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

Advertisements

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

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

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

Preston North End 1-2 Arsenal: Giroud again profits from opposition retreat to save defence’s blushes

Having discommoded Arsene Wenger’s makeshift back-line with a high-pressing, two-striker system, Preston North End’s predictable second-half retreat — and some wasteful first-half finishing — allowed Olivier Giroud to deny them a well-earned replay. Continue reading

Bournemouth 3-3 Arsenal: Second-half Cherries retreat tempts Giroud sting of the tail

High-pressing, right-wing overloads, and quick balls in behind the Arsenal defence put Eddie Howe’s side firmly in the driving side, but a second-half retreat played into Olivier Giroud’s hands, costing Bournemouth all three points in dramatic fashion. Continue reading

Manchester United 1-1 Arsenal: Toothless Wenger selection extends Mou hoodoo

Although Olivier Giroud’s late header earned his Arsenal side a scarcely-merited point, Arsene Wenger’s undue preoccupation with possession – at the expense of penetration – resulted in the Frenchman’s 12th consecutive failure to inflict defeat on José Mourinho. Continue reading

Why Leicester’s success spells boredom for Prem fans

Writing this piece just minutes after a turgid encounter between last season’s top-two finishers, it’s difficult to escape the suspicion that this season’s edition of the English Premier League is going to be a tough watch. Continue reading