Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal: United start positively then defend extremely narrow

November 13, 2013
Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal: United start positively then defend extremely narrow

David Moyes recorded the first major victory of his tenure at Old Trafford.

Moyes selected Phil Jones in the centre of midfield alongside Michael Carrick, and continued with Shinji Kagawa on the left.

Arsene Wenger was without Per Mertesacker and Tomas Rosicky due to flu, so Thomas Vermaelen came into the side and Aaron Ramsey moved right.

This was a very narrow United victory, in a match where neither side played at their best. Read more »

Dortmund 0-1 Arsenal: Dortmund on top for an hour, but Arsenal excellent after scoring

November 7, 2013
Dortmund 0-1 Arsenal: Dortmund on top for an hour, but Arsenal excellent after scoring

Dortmund had significantly more shots, but Arsenal snatched a winner and saw out the game efficiently.

Jurgen Klopp was without Mats Hummels and Ilkay Gundogan, so named an unchanged side.

Arsene Wenger didn’t have anyone back from injury, so kept the same side that defeated Liverpool.

This game was simultaneously high-tempo and slow-burning – an uneventful first half was followed by a very exciting second. Read more »

Arsenal 2-0 Liverpool: Arsenal adapt well to Rodgers’ tactical decisions

November 4, 2013
Arsenal 2-0 Liverpool: Arsenal adapt well to Rodgers’ tactical decisions

Arsenal triumphed in a fast-paced and tactically interesting contest.

With Jack Wilshere and Mathieu Flamini out, Arsene Wenger had no real selection dilemmas.

Brendan Rodgers continued with his 3-5-2 system, although was without both first-choice wing-backs, with Glen Johnson a late withdrawal – Jon Flanagan played instead.

Arsenal were the better side – just about keeping Liverpool’s front two quiet, and dominating both centrally and down the flanks in possession.

Read more »

Porto 3-1 Sporting: Porto more compact without the ball and more efficient with their attacking

October 28, 2013
Porto 3-1 Sporting: Porto more compact without the ball and more efficient with their attacking

This was first against second in Portugal – champions Porto won, extending the gap to five points.

Paulo Fonseca selected Silvestre Varela on the left, with Lica on the bench – otherwise, his side was as expected.

Sporting coach Leonardo Jardim played Ivan Piris in an unfamiliar left-back role, in the absence of Jefferson Nascimento.

Porto were the dominant force for the majority of this match, and deserved the victory. Read more »

Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City: counter-attack versus possession play but both attack in behind

October 28, 2013
Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City: counter-attack versus possession play but both attack in behind

Two ex-Atletico strikers – Fernando Torres and Sergio Aguero – were the most prominent players in a fast-paced, exciting clash.

Jose Mourinho played Gary Cahill rather than David Luiz, and left out Juan Mata with Andre Schurrle and Eden Hazard on the wings. Torres started after his two goals against Schalke in midweek.

Manuel Pellegrini used Martin Demichelis for the first time, played three central midfielders with Yaya Toure pushed to the top of the triangle, two ball-players on the flanks, and Aguero upfront alone.

Joe Hart’s huge error in the 90th minute decided the game, and overall this was evenly balanced. Read more »

Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid: Barca start well, lose control in the second half, then Martino belatedly makes changes to secure the game

October 27, 2013
Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid: Barca start well, lose control in the second half, then Martino belatedly makes changes to secure the game

Both managers made surprise selection decisions upfront, but Barcelona’s line-up worked better.

Gerardo Martino left out both Alexis Sanchez and Pedro Rodriguez, naming Cesc Fabregas as one of his three attackers.

Carlo Ancelotti omitted Karim Benzema and brought Gareth Bale into the side. Daniel Carvajal started at right-back, and three nominal three centre-backs were used: Pepe, Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos. Diego Lopez returned in goal.

Martino’s starting selection certainly worked better, but Real had a strong period after Ancelotti turned to his bench earlier. Read more »