10 months agoTalking Tactics: Solskjaer’s risky Man Utd; Puel Leicester sack; Fernandinho irreplaceable

first_imgTagsOpinionAbout the authorAlex Keble FollowShare the loveHave your say Talking Tactics: Solskjaer’s risky Man Utd; Puel Leicester sack; Fernandinho irreplaceableby Alex Keble10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveLiverpool went four points clear at the top of the Premier League table after Crystal Palace’s shock win against Manchester City. Roy Hodgson’s side exposed some emerging issues in the City midfield and defence, tactically outclassing his opponent on Saturday to put Jurgen Klopp’s team firmly in control of the title race.Elsewhere Ole Gunnar Solskjaer emphasised risk-taking as Manchester United found a fluency and tactical coherence that has been lacking all season. They are still eight points off fourth, but after such a dominant performance Champions League qualification is not unthinkable. Here are three things we learnt from the weekend action:1) Ranieri-style Leicester win shows Puel isn’t the right fit for the clubIt might seem harsh to highlight Claude Puel’s unsuitability to the Leicester job immediately after a 1-0 win at Chelsea, but the manner of their performance should be a wake-up call to the board. Holding just 28% possession and breaking forward quickly, Leicester were forced to play in the counter-attacking style that has become the ‘Leicester way’ ever since their title win. Puel’s desire to play patient possession football hasn’t sat well with the fans or certain players; after Saturday, it’s easy to see why.Chelsea are becoming increasingly jaded, and at Stamford Bridge they struggled to find any rhythm. Leicester’s narrow, compact shell meant Jorginho was consistently forced to spread the ball out wide (rather than cut incisive balls through the middle) for the wingers to attempt crosses (36 in total, their highest tally of the season). It was classic Leicester: deny space in the middle, force long balls into the box, and – with Wes Morgan and Harry Maguire in defence – head everything clear.On the counter, Jamie Vardy came to life after a difficult season adapting to Puel’s tactics. James Maddison also looked freer, breaking into space behind Jorginho to set up the winner with a neat assist. It’s clear that Leicester have the personnel – and the desire – to play in a very different philosophy to the one their current manager preaches.2) Narrow front three helps United play high-tempo attacking footballOle Gunnar Solskjaer’s first game in charge of Manchester United was easy enough, but nevertheless he deserves credit for unshackling the players; they had clearly been told to get the ball forward quickly, keep it moving at high speed, and take plenty of risks in possession. The sight of Victor Lindelof playing a one-two and galloping deep into the Cardiff half summed up the new attitude.Tactically speaking, the biggest change was in the positional play of United’s front three. Marcus Rashford dropped off the front while Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial moved infield from the wings, with all three players regularly combining in the number ten space. Such narrowness, and positional fluidity, pulled Cardiff’s defence out of position – most notably in the move for United’s third goal.There will be tougher challenges ahead, but Solskjaer clearly understands the club’s history and the players’ desire to play expansive attacking football. That should ensure his tenure is a successful one.3) Fernandinho is irreplaceable as John Stones is exposed by PalaceMan City seemed to have unlimited strength in depth, and yet on Saturday they were beaten primarily because John Stones could not deputise successfully for the injured Fernandinho. The Brazilian is a clever player defensively, but more importantly has a rare agility for a defensive midfielder. This allows City to play in a very wide formation, because Fernandinho can rapidly change direction and recover the ball.Stones clearly isn’t the most mobile of footballers, making him a strange choice to start in central midfield on Saturday. He was turned in the build-up to the first two Palace goals, first by failing to make a strong enough tackle on James McArthur and then losing control of the midfield battle as Palace won a freekick (from which Andros Townsend scored). Fernandinho’s injury could mean he misses the Leicester City match on Boxing Day – which is a major boost for Liverpool. Just like Palace, it is easy to imagine Leicester’s Maddison and Vardy countering around the flat-footed Stones.Best of the Week – Hodgson’s use of SchluppCrystal Palace’s performance in their victory over Man City was fairly typical of Roy Hodgson’s time in charge of the club, although there was one big difference: Jeffrey Schlupp played in central midfield for perhaps the first time in his career. He added pace and directness in the centre, allowing Palace to counter-attack against John Stones rather than out wide. Schlupp’s impact was most obvious in his equalising goal, but Hodgson’s selection also indirectly played a hand in Palace’s second and third. By adding Schlupp into the middle, switching from 4-4-2 to 4-5-1, Hodgson had to move Andros Townsend out to the right wing. His cutting inside from the right sucked Man City inwards, helping Aaron Wan-Bissaka isolate Fabian Delph – as he did in the build-up to Palace’s match-winning penalty.Worst of the Week – Everton’s defendingConfusion across the back four defined Everton’s 6-2 defeat to Tottenham on Sunday. They failed to track Spurs’ runs properly, communicating badly and clearly struggling with Marco Silva’s high line.But more important was the lack of pressure on the Spurs midfielders. Mauricio Pochettino instructed his team to play lots of long balls in behind Everton’s high line, and this worked primarily because Everton’s midfield didn’t close down quickly enough. Christian Eriksen was given the freedom of Goodison Park – and that can only end in one team winning. last_img read more

