AC Milan 2-3 Manchester United – Ferguson wins the battle of the midfields

February 19, 2010
AC Milan 2-3 Manchester United – Ferguson wins the battle of the midfields

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Teams of the Decade #9: Arsenal 2001-04

February 12, 2010
Teams of the Decade #9: Arsenal 2001-04

Amongst the universal praise for Arsenal’s incredible unbeaten 2003/04 season, their achievements of two seasons before are often overlooked. In that season they became the first team in modern times to go the whole season unbeaten away from home (equalled, obviously, by themselves two years later), and they also became the only side in history to score in every league game that season. In addition, they won the FA Cup to achieve the double. Read more »

Arsenal 1-0 Liverpool – Wenger’s slight midfield shift wins him the game

February 10, 2010
Arsenal 1-0 Liverpool – Wenger’s slight midfield shift wins him the game

The problem in the first half here was to do with mentality. Both sides were happy with keeping it tight, and in their respective situations it’s not hard to see why. Arsenal, having been thrashed by both Chelsea and Manchester United in their past two games, were content to prevent a whitewash. Liverpool, on their first decent unbeaten run of the season, were content to keep it going. Read more »

Chelsea’s wayward shooting costs them against Everton

February 10, 2010

21 attempts on goal for Chelsea against Everton, but just three actually found the target.

Didier Drogba was particularly responsible – he had six shots, but didn’t force Tim Howard into a save once.

Neither of Chelsea’s forwards had a shot on target. Read more »

Liverpool’s “two banks of four” works well against ten men

February 10, 2010
Liverpool’s “two banks of four” works well against ten men

A couple of weeks ago we detailed how Jose Mourinho’s Inter side played brilliantly after going down to ten men against Milan’s 4-3-3 system, keeping two players upfront but asking them to work the channels, thereby occupying the whole of a four-man defence, matching a three-man midfield, and having a spare man at the back.┬áThat would have only worked against a three-man midfield, however. Had Mourinho tried it against a four-man midfield, his three central midfielders would have been passed around fairly easily. Read more »

Teams of the Decade #10: Roma 2000-01

February 9, 2010
Teams of the Decade #10: Roma 2000-01

Into the top ten we go! And to start the top ten, it’s the oldest side on this list, the superb Scudetto-winning Roma side of nine years ago. Roma played wonderful football, had a XI packed with really likeable, talented players, and a manager (Fabio Capello) who consistently got his tactics spot on. And it was the best side in the final season Channel 4 showed live games on Football Italia. Read more »

When will John Obi Mikel get the credit he deserves?

February 8, 2010

John Obi Mikel always starts against Arsenal – despite not always being a fixture in the first team, he has started home and away against Arsene Wenger’s side both this season and last.

He’s a tremendous physical presence in front of the back four, he reads the game well, he keeps possession and passes calmly, he’s dominant in the air (vital for a holding midfield player) and he’s really improved his discipline over the past eighteen months or so. Read more »

Fiorentina 0-1 Roma – the classic smash and grab away win

February 8, 2010
Fiorentina 0-1 Roma – the classic smash and grab away win

How do Roma do it? This was their third consecutive victory, and all three have featured late, late goals that grabbed points the Giallorossi probably didn’t deserve on the balance of play. After a Riise goal won the game at Juventus and an Okaka goal grabbed them three points against Siena, Mirko Vucinic popped up on 82 minutes here to slam the ball in off the crossbar, and Roma had a win they scarcely deserved. Read more »

Chelsea’s height advantage over Arsenal proves to be crucial

February 7, 2010
Chelsea’s height advantage over Arsenal proves to be crucial

It’s been the story of the last three or four seasons in Arsenal v Chelsea clashes – a difference in physique. Didier Drogba has long had the measure of the Arsenal defence, seemingly regardless of which centre-backs he’s up against, but all over the pitch Chelsea tower over Arsenal.

Games between well-matched sides often comes down to set-pieces, and so it proved today. The first corner of the game, after eight minutes, saw John Terry win the ball in the air, and flick it towards Drogba, who scored at the far post. It may not have been Terry’s height per se that meant he won the ball, but the difference stature is remarkable. Read more »

Should we all start following the Allsvenskan?

February 3, 2010
Should we all start following the Allsvenskan?

This graph shows the number of different clubs who won the top division in the last decade – the 1999/2000 champions, right through to the 2008/09 champions.

You wouldn’t want to judge a league’s entertainment value solely based upon the number of sides who have won the league in the past ten seasons, but this would suggest the Premiership was the most predictable major league in Europe throughout the decade.

The fact that the Premiership is a ‘closed shop’ far from a revelation – but to see it trailing to Spain, Italy and Germany does put it in perspective. Read more »