Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool: poor quality game with goals from corners

November 12, 2012
Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool: poor quality game with goals from corners

Brendan Rodgers started with three centre-backs, but switched to a back four during the second half.

Roberto Di Matteo used his expected front four, but surprisingly used Cesar Azpilicueta at right-back, presumably because he wanted pace and/or attacking drive. Branislav Ivanovic shifted into the centre.

Rodgers included Jamie Carragher, with Martin Skrtel unavailable. Suso was only on the bench, having often started in a front three in recent weeks.

Liverpool dominated possession throughout the game, but became more dangerous when reverting to a back four. Read more »

Manchester City 2-1 Tottenham: Mancini’s three-man defence shows first positive signs

November 12, 2012
Manchester City 2-1 Tottenham: Mancini’s three-man defence shows first positive signs

Manchester City turned the game around with a strong second half performance, helped by Roberto Mancini’s mid-game formation switch.

Mancini named Aleksandar Kolarov on the left of midfield, with Samir Nasri ill. David Silva returned on the right, while Matija Nastasic was again at centre-back. Javi Garcia was on the bench, and Mario Balotelli left out completely.

Andre Villas-Boas decided to use Emmanuel Adebayor upfront instead of Jermain Defoe, and Brad Friedel was picked ahead of Hugo Lloris.

This was an interesting tactical contest – Mancini’s switch wasn’t the only key feature, and it wasn’t the sole reason City won, but it was certainly an important factor. Read more »

Celtic 2-1 Barcelona: a famous victory

November 8, 2012
Celtic 2-1 Barcelona: a famous victory

Little possession for long periods – then a set-piece opener followed by a second on the break – a classic underdog victory.

Neil Lennon was forced into a few changes from the side he used at the weekend, but kept to a 4-4-1-1ish formation. Adam Matthews played at left-back despite being right-sided, Kris Commons moved to the right of midfield, and Miku linked up with Georgios Samaras upfront.

Tito Vilanova picked roughly his expected side – Cesc Fabregas was only on the bench (he’s been a regular this season) and Marc Bartra started at the back. Alex Song was in the holding role.

Yes, Celtic spent most of the game in their own half, and rode their luck at times – but they didn’t simply park the bus. They retained an attacking threat throughout the game, while changing their usual strategy to suit the task at hand. Read more »