Premier League emerges from lockdown changed but bringing hope

June 18, 2020

“Most people can pinpoint the moment when it became real, the hot flush of panic when it dawned that coronavirus was not some far-off threat but rather one heading to our doorsteps, quickly, inexorably, hellbent on destruction. For English football, it came during the week that began with Leicester’s 4-0 Premier League drubbing of Aston Villa on Monday 9 March and moved through Liverpool’s Champions League elimination at the hands of Atlético Madrid on the Wednesday. What an uncomfortable night that was at Anfield, thousands of diehards wanting to be there but, in their hearts, wondering why they had been allowed. Was it really safe? …”
Guardian


Premier League returns: The 2019-20 season so far in eight graphics

June 15, 2020

“After a 100-day absence because of the coronavirus pandemic, England’s top flight will return to action on Wednesday. But where did we leave off and what are the challenges facing sides at both the top and bottom over the next nine games? BBC Sport helps you get up to speed with a picture of the Premier League in eight graphics. …”
BBC


When Andriy Shevchenko’s move to Chelsea failed under Jose Mourinho

April 20, 2020


“To many Andriy Shevchenko was one of the best strikers in the first decade of the 21st century. His career spanned a host of big clubs, where he scored a lot of goals for them. While he’s now the manager of the Ukrainian national team and qualified them for the Euros, he isn’t quite renowned as a manager yet. His playing days might be well behind him, but he is still well-remembered for that. His best spell came before he came into the bigger spotlight. Dynamo Kiev was the place where he first broke onto the scene. Having initially played for the Reserves side, his goalscoring exploits saw him rise through the ranks and later earn a big move to Milan in the summer of 1999. …”
Football Pink


For David Luiz and Chelsea, Everything’s Perfect. Until Suddenly It’s Not.

September 30, 2018

“Muttering under his breath, shaking his head in regret, David Luiz was the last player to disappear from the field. He had taken his time after the final whistle. As Liverpool’s players went over to celebrate with their fans, and as his Chelsea teammates trudged disconsolately toward the tunnel, Luiz lingered. He stripped off his jersey. He bestowed a few handshakes on eager young fans reaching their arms out for him to brush.” NY Times


2018-19 Premier League (1st division England, including Wales)

August 18, 2018

“Table, fixtures, results, attendance, stats …” billsportsmaps


Maurizio Sarri: Chelsea’s Tuscan Son

August 12, 2018

“STIA, Italy — The road from Faella, down in the Arno valley, winds up and up into the hills, beyond the vineyards, with their military precision, beyond the tangled olive groves and into the woods, thick and dark and untamed. At Consuma, the highest point of the pass, the view stretches all the way west to Chianti; Arezzo lies south, Florence north. Consuma is not where the journey ends. It takes an hour, and countless tight hairpins shaded by slender cypresses, before the road descends into the village of Stia, its terra-cotta roofs nestled in an ocean of green, a little Tuscan idyll nestled in the valley. The soccer field, overlooking the river and screened by a chain-link fence, is the first thing you see as you arrive. Most days, for more than a year, Maurizio Sarri made the trip twice.” NY Times


Talent Radar: 5 breakthrough players to watch in the Premier League

August 10, 2018

“As is the case every year, a brand new Premier League campaign already has an aura of excitement around it. Along with this comes the chance for young players to break into the senior sides. Here are 5 breakthrough players to watch this season.” Outside of the Boot


Premier League: 10 things to look out for on the opening weekend

August 10, 2018


Clockwise from top left: Rafael Benítez, Manuel Pellegrini, Claude Puel, João Moutinho, Mohamed Elyounoussi and José Mourinho.
1) Manchester United and Leicester need to start brightly. José Mourinho and Claude Puel are under more pressure than most to start the season strongly. Both have large numbers of sceptics among their club’s supporters, and doubts also persist about the popularity of their methods with players. So both managers need their teams to perform brightly as soon as the season kicks off in order to lift the mood. …” Guardian


Premier League table prediction – Part One

August 10, 2018

“As the Premier League kicks off this coming Friday, it really is shaping up to be one of the most competitive in recent memory.” Backpage Football – Part One, Backpage Football – Part Two


