Monaco 1-1 PSG: Ranieri switches to a diamond to prompt a Monaco fightback

February 12, 2014
Monaco 1-1 PSG: Ranieri switches to a diamond to prompt a Monaco fightback

For the second time this season, France’s top two played out a 1-1 draw.

Claudio Ranieri will be without Falcao for the rest of the campaign, and Dimitar Berbatov was only on the bench. He played a 4-4-2 system that became 4-2-2-2 when the wide players advanced, and drifted inside.

Laurent Blanc was without Edinson Cavani. He continued with a 4-3-3 system, with his new signing, Yohan Cabaye, also only on the bench.

This was a reasonably interesting match, where PSG dominated but Monaco did well to get themselves back into the game Read more »

Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal: game over after 20 minutes thanks to superb one-touch football

February 10, 2014
Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal: game over after 20 minutes thanks to superb one-touch football

Liverpool produced the best spell of football the Premier League has seen this season, and recorded a crushing victory over the (former) league leaders.

Brendan Rodgers named an unchanged side, despite the option of fit-again Joe Allen. He’s still without four key defenders.

Arsene Wenger brought Jack Wilshere into the side, moving Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out to the right flank. Nacho Monreal continued at left-back.

This was such a convincing victory, and the game was won so quickly, that it almost defies analysis. Liverpool established their lead from two set-pieces but continually opened up Arsenal in open play, and were always ready to pounce on the counter-attack. Read more »

Manchester City 0-1 Chelsea: cautious team selection from Mourinho, but positive approach

February 4, 2014
Manchester City 0-1 Chelsea: cautious team selection from Mourinho, but positive approach

Chelsea kept a clean sheet and created a number of chances in a highly impressive away performance.

Manuel Pellegrini was without Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri and Fernandinho. He kept a 4-4-2 with Edin Dzeko and Alvaro Negredo upfront, and brought Martin Demichelis into the midfield.

Jose Mourinho left out Oscar and played a cautious midfield featuring both David Luiz and Nemanja Matic.

Chelsea were excellent here, working extremely hard without the ball, counter-attacking effectively and being more adventurous than expected. Read more »

Barcelona 2-3 Valencia: Valencia rewarded for bravery on the counter-attack

February 3, 2014
Barcelona 2-3 Valencia: Valencia rewarded for bravery on the counter-attack

Barcelona suffered their first home defeat of the season, to a Valencia side who had the third-worst away record in La Liga.

Tata Martino rested Andres Iniesta, and is still without Neymar.

Valencia had a busy few days in the transfer window – mainly with players departing. Helder Postiga, Ever Banega and Andres Guardado have all left the club. Juan Antonio Pizzi selected a cautious XI with five players across midfield, including two holding midfielders, while Jonas was only on the bench.

This was a peculiar game. Barcelona were utterly dominant for the first 40 minutes, with little sign Valencia were set to record an upset. This wasn’t exactly a masterclass from Pizzi, but elements of Valencia’s play – and particularly their bravery in getting men forward on the break – should be applauded. Read more »