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Emmanuel Adebayor justifies his return to prominence at Old Trafford

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Courtesy of: Roger Gorączniak

One of the few alterations in Tim Sherwood’s resurgent Spurs side is the inclusion of two strikers. Andre Villas-Boas’ reluctance to play a 4-4-2 left supporters and the ownership disgruntled, and it was one of the key factors that led to his dismissal.

Villas-Boas’ persistence to play marquee signing Roberto Soldado as the lone striker didn’t replace the attacking void Gareth Bale’s departure left in attack – and it’s difficult to solely blame the Spaniard for Spurs’ attacking deficiencies. Soldado isn’t a traditional number nine – he thrives when teammates are within close proximity to link play, and adequate service is provided. Villas-Boas’ side struggled to score goals and create chances during the latter stages of Villas-Boas’ tenure, while Soldado was merely a peripheral figure that spent many matches isolated against the opposition’s centrebacks.

Another difference to the North London side since Sherwood’s appointment is Emmanuel Adebayor’s presence in the starting XI. Villas-Boas banished Adebayor from the first-team, and the Spurs striker only featured for 45 minutes this season prior to Sherwood’s appointment.

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Tottenham’s trip to Old Trafford was pivotal, and their impressive away record instilled optimism, as Sherwood’s men aimed to defeat Manchester United for the second consecutive season. Sherwood made one change to the attacking six that comfortably defeated Stoke City over the weekend, introducing Etienne Capoue for the injured Paulinho. Christian Eriksen was expected to drift infield from the left flank to provide creativity, whereas Aaron Lennon and Kyle Walker were responsible for width on the right.

While Eriksen’s impact on the match was monumental, Adebayor’s performance exhibited Spurs’ attacking approach. Spurs struggled to sustain possession in the opening half hour – they constantly misplaced passes in key areas, and their decision-making was poor. Yet, despite United’s dominance in possession and down the right flank, it was Sherwood’s men who created the better chances.

Adebayor was a reliable passing outlet for the North London side, as he often dropped deep into midfield to receive the ball, and bring the midfield – that often sat deep – into the match to link play; a feat that Soldado struggled to complete as the lone striker. The Togolese striker initiated quick counters from his own half, and his rampaging run into United’s third, which led to Lennon’s tame effort in the 12th minute, highlighted his impact. Towards the end of the first half, Adebayor wonderfully brought down a loose ball, and played an incisive pass to Lennon that led to a squandered Soldado opportunity.

The Spurs striker’s involvement in both goals summed up his influence on the match. Eriksen’s ability to locate and attack space enabled the Dane to get into United’s third to deliver a cross at the far post, and Adebayor rose above Chris Smalling to direct the ball past David De Gea – it was the Togolese striker’s fourth goal since his return from exile.  Likewise, it was Adebayor who brought his midfield into the attack in the buildup to Eriksen’s goal, as he played the initial pass to Soldado, which led to Lennon’s penetrating run towards United’s box.

And while Adebayor’s involvement in both goals was pivotal, his determination and work ethic was identical. His battle with Wayne Rooney to win possession near the Spurs corner flag, along with his powerful run to the byline, before cleverly back-heeling the ball to his teammate displayed his ambition.

Unfortunately for the Togolese striker his exceptional afternoon was short-lived as he was stretchered off the pitch midway through the second-half. Spurs dug deep for the final moments of the match, and Hugo Lloris made a few key saves to preserve the lead. Sherwood’s belief in Adebayor has gifted Spurs with a rejuvenated striker, who’s developed into a key cog in their push for Champions League football. Here, he was the goal scorer, creator, and at times the heartbeat of the Spurs attack.

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Posted by on January 1, 2014 in Match Recaps, Published Work

 

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David Moyes’ tactical alteration leads to Young’s impact at the Britannia

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At one point it looked like no one could do it on a cold Wednesday night at Stoke. Both sides were ushered off the pitch as heavy hail forced referee Mark Clattenburg to delay the match for 10 minutes. Prior to his decision, the match was played at a lethargic pace, as neither side was capable of retaining possession, due to the dreadful field conditions.

United dominated possession in the first half, but they lacked creativity, invention and penetration. Anderson and Tom Cleverley maintained deep positions alongside Phil Jones, and they rarely ventured forward. Mark Hughes’ men dropped off and focused on limiting gaps of space in midfield, and United rarely looked threatening, apart from Anderson’s sporadic balls between the lines to Welbeck.

The issue with United’s 4-5-1 was their lack of numbers in the final third. Welbeck was an isolated figure that linked play well, but received minimal service, while Oussama Assaidi and Jon Walters protected their fullbacks, thus limiting Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia’s influence on the match.

Moyes’ men gradually improved in the second half, as the pitch and weather conditions were playable, along with Anderson and Cleverley’s willingness to thrust into the final third. Likewise, Moyes quickly turned to his bench, and introduced Javier Hernandez, as United became a 4-4-1-1.

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Welbeck played off Hernandez, and the Stoke’s defenders dropped deeper than expected, in fear that Hernandez’s pace would leave them exposed. With two attackers roaming around the final third, Cameron and Erik Pieters were forced to sit narrow, thus giving Young and Valencia space to receive the ball and attack the fullbacks.

Coincidentally, while Moyes’ substitution and tactical alteration were beneficial, Hughes couldn’t say the same. A minute after Marko Arnautovic entered the match, Wilson Palacios switched off – Young drifted away from the Honduran to receive a ball from Cleverley, then played a pass to Hernandez and ran towards goal – past Palacios – and fired a venomous shot past Thomas Sorensen – scoring his first goal for United in 19 months.

Hughes was then forced to replace the injured Ryan Shawcross for Charlie Adam – this forced Cameron to play centreback and Glenn Whelan to cover at right back. Subsequently, Young received a pass from Evra and attacked Whelan – however, Walters drifted over to help the Irish midfielder cope with the Englishman’s threat.

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Young created a 1v2 situation, as Walters drifted over to assist Whelan. Evra’s run created half space, but no Stoke defender tracked his run, and the Frenchman was able to cut in and curl his shot past Sorensen.

Here, Young created half space for Evra to run into, and he played the pass to the United fullback, who cut in and curled his shot into the far corner with his weaker foot.

Stoke pushed forward searching for goals in the second half, but their deliveries from wide areas lacked quality, and Crouch’s aerial threat was poorly utilized. Hughes’ men didn’t record a shot on target, which highlighted United’s impressive defensive display. Chris Smalling continuously won aerial duels, Phil Jones covered every blade of grass making five tackles and three interceptions, while Cleverley was the most proficient passer on the pitch, completing 79 passes with a 90% pass accuracy rate.