Memo to Theresa May: In Premier League, Russian Roots Run Deep

March 18, 2018

“LONDON — The Russian flag has been there so long now that it hardly attracts any notice, just another familiar piece of background scenery in the global, cosmopolitan Premier League. It hangs from the upper deck of the Matthew Harding Stand at Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea Football Club. In its central blue band, spelled out in white block capitals, are the words ‘The Roman Empire.’ …” NY Times


Chelsea’s struggles at both ends largely due to growing pains of Alvaro Morata, Andreas Christensen

March 1, 2018

“It’s been a peculiar and somewhat unusual week for Chelsea — two good performances in tricky contests against Barcelona and Manchester United, but little to show for their efforts. Having opened the scoring in both matches, Antonio Conte’s men will feel disappointed not to be taking a first-leg lead to the Nou Camp, and underwhelmed at being defeated 2-1 at Old Trafford. …” ESPN – Michael Cox


Disjointed, vulnerable and slow: Barça exposed by Chelsea’s tactical rigour

February 22, 2018

“The first leg, you suspect, went just as Antonio Conte would have wanted it to go – apart from the bit about not playing a square ball across your penalty area to Andrés Iniesta with 15 minutes of a Champions League match remaining. But that is the problem with great tactical plans: they always rely, ultimately, on that most fallible of species: humans. …” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Tactical fouling is spoiling football – time for the rulemakers to stamp it out

February 9, 2018


“Football is often considered conservative with its rule changes, but in recent decades there have been various subtle but crucial alterations to the Laws of the Game, which are often overlooked. The back-pass law in the early 1990s, for example, forced goalkeepers and defenders to become more technically skilled, encouraging passing football. Stricter tackling laws, meanwhile, protected attackers from brutal challenges. …” ESPN – Michael Cox


Check their DMs: Fernandinho, Matic, and others key to a manager’s tactics

January 26, 2018

“Throughout the Premier League era, English football has never entirely embraced the defensive midfielder. In fact, the very concept has routinely prompted dissent from English fans. Traditionally, the English game has produced plenty of box-to-box midfielders and the natural urge was therefore to field two players in that mould together. David Batty’s outstanding performances for Leeds, Blackburn and Newcastle sides were often overlooked, as was Michael Carrick’s excellent work for Manchester United. Those two represented what managers wanted from defensive midfielders in the late 1990s, and late 2000s respectively. But how about the late 2010s? …” ESPN – Michael Cox (Video)


Raheem Sterling Proves That Everything You Know About Goal-Scoring Is Wrong

January 19, 2018


“Raheem Sterling has scored 14 goals in the Premier League this season for Manchester City, putting him right in the thick of the competition’s Golden Boot race, along with the likes of Tottenham’s Harry Kane, Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, and his teammate, Sergio Aguero. Of the 23-year-old Englishman’s haul, 13 have come inside the box, five of which were inside the 6-yard area. Five goals have come after the 80th minute of a match, helping Pep Guardiola’s side secure vital points on their journey to utter domination in his second season in England. And yet, there is a conundrum about Sterling’s reputation as a goal scorer: A popular opinion persists that he’s, well, just bad at shooting. …” The Ringer (Video)


Spontaneity and excitement are being eroded in increasingly Big Six-dominated Premier League

January 19, 2018

“When Leicester City won the Premier League two years ago it felt like a watershed moment. In a division where the gulf between the haves and have-nots had never been greater, the 5,000/1 outsiders Leicester had pulled off arguably the greatest ever upset in English football history. …” Telegraph


Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

January 12, 2018


Huddersfield Town’s Terence Kongolo, left, gets stuck in during the Terriers’ Third Round FA Cup match against Bolton Wanderers.
“… 10) A happy Monday for post-Hughes Stoke? Like the revolution, the first match of Stoke’s post-Mark Hughes era will be televised, as they travel to Manchester United on Monday night. At the time of writing, the identity of Hughes’ replacement is yet to be confirmed, but whoever is in charge for this match, it constitutes something of a free swing for a team in the relegation zone but far from doomed. Given the likelihood of a new manager bounce (or perhaps more pertinently, the old manager’s absence) and the fact Stoke are unbeaten in eight Monday night Premier League matches, it would not be a huge surprise to see the Potters emerge with a point. …” Guardian


