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

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Brendan Rodgers, the beauty of 3-4-2-1 and its potency as a tactical weapon

November 18, 2016

“In a modern world in which style so often matters more than substance – and at times neither seems to matter much at all – moments of significance can be lost amid the swirl. It’s easy to dismiss Brendan Rodgers’ last full season at Liverpool: the ineffectiveness of Mario Balotelli, the falling out with Raheem Sterling, the final-day humiliation at Stoke … and yet it also included a nugget of genuine tactical innovation. It’s not to say that Antonio Conte, Pep Guardiola or Serbia’s Slavoljub Muslin have copied Rodgers or have in any way learned directly from him to point out that all have, this season, employed some of his model with success – and Rodgers, it might also be pointed out, was inspired by Paulo Sousa.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Brazil look to banish Belo Horizonte demons against struggling Argentina

November 11, 2016

“It has been 28 months, but finally Brazil will return to the site of their greatest trauma. Their World Cup qualifier against Argentina on Thursday will be their first game in Belo Horizonte since the 7-1 defeat to Germany in the World Cup semi-final. Nothing will ever erase that horror but a victory over Argentina would make the ghosts loom less menacingly over the Mineirão in future – particularly if it adds to the growing fear in Argentina that the country may not qualify for the next World Cup.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


The Question: what is a centre-forward?

November 6, 2016

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“hat is a centre-forward? It is a question that is far harder to answer now than it used to be. The suggestion that Pep Guardiola may not be entirely happy with Sergio Agüero seemed at first bizarre. How, realistically, could a player of his ability, his goalscoring capacity – 109 league goals in five seasons at City, despite injuries – be doubted? For a modern striker, though, goals are only part of it.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


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


Ever-evolving Guardiola keeps adapting, from Barcelona to Bayern to Manchester City

October 20, 2016

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“When Pep Guardiola left Barcelona in 2012, there was one huge question about him. He’d grown up at Barcelona. He’d been a ball-boy there. He’d come through the youth system. He’d played for and captained the team. He knew Barcelona and its culture better than almost anybody else. It was a club that had formed him, and he was then able to reform it. He’d wound down his playing career elsewhere but could he really thrive elsewhere?” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Political unrest in Gabon casts shadow over 2017 Africa Cup of Nations draw

October 20, 2016

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“No news, they say, is good news. Either that or it’s the result of a government blackout. The draw for the Africa Cup of Nations will be held in Libreville, Gabon, on Wednesday but yet again the buildup to a tournament has been dominated by doubts over where it will be staged as the aftershocks of Gabonese presidential elections continue to be reverberate.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson