with each other and berate everyone else’s bad opinions. So, please, enjoy it for what it is and join the debate — but be nice. It’s just football, right? Here’s the game: name the 10 best players in the Premier League. On general talent, not just the form they’ve been in for the past few weeks. And you have to put them in order, with No 1 the best. It’s actually really hard. Does Harry Kane deserve a place despite his nightmare of a season so far? Is Mohamed Salah plus nine Manchester City players a valid top 10? How do you compare apples and oranges? We asked our writers and editors to have a go, then averaged out the answers to come up with this. Outraged? Again, have a go yourself. We don’t mind being told we’re wrong. …”
The Athletic
The Athletic – Fantasy Premier League: The players on my watchlist for the festive fixtures (Dec. 3, 2021)

What Do We Mean by Good Soccer?



“Jesse Lingard was streaking away, the ball at his feet, on the right wing. Their legs weary and their hopes dwindling, Arsenal’s defenders heaved and hauled to keep up with him, as if they were running into a stiff wind. And on the other side of the field, Cristiano Ronaldo started to sprint. It was a true sprint, too, a track sprint, a coached sprint: starting in a low crouch, his back straightening as he reached full tilt, head held high, arms pumping. The clock had just ticked past 90 minutes, but there seemed to be a magnet drawing Ronaldo to Arsenal’s penalty area, some elemental force. …”
NY Times

ESPN FC 100: Messi, Lewandowski, Oblak among No. 1s; Premier League has most representatives


“For the sixth consecutive year, ESPN presents its annual ranking of the best men’s players and coaches in world soccer! Welcome to FC 100. As always, rankings are broken down into Top 10 lists for positions, plus a countdown of managers, in order to present the most meaningful look at talent on the pitch and the sideline. Whereas last year was dominated by Liverpool and Bayern Munich — the clubs combined for eight of the 10 No. 1 spots — the leaders in this year’s edition are spread across six teams, with none having more than two men on top of their respective category. …”
ESPN (Video)
Go to: Goalkeeper | Right-back | Centre-back | Left-back | Central midfield | Attacking midfield | Winger | Forward | Striker | Manager

Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action


“… 3) Off-key De Bruyne struggling for form: On 59 minutes there was the rare sight of Kevin De Bruyne being substituted, Manchester City’s talismanic midfielder having been clumsy of touch, short of a yard and generally misfiring. Pep Guardiola is a big fan but he is also ruthless and this was the correct decision. Of the 30-year-old, who has struggled with injuries, he said: ‘Kevin is such an important player for us and an excellent person. He is trying more every single day [to return to top form]. Today he made a step forward in many things. About playing or resting him – this is my decision because I know a lot of information about a player. In seasons there are highs and lows, big moments and the next one [game] is another challenge, another opportunity. Kevin knows it. He has done more than good since he arrived here and wants to continue to do it. The problem is when he gives up trying, says it doesn’t matter. That is not the case with him.’ …”
Guardian (Video)

Why outswinging corners lead to more chances but inswingers lead to more goals


“A corner. A roar goes up from the crowd. It puzzled Jose Mourinho when he first came to England how fans reacted to their team winning a corner kick ‘with the same applause as a goal’. Yet corners are a valuable weapon in an attacking team’s armoury. But should they be inswinging or outswinging? In the past 10 Premier League seasons, 3.4 per cent of corners resulted in a goal. So far this season, we are slightly above average at 4 per cent. In fact, last weekend, six teams in separate matches scored goals from a corner. Arsenal, Southampton, Newcastle, Watford, Brentford and West Ham all profited while Chelsea also won a penalty from a corner, which they converted. …”
The Athletic

Which player at your club should be getting more minutes?


“As the Premier League returns, there is a player at every club (well, apart from Crystal Palace apparently) that you feel should be getting more minutes on the pitch. He might have battled back from injury, struggled to make an impact since joining last summer, or be a teenager who is still developing but he might just be the difference — if only your manager takes a chance on him. The Athletic’s data analyst Tom Worville has produced squad profiles for each club to show the number and percentage of minutes played when set against the age of the player in question. You can expect to see most of the footballers our writers have chosen in the bottom left-hand corner — i.e. they’re young and have not had many minutes so far this season — but there are exceptions. Let us know whether you agree with the selection for your club in the comments section below… ”
The Athletic

How many touches should a forward have in a game of football?