Measuring Changes In Attacking Style In The Premier League

January 12, 2018

“Back in November we applied a clustering algorithm to find out which Premier League clubs had similar attacking styles. We wanted to see what we could find using match summary stats that anyone with an internet connection could get hold of. Our main rule was that we wanted to avoid using pure outcome stats, e.g. shots on target, completed passes, completed crosses, goals, assists etc. We thought we’d run the risk of just clustering teams together on how good/lucky they’d been so far. We didn’t use anything too fancy, just per game stats based on the way teams attempt to attack; shots from outside the box, inside the box, open play, set pieces, short passes, long passes, dribbles, crosses and how much they use the wide areas when they attack. …” StatsBomb


In a Top-Heavy Premier League, More Teams Rush to the Bunker

January 3, 2018

“LIVERPOOL, England — There was a moment, a few minutes into the second half, that encapsulated it all. Not just this game and these teams, but what the Premier League has been this season, and what it might become. A Manchester United attack had just broken down, and Everton’s defense had cleared the ball. Phil Jones, United’s central defender, collected the ball deep inside his own half. Oumar Niasse, Everton’s hardworking forward, chased him down. Jones hurried a pass to his teammate Marcos Rojo, whose touch was not entirely clean. The boisterous Goodison Park crowd, scenting weakness, stirred. …” NY Times


Tactical Analysis: Roma 3-0 Chelsea | Chelsea’s Possession Play Failed to Tear Down Roma’s Fortress

November 7, 2017

“… Roma fielded their usual 4-3-3. Alisson in goal, Florenzi and Kolarov as full backs, and Fazio-Juan Jesus duo in the central area. In midfield, de Rossi in the six space covered the moves of Nainggolan and Strootman, who were initially 8’s but had license to roam into the wide areas and center around 10 and 9. In the last line, Edin Dzeko was flanked by Perotti and El Shaarawy. …” Outside of the Boot


Chelsea still in title hunt with dramatic comeback win vs. Watford

October 23, 2017

“LONDON — Three points from Chelsea’s 4-2 comeback win versus Watford on Saturday at Stamford Bridge that saw the defending champions avoid three consecutive Premier League defeats. …” ESPN – Michael Cox (Video)


TURF WARS: A history of London football

October 18, 2017

“The four giant cranes climb strikingly above the north-east London skyline. They are visible from the North Circular Road as Tottenham’s new stadium takes shape – soaring and dynamic symbols of London’s endless football revolution. Spurs new ground will open in 2018 with a capacity of 61,000, which will be 548 more people than they get into Arsenal’s Emirates. The percentage difference is 0.939 per cent, but every little counts in London’s most fierce football turf war. Not as much as winning trophies or league placing, at which Arsenal are so much better than their neighbours. But Spurs have a plan to change all that and the tiny difference in capacity is a part of it. …” London football history: Why our city’s turf war makes it the world capital of football, amazon


Tactical Analysis: Stoke City 0-4 Chelsea | Blues take advantage of individual errors

October 12, 2017

“Stoke were knocked out of the League Cup after suffering a 2-0 defeat against Bristol City. They had also lost their last two games in the league, so a good result for them here was crucial. Even though Chelsea drew their last league game against Arsenal, they won 5-1 against Forest in the Cup and managed to rest most of their key players for the match against Stoke. …” Outside of the Boot


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


Premier League results: Man City win at Chelsea, Fellaini and Kane score twice

October 1, 2017

“The top three all won in the Premier League on Saturday as Manchester City defeated Chelsea in the late game to reclaim the top spot that had briefly been taken away from them earlier in the day. Kevin de Bruyne smashed a stunning second-half strike past fellow Belgian Thibaut Courtois as Manchester City leapfrogged Manchester United on goal difference with a slender 1-0 victory. …” BBC


Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ fail in first attempt to increase their TV share

September 28, 2017


There has been a plot by Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Man City to grab more of the Premier League’s television billions
“The row over a plot by Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City to grab more of the Premier League’s television billions intensified after their rivals rejected an offer to resolve the dispute. A secret meeting of the other 14 top-flight clubs discussed a proposal put forward by the league to change how its overseas rights revenue is allocated following mounting pressure from the so-called ‘Big Six’ for them to be awarded a larger share of the cash. …” Telegraph


Leeds United: Are Championship leaders finally set for Premier League return?

