Premier League: Three tactical talking points from Matchday 16

Alan O’Brien 

1) Hard-running Hammers consign sluggish Slaven days to memory

If Slaven Bilic’s West Ham United had greeted the champions in this manner, claret (and blue) would surely have spilled. Continue reading

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Analysis: Pressing poleaxes profligate Gunners again

Alan O’Brien 

Arsenal’s vulnerability to pressing is not a new development. Way back in August, Leicester City and Liverpool combined to hit seven past the Gunners by forcing final-third turnovers. The question is: why haven’t more clubs followed their lead? Continue reading

Premier League: Three tactical talking points from Matchday 13

Alan O’Brien 

1) Sorry Swans’ goalless run is no surprise

Pity poor Paul Clement. Try as he might, this well-traveled coach cannot salvage his employers’ disastrous transfer policy. And boy has he tried. Continue reading

Analysis: Compact Clarets finally bloodied at the death

Alan O’Brien 

Reversion to the mean is inevitable, even in the credibility-stretching world of football. Burnley have continually defied the odds this season. Expected-goals suggest no club’s current league position is falser. But, on Sunday afternoon, at home to Arsenal, the Clarets’ good fortune ran out in the harshest possible manner. Continue reading

Premier League: Three tactical talking points from Matchday 12

Alan O’Brien 

1) Set-pieces may keep Manchester United in the hunt

Two seasons have passed since Manchester United last racked up a respectable goal-tally from set-pieces. The total of 12 amassed during Louis Van Gaal’s debut season was middling. What followed — two consecutive sevens, twice placing United second-last — was not. Continue reading

Analysis: Pochettino hoist by his own petard

Alan O’Brien 

Mauricio Pochettino re-popularised pressing upon his arrival on English shores in 2013. Here, he was hoist by his own petard, as Tottenham Hotspur suffered their first North London Derby defeat of the Argentinian’s three-year reign. Continue reading

Analysis: Unapologetic O’Neill finally brought to reckoning

Alan O’Brien 

Exactly three years ago to the day, the Republic of Ireland fell to a Scottish short-corner. An uphill struggle to qualify for Euro 2016 ensued, throughout which Martin O’Neill was blessed with an extraordinary glut of good fortune. This was his reckoning. Continue reading

Opinion: Martin’s Mou-lite approach is neither winning nor entertaining

Alan O’Brien 

“Whoever renounces possession reduces the possibility of making a mistake.” So states point five of José Mourinho’s big-game plan, as outlined in Diego Torres’s controversial 2014 biography of the Portuguese manager. Continue reading

Analysis: Away goal evades anti-football Ireland

Alan O’Brien 

“We have a plan, naturally,” offered Martin O’Neill, during his customary pre-match chinwag with RTÉ’s Tony O’Donoghue. Designed, perhaps, as an offhand response to the ever-expanding list of former associates stating the opposite, it was a revealing remark.  Continue reading

Limerick FC: 2017 Season in Review

Alan O’Brien 

Remaking Limerick FC’s patchwork squad is a challenge few would relish. And yet, just days after securing Premier Division football for 2018, Neil McDonald has already begun to tackle that herculean task. There will be no holiday for him. Both his future, and his reputation, rest on the outcome. He is, after all, only here because his predecessor failed to scale the same mountain. Continue reading