United reverted to a 4-5-1 in the latter stages of the match, when Darren Fletcher made his second appearance of the season, to close out the match. The performance didn’t showcase any significant progress under Moyes, but his valour to change his system reaped rewards, as United still lack an offensive identity.

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2013 in Match Recaps, Published Work

 

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Bayer Leverkusen 0-5 Manchester United

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Manchester United arguably produced their best performance of the David Moyes era, as they thumped Bayern Leverkusen at the BayArena.

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Robin van Persie, Nemanja Vidic and Michael Carrick were still unavailable, so David Moyes was forced to make a few changes to his 4-4-1-1. Wayne Rooney led the line ahead of Shinji Kagawa, Nani and Antonio Valencia, while Ryan Giggs and Phil Jones formed a midfield duo.

There were no surprises in Sami Hyypia‘s 4-3-3 as Stefan Kiessling, Gonzalo Castro and Heung-Min Son led the attack, while Lars Bender, Stefan Reinartz and Simon Rolfes formed a midfield trio.

United were terrific – they were organized, disciplined, and frightening on the counter attack, and Leverkusen was punished for their naïve approach.

Leverkusen impress early

Leverkusen started the match in a positive manner, and this was down to United’s shape. United maintained a high line in the early moments, and although it left them vulnerable to balls over the top, the gap between the midfield and backline was large.

This is where Son thrived – The South Korean attacker drifted centrally to pick up pockets of space in the final third, and he attacked Moyes’ men at every opportunity. Son received two opportunities to hand the home side the lead, but both of his attempts didn’t test David De Gea. Kiessling also had a glorious opportunity to hand Leverkusen the lead when he skipped past Rio Ferdinand, but Jonny Evans made a vital interception to keep the match scoreless.

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United continued their impressive run of scoring in the opening 25 minutes of each Champions League match this season – they’ve done so in each group stage match this season – despite Leverkusen’s positive attacking contributions at the start of the match. Shockingly, prior to the goal Kagawa and Rooney were peripheral figures.

Nonetheless, United pounced on Reinartz’s mistake, which allowed Kagawa to break into midfield with pace, before playing a ball to the oncoming Giggs. The Welshman found Rooney on the left, and the Englishman delivered an exquisite ball at the far post for Valencia to tap in.

This was a devastating move that highlighted Moyes approach on the counter attack. United utilized their pace in wide areas, whereas Kagawa excelled in a no.10 role that relied on the Japanese playmaker’s wonderful ability to swiftly transition from defence to attack.

United’s shape

One of the main differences between the sides was the way they approached the match without the ball. United were terrific on both ends – their natural shape was compact, whereas their pressing was cohesive.

Rooney and Kagawa closed down Leverkusen’s centre backs and Giggs tracked Reinartz when he attempted to drop deeper and create 3v2 situations. Hyypia’s men attempted to play around United’s press by having Bender and Rolfes drop deeper, but Nani and Valencia took the authority to track the duo, and left Patrice Evra and Chris Smalling the responsibility of marking Leverkusen’s fullbacks – this left Moyes’ men 3v3 at the back, but the German outfit had difficulties breaking past United’s press.

However, United looked comfortable when Leverkusen pushed forward. The issue Leverkusen encountered was the shape of their attacking three – Castro and Son aren’t natural wide players – they rely on movement around the final third, and United’s narrow shape prevented the wide players from flourishing, as central areas were often congested.

Hyypia’s men were in desperate need of width – which is often provided from their full backs – and although Emre Can and Giulio Donati pushed into advanced positions, the quality in these wide areas were poor. Rolfes and Bender also attempted to push forward to help their full backs attain better positions, but Nani and Valencia admirably tracked their runs.

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It’s been awhile since we’ve seen an impressive defensive display from United, but they showcased their grit in Germany.

Leverkusen shape

While United displayed a sense of organization and discipline, there was a significant contrast in the German side’s approach. Leverkusen’s front three dropped off the United backline, and allowed Evans and Ferdinand to have the ball – yet whenever they did press the centre backs, Jones or Giggs would drop between them and receive the ball.

The German side also encountered issues between the lines – there was a heap of space between midfield/attack and midfield/defence. With no pressure being applied on central players, Giggs, Jones, and Kagawa found it relatively easy to receive the ball, and facilitate play. United didn’t necessarily trouble the German side with their possession, but the multiple gaps available in Leverkusen’s shape left Hyypia’s men vulnerable throughout the entire match.

Midfield battle

One of the most surprising feats in this match was the midfield battle. Heading into the fixture, the biggest concern was whether United would be able to cope without Carrick or Marouane Fellaini against a midfield trio.

Leverkusen’s numerical advantage in midfield favoured the German side to dictate central areas, yet Giggs and Jones produced their best performances of the season. The United duo were intelligent with their movement, and often slotted into deeper positions, knowing that Leverkusen’s midfield wouldn’t press them.

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This played into Giggs’ hands as he was allowed to showcase his impressive range of passing, whilst the duo also contributed on the defensive end, when needed.

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It was shocking to see neither an attacker nor midfielder press Giggs, as he was dominating the midfield, and in the 88th minute his glorious over the top ball to Nani, highlighted this fact. Giggs was allowed time and space to cleverly pick out the Portuguese attacker, who subsequently produced a cheeky finish past a helpless Bernd Leno.

Despite United’s lack of numbers in midfield, Leverkusen’s naïve approach towards containing the duo led to Giggs and Jones’ dominance in midfield.

Leverkusen press

There was a difference in Leverkusen’s approach in the second half – opposed to the opening 45 minutes, Hyypia instructed his men to press higher up the pitch. There were brief glimpses of their press towards the end of the first half, when Bender and Rolfes closed down Giggs and Jones.

However, the issue Leverkusen faced was their press was disjointed. There was no structure in midfield, and United smoothly drove into advanced positions. Equally, it left more space for United’s attackers to drop into, thus leading to Rooney and Kagawa having a larger influence in the second half.

United down the right

Also, with Leverkusen attempting to win possession in advanced positions, space in wide areas were outlets for United to exploit. With Son and Castro rarely tracking back, the onus was on Rolfes and Bender to protect their full backs.

Their was a vast improvement in Valencia’s performance throughout the second half, as Can – who was absolutely dreadful in and out of possession – was caught higher up the pitch on several occasions. Valencia attacked space behind the makeshift left back, and the Ecuadorian’s pace and strength tormented Can. Valencia was involved in four different situations that could’ve led to a goal – likewise, his dangerous cross in the 64th minute led to the corner kick that provided United with their third goal.