September 25, 2017

“As Leeds United’s supporters celebrated at the traditional gathering place of The Old Peacock just a short walk from Elland Road, one of English football’s institutions had taken another small step on the long road to recovery. A 3-2 win over Ipswich – a game almost designed to play on nerves frayed by 15 years of trauma – kept Leeds top of the Championship on goal difference going into Tuesday’s game at third-placed Cardiff.” BBC


Global Series | Top 10 European Players of 2015: Busquets, Kane and De Bruyne feature

December 19, 2016

“… 2. IVAN RAKITIC Rakitic 2016The Croatian superstar has had a super debut season at the Camp Nou. During his initial days, there was a bit of disbelief that confronted the notion that either Xavi or Iniesta would have to sit out matches to accommodate Rakitic. All of this died down very soon, as Rakitic let his feet do the talking. While he isn’t the most prolific in front of goal, he doesn’t really need to be, and he does the job of keeping the likes of Messi, Neymar and Suarez well fed very efficiently.” Outside of the Boot


Manchester City bounce back to leave Wenger fuming – Football Weekly

December 19, 2016

“It must be (nearly) Christmas, because on today’s Football Weekly, my true love sent to me AC Jimbo, Barry Glendenning, Paolo Bandini, and Barney Bloody Ronay! … We then brush aside the Premier League and turn our attention to Italy, where Juventus saw off Roma in a top o’ the table Serie A clash. Finally, we hear from our long lost pal Sid Lowe about Real Madrid’s victory in the World Club Cup final and the state of play in La Liga, which has downed tools until the new year. Rafa Honigstein will be with us for Thursday’s show, so if you have a question for the World’s Greatest Bavarian, post it on the blog below.” Guardian (Video)


Pep Guardiola v Antonio Conte: a tactical showdown of brooder against extrovert

December 2, 2016

“It would, perhaps, be the defining irony of Arsène Wenger’s uneasy relationship with Chelsea if it turns out that when he finally devised a way of beating them it provoked a tactical shift that won the Blues the title. Since Chelsea switched to a back three when 3-0 down at half-time at the Emirates, they have conceded only once, winning seven Premier League games in a row. They passed one major test by coming from behind to beat Tottenham last week but on Saturday represents an even more severe examination as they go to Manchester City.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Diego Costa’s cheery scowl shows Chelsea are in a good place

November 26, 2016

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“Unless the rest of his life is one enormous bluff, it is safe to assume Diego Costa is not a particularly successful poker player. It is never hard to know what he is thinking: he is an open book whether he is scowling in anger, scowling in frustration, scowling in irritation or, as has increasingly been the case recently, scowling cheerily.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Team Comparisons: Good (and Bad) in the Premier League

November 26, 2016

“Twelve games have passed in the Premier League and there’s value in looking at comparative historical numbers at various points. It’s a good time to take stock because a) it’s starting to become a vaguely decent sample and b) I have a load of numbers stored at twelve games because i’ve written this before. This is the eighth season of Opta data that has been published publicly around the place and with every season that passes, the more interesting the outliers become.” Stats Bomb


The death of possession football

November 18, 2016

guardiola
“Former Bayern Munich manager and current Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, speaking after Bavarian side’s 5-1 triumph over Arsenal last season, was famously said: What I want, my desire, is to have one hundred percent possession. Bayern Munich had enjoyed sixty nine percent of possession in that game as goals from Robert Lewandowki, Thomas Muller, David Alaba and Arjen Robben gave Arsenal nightmares that probably suggested the extent of damage that possession football can usually do.” backpagefootball


Tactical Analysis: Chelsea 5-0 Everton | Chelsea’s build-up play and passive pressing from Everton

November 11, 2016

“Chelsea put in probably the best performance of the season so far in the Premier League by any team, against Everton, running out 5-0 winners against Ronald Koeman’s side. Chelsea were absolutely rampant and clinical up front with a brilliant all round performance. Antonio Conte now has enjoyed four consecutive wins after switching to the 3-4-3 formation in the Premier League. Chelsea have scored 14 goals in those games and conceded none in the process.” Outside of the Boot


