Milan 0-0 Ajax: Milan hold on with ten men

December 12, 2013
Milan 0-0 Ajax: Milan hold on with ten men

Riccardo Montolivo’s early dismissal meant Ajax spent an hour trying, and failing, to break down Milan’s deep defence.

Max Allegri made huge changes from the side which drew 2-2 at Livorno, bringing in six players – Stephan El Shaarawy was the most eye-catching inclusion, although he didn’t last long.

Frank De Boer also made a few changes. Bojan started upfront against his former club, while Daley Blind was at left-back with Christian Poulsen coming into the midfield.

This was far from open, but it was certainly entertaining. Montolivo’s red card forced both managers to change their plans quickly, and overall Ajax – the side needing the win – were unimpressive in their attempts to score. Read more »

Dortmund 0-1 Leverkusen: unusual shape allows Leverkusen to dominate the centre and attack in behind

December 10, 2013
Dortmund 0-1 Leverkusen: unusual shape allows Leverkusen to dominate the centre and attack in behind

Leverkusen moved six points clear of Dortmund with a well-deserved victory.

Jurgen Klopp was still without a host of defenders and Ikay Gundogan, and Marco Reus was fit enough only for the bench.

Sami Hyypia made one change: Omer Toprak replaced Philipp Wollscheid in the centre of defence.

Leverkusen were the better side here – more assured defensively and more purposeful with their attacking. Read more »

Arsenal 1-1 Everton: Everton passing impresses but Arsenal offer more pentration

December 9, 2013
Arsenal 1-1 Everton: Everton passing impresses but Arsenal offer more pentration

Arsenal extended their lead at the top, while Everton extended the Premier League’s longest unbeaten run.

Arsene Wenger was still without Bacary Sagna, so Carl Jenkinson played instead, while Theo Walcott was still on the bench.

Roberto Martinez named an unchanged XI from the side that recorded a famous victory at Old Trafford in midweek.

Everton were highly impressive throughout the first half, although ended up searching for a late equaliser. Read more »

Roma 2-1 Fiorentina: everything down the wings

December 9, 2013
Roma 2-1 Fiorentina: everything down the wings

Roma ended a run of four draws with a victory over Fiorentina in a highly entertaining match.

Rudi Garcia’s side was as expected – Adem Ljajic continued to play the Francesco Totti role against his former side, while Dodo was still at left-back in place of Federico Balzaretti.

Vincenzo Montella moved Juan Vargas forward to the left flank having excelled at left-back against Verona in midweek. Manuel Pasqual returned at left-back, with Joaquin making way and Juan Cuadrado switching flanks. Alberto Aquilani returned in place of Matias Vecino in midfield, while David Pizarro was only fit enough for the bench.

This game was most interesting for its overall pattern, rather than for the specifics of either side’s play. Read more »

Manchester United 0-1 Newcastle United: Pardew beefs up his midfield and Newcastle dominate possession

December 8, 2013
Manchester United 0-1 Newcastle United: Pardew beefs up his midfield and Newcastle dominate possession

Manchester United lost their second consecutive home league match for the first time over a decade.

David Moyes made seven changes from the side that lost to Everton in midweek. Wayne Rooney was suspended and Michael Carrick was still injured, but Robin van Persie returned.

Alan Pardew moved away from the 4-4-2 system that had beaten Chelsea and Tottenham in recent weeks, bringing Vurnon Anita into the midfield and leaving Loic Remy alone upfront.

Moyes’ side had been a touch unfortunate against Everton in midweek, but here they were simply outplayed by a superior unit. Read more »