Kagawa

Of the many star United performers against Leverkusen, it was Kagawa that impressed – with that being said, Rooney and Giggs’ imperious displays shouldn’t be overlooked.

Kagawa thrived in the no.10 role, which he rarely gets to feature in due to Rooney’s inclusion in the squad. However, Moyes’ reactive approach also played a factor in his success. The Japanese playmaker succeeded at Dortmund playing behind the striker in a transition-based game, which focused on quick attacks on the break – coincidentally this was Moyes’ approach towards the match.

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But the United playmaker dropped deeper to retain possession, and Leverkusen was unable to contain his swift movement. Kagawa’s involvement in Chris Smalling’s fourth goal showcased his highly-rated creative niche. The Japanese international dinked a clever ball over the Leverkusen back line to Rooney, and the Englishman lobbed a pass to Smalling, who guided the ball into the open net.

Kagawa’s performance was impressive – United’s approach played to his strengths, and now it’s evident that United has another element of creativity at their disposal, especially against superior sides in Europe.

Conclusion

This was a convincing United performance – arguably the best display of Moyes’ tenure thus far. Nonetheless, Leverkusen was lethargic – their narrow attack favoured the away side, whereas their defensive approach allowed Kagawa, Giggs and Jones freedom to control the match.

United were by far the superior side, and individual performances from the midfield and Rooney merited three points, and a berth in the round of 16. Moyes can breathe for a few days, but upcoming fixtures against Spurs and Everton should provide a sterner test, and display whether genuine progress has been made.

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2013 in Match Recaps, Published Work

 

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Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal

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Robin van Persie continued to haunt his former employers, as his first half header pushes Manchester United within five points of league leaders Arsenal.

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Van Persie returned to the starting eleven to lead the line ahead of Wayne Rooney, Antonio Valencia and Shinji Kagawa. Michael Carrick and Phil Jones formed a midfield duo, while Jonny Evans partnered Nemanja Vidic at centre back.

Arsene Wenger made two changes to the side that defeated Borussia Dortmund in midweek. Mathieu Flamini returned to the lineup to join Mikel Arteta in the double pivot, whereas Thomas Vermaelen formed a centre back partnership with Laurent Koscielny.

This was a vintage Moyes display – United’s reactive approach saw the Red Devils concede space on the flanks, as they sat in a narrow shape to nullify Arsenal’s threat in central areas.

United without the ball

One of the main feats in Arsenal’s success over the past few weeks has been their fluidity and quick interchanges in midfield, so the battle in central areas was always going to be pivotal. David Moyes’ men were impressive without the ball – when they lost possession, they quickly closed down the Arsenal defenders to retain possession, and when Arsenal were building play they maintained an extremely high-line.

Space was at a premium in midfield, and Arsenal’s attacking three were unable to receive the ball between the lines, as United sat extremely narrow to close down their passing lanes. Arteta and Flamini dropped deeper between the centre backs to provide an outlet for their defenders and build play – which was odd considering Rooney’s impressive defensive display against Arteta last season – but majority of their passes were sideways. Ozil and Ramsey also attempted to receive the ball in deeper positions, but Valencia and Kagawa pressed them once they received the ball.

United’s wide men played an integral role in their success for large portions of the match. Kagawa and Valencia sat deeper than usual to help Jones and Carrick in midfield. Space was available out wide – which was risky based on Arsenal’s recent success in wide areas – but United’s wide men quickly closed down Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbs whenever they received the ball, and the Arsenal duo didn’t offer any threats going forward.

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United’s initial approach without the ball was excellent – they minimized space between the lines, pressed Arsenal’s fullbacks, and kept their creative players quiet.

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During Arsenal’s impressive start to the season, Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil’s form has overshadowed the underlying importance of Olivier Giroud in Wenger’s set-up. The French striker has improved vastly over the past few months, and has been a significant cog in Arsenal’s attack, which is why Moyes was keen on limiting his impact on the match.

Giroud’s developed a better understanding of playing as a lone striker using his brute strength and impressive work rate to thrive as Arsenal’s main man. The French striker struggled in the first half due to great defensive work from Evans and Vidic. The United centre back duo stuck tight to Giroud whenever he received the ball, and the Arsenal striker was unable to sustain possession.

One of the main feats in Giroud’s game this season has been his ability to link play with Arsenal’s midfielders, and allow runners to attack space behind him. But Giroud was outmuscled off the ball – often conceding possession or losing out in duels against the United centre backs. There was no space in midfield for Giroud to tuck into – United’s midfield pushed higher up the pitch swiftly to catch the Frenchman offside on numerous occasions, and his frustration was evident.

Vidic departure/Arsenal improve

Vidic was forced to leave the match at the interval, due to his late collision with David De Gea in the final moments of the first half. This forced Phil Jones to drop into centre back as Tom Cleverley joined Carrick in midfield. Although Cleverley didn’t produce a poor display, United’s lack of a double screen meant Arsenal would receive more opportunities to stamp their authority on the match.

Giroud’s influence on the match grew in the second half, and this was odd because Evans still featured in the match. As gaps began to build between the lines, Giroud was presented with more space to receive the ball and spread play, as Evans and Jones sat off the French striker. There was also a distinct dip in Kagawa’s performance – this could’ve been fatigue based, as he was involved in Wednesday’s midweek draw against Real Sociedad.

Ramsey started the second half on the right touchline stretching the play, and he played a key pass to Giroud in the 47th minute in ample space, and Cleverley was forced to foul him as he ran past the United defence. Three minutes later Ramsey won a loose ball at the halfway line, and played the ball into Ozil who combined with Giroud, but was unable to produce the final ball.

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Ozil had brief glimpses of positivity in his play as he drifted laterally into pockets of space on the right flank behind the United defence to receive the ball, and Santi Cazorla also dropped into those pockets of space to push Arsenal forward.

In the latter stages of the match, Arsenal continued to penetrate pockets of space in wide areas. Ramsey picked out substitute Serge Gnabry, who made a run behind Evra and Ryan Giggs. The Arsenal youngster played a ball across the edge of the box to Giroud, who skipped past Jones, but Smalling made a timely tackle to clear United’s lines.

A minute later, Sagna played a pass to Jack Wilshere, who moved forward and found Ramsey in a pocket of space behind Evra. Ramsey surged into the United box but was crowded out by Cleverley, Evans and Evra, and the ball fell to Giroud who flashed his deflected shot wide of the net.

