Newcastle 2-1 Tottenham: Pardew switches formation; Ben Arfa excels in both systems

August 20, 2012
Newcastle 2-1 Tottenham: Pardew switches formation; Ben Arfa excels in both systems

Newcastle started their 2012/13 campaign with a hard-fought victory over Tottenham.

Fabricio Coloccini wasn’t fit to start for Newcastle, so Alan Pardew used James Perch at centre-back. New signing Vernon Anita was on the bench.

Andre Villas-Boas left Jan Vertonghen and Rafael van der Vaart on the bench. Jermain Defoe, Tottenham’s only senior striker, played upfront.

This game started slowly but got progressively more interesting. There were three main points of interest – (a) Villas-Boas’ strategy in his first game at Tottenham, (b) the battle down Newcastle’s right in the first half, and (c) Pardew’s half-time change in formation. Read more »

Mancini to use a three-man defence as plan B?

August 14, 2012
Mancini to use a three-man defence as plan B?

Sunday’s Community Shield was an enjoyable, eventful match – but it was difficult to take too many conclusions from it. It wasn’t just that the match is something of an irrelevance (a feeling supported by the fact Branislav Ivanovic escaped a ban for his red card because the match isn’t considered a first-team game – Ivanovic is instead suspended from three reserve matches), but due to the red card itself. It arrived a couple of minutes after Chelsea went 1-0 up, and though Roberto Di Matteo’s Chelsea have shown their ability to withstand heavy pressure with only ten men previously, this is a large caveat when praising Manchester City’s comeback to win 3-2.

Roberto Mancini had provided great tactical interest, however, by lining up with the 3-4-1-2 formation he’d been experimenting with in other pre-season matches. Read more »

ZM’s team of Euro 2012

July 4, 2012
ZM’s team of Euro 2012

ZM’s team of Euro 2012…

Iker Casillas, Spain

This wasn’t a tournament of particularly fine individual goalkeeping displays, but the best two goalkeepers of the tournament – and of the century – met as captains in the final. Until the, there was nothing to separate Casillas and Gianluigi Buffon, but after Casillas made a fine save from Di Natale and prompted Spain’s second goal with a good ball out to Alba, he must get the nod.

Joao Pereira, Portugal

The position of right-back had plenty of good performers, but for the second tournament running, Portugal’s defence was extremely impressive. Pereira was a key part of that – he tackled tenaciously and attacked purposefully down the flank. Portugal conceded four goals in the competition, and none originated from Pereira’s wing. Read more »

Spain 4-0 Italy: Spain win Euro 2012

July 2, 2012
Spain 4-0 Italy: Spain win Euro 2012

Spain produced by far their best performance of Euro 2012, and won the final with ease.

Both teams were as expected. Vicente del Bosque made a single change – Cesc Fabregas returned upfront in place of Alvaro Negredo.

Cesare Prandelli also made one change, bringing back Ignazio Abate at right-back, with Federico Balzaretti dropping to the bench. Giorgio Chiellini continued at left-back, although didn’t last long before Balzaretti replaced him.

Spain were the better side by a considerable distance. They didn’t settle for mere dominance of possession, and instead attacked with speed and determination to produce a wonderful display of football. Read more »