ANALYSIS: Tielemans tantalises as Leicester’s rotten luck endures

Alan O’Brien 

One point from three successive bouts with so-called ‘Big Six’ sides may not meet Leicester City fans’ exacting standards. But such a paltry return could hardly be seen as abnormal in a league where the gap between the high-flying haves and the mid-table have-nots appears wider than ever before. And yet, look closer at the performances Claude Puel coaxed from his players throughout that trio of tough encounters, and one comes to a surprising conclusion: Leicester could, and perhaps should, have won all three. Continue reading

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ANALYSIS: Silva shown up by New Year stinker

Alan O’Brien 

They say that the thrill is in the chase, never the capture. And for Everton owner Farhad Moshiri, that old aphorism must surely be ringing true right about now. One hopes Moshiri extracted maximum enjoyment from his protracted pursuit of Marco Silva. Because now that he’s got his man, he and the Toffees are firmly stuck in a dead-end relationship. Continue reading

ANALYSIS: Reasons to be cheerful persist for luckless Hammers

Alan O’Brien 

Shorn of nine senior players, West Ham United nonetheless edged out Leicester City prior to Mark Noble’s ill-judged lunge. That the Foxes required a massive last-minute deflection to restore parity speaks highly of Manuel Pellegrini’s hamstrung Hammers, whose growing cohesion confers great credit on the under-fire Chilean. Continue reading

ANALYSIS: Pogba ball progression enlivens predictable Prem opener

Alan O’Brien 

New season, same old Manchester United. By presiding over another expected-goals defying victory, José Mourinho picked up right where he left off. But luckily for him, Claude Puel’s Leicester City haven’t changed much either. 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 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: 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

Leicester City 4-2 Manchester City: Pep’s square pegs come a cropper against rampant champions

Pep Guardiola’s insistence upon fielding players out of position within a bewildering array of tactical systems that they scarcely understand led to a facile evisceration by Claudio Ranieri’s under-fire champions. Continue reading