Following an indifferent first season at Tottenham, Mauricio Pochettino’s team have clicked into gear. A number of astute transfer decisions have created a deep squad with a number of potential options for Pochettino to utilise. Harry Kane has emerged as a genuine superstar, and Eric Dier has become a full-time defensive midfielder. But one of the key factors in their rise is Pochettino’s tactical system; this ruthless machine of a Spurs team is entirely different from the soft-centred teams of years past.
Manchester City took on Stoke in a windy afternoon at the Britannia Stadium in what was a prime opportunity to move away from the pack in the race for the title. Stoke’s status as the Premier League’s archetypal tricky away game has perhaps been lessened with the move from Pulis-ball to a slicker passing style of play, but they remain a difficult matchup for every team in the league. Despite Tony Pulis operating in survival mode throughout his time at Stoke, Mark Hughes has truly consolidated Stoke’s position as one of the premium mid-table clubs in the Premier League.
Both teams operated with their standard 4-2-3-1 formations, with Stoke clearly outperforming City and grabbing a deserved 2-0 win. There were a number of issues that Pellegrini’s team suffered that combined to make this a pretty comfortable day for Stoke.
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First Knockout Round: Arsenal (away)
Leonardo Jardim was forced to make big chances to his starting lineup, as six players were unavailable due to injury or suspension. Andrea Raggi, Ricardo Carvalho, and Timoué Bakayoko were forced out of injured. Yannick Ferreira Carrasco and Lavin Kurzawa were in doubt and started from the bench. Jeremy Toulalan was banned.
Monaco’s most important tactical feature throughout their Champions League campaign was their defence. From six matches, they topped their group by scoring (only) four goals; but conceded only a single goal, from Benfica’s Anderson Talisca. In the last 16 – against Arsenal – Monaco won 3-1 at the Emirates before going through 3-3 on aggregate. Their journey was finally stopped by the Old Lady of Juventus in the quarter finals, as Arturo Vidal managed the only goal. In this article, we will look into some of the key aspects of Leonardo Jardim’s system, particularly the defensive play.
Since arriving in England, Manuel Pellegrini has set his Manchester City team up to be one of the most potent attacking forces in Europe. Despite being much-maligned amongst much of the British public, the Chilean opts for a 4-4-2 as his formation of choice. The major difference between Pellegrini’s approach and the traditional representation is that his ‘wingers’ will drop inside, and play as ‘interiors’. This means that they play predominantly in halfspaces. For a far more detailed explanation of what a halfspace is, go here: http://spielverlagerung.com/2014/09/16/the-half-spaces/
The area that City are particularly effective in is the wide areas inside the penalty areas. Even playing against teams with little room between their central defenders and full-backs, City are able to exploit the space.
Following a wonderful 2013/14 season, Liverpool were always going to find it difficult to sustain their title-challenging form. Luis Suarez left to Spanish shores, and the team’s defense therefore had to improve to allow another top four finish. Brendan Rodgers and his backroom team responded with defensive reinforcements in the Summer transfer window.
The most prominent of the new-look Liverpool defense was to be Southampton centre-back Dejan Lovren. What has become apparent is that Lovren is a step below his £20million price-tag. A series of individual errors have led to a number of opposition goals, and fans have quickly turned on the Croatian.