Although it may have been Moyes’ idea to hit Arsenal on the break, Vidic’s departure and Kagawa’s inability to protect Patrice Evra  gave Wenger’s men a lifeline in the second half. Giroud and Ozil improved slightly, and as a unit Arsenal were getting into better positions.

Sagna

As stated earlier, Arsenal experienced joy down the right flank during the second half, and their star performer was Sagna. The Arsenal right back has been a key contributor in Arsenal’s attack over the past few weeks, as he played a pivotal role in goals in home fixtures against Napoli and Borussia Dortmund.

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Sagna was Arsenal’s bright spark in the second half as he constantly found space behind Kagawa, leaving him free to get forward and play crosses into the box. Majority of Arsenal’s best moves came down the right flank, and Sagna’s crosses gave Moyes’ men a few scares.

  1. 57th minute: Ozil’s corner kick was half-heartedly cleared, and Vermaelen played the ball backwards to Sagna. Sagna sprayed a ball across the box to an unmarked Ozil, but the German maestro fired his shot into the side netting.
  1. 72nd minute: Kagawa was caught out in a central position and Arteta picked out an unmarked Sagna on the right flank. Sagna played a precise ball across the six-yard box, but Evan’s nicked it past Gibbs, Smalling and Giroud for a corner.
  1. 91st minute: Sagna throws the ball into Giroud, and the Frenchman laid it off to Gnabry. Gnabry plays a pass to Sagna – who’s behind Giggs – and he delivers a venomous ball into the box that evades Evans, Jones and Nicklas Bendtner.

Sagna created three clear-cut opportunities for Arsenal to equalize, but his teammates were unable to connect with his fantastic deliveries into the box.

Substitutions

Wenger was forced to turn to his bench early in the second half, and he decided to introduce Wilshere for Flamini. Prior to the substitution, Arsenal lacked penetration in the final third, and struggled to get behind United’s defence. The move was made to add guile, energy, and penetration into Arsenal’s attack and from an attacking perspective the Gunner’s were brighter.

Bendtner and Gnabry also made appearances in the latter stages of the match, as Arsenal became a 4-4-2. Gnabry had a positive impact on the match with his direct approach and his ability to combine with Sagna, and Arsenal’s attacking players. Bendtner’s introduction was peculiar, as he took up a position on the left flank. The Danish striker isn’t renowned for his ability to beat players, but Wenger was hoping that he could get on the end of Sagna’s crosses.

Moyes’ substitutions reflected United’s approach in the final minutes of the match. Giggs replaced Kagawa in hopes that he could provide better protection for Evra. While Marouane Fellaini replaced van Persie, as United became a 4-5-1 without the ball to preserve their lead.

Conclusion

Arsenal improved in the second half as United sat deeper, but Moyes’ reactive approach was successful, as van Persie’s first half winner claimed maximum points.

The gap between United an Arsenal is now five points, but it’s difficult to assess the progress of Moyes’ side. Nonetheless, It was a vintage big match display masterminded by Moyes  – United were organized as a unit, and once they went ahead they cautiously attacked on the break.

Similar to their away draw against West Brom and loss against Chelsea, its been proven that an organized narrow shape can frustrate the Gunners – thus emphasizing the importance of their injured direct attackers. Arsenal weren’t at their best today, but dropping points at Old Trafford doesn’t necessarily inhibit their title aspirations. How the Gunners respond to this defeat heading into the Christmas period will be vital.

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2013 in Match Recaps, Published Work

 

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Southampton’s valiant display sees Manchester United stumble at Old Trafford

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They came, they saw, but they didn’t conquer. Well, for a Southampton side that flirted with relegation last season, a draw at Old Trafford would suffice. However, like last season, Mauricio Pochettino’s men may feel as if they underachieved.

Meanwhile, the pressure on David Moyes is at an all-time high, as the Red Devils are off to their worst start to a season in the Premier League era. Unlike last season, neither Robin Van Persie, nor Wayne Rooney could save Manchester United from mediocrity. Outscoring their opponents is no longer a genius tactic – their production in the final third is anonymous, the clinical finishing is a distant memory, while long-periods of possession was a rarity.

Although United didn’t play well, they had a few chances to put the match out of reach, but Artur Boruc and the crossbar denied Moyes’ men three points. Southampton – who’s improved significantly compared to last season – produced an impressive away performance combining excellent work-rate and movement between the lines. Morgan Schneiderlin stepped forward to press Marouane Fellaini, whereas Steven Davis and Victor Wanyama kept tabs on Michael Carrick  – and Wayne Rooney when he dropped deeper.

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Most teams don’t possess the pluck to press Carrick when he receives the ball, but if executed properly, it limits Carrick’s contribution to United’s attack. Meanwhile, Fellaini’s transfer still seems peculiar and superfluous, as his performances have been mediocre. The Belgian is sitting deep alongside Carrick, offering the same threat as his midfield partner – besides the penetrating passes between the lines – which prevents him from joining the attack.

With both midfielders nullified, and adequate pressure applied on the defenders, United struggled to dictate the tempo of the match. Schneiderlin continued to drive forward when possible, while Lallana and Davis roamed around the final third when in possession. In particular, Lallana drifted infield looking to play incisive passes in the final third, while Davis dropped deeper to help Southampton sustain possession and drive forward as a unit.

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Frankly, United were struggling to cope, and Pochettino knew his side was capable of earning a point at minimum. While, James Ward-Prowse, Rickie Lambert and Guly Do Prado were introduced to increase their attacking impetus, Moyes decided to preserve the lead by adding numbers in midfield and the backline, which was logical.

Regardless of the late Dejan Lovren equalizer, United couldn’t solve Boruc, and they didn’t assert their dominance on the match. “I am disappointed because we wanted to get a bit of momentum going and we weren’t able to do that,” Moyes said. Southampton produced an impressive away performance – one similar to the win at Anfield, and had Osvaldo been up for it, they might’ve walked away with all three points.

Nevertheless, it’s impossible for Moyes to avoid the critics after dropping points at home. Carrick, arguably United’s best player last season, was quick to highlight that luck hasn’t been on United side thus far. “It is frustrating because things are not going the way we want. But as players we have to stand up, take responsibility and get better,” Carrick said. “We are still confident. Everything is in place but for some reason, at the moment, we are not quite clicking and not quite firing,” he added.

The most concerning issue is United’s shape overall – the double-pivot sits too deep, while the three attacking players behind Van Persie have struggled to create legitimate goal-scoring opportunities. Adnan Janzuaj has been a refreshing inclusion to the squad, yet heavily relying on an 18-year-old winger is an indictment on the squad, opposed to the player.

