Chelsea 6-0 Arsenal: Chelsea’s pressing wins the game within 20 minutes

March 25, 2014
Chelsea 6-0 Arsenal: Chelsea’s pressing wins the game within 20 minutes

Jose Mourinho recorded his biggest league victory as Chelsea manager with a crushing win over Arsenal.

Mourinho continued with Samuel Eto’o upfront rather than Fernando Torres – Eto’o only lasted 10 minutes, but scored the opener. In midfield, Mourinho was without Ramires and Willian, both suspended – he left out Frank Lampard and played David Luiz in the centre of midfield alongside Nemanja Matic.

Arsene Wenger named the same side that defeated Tottenham the previous weekend.

This game was done and dusted within the first quarter – Chelsea were 3-0 up, Arsenal were one man down, and the rest of the game was simply a question how how many Chelsea would score. Read more »

Real Madrid 3-4 Barcelona: intelligent players find space in a crazily open match

March 24, 2014
Real Madrid 3-4 Barcelona: intelligent players find space in a crazily open match

Barcelona came out on top in a brilliantly topsy-turvy Clasico.

Carlo Ancelotti named his expected starting XI.

Gerardo Martino selected Neymar rather than Pedro Rodriguez or Alexis Sanchez as his second forward, and continued with Andres Iniesta tucking inside from the left, as he’s often done in big games.

This was the most fast-paced game you’ll see all season, with neither side controlling the game but both attacking relentlessly. Read more »

Manchester United 3-0 Olympiakos: United exploit the space in the inside-right channel

March 19, 2014
Manchester United 3-0 Olympiakos: United exploit the space in the inside-right channel

Manchester United qualified for the European Cup quarter-finals, becoming only the second side to recover from a 2-0 first leg deficit.

David Moyes surprisingly brought Ryan Giggs into the centre of his midfield, used more direct options on the flanks than in the weekend defeat to Liverpool (Juan Mata was cup-tied) and Rio Ferdinand started alongside Phil Jones.

Michel was without Michael Olaitan – who is thankfully OK after collapsing in a recent league game – upfront and therefore played Joel Campbell as the lone striker and used Diego Fuster on the right. Otherwise the side was unchanged from the first leg.

The match itself wasn’t particularly interesting – tension came from the fact Manchester United had lost the first leg 2-0, and a late ‘consolation’ goal (on the night) would have sent Olympiakos through on away goals. But on the night, the reality is that Manchester United were comfortably the better side in a standard 3-0 win. Read more »

Manchester Utd 0-3 Liverpool: Rodgers plays a diamond midfield, Liverpool win easily

March 17, 2014
Manchester Utd 0-3 Liverpool: Rodgers plays a diamond midfield, Liverpool win easily

Liverpool were dominant throughout the match, and could have won by a few more goals.

Chris Smalling was a late withdrawal so Nemanja Vidic returned at the back, but otherwise David Moyes named his expected XI.

Brendan Rodgers replaced Coutinho with Raheem Sterling at the top of the diamond instead, and he switched his full-backs – Glen Johnson returned to the right, Jon Flanagan moved to the left.

Liverpool were in control of possession throughout the game, and gradually forced United mistakes. Read more »

Tottenham 0-1 Arsenal: Arsenal grind out a win

March 17, 2014
Tottenham 0-1 Arsenal: Arsenal grind out a win

Arsenal went ahead within two minutes, then sat uncharacteristically deep for the remainder of the game.

Tim Sherwood made four changes from the side that lost to Benfica, with Nacer Chadli in the number ten role and Nabil Bentaleb returning to the side.

Arsene Wenger named his expecting starting XI, in a 4-3-3 shape with Mikel Arteta as the holding midfielder.

Spurs had plenty of possession, but failed to find an equaliser. Read more »

Milan 0-2 Juventus: Milan play well, but Juventus show ruthlessness upfront

March 7, 2014
Milan 0-2 Juventus: Milan play well, but Juventus show ruthlessness upfront

Clarence Seedorf’s Milan played extremely well – but couldn’t translate their dominance into goals.

Seedorf changed no fewer than six players, despite winning 2-0 at Sampdoria last time out. Mario Balotelli was still unavailable.

Juventus were without Arturo Vidal through suspension and Giorgio Chiellini was only fit enough for the bench, but otherwise Antonio Conte’s line-ups was as expected.

Milan were superior for long periods, but lacked combination play and reliable finishing upfront – in stark contrast to Juventus, Read more »

Atletico Madrid 2-2 Real Madrid: Atleti’s energy dominates midfield, but proves unsustainable

March 6, 2014
Atletico Madrid 2-2 Real Madrid: Atleti’s energy dominates midfield, but proves unsustainable

Despite Real’s early lead, Atletico dominated the first half – but tiredness caught up with them.

Diego Simeone decided to leave David Villa on the bench, using Raul Garcia as a number ten.

Carlo Ancelotti continued with the midfield and defence that had thrashed Schalke, but went for cautious options at full-back.

This was a standard Madrid derby: high-tempo and scrappy. Karim Benzema put Real into an early lead following a set-piece, but from then Atletico dominated. Real remain the title favourites – see online betting.

Read more »

Manchester City 3-1 Sunderland: City win the cup despite a fine Sunderland display

March 3, 2014
Manchester City 3-1 Sunderland: City win the cup despite a fine Sunderland display

Two superb goals saved the day for City, after they’d struggled to break down a well-drilled Sunderland side.

Manuel Pellegrini welcomed back Sergio Aguero, who partnered Edin Dzeko upfront. Samir Nasri was selected on the right, with Aleksandar Kolarov at left-back. Costel Pantilimon continued as the ‘cup’ goalkeeper.

Gustavo Poyet dropped striker Jozy Altidore from the squad and pushed Fabio Borini upfront, with Sebastian Larsson coming into the side, while Wes Brown returned after suspension and Lee Cattermole replaced the cup-tied Liam Bridcutt.

Sunderland’s starting approach worked nicely and they responded impressively after going 2-1 down – tactically, they deserve great credit for this performance. Read more »

Galatasaray 1-1 Chelsea: Mancini takes early action to correct his initial error

February 27, 2014
Galatasaray 1-1 Chelsea: Mancini takes early action to correct his initial error

Chelsea were completely dominant for the first half hour, but Roberto Mancini’s early substitution meant the game became more even.

Mancini surprisingly named a 4-4-2 system from the start, with Izet Hajrovic on the right flank, and Wesley Sneijder tucking inside from the left.

Jose Mourinho used Willian in the centre, two direct wide options down the flanks, and a mobile central midfield zone in the absence of cup-tied Nemanja Matic.

Chelsea should have won the game in the opening half hour, but Galatasaray fought back commendably. Read more »

Olympiakos 2-0 Manchester United: Olympiakos brave with positioning and pressing

February 26, 2014
Olympiakos 2-0 Manchester United: Olympiakos brave with positioning and pressing

Manchester United produced their worst performance of David Moyes’ reign so far, and Olympiakos fully deserved their two-goal victory.

Michel was without Javier Saviola upfront, so Michael Olaitan led the line.

David Moyes selected his two most cautious options on the flanks, in an otherwise unsurprising team selection.

Olympiakos weren’t outstanding on the night, but their overall gameplan worked effectively. Read more »