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

Premier League: Two tactical talking points from Matchday 10

Alan O’Brien 

1) 5-3-2, the counter-attacking formation-du-jour

Ever the tactical trendsetter, Chelsea’s Antonio Conte has done it again. Last season’s switch to 3-4-2-1, that inspired a title-grabbing 13-game winning run, was shamelessly copycatted across the Premier Division; most notably by London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. Continue reading

Premier League: Five tactical talking points from Matchweek 9

Alan O’Brien 

1) Klopp suffers the fate of his former employers

Wembley has witnessed Mauricio Pochettino’s counter-attacking 5-3-1-1 system before. On September 13 of this year, Tottenham Hotspur, configured in that very shape, absolutely destroyed Peter Bosz’s gung-ho Borussia Dortmund in the channels. On Sunday, Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp, once of the Dortmund parish, met the very same fate. Continue reading

Analysis: Conte change unclutters the centre for City

Alan O’Brien 

Surely even Pep Guardiola did not imagine the success Fabian Delph’s unusual instructions would engender. Designed, presumably, to copper-fasten Manchester City’s customary possession-dominance, Delph’s turn as an inside-left-back also tempted Antonio Conte into the tactical call that cost Chelsea this game. Continue reading

Analysis: Foxes misfortune, fist-pumps, and familiar Liverpool fragility

Alan O’Brien 

Celebratory quintuple fist-pumps — for the cameras, natch — are all well and good. Requesting more reserve from one’s five midfielders, to defend a seemingly unassailable lead, is probably wiser. No prizes for guessing which box Jurgen Klopp ticked. Continue reading