If Saturday’s draw was any indicator to how the season will pan out, United will struggle to defeat the better Premier League teams this season. More so, majority of United’s title rivals, and mid-table Premier League sides have evolved over the transfer window, whereas United hasn’t, and Van Persie’s goals may not be enough to retain their Premier League crown.

Analysis

  • Arsenal remains two points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League, defeating Norwich City 4-1. A recurring theme in their play since Ozil’s arrival has been the urge to overload central areas. Likewise, with the inclusion of Jack Wilshere, Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla behind Olivier Giroud, Norwich had no answer for Arsenal’s movement in the final third.

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While Norwich pressed Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini, the movement of the front three always provided Wenger’s men with passing options, along with handing Wilshere the license to push forward – as runners got behind Giroud who dropped deeper to link play and provide wonderful assists for Ozil and Wilshere. Despite Norwich handing  Arsene Wenger’s men a few scares, their quality in the final third was disappointing.

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Aaron Ramsey – who started the match on the bench – came on for the injured Flamini and continued to impress. He made key tackles, scored a wonderful goal, and assisted Arsenal’s fourth goal, as the Gunners continue to shine.

  • Stamford Bridge was filled with controversy, as Eden Hazard’s equalizer should’ve been disallowed. Samuel Eto’o nicked the ball away from Cardiff goalkeeper Dave Marshall when he bounced it on the ground, which subsequently led to Hazard sliding the ball into the net from close range. According to FIFA rules, the goalie is still in possession of the ball when he bounces it, meaning Eto’o committed a foul that the referee missed. However, Cardiff dropped deep into their third and frustrated Chelsea to the point where Mourinho gambled and played three at the back – thus leading to a quality strike from Eto’o. Along with an entertaining Jose Mourinho dismissal, Cardiff caused Chelsea a few problems in the final 20 minutes, but Oscar and Hazard increased the lead, pushing the Blues to second in the table.
  • Manuel Pellegrini saw his men earn their first away win of the season at Upton Park, orchestrated by David Silva and Sergio Aguero. Aguero produced two fine finishes to give City a comfortable lead, and assisted Silva’s goal late in the second half. But the main man was Silva, he floated across the final third finding pockets of space to link play and build attacks, as he thoroughly controlled the match.

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Sam Allardyce attempted to replicate a shape that saw his side defeat Spurs at White Hart Lane, but his men left too many gaps of space around the final third for City attackers to drift into, and were blitzed for large portions of the match. Another away test awaits Manchester City next Sunday, as they travel to Stamford Bridge full of confidence, aiming to overtake Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea.

  • Andros Townsend stole the headlines once again, as he was one of the few bright spots in Spurs’ victory at Villa Park. Villa maintained a high defensive- line in the first half, and focused on pressing Spurs’ fullbacks and two holding midfielders. Andre Villas-Boas’ men were unable to break through the press, as Villa’s fullbacks tightly marked their wingers and Roberto Soldado was isolated upfront. But Paul Lambert tinkered with his side at half-time – seeing as Townsend was fortunate to see his cross beat Brad Guzan to give Spurs the lead. The reason behind switching to a 4-3-1-2 was to get the most out of his attackers – who also didn’t see enough of the ball in the first half – but pushing them into central positions left the Villa fullbacks vulnerable against overloads.

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Townsend was at his very best after the change, driving down the right flank and his unpredictability left Antonio Luna confused, as he was unsure whether Townsend would cut in or attack the byline to produce a devastating ball into the box. Christian Benteke did enter the fray in the second half, giving Villa a lift with his aerial presence that Libor Kozak lacks – despite his height – but Soldado’s goal minutes later was the final blow for Lambert’s men.

  • Daniel Sturridge scored his 7th goal of the season to nick a point against 10-man Newcastle. It was mediocre display from Brendan Rodgers’ men, who allowed Cheick Tiote and Yohan Cabaye to dictate the match – and witness the French midfielder score a great goal. Prior to Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa’s sending off – for pulling Suarez in the box, thus leading to a Gerrard spot-kick – Suarez and Sturridge were deprived service, as they were forced to drop deeper to get involved with the play. Nevertheless, tactical alterations were significant, as Alan Pardew encouraged his men to drop into a 4-4-1, sacrificing Moussa Sissoko for Paul Dummett, who gave Newcastle the lead in the second half. However, Liverpool switched to a 4-2-3-1 introducing Luis Alberto, who was instructed to drift infield, allowing Glen Johnson to push forward. The change gave Suarez more space to operate in, as he drifted into the channels and between the lines, and it reaped rewards as he assisted Sturridge’s equalizer. Liverpool searched for a winner by introducing Raheem Sterling and pushing Alberto in an advanced position in midfield, but Tim Krul made a few top saves in the latter stages of the match to earn his side a valuable point.

Results: Newcastle 2-2 Liverpool, Swansea City 4-0 Sunderland, Stoke City 0-0 West Brom, Arsenal 4-1 Norwich City, Chelsea 4-1 Cardiff City, Everton 2-1 Hull City, Manchester United 1-1 Southampton, West Ham 1-3 Manchester City, Aston Vila 0-2 Tottenham

Weekend Stats

  • Manchester United fail to win successive Premier League home matches for first time since 2007.
  • 16 points from seven ‪Premier League matches, is the most points that Arsenal have had at this stage of the season since 2007/08.
  • Daniel Sturridge has scored in six consecutive Premier League away matches. Only one player in Premier League history has more – Robin Van Persie in nine.
  • Liverpool is undefeated in their last 8 Premier League away matches for the first time since Apr–Oct 2008.
  • Robin van Persie needs 1 more goal to reach 127 in the Premier League. Would make him equal Hasselbaink’s Dutch record and join him in 10th all-time.
  • Steven Gerrard has scored his 100th ‪Premier League goal in his 449th appearance.

All stats are provided by Infostrada Sports @InfostradaLive

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2013 in EPL Notebook, Published Work

 

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Manchester United 4-2 Bayer Leverkusen

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Manchester United cruised past German side Bayer Leverkusen in David Moyes’ debut in the Champions League group stage.

Manchester United vs Bayer Leverkusen - Football tactics and formations

Shinji Kagawa and Marouane Fellaini made their first appearance in United’s starting eleven – Kagawa was assigned to left of a midfield three, behind Robin Van Persie, while Fellaini played in the double pivot with Michael Carrick. Wayne Rooney and Antonio Valencia kept their spots in the attacking three, and Chris Smalling replaced Fabio at right back.

