ANALYSIS: Magpies ill-starred as Spurs counterpress stalls on the startline

Alan O’Brien 

Rafa Benítez may be right when he says that “everything is wrong” off the pitch at St James’s Park. On it, however, the Spaniard continues to work wonders. Newcastle United coped with Mauricio Pochettino’s counterpress better than most sides will this season. Foiled twice by the woodwork, the Magpies were ultimately unlucky to emerge empty-handed. Continue reading

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ANALYSIS: Spectre of Villas-Boas hangs over Sarri

Alan O’Brien 

A little over six years ago, Chelsea’s André Villas-Boas experiment ended in tears. Seduced by Pep Guardiola’s tiki taka, Roman Abramovich had replaced the dependable Carlo Ancelotti with one of the Catalan’s young imitators. But Villas-Boas’s high-pressing game proved anathema to a squad long accustomed to defending in their own half. And player power unseated the then-34-year-old after only 27 league games, seven of which ended in defeat. The nadir, a 5-3 home defeat to Arsenal, saw centre-backs John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic brutally exposed to Arsene Wenger’s pacey front three. Continue reading