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


Tactical Analysis: Chelsea 4-0 Manchester United | Mourinho’s Unhappy Return

October 31, 2016

“Mourinho and his Manchester United side came to Stamford Bridgethis past weekend for their second tough away Premier League game of the week. It should suffice to say that Mourinho’s return did not go as planned, with Chelsea routing his team 4-0. The result sent shockwaves through the football world, with the skeletons still tumbling out of that particular closet.” Outside of the Boot


Antonio Conte can break Mourinho’s Chelsea spell against Manchester United

October 27, 2016

“Tor a manager who is commonly thought to be incapable of building a dynasty José Mourinho left a remarkably durable legacy in his first spell at Chelsea. Neither party, it seemed, could ever quite let go. Even as late as 2012-13 Mourinho was referring to Chelsea’s squad as ‘my players’ which, to an extent, they were.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Change Is Coming at Arsenal, but Is It Enough to Make the Difference?

October 27, 2016

“Five teams at the top of the Premier League, divided by a single point. Even their goal difference varies by only two. Yet it’s impossible not to view all five teams differently, in part because of the fixture list and in part because past performance inevitably affects how we view the present.” bleacher report


Premier League stats: Which player has gone 1,241 days without starting in a win?

October 23, 2016

“One player’s unwanted record of failing to win a game when in the starting XI now stands at 1,241 days, while Nathan Redmond and Gary Cahill prevented an unwanted first for English players in the Premier League. Here, we take a look at some of the most interesting stats from the weekend.” BBC


As a former idol returns, Chelsea begin to look like Antonio Conte’s team

October 23, 2016

“After the horrifically dull disaster that was ‘Red Monday’, some marketing executives at Sky Sports might be shifting uneasily in their executive chairs at thought of marketing this Sunday’s clash between Chelsea and Manchester United as ‘Super’. Luckily for them, however, whatever happens on the pitch the narrative of a certain Jose Mourinho returning to the stadium where he made his name will be more than enough to push this fixture over the line as the standout game of the weekend.” backpagefootball


Tactical Analysis: Chelsea 3-0 Leicester City | Back 3 works magic for Conte

October 20, 2016

“Chelsea welcomed the defending champions of the English Premier League at Stamford Bridge. The Blues dominated the game and achieved a crucial 3-0 victory. With this past weekend, Chelsea continues challenging the top 3 in the table, while Leicester are still struggling for an away victory. Antonio Conte is the 3rd manager of Chelsea since Claudio Ranieri took charge of Leicester City. The game found a certain style: very ‘Italiano’ under 2 managers who came from the Apennine Peninsula, especially given that Chelsea played with a 3-back formation.” Outside of the Boot (Video)


Why the Premier League is the reason for England’s international struggles

October 16, 2016

“The mere appointment of an Eddie Howe, Jurgen Klinsmann or anyone else as the England manager would never be enough to seek solutions for the state of the English national side. The problems are more deeply rooted than some conceive. Selecting Michael Keane or bringing in a fresh approach to the side and changing the way the team plays won’t transform the whole scenario of the situation.” backpagefootball


How Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are taking Arsenal back to the days of Henry and Bergkamp

October 13, 2016

“It’s one of the best performances in recent years,” Arsene Wenger said after his side’s 3-0 demolition of Chelsea. This game was notable not only for being the first time Arsenal had beaten Chelsea since 2009, but for the way in which they won, using a tactical system hugely reminiscent of Wenger’s earlier Arsenal teams. Wenger’s first Arsenal team played a 4-4-2, which he tweaked and adapted until eventually he created the Invincibles – a fluid mix of attacking talent, supported by a solid core.” Telegraph


David Luiz is the devil Chelsea know, equally capable of greatness and gaffes

September 15, 2016

“By the time the deal was done, after a summer of vaunted arrivals and improbable returns, Chelsea’s deadline-day signing of David Luiz didn’t feel like that big a deal. He was a deadline‑day headline, an intriguing subplot bringing light relief to the fraught soap opera of this season’s Premier League. Yet, really, even in the context of Chelsea’s habit of revisiting former beaux, the second coming of David Luiz is remarkable.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