Sami Hyypia stuck with his traditional 4-3-3 that saw Sidney Sam, Stefan Kießling and Son Heung-Min lead the line. Hyypia was forced to make two changes to his midfield introducing Simon Rolfes and Emre Can along side Stefan Reinartz, as Gonzalo Castro was unavailable and Lars Bender was unable to play a full 90 minutes.

This was a match that featured minimal tactical feats – United’s solidity at the back and ruthlessness in attack made easy work of a Leverkusen side that lacked creativity in midfield.

 Shape

There was no surprise to see Leverkusen sit back in their shape opposed to pressing United at the first whistle. Hyypia’s side focuses on organization – closing gaps and minimizing space between the lines – but the absence of Castro and Bender were evident after the opening 10 minutes. Bender’s short cameo showcased his impact on the match as he completed more tackles than Can and Reinartz.

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 Sam and Son tracked back to prevent Evra and Smalling from pushing forward, but the problems Leverkusen encountered were in midfield. Leverkusen had a numerical advantage in midfield, yet it was Kagawa’s movement and Rooney’s ability to find space between the lines that made the difference. Kagawa drifted centrally into space throughout the midfield, and dropped into deeper positions to help Carrick and Fellaini push forward.

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 United took another approach, they occasionally pressed the entire Leverkusen backline forcing them to concede possession. For the most part, United dropped into two compact banks of four and limited space between the lines. The one issue United faced was the movement of Kagawa – albeit the positive aspect he provided on the attack – there was a large amount of space on the right flank for Donati to exploit. The Leverkusen right back bombed forward on several occasions, but his delivery was poor.

Leverkusen’s shape was logical, but Rooney and Kagawa found gaps to exploit, whereas United’s organization nullified Leverkusen’s attack. This was a constant theme in the first half, and besides Rooney’s opener, the main tactical feat.

Leverkusen’s attack

United was expected to dominate possession, so it was logical for Leverkusen to attack on the counter – mainly because that’s when they’re at their best. Yet, with all the opportunities presented to Hyypia’s men, they failed to have an impact on the break. When they won possession deep in their third, the tempo on their transition was slow and there was no link in midfield. Sam and Son failed to have an impact in wide areas, forcing the Leverkusen duo to drift centrally.

Another issue Leverkusen faced was the lack of productivity from midfield. Despite sustaining a decent amount of possession, most of the passes played were sideways. Leverkusen’s midfield failed to provide penetration in the final third, and didn’t offer the creativity required.

The German side was poor on the counter – mainly their transitions were slow – and Kießling was an isolated figure upfront, deprived of service from midfield.

Valencia’s width

Antonio Valencia has struggled to reach his best form in a United shirt over the past 18 months, but the Ecuadorian was a key cog in United’s attack.  United possessed a great balance in wide areas – Evra provided width and Kagawa drifted centrally on the left, while Valencia stretched the pitch on the right with a conservative Smalling behind him.

Valencia relished his battle against Sebastian Boenisch – the Ecuadorian’s pace kept the Leverkusen fullback worried, and without substantial cover from Son, Boenisch was left vulnerable in 1v1 situations. Moyes was conscious of this flaw in Leverkusen’s backline, thus leading to United aiming to get the ball to the Ecuadorian frequently. Valencia was successful in his battle against Boenisch, delivering venomous balls into the final third, and it was his threat from wide areas that led to two of three goals scored in the second half.

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 Both goals stemmed from United winning the ball in deep areas, and resulted in the Ecuadorian winger driving forward into space behind Son. This was a recurring theme in United’s attacking approach in the second half, thus leading to one aspect of their dominance in the second half.

Rooney

Wayne Rooney’s persistent attempt to push for a transfer to Chelsea a few weeks ago has become a vivid afterthought. The Englishman was imperious on a night, which he celebrated his 200th goal in a Manchester United jersey along with providing Valencia with an assist for United’s fourth goal.

It was another positive performance from the English striker, as he continues to improve weekly. Rooney was dropping deep into midfield to make up numbers, finding gaps between the lines to receive the ball, along with spreading passes wide – with a combination of short and long diagonal balls. Rooney’s performance instilled energy with his surging runs forward, and once again he displayed his ability to score goals from a deeper position.

Rooney impact

An interesting feat in United’s attack was the connection between van Persie and Rooney. In fairness, van Persie had another mediocre outing, albeit his acrobatic finish that gave Moyes’ men the lead. Rooney and van Persie made eight passes in total amongst each other, and the partnership has lacked cohesion going forward. Rooney was venturing around Leverkusen’s half looking for areas to penetrate, yet van Persie drifted wide on several occasions attempting to link play – which did start the buildup to Rooney’s opener.

Nevertheless, Rooney continues to show signs of improvement, which may lead one to believe he’ll reach a world-class status in the near future. The Englishman is smiling, increasing his work rate, causing havoc in the final third and scoring goals – and this is the Rooney we’ve grown to admire.

Leverkusen centrebacks

It would be impossible to ignore the shambolic display of the Leverkusen centrebacks in the second half. Toprak and Spahic were pathetic – constantly being dragged out of position due to off the ball movement, while suffering mental lapses in their third of the field. There were several situations throughout the match that displayed their defensive deficiencies, but in particular, three legitimate goal-scoring opportunities stood out.

  1. Toprak slipped while carrying the ball out of his 18-yard box, thus leaving Rooney 1 v 1 with Bernd Leno, who rounded the keeper but flashed his shot wide of the net.
  2. Carrick fizzled a direct ball to van Persie, and the Dutch striker turned Spahic easily, but Toprak drifted over to deny the prolific forward a shot on goal.
  3. Seconds after David De Gea denied Bender from point blank range. The Spanish goalkeeper’s long punt flew over Leverkusen’s centre back duo, and Rooney latched onto it, this time beating Leno at the near post.

Considering the duo had a decent outing in the first half, it was shocking to see such poor defending in a Champions League fixture. Although United’s attack was impressive on the night, it would be irrational to ignore the abysmal display from Leverkusen’s centre backs.

Conclusion

This was United’s best performance as a unit to recent memory, led by Rooney’s energy and Valencia’s width. Meanwhile, from a defensive aspect, Hyypia’s men were dire, more so in the second half. However, the Leverkusen manager stated that his side – missing Castro and Bender (for most of the match) in midfield – lacked mental toughness. 

“Before the game, we talked a lot about the mental aspect of these matches, because it’s a very important factor in football. I think we were lacking some elements of that today. We have to continue working hard in order to improve in that area,” Hyypia said.

