Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City: Ozil assists put Arsenal in charge

December 23, 2015
Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City: Ozil assists put Arsenal in charge

Goals from Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud won the game, and Arsenal move four points clear of Manchester City.

Arsene Wenger named an unchanged side, the XI he’s depended upon in recent weeks because of injury problems. Alexis Sanchez wasn’t fit enough to make the squad.

Manuel Pellegrini welcomed back Sergio Aguero from injury – although, as always with the Argentine, he looked badly short of sharpness in his first game back. Pellegrini handed a start to Fabian Delph, who was surprisingly named in a narrow left-sided role, rather than as conventional central midfielder with Yaya Toure pushing forward, as one might have expected. Raheem Sterling was therefore only a substitute.

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Real Madrid 0-4 Barcelona: Real disorganisation allows Barca to run riot

November 24, 2015
Real Madrid 0-4 Barcelona: Real disorganisation allows Barca to run riot

Barcelona recorded an absurdly comprehensive victory at the Bernabeu, outplaying Real in midfield and cutting through their defence regularly.

Rafael Benitez chose a 4-2-3-1 system rather than the 4-3-3 he’s played in recent weeks, effectively omitting holding midfielder Casemeiro in order to accommodate his star attacking players. At the back, Raphael Varane and Marcelo returned in place of Pepe and Nacho.

Luis Enrique had fitness doubts over two players – Ivan Rakitic and Lionel Messi. Rakitic was declared fit to start, but Messi’s return from injury had to wait – he was a substitute, with Sergi Roberto starting on the right instead. Javier Mascherano started alongside Gerard Pique but limped off midway through the first half, replaced by Jeremy Mathieu.

Real started this game reasonably well and arguably dominated the first 10 minutes. Once Barcelona took the lead, however, it was one-way traffic.

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Fiorentina 1-2 Roma: early goal allows Roma to sit back and counter

October 28, 2015
Fiorentina 1-2 Roma: early goal allows Roma to sit back and counter

A top-of-the-table clash – Fiorentina started the weekend top, but Roma’s victory means they are Serie A’s new leaders.

Fiorentina coach Paulo Sousa would have kept an unchanged team from the side that was defeated at Napoli last weekend, but was forced to cope without injured left-wing-back Marcos Alonso. His solution was surprising: rather than bring ready-made replacement Manuel Pasqual into the side, he instead used Josip Ilicic from the start, which meant inexperienced attacking midfielder Federico Bernadeschi moving from a number ten role to the left-wing-back slot.

Rudi Garcia used a strikerless system in the thrilling 4-4 draw with Bayer Leverkusen, but welcomed back Edin Dzeko upfront here. Therefore, he used a 4-3-3: Alessandro Florenzi dropped back from midfield to right-back, with Vasilis Torosidis on the bench.
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Bayern 5-1 Dortmund: formation switches, width and long balls expose Dortmund

October 6, 2015
Bayern 5-1 Dortmund: formation switches, width and long balls expose Dortmund

Bayern Munich maintained their 100% record in the Bundesliga by thrashing second-placed Borussia Dortmund.

Pep Guardiola brought Jerome Boateng and Mario Gotze back into his side, although surprisingly Arturo Vidal remained on the bench. This seemed set to be a straightforward 4-2-3-1 system, although Guardiola had other ideas up his sleeve.

Thomas Tuchel, facing Bayern for the first time since succeeding Jurgen Klopp as coach, was only able to name Marco Reus as a substitute for fitness reasons, and also had defensive issues that he patched up rather unconvincingly. Read more »