“It has become an increasingly common sight in football broadcasting. In the 50th minute of Manchester City’s trip to Liverpool, an in-game graphic popped up on the screen to reveal which player had made the fewest touches in the game so far. At that point, Diogo Jota’s 17 were the fewest, with Liverpool’s front three all among the bottom five. The question to ask when seeing such statistics is — is that good or bad? When using data in football, one of the key duties of care is to ensure it is surrounded in context, to better understand why these statistics are useful in the game. So with this in mind, how many touches should a forward have in a game of football? And importantly, do such numbers matter when assessing a forward’s performance? …”
The Athletic

Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action


Lukaku – Chelsea
“1) Elliott’s injury shows sport at its cruellest. For the first hour at Elland Road, Liverpool’s midfield was a million miles from the mess of last season, slick and accomplished, with Fabinho – who spent much of last campaign as an emergency centre-back – and Thiago Alcântara, now able to express himself as part of a functional team, turning on the style as Liverpool sliced through their opponents at will. But equally on song was the dazzling Harvey Elliott, who over the last four games had established himself not just as a deserving member of Klopp’s starting XI but also one of the country’s brightest young footballers. …”
Guardian

Premier League 2020/21: The biggest underachievers and overperformers based on expected goals


“The Premier League season has reached its conclusion but does the final table accurately reflect performance? Manchester City deservedly wrapped up the title, while many expected Fulham, Sheffield United and West Brom to be relegated as the campaign progressed. Elsewhere though, some teams have managed to accumulate more points than their showings suggested they would, while others have been left confused as to how they aren’t higher up in the standings. Using data from Infogol’s expected goals model, we look at four teams who found themselves in a ‘false’ position after 38 games. …”
Sporting Life (May 28, 2021)
The Athletic: Premier League top-four permutations: What form table, xG, odds and fixtures show (May 11, 2021)
W – Expected goals
Sporting Life: Premier League: Team by team xG analysis on the 2020/21 season (May 28, 2021)
Five Thirty Eight: Club Soccer Predictions (Sept. 8, 2021)
YouTube: Football’s New Stat – What is Expected Threat?, What is xG? | By The Numbers (Jan. 2018)

Rosters Reimagined! A Post-Transfer Market Tinkering of the EPL’s Big Six


Liverpool – Most used so far: 4-3-3, Alternative pictured: 4-2-2-2
“The transfer window has closed and we’re left with a week of international football to wonder what money truly buys. So for kicks, let’s incorporate the new lads in alternative formations for the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ and see what cleverness or calamity results… Because why not, right? …”
The Mastermindsite

Interchanging front threes or a traditional No 9? Why top Premier League teams prefer flexibility


“As the Harry Kane transfer saga rumbled on in the background, the scene on the pitch for last weekend’s Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City clash was more typical of modern football. With no Kane available, Tottenham used Son Heung-min up front. With their pursuit of Kane so far unsuccessful, City used Ferran Torres up front. Son and Torres are both generally regarded as wide players. That’s not to say they’re not sporadically prolific — each one scored a Premier League hat-trick last season, and both say they’re perfectly happy playing through the middle. But neither is anything like traditional No 9s: they drop off, they come short and they make runs into the channels. …”
The Athletic

Blunt going forward, weak at the back – dissecting Arsenal’s defeat at Brentford


“Despite getting their first semi-proper pre-season under Mikel Arteta, Arsenal began the 2021-22 Premier League season as they ended the last, struggling to penetrate in the final third and unable to dominate defensively. They failed to match Brentford in their first game in the top flight since a 1-0 loss to Arsenal in May 1947. … His glare was caught by the TV cameras and it was justified. Arsenal did not show what was necessary to take anything back to north London. Neither in attack, nor in defence did Arsenal assert themselves. To some extent, with very young players leading the charge. that is understandable. But those more senior players who could guide the youngsters did not do that job. Here is where it went wrong. …”
The Athletic
Did you just fall in love with Brentford? Quick, learn the basics on Toney, Canos, Frank and the rest

Brentford 2-0 Arsenal: Jubilation for Bees as fans return for victory over Gunners


“The charismatic Dane, a cult figure loved by Brentford fans after ending their 74-year wait for top-tier status, need not have bothered. Brentford’s followers needed no encouragement or orchestration to lift the decibel levels to deafening on a memorable, emotional occasion for a great old club and its fiercely loyal and fervent fanbase. The stage was set hours before kick-off as fans, finally allowed to fill this modern stadium to a 16,479 capacity, gathered around Kew Bridge Station and Chiswick roundabout with a sense of anticipation that was almost tangible. And expectations were fulfilled in 90 minutes Brentford fans will never forget, ending with the chant of ‘we’re top of the league’ (which of course, they are) after a fully merited 2-0 win over Arsenal. …”
BBC
BBC: Brentford 2 – 0 Arsenal
“This was the perfect start” – Five things learned as Brentford sting Arsenal 2-0 to kick-off the new Premier League season
Guardian: Canós and Nørgaard sink Arsenal to give Brentford dream start
Guardian: Arteta’s Arsenal already on back foot after bruising first night failure
YouTube: Sergi Canos blasts Brentford in front of Arsenal