United start their Champions League campaign with a convincing win, in what’s made out to be their toughest group over the past decade. The midfield displayed balance and they exposed deficiencies in a limited Leverkusen squad. In hindsight, Moyes’ men are beginning to develop an identity as they head into the Manchester derby.

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2013 in Match Recaps, Published Work

 

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Tyrrell’ BPL Weekend Recap – Young creative debutants make their mark for London clubs

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Courtesy of Steindy

Weekend in 100 words or less

The battle for the final Champions League spot has become entertaining over the past few years. This season, North London rivals Tottenham and Arsenal, have been tipped to challenge for the final spot in Europe’s prestigious tournament, which has led to Spurs spending approximately £110.5m in the transfer window. However, Arsene Wenger made his big move on deadline day, when he managed to persuade a world-class talent to take his talents to the Emirates. Both sides acquired talented players in the no.10 role, and this weekend they showcased why the clubs aspiring to solidify Champions League football sought them out.

Analysis

United’s issue in the final third

David Moyes celebrated his first win at Old Trafford, as the Red Devils cruised past 10-man Crystal Palace. For what it’s worth, United struggled to find their rhythm until Kagisho Dikgacoi was wrongfully sent off for a foul on Ashley Young that actually took place outside of the 18-yard box. Ian Halloway’s men were organized well and they maintained a compact shape for majority of the half. Dwight Gayle, Mile Jedinak, Dikgacoi and Jose Campana tucking infield kept Michael Carrick and Anderson quiet, but it also left United space on the right to exploit.

Fabio and Valencia worked hard to create overloads and isolate Dean Moxey, but the Palace fullback coped well. Moyes’ men dominated possession but they lacked thrust, penetration and creativity in the final third. A recurring theme in United’s style of play under Moyes is their intent on pressing the oppositions defenders on goal-kicks or when they attempt to play out of the back – which led to the Young controversy – and it’s been successful thus far. In fairness, United didn’t really face any scares on the defensive end, as Halloway’s men struggled to complete three successive passes, along with Carrick doing a fantastic job in breaking up play.

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United stamped their authority on the match in the second half with the man advantage, as Wayne Rooney began to drift around midfield picking up the ball and linking play, while substitute Adnan Januzaj was a direct threat from wide areas. However, United struggled to create legitimate goal-scoring opportunities, and relied on a Rooney free-kick to put the match out of sight.  United has failed to score from open play since their opening day victory against Swansea, which shouldn’t be overlooked. The service from wide areas has been mediocre and Rooney still looks somewhat disinterested, thus leaving Van Persie craving service – because there doesn’t seem to be a link between midfield and attack.

Nevertheless, United can’t complain about claiming seven points from four games – equaling title contenders Manchester City and Chelsea’s point tally – but they’ll need to improve in the final third if they intend on being victorious in next week’s Manchester Derby.

Ozil proves his worth, while Ramsey continues to dominate 

Mesut Ozil displayed to Premier League fans why he was worth the £42.5m Arsenal splashed on him at the end of the transfer window. The German international enjoyed a fantastic debut for the Gunners, and was one of the few influential players in a third consecutive Arsenal victory. It took the German 11 minutes to make a statement, as he ran into space and calmly brought down a long ball, which he squared for Olivier Giroud, who gave Arsenal an early lead.

Ozil laterally glided across the final third, combining with wingers and dropping into midfield to overload central areas. Overloading central areas in midfield has been a feat in Arsenal’s approach over the past few matches – Ozil and Wilshere dropped into deeper to help Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini assert their dominance in midfield. Ozil was most threatening on the counter attack, where he played two defence splitting passes, sending Theo Walcott 1v1 with Keiren Westwood, but the Sunderland keeper denied Walcott on both occasions. Ozil was imperious throughout the match, specifically in the first half, where he was allowed to attack pockets of space in the final third.

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Frankly, Paolo Di Canio’s approach to the match was lethargic. His side sat in two banks of four with his forwards failing to apply pressure to the centre backs and his midfield sitting off – with Adam Johnson tucking in – which allowed Flamini and Ramsey to dictate the tempo of the match and Kieran Gibbs to freely surge into advanced positions.

Sunderland improved in the second half, and was awarded a penalty when Laurent Koscielny committed a clumsy challenge on Adam Johnson, which substitute Craig Gardner converted. Di Canio’s men limited the gaps of space in midfield, sitting narrow and compact, and Arsenal struggled to break them down. Meanwhile, Johnson began to penetrate in wide areas, and Sunderland was catching the Gunners out of shape on the counter. Wenger’s men were fortunate not to go down a goal, when referee Martin Atkinson wrongfully halted play when Jozy Altidore was clearly fouled by Bacary Sagna – but Altidore was on a clear breakaway and put the ball in the back of the net.

Arsenal took advantage of their fortunes minutes later when Jenkinson got forward and played in a wonderful cross to Ramsey, who displayed great skill to volley the ball past Westwood. Ramsey put the match out of reach when he made a pass to Ozil and ran into space and collected a pass from Giroud, after he combined with Ozil. Ramsey was superb defensively, and he continues to show maturity going forward in midfield.

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This was one of the better Arsenal performances over the past few years, albeit it coming against a feeble Sunderland side.

Eriksen makes his mark 

Spurs bounced back to winning ways with a convincing victory against Norwich City. Andre Villas-Boas handed Christian Eriksen his Tottenham debut, and the Danish midfielder flourished. A significant factor in Spurs’ loss to Arsenal two weeks ago was a link between midfield and attack, and Eriksen filled that void in a fantastic manner.

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Eriksen received balls between the lines and played key passes out wide and penetrating balls between defenders. The Danish midfielder provided a defence-splitting pass for Gylfi Sigurdsson’s opener and his ball out wide to an advancing Paulinho led to Sigurdsson’s second goal.

Villas-Boas men cruised through the match due to Norwich’s lack of pressure and defensive structure. Soldado dropped into midfield and wide areas to link play, Dembele and Paulinho were allowed time to play sideways passes into wide areas and push forward, Sigurdsson drifted infield and made runs from midfield, while Andros Townsend’s direct running caused the Norwich backline several problems.

Norwich rarely provided an attacking threat, but they did identify spaced behind Kyle Walker to exploit. Chris Hughton’s men attacked the right side several times, and they created their best chance of the match by doing so. Nathan Redmond broke free behind Walker and played a ball into the six-yard box for Ricky van Wolfswinkel, but Danny Rose recovered well and cleared the danger.

The inclusion of Eriksen to the Spurs squad is a massive improvement – they now possess an attacking link that can create chances in the final third, which is an element AVB’s men required in their quest for Champions League football.

