Pardew hubris well earned as Liverpool crash out to West Brom

Alan O’Brien 

With characteristic hubris, Alan Pardew was quick to laud his own “bravery” after this pulsating cup tie. Short of reprising that Wembley dance, the West Brom manager could hardly have reveled more in this famous Baggies victory.

But he had a point: to field a 4-4-2 at Anfield, while sitting second-bottom of the league, is certainly courageous. To not only survive a thrashing, but win, is undoubtedly a feat worth bragging about. Continue reading


Burnley and Liverpool role reversal inspires late Clarets defeat

Alan O’Brien 

There was more than a touch of poetic irony about Ragnar Klavan’s late winner here. Burnley, not Liverpool, were punished for a late lack of restraint. Liverpool, not Burnley, turned aerial supremacy into unlikely glory. Continue reading

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

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

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: 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

Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool: Fellaini introduction denies victory to retreating Reds

Although Liverpool’s press earned Jurgen Klopp’s side a half-time lead, their subsequent second-half retreat, paired with the introduction of Marouane Fellaini’s aerial threat, ultimately allowed Manchester United to save a late point. Continue reading