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 »

Tottenham 2-2 Manchester United: Villas-Boas uses a much more cautious system

December 2, 2013
Tottenham 2-2 Manchester United: Villas-Boas uses a much more cautious system

Tottenham went ahead twice, but mistakes allowed Manchester United back into the game.

Andre Villas-Boas brought back Vlad Chiriches in defence, Mousa Dembele in midfield, plus Aaron Lennon and Nacer Chadli on the flanks.

David Moyes was still without Robin van Persie and Michael Carrick – Tom Cleverley partnered Phil Jones in the middle, despite the option of £27.5m signing Marouane Fellaini.

There was no major theme throughout this game, aside from its openness, but there were a variety of interesting tactical points.

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Dortmund 0-3 Bayern: superior squad proves crucial as Bayern extend their lead

November 26, 2013
Dortmund 0-3 Bayern: superior squad proves crucial as Bayern extend their lead

Pep Guardiola demonstrated Bayern’s tactical flexibility in the second half, introducing Mario Gotze and Thiago Alcantara to great effect.

Jurgen Klopp had severe injury problems for this contest – as well as the continued absence of Ilkay Gundogan, his entire first-choice back four were out injured. 34-year-old Manuel Friedrich, previously without a club, was drafted in to play at centre-back.

Guardiola was without Franck Ribery and Bastian Schweinsteiger, however, and used Phillip Lahm in midfield.

The scoreline exaggerates Bayern’s dominance – for long periods Dortmund competed well, but Bayern simply had greater strength in depth. Read more »

Manchester City 6-0 Tottenham: Spurs’ centre-backs constantly exposed as City run riot

November 25, 2013
Manchester City 6-0 Tottenham: Spurs’ centre-backs constantly exposed as City run riot

Manchester City continued their superb home form with a crushing victory over Tottenham.

Manuel Pellegrini fielded his expected line-up – Martin Demichelis continued at the back, in the absence of Vincent Kompany.

Andre Villas-Boas used Erik Lamela from the start for the first time in the Premier League, and played Aaron Lennon over Andros Townsend. He also used Michael Dawson and Younes Kaboul together at the back, for the first time in the league.

City went ahead within 15 seconds and were completely dominant throughout the game. Read more »

Everton 3-3 Liverpool: amazingly open game, and goals from set-pieces

November 24, 2013
Everton 3-3 Liverpool: amazingly open game, and goals from set-pieces

Positive tactics and awful defending combined to create a goalfest at Goodison Park.

This is Roberto Martinez’s first-choice XI at the moment, with Leon Osman only on the bench.

Brendan Rodgers switched to a cautious 4-3-3 system, with doubts over Daniel Sturridge’s fitness meaning Luis Suarez played alone upfront. Joe Allen came into the midfield, with Jordan Henderson moving right. Jon Flanagan made a rare start at left-back.

This was quite a contest – and while the defending was often terrible, there were also some interesting tactical decisions from both coaches.

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Sweden 2-3 Portugal: Ibrahimovic 2-3 Ronaldo

November 22, 2013
Sweden 2-3 Portugal: Ibrahimovic 2-3 Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo produced an extraordinary performance to win this play-off almost single-handedly.

Erik Hamren named an unchanged starting XI from the first leg, which finished in a 1-0 Portugal victory.

Paolo Bento’s side had one change – Hugo Almeida had made the difference in the first leg as a substitute, so replaced Helder Postiga upfront

It’s difficult to remember a contest that had been promoted  so much beforehand as, essentially, an individual battle between two players. Football isn’t an individual sport, of course, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo lived up to the pre-match hype, and completely dominated their sides. Read more »

Ukraine 2-0 France: France lack creativity with the ball, and lack structure without it

November 18, 2013
Ukraine 2-0 France: France lack creativity with the ball, and lack structure without it

Ukraine are halfway to the World Cup, after a surprise 2-0 victory over France.

Mykhaylo Fomenko’s XI was fairly typical of his recent line-ups, although Roman Zozulya hasn’t always played upfront, and Edmar was fielded in an advanced role.

Didier Deschamps left out Mathieu Valbuena and played Samir Nasri instead, with Olivier Giroud favoured over Karim Benzema upfront.

This match was played at a high intensity and was dramatic throughout – France dominated possession but lacked organisation. Read more »

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.

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