StatsBomb: Premier League Round Up, Week 4

September 12, 2016

“We’re four games in and have a little more to chew on. Statistical categories are a fair way off providing strong answers and schedules are masking plenty of truths but the hints are getting stronger and even at this early juncture the new order is starting to look a hell of a lot like the old order, or at least the order we used to know before all the cards got thrown up in the air last season. Let’s have a quick spin around the league and see what we can pick up.” Stats Bomb


Chelsea ‘right to feel robbed by referee’ at Swansea

September 12, 2016

“Chelsea deserved to beat Swansea on Sunday and they feel they were robbed of victory by the referee. It is extremely difficult to argue with them. Yes, Antonio Conte’s side will rue the chances they missed in their 2-2 Premier League draw at the Liberty Stadium, but the bottom line is that Andre Marriner cost them two points. Marriner’s decision to allow Swansea’s second goal was an absolute shocker. There is no other way of putting it, because Leroy Fer’s foul on Chelsea defender Gary Cahill before he scored was as blatant as can be.” BBC


Over/Under: European club, season predictions for 2016-17

August 20, 2016

“With the new top-flight seasons set to kick off in Italy and Spain this weekend–and Germany one week later–and the Premier League just underway, there are lots of predictions to be made and questions to be answered. Will the competitive imbalance in France, Germany and Italy continue to be a problem? Will we see a surprise winner in any league? Will there be an outsider who cracks the Champions League elite? And just who will Jose Mourinho fall out with next? With all of those questions–and more!–in mind, we take a look at the European club landscape in the over/under prism to provide as much clarity as possible entering a nine-month quest for trophies and championships…” SI


Around Europe: Barcelona burnout; Ben Arfa makes his Euro case

April 12, 2016

ben-arfa-messi-vardy
“There were decisive moments in the title race in England and Germany, as respective leaders Leicester City and Bayern Munich came closer to the finishing line, though a shock result in Spain has opened the door to the pack chasing defending champion Barcelona. A new coach with a familiar name enjoyed a successful start at Lazio, while in France, a new hat trick hero has given national team boss Didier Deschamps a selection dilemma leading into Euro 2016. Here is what caught our eye this week from Around Europe.” SI (Video)


Can Southampton Become A Force In The Premier League?

April 12, 2016

“In a more normal Premier League season, the wider media would probably be spending more time rehashing the same clichés they’ve used for Southampton over the past couple of years. They’re hanging around the top eight having survived another summer of key departures (Morgan Schneiderlin and Nathaniel Clyne) and there’s no real signs of danger as they’re once again above average in controlling shot numbers for and against. Perhaps the quality of attacking football hasn’t quite been to the standard of the previous two seasons but it’s still been satisfactory. Their goal difference is fine enough at +11 and in a year of chaos and turbulence, Southampton are being their steady selves.” Stats Bomb (Video)


Analysis: Chelsea’s press under Guus Hiddink

April 1, 2016

“Chelsea’s season is over. They went out of the League Cup in October, the Premier League title was gone months ago and the top four is pretty much out of reach now as well, and then, in the span of a week, the Blues went out of both the FA Cup and Champions League. Although Chelsea has not lost in the league since Guus Hiddink took over from Jose Mourinho, Chelsea have been lackluster. The form has improved only slightly; the offense still struggles for great portions of games, and the defense is porous.” Outside of the Boot


Is British football ‘winded’?

March 28, 2016

“Excuse the pun, but it’s a pun worth pursuing so please bear with me… I remember reading an excellent book by Gabrielle Marcotti and Gianluca Vialli a couple of years ago entitled ‘The Italian Job’, it was an insightful and intelligent read, very different to the usual football literature I had accumulated over the years. One thing from that book that has stuck with me all this time was the idea that the weather in the UK was detrimental to the development of great technical players, and playing great football.” Outside of the Boot


Arsenal are finding fresh ways to fail in pursuit of Premier League title

March 6, 2016

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“Last season it was August, the season before that it was March, the season before that it was January and the season before that it was March and April and bit of May. This season it’s now. Every year Arsenal have a spell in which they undo the good work that has made them look potential title challengers. That was perhaps the most striking aspect of the defeats by Manchester United and Swansea: that this lack of edge, this failure to seize an opportunity, felt so familiar.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson (Video)


