22/02/13 – Wenger’s tactical decisions are as responsible for Arsenal’s demise as his transfer policy

Arsene WengerArsenal’s demise from a European force to a club hanging on to European qualification via the Premier League has been well documented. Much of the blame is attributed to the quality of the players and manager Arsene Wenger’s transfer policy. Both are entirely reasonable assessments, but they ignore an important feature of the club’s evolution in recent years. Arsenal’s trophy-winning years seemingly dried up after the departures of stars like Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry, but Wenger’s tactical changes have been just as damaging… (Read more)

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07/02/13 – Sturridge opens up tactical possibilities for Rodgers

Daniel SturridgeThat Liverpool signed Daniel Sturridge in the January transfer window was no great surprise. Following the loaning out of Andy Carroll in August and the failed attempt to sign Clint Dempsey as a replacement, Brendan Rodgers endured the first half-season of his Liverpool reign with only two senior forwards. In theory Sturridge seemed well suited to Rodgers style of playing, being quick, comfortable on the ball and capable of playing wide or through the middle. Yet there were issues with the forward that still made the move a little curious, and questions were raised about how exactly he would fit into the Liverpool side… (Read more)

31/01/13 – Are Manchester City planning on a 4-3-3?

Roberto MancinIn the wake of Mario Balotelli’s departure from Manchester City, it was reported that part of the reason was a plan to move to a 4-3-3 formation next season. Nobody doubts that Balotelli was mainly sold for disciplinary problems, but it still leaves an intriguing concept. Firstly, the move is likely to have been influenced once again by City’s poor European performance. Secondly, manager Roberto Mancini has never favoured wingers or wide forwards, opting for a 4-3-1-2 ‘diamond’ formation at Inter Milan and preferring a narrow 4-4-2/4-2-2-2 system at Manchester City… (Read more)

31/01/13 – Manchester United’s full backs fail to provide attacking width in wingers’ absence

Sir Alex FergusonTop of the table Manchester United laboured to victory over relegation strugglers Southampton last night but an occasional lack of fluency pointed to a relatively new problem for Sir Alex Ferguson.  United’s current squad boasts Ashley Young, Nani and Antonio Valencia as genuine wide options, yet due to either a lack of fitness or a lack of form for the aforementioned, United fielded Shinja Kagawa and Danny Welbeck in wide positions against Southampton. Unfortunately for Ferguson United’s full backs natural movement is actually inside the wide midfielder rather than outside, and therefore neither Patrice Evra or Phil Jones overlapped regularly… (Read more)

27/01/13 – Should Stoke drop Charlie Adam?

Charlie AdamOn the face of it Stoke’s £4m capture of Charlie Adam in the summer of 2012 appeared a good signing. The Scottish playmaker had moved to Liverpool for nearly twice that amount the previous year having starred for Blackpool with his long range passing and set piece delivery. Such was Adam’s potency that Sir Alex Ferguson remarked that his corners and free kicks alone were worth £10m, and thus the prospect of moving to a club noted for its direct passing and focus on set pieces appeared an excellent match. Yet Adam has struggled to adjust to Stoke’s system, and Stoke have struggled to adapt to Adam… (Read more)

19/01/13 – Are Newcastle targeting the wrong player to replace Demba Ba?

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Since the departure of Demba Ba to Chelsea, all the focus at Newcastle has been on which striker Alan Pardew will bring in to replace his top scorer. Yet Ba has been at the centre of a twelve month power struggle in the Newcastle attack that has threatened to imbalance the team’s shape, and his departure could allow Pardew to restructure the system… (Read more)