Naismith nods unbeaten Everton past Chelsea 

Roberto Martinez earned his first win as Everton manager this weekend, as his men showed grit and resilience to fend off a strong Chelsea side. Samuel Eto’o and Gareth Barry made debuts for their clubs, while Juan Mata started in a no.10 role for the Blues. It was a tight opening half that saw Everton maintain a slight advantage in possession, but Chelsea got into better areas in the final third. John Obi Mikel tracked Leon Osman, Ramires kept tabs on Ross Barkley, and Mata pressed Barry when he dropped deep, while Eto’o occupied both centrebacks.

Mourinho’s men aimed to hit the Toffees on the counter, but they failed to make the most of their chances. Mata slowed down the tempo when Chelsea broke on the counter, Eto’o lacked match sharpness and Andre Schurrle was poor in front of goal. Ramires and Mikel were allowed space in midfield to play forward passes, while the attacking three drifted between the lines to receive the ball in pockets of space.

Eto’o didn’t have a poor debut, and in the first half he displayed why he’s a better option than Fernando Torres and Demba Ba. Mourinho wants his centre forward to link play with the attacking three and interchange with them, thus providing fluidity in the final third. In the opening 45 minutes, Eto’o drifted to the right flank to allow overloads and connect with midfielders making forward runs. The Cameroonian striker should’ve handed the Blues the lead in the first half but Schurrle played a poor pass to the striker allowing Barry to block his shot.

For all of Everton’s possession, they failed to create legitimate goal-scoring chances, often being stifled around the 18-yard box, but the Toffee’s found an area to attack. Surprisingly, Baines and Coleman were cautious about moving forward – and it was logical based on the space left available to expose on the counter – yet Coleman was more adventurous with his positioning. There was vacant space behind Cole to exploit on the right, encouraging Naismith and Coleman to overload the right flank. Despite Eden Hazard replicating the great defensive work of Naismith in tracking back, Barkley often drifted over to the right to maintain a numerical advantage.

Everton took the lead at the stroke of half time when Ramires was dispossessed in midfield. The attack was pushed to the right and a cross was played into Nikica Jelavic, and the Croatian nodded the cross back to an open Naismith, who headed the ball in from two yards out. Terry was left marking space, while Cole failed to track Coleman’s run into the box, and after several attempts to exploit space on the right hand side, Martinez’s men succeeded.

Chelsea rallied in the second half, upping the tempo and applying more pressure, but the Blues created minimal chances. Mourinho introduced Oscar and Frank Lampard for the unimpressive Schurrle and Mata, but they didn’t have a significant impact on the match. Martinez reverted to a 4-5-1, introducing James McCarthy for Jelavic, thus leaving Mirallas, Barkley and Naismith upfront – three players capable of causing havoc on the counter. Mourinho’s last attempt to salvage a result saw him introduce Torres for Cole, pushing Mikel to centre back and David Luiz to the left – but Torres was poor and Luiz didn’t offer much going forward.

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Osman and Naismith were standout performers on the defensive end – Naismith tracked back effortlessly to prevent Eden Hazard from isolating Coleman, while despite failing to dictate the match, Osman prevented Chelsea’s midfield from dominating midfield.

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Also, Barkley continues to display his significance to this Everton side, as he used his pace, trickery and vision to help Everton break on the counter, while playing a few key passes in the final third.

Chelsea produced a good performance, which should’ve seen them up a goal or two in the first half, but the lack of quality in the final third led to their downfall – Everton took their chance and defended admirably in the second half, which merited three points.

Saints lack creative spark against Hammers 

Southampton was one of many Premier League sides that made significant improvements in the summer, which has tipped many to believe that they could finish in the top half, this season. Yet, they’ve been ridiculed for their lack of creativity in their attack. Mauricio Pochettino continued to experiment with Rickie Lambert and Pablo Daniel Osvaldo upfront, but once again they failed to have test the West Ham back line.

Sam Allardyce’s men pressed West Ham on goal kicks and when they aimed to play from the back, forcing Pochettino’s men to concede possession. Ravel Morrison, Kevin Nolan and Mark Noble closed down Victor Wanyama and Morgan Schneiderlin, who struggled to get forward to join the attack. Southampton created a handful of chances throughout the match, but Jussi Jaaskelainen made several top saves to keep the score leveled. Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez drifted centrally, while Lambert moved into wide areas to receive the ball, but the quality in the final third was dire. Pochettino’s men improved in the second half with Schneiderlin occasionally making darting runs into the box, Rodriguez running at defenders from central positions and West Ham’s press dwindling.

West Ham struggled to create opportunities going forward, receiving their best chances from wide areas, specifically Jarvis’ delivery. Allardyce looked for another element of attack by introducing Ricardo Vaz Te, but the Portuguese forward was merely an isolated figure. The Hammers had a chance to take the lead in the dying minutes of the match, but James Collins skied his shot from six yards out.

More importantly, Southampton lack a link between midfield and attack, and the Lambert/Osvaldo experiment is failing miserably, without a creative spark. It was surprising to see James Ward-Prowse enter the match so late, and Pochettino’s reluctance on using Gaston Ramirez. Nevertheless, Southampton drop more points in another match that they dominated, and it’ll be interesting to see how much longer Pochettino sticks with the Lambert/Osvaldo duo and keeps Ramirez on the bench.

Other Results: Stoke City 0-0 Manchester City, Fulham 1-1 West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa 1-2 Newcastle United, Hull City 1-1 Cardiff City,

Weekend Stats

  • Robin van Persie scores his 125th Premier League goal and the first vs. Crystal Palace. Of the current Premier League clubs, he has now only not yet scored vs. Cardiff City.
  • Since the start of 2008/2009, five players have been sent off for fouls on Ashley Young, joint most of all current Premier League players with Scott Parker.
  • David Moyes recorded his first-ever win as a Premier League manager at Old Trafford (P13, W1-D4-L8)
  • Christian Benteke has now scored 9 goals in his last 10 Premier League home matches for Aston Villa.
  • Laurent Koscielny caused his sixth penalty in the Premier League since the start of 2008/09, joint most with Robert Huth, Sebastien Bassong among players now active in PL
  • Chelsea’s 7 points after four Premier League matches is the WORST start for the club in the Roman Abramovich era (Jul 2003)
  • Everton & Liverpool keep clean sheets in their opening two top-flight home matches of the same season for the first time in history.

@InfostradaLive provided all the stats used in this recap

Follow me @TEEWHYox

Tyrrell Meertins.

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2013 in EPL Notebook, Published Work

 

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