With Alex Song away, can Arsenal rely on Denilson to get the tackles in?

January 11, 2010

The general consensus amongst Arsenal fans seems to be that Alex Song has been the club’s best (or at least, most important) player so far this season, sitting in front of the back four in the holding role, and winning the ball in the centre of the park. But Song has departed for a month for the Africa Cup of Nations (the last ACON, in 2008, he was named in the Best XI for the tournament, playing at centre-back) and Arsenal don’t have a ready-made replacement. Read more »

Teams of the Decade – explained

January 11, 2010

This list is not attempting to name the best twenty sides of the decade, rather, on a site focussed upon tactics, it is attempting to outline the twenty most interesting sides in terms of the way they played, or in the way the team was set out on the pitch. Read more »

Birmingham got a point from Manchester United, Hull didn’t. What was the difference?

January 9, 2010

This site, as much as any other, puts forward the view that successful football results can be attributed to thoughtful, well-crafted, intelligent tactics. Sometimes, though, it comes down to just putting your head in where it hurts. Manchester United went to both Hull and Birmingham recently, conceding a goal in each. But whereas they put three past Hull, Birmingham limited them to one goal. Read more »

Birmingham 1-1 Man Utd – two dropped points and two tactical errors from Ferguson

January 9, 2010
Birmingham 1-1 Man Utd – two dropped points and two tactical errors from Ferguson

Let’s make one thing clear – Birmingham are a very good side this year, and a point at St Andrews is not a disastrous result. Nevertheless, United will have been disappointed to come away with just a draw, because Birmingham didn’t play well on the night, and if you have 62% of possession, you should end up with more than the three shots on target that United managed. Read more »

How will David Beckham fit into Leonardo’s Milan side?

January 9, 2010
How will David Beckham fit into Leonardo’s Milan side?

David Beckham returns for his second loan spell in Serie A hoping for regular first-team football, to prove to Fabio Capello he has the ability and fitness to justify a place in England’s 23-man squad this summer. The problem for Beckham, however, is that he’s joining a side who are both bang in form, and appear to have found upon an unusual formation that suits their top players well. How will Beckham fit in? Read more »

Arsenal 0-3 Chelsea – because Wenger didn’t seek to nullify Ashley Cole

December 1, 2009
Arsenal 0-3 Chelsea – because Wenger didn’t seek to nullify Ashley Cole

It’s hard to believe you’ll see two such similar goals in such quick succession all this season. First, an Ashley Cole cross from the left was turned into the opposite corner by Didier Drogba. Three minutes later, an Ashley Cole cross from the left was turned into the opposite top corner by Thomas Vermaelen, who unfortunately got there ahead of Drogba. If such basic goals are conceded twice in one game – never mind four minutes apart – it’s fair to say there’s something quite obviously wrong with how the conceding side set out defensively.

Read more »

Sporting 0-0 Benfica – Sporting’s lack of creativity produces a dull game

November 28, 2009
Sporting 0-0 Benfica – Sporting’s lack of creativity produces a dull game

Benfica made the strange decision of switching Pablo Aimar and Ramires from their usual starting positions, meaning Aimar was stranded out on the right, and Ramires’ surging runs from midfield were restricted against a Sporting side clearly looking to pack the midfield to stifle creativity. Read more »

Brazil – a 4-2-3-1 or a midfield diamond? Neither.

November 14, 2009
Brazil – a 4-2-3-1 or a midfield diamond? Neither.

A later, more detailed piece on Brazil is here

The outstanding football article of this year was written by Jonathan Wilson of the Guardian, on Brazil’s formation in the Confederations Cup. Trying to expand on Mr Wilson’s excellent prose would be suicidal, but since the piece came without diagrams – sacrilege – here is a brief summary with visual aids. Read more »

Chelsea 1-0 Man Utd – but this could hide Chelsea’s problems with width

November 8, 2009
Chelsea 1-0 Man Utd – but this could hide Chelsea’s problems with width

Football is not chess. Formations and tactics don’t always win games. Today was one of those days – the only goal of the game came from a refereeing decision that was, frankly, incorrect. However, since this is a blog focussing upon tactics, we shall try to ignore that error of judgement, and instead look at the game as a whole.

Read more »

Milan 1-1 Real Madrid – two similar shapes cancel each other out

November 3, 2009
Milan 1-1 Real Madrid – two similar shapes cancel each other out

Strange one this. Cracking first half, very mediocre second – the exact opposite of the game at the Bernabeu 13 days ago. Few lessons for tactical battles as a whole, but certainly some interesting things to note from both sides. Read more »