Liverpool 4-0 Everton: direct football and Sturridge wide-left helps Liverpool win easily

January 29, 2014
Liverpool 4-0 Everton: direct football and Sturridge wide-left helps Liverpool win easily

Another high-scoring Merseyside derby – but this time, the goals were all at one end.

Brendan Rodgers was without Glen Johnson, Daniel Agger, Mamadou Sakho, Jose Enrique, Joe Allen and Lucas Leiva, so had a patched-up back four, with Steven Gerrard in the deepest midfield role.

Roberto Martinez welcomed back Ross Barkley, but was without both Sylvain Distin and Seamus Coleman.

In an extremely intense, fast-paced match, Liverpool effectively sealed the victory by half-time. Read more »

Chelsea 3-1 Man United: Moyes’ use of Januzaj proves clever, but United sloppy at the back

January 20, 2014
Chelsea 3-1 Man United: Moyes’ use of Januzaj proves clever, but United sloppy at the back

Samuel Eto’o scored a hattrick as Chelsea convincingly defeated Manchester United without playing particularly well.

Jose Mourinho welcomed back Branislav Ivanovic, meaning Cesar Azpilicueta reverted to left-back and Ashley Cole was dropped. Nemanja Matic was on the bench, while Eto’o got the nod over Fernando Torres upfront.

David Moyes brought Phil Jones into his midfield and played Ashley Young on the left, moving Adnan Januzaj central and dropping Shinji Kagawa.

Manchester United actually started very well, but an unfortunate concession and sloppy set-piece defending let them down. Read more »

Benfica 2-0 Porto: good midfield pressure and quick attacking from the home side

January 17, 2014
Benfica 2-0 Porto: good midfield pressure and quick attacking from the home side

Benfica went top of the league with a controlled, confident victory at the Estadio da Luz.

Jorge Jesus played his usual outfield players, although in goal Artur Moraes was unavailable so back-up Jan Oblak played instead. This was Nemanja Matic’s final game before his return to Chelsea.

Paolo Fonseca played Carlos Eduardo at the head of his midfield trio, with Lucho Gonzalez deeper, and Josue and Steven Defour on the bench. Nicolas Otamendi was at centre-back, rather than Maicon.

Benfica were clearly the better side throughout this contest, more organised without the ball and more purposeful in possession. Read more »

Atletico Madrid 0-0 Barcelona: different styles but similar lack of invention upfront

January 12, 2014
Atletico Madrid 0-0 Barcelona: different styles but similar lack of invention upfront

La Liga’s top of the table clash was intense and intriguing, but ultimately goalless.

Diego Simeone named his expected side, with right-back Juanfran available after his suspension was overturned.

Despite Lionel Messi’s return in midweek against Getafe, he wasn’t risked from the start – he joined Neymar on the bench, and Cesc Fabregas played as the false nine.

A draw was a fair result – both sides’ gameplan was clear, but the defences came out on top. Read more »

Atletico Madrid proving tackling can be a quality

January 10, 2014
Atletico Madrid proving tackling can be a quality

This weekend, Atletico Madrid host Barcelona at the Vicente Calderon stadium in the biggest game of the European season so far.

The two sides are level on points, and therefore it is literally a top of the table clash – La Liga’s rules mean teams are separated by head-to-head results rather than goal difference, and therefore having not played each other this season, the sides can’t be separated.

Halfway through the season, La Liga’s best two clubs are neck-and-neck, joint first. Read more »

Juventus 3-0 Roma: Juventus sit extremely deep to prevent Roma counter-attacking

January 6, 2014
Juventus 3-0 Roma: Juventus sit extremely deep to prevent Roma counter-attacking

Juventus took a big step towards a third consecutive title with a convincing victory over their closest challengers.

Antonio Conte welcomed back Andrea Pirlo in the deep playmaking position, and was able to select his first-choice starting XI.

Rudi Garcia had Francesco Totti back after injury, and opted for Adem Ljajic rather than Mattia Destro in the forward trio.

Juventus created little in open play, but defended solidly and pounced at set-pieces – it was something of an ‘underdog’ victory, even though the home side started as favourites. Read more »

Tottenham 0-5 Liverpool: Villas-Boas’ return to a high line results in him losing his job

December 16, 2013
Tottenham 0-5 Liverpool: Villas-Boas’ return to a high line results in him losing his job

Liverpool were completely dominant throughout the 90 minutes in a staggeringly one-sided game.

Andre Villas-Boas selected a team very similar to the XI that drew with Manchester United recently, although injury problems at the back forced him to play Etienne Capoue out of position at centre-back, and Kyle Naughton at left-back.

Brendan Rodgers named his expected side, with Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge out injured.

Liverpool ripped Spurs apart with impressive efficiency, but it was amazingly easy for them to penetrate the Spurs defence. Read more »

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 »