Five Bundesliga youngsters that Premier League teams will be looking to sign

February 28, 2016

“In an era, where the total net worth of squads in the BPL (4.4billion Euros) is double that of the Bundesliga teams (2.38 billion), and the third richest/most valuable clubs in Germany (Leverkusen and Schalke are around 200 million Euros) would barely crack the top 10 in England (West Ham and Newcastle are tied for 9th at 182 mil each) moving to the Premier League after one or two great seasons has increasingly become the norm for Bundesliga talents.” Bundesliga Fanatic


Tactical Analysis: PSG 2-1 Chelsea | Movement of PSG midfield decisive as Lucas and Di Maria prove influential

February 21, 2016

“After witnessing the drama which unfolded from the last two ties that occurred between these two sides in the knockout rounds, this fixture was highly anticipated by many neutrals as well as both sets of fans. And it did not disappoint. Laurent Blanc’s men came into the game as slight favourites, on the back of their frankly ridiculous form in their domestic league (24 points ahead of second placed Monaco) and the firepower of Zlatan Ibrahimović and Edinson Cavani. Judging also by Chelsea’s dire form in the league, PSG looked the most likely victors at the Parc des Princes. However, Chelsea had been experiencing a mini-revival following the re-introduction of Guus Hiddink in the hot seat.” Outside of the Boot


Super Sunday, Predictions And Palace: Premier League Round Up

February 17, 2016

“Super Sunday came and went as a thrilling spectacle for the non-partisan bystander. The two games featuring the top four contenders–who by any reasonable estimation have all but sealed their places–were full of contentious decisions, tension, storylines and thrills. Even the most stone-hearted fan could surely not have been slightly warmed by the returning Danny Welbeck and his winning contribution and significantly, Arsenal’s late winner kept the four teams within a six point range. Everything about Arsenal’s title challenge is reliant on squad fitness so from that perspective a deep bench for the first time since around November was a huge bonus.” Stats Bomb


Leicester City – the New Romantics?

February 11, 2016

“Romance died in the Premier League on Sunday 27th April 2014. That was the afternoon Liverpool rested on top of the division, needing only a point at home to Chelsea to keep the advances of Manchester City at bay. Fuelled by the passion of Steven Gerrard and the brilliance of Luis Suarez, Liverpool had surged ahead of the pack on the back of eleven straight victories. The Gods of Football had decided that Stevie G, Anfield legend, would have the fairytale ending to a career that had so far been missing a Premier League medal. Significantly too, this would come in the year and months of Hillsborough’s 25th anniversary. After two decades, the natural order of British football was to be restored. The pretenders to the throne had been swept aside one by one.” Football Pink


Leicester City keep getting better as Premier League title race heats up

February 11, 2016

“We should no longer be surprised by Leicester’s continued excellent form, but the manner with which they defeated previous title favourites Manchester City on Saturday was quite staggering. Having taken the lead following the game’s first significant incident, Leicester continued to counter-attack dangerously and only looked under serious pressure in the final 10 minutes, perhaps when they thought the game was already won. Is complacency really going to be the factor that allows other sides back into the title race?” ESPN – Michael Cox


Player Ratings: Chelsea 1-1 Man Utd: Diego Costa snatches a point in injury time

February 7, 2016

“It was a fixture that neither side could, in reality, afford to lose. Manchester United headed to Chelsea knowing a win was necessary if they were to keep touch with the top four in the Premier League. For the Blues losing this match could go far in undoing all the good work that had see last season’s league champions pull away from the relegation zone.” Squawka


Smaller clubs toppling Premier League elite – we may have to get used to it

January 29, 2016

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“It may simply be that this season is a freak. Leicester have 47 points after 23 games; not since 2002-03 have the leaders had fewer than 50 points at this stage. If teams keep winning points at the same rate as they have up till now, they will end up with 78, the lowest tally to win the title since Manchester United did it with 75 in 1996-97 when they effectively had the league sown up by the beginning of May and drew three games on the run-in, still finishing seven clear of Newcastle United in second.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Garth Crooks’ team of the week: Alli, Firmino, Payet

January 25, 2016

“Behind them, heavyweights Manchester City and Arsenal both slipped up in their pursuit, with Tottenham gaining ground on the duo with a 3-1 win over Crystal Palace. Manchester United are now five points shy of fourth spot following their home defeat by Southampton. But who were the outstanding performers? Here are my selections…” BBC