10 months agoDONE DEAL: Wolves winger Jordan Graham joins Oxford

first_imgDONE DEAL: Wolves winger Jordan Graham joins Oxfordby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveWolves winger Jordan Graham will join Oxford United on loan in January until the end of the season.Graham, 23, was due to be on loan at Ipswich Town for the entire campaign but that agreement was cut short.The former Aston Villa man spent time on loan at Oxford in 2015 and will return to the League One club when the transfer window opens.”I feel so happy to be back and it’s a pleasure to come back,” Graham said in a video on social media. TagsTransfersLoan MarketAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img

10 months agoChelsea boss Sarri pleased with matchwinner Kante: He’s improving

first_imgAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Chelsea boss Sarri pleased with matchwinner Kante: He’s improvingby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveChelsea boss Maurizio Sarri was delighted with matchwinner N’Golo Kante for victory at Crystal Palace.The midfielder struck the only goal of the game.Sarri stated: “He has to think about the defence first of all. Then he is improving, especially in movements without the ball. His movement today was really very good and was done with the right timing.”When we have to play against opponents who are very low, it’s difficult for the striker and wingers to find space. So for us the midfielders’ movement without the ball is very important.”Now we have to work on Loftus-Cheek and on Barkley. Loftus-Cheek especially is a great player with the ball, but he can improve a lot in his movement without the ball.” last_img read more

12 days agoBrighton midfielder Stephens has no doubts about Connolly potential

first_imgAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Brighton midfielder Stephens has no doubts about Connolly potentialby Paul Vegas12 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveBrighton midfielder Dale Stephens has no doubts about the potential of Aaron Connolly.he 19-year-old grabbed the headlines with a double strike against Tottenham on his first Prem start. Asked whether Connolly has the ability to get under defenders’ skins, Stephens replied: “Yes, he’s got that side to his game and he’s going to need it.“He’s not a big lad, and he has got different abilities to a big centre-forward but he can use what he has got to his advantage.“Being a pain and a pest is what he is good at and that proved good for us (against Tottenham).” last_img

4 days agoNewcastle fullback Jetro Willems: We ran Chelsea close

first_imgAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Newcastle fullback Jetro Willems: We ran Chelsea closeby Paul Vegas4 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveNewcastle United fullback Jetro Willems has urged teammates to stay calm after their 1-0 loss at Chelsea.The narrow defeat plunged the Magpies back into the relegation zone and piled the pressure back on the team ahead of next weekend’s tough encounter with Wolverhampton Wanderers at St James’ Park.Willems said: “It was close. I think we had the game under control and we were a little bit unlucky.”If it wasn’t for the goal I think we did good defensively – they have a good team and they are difficult players to play against.”Attacking, we could do more.”In the first half, we could have been more dangerous on the counter attack.”We had some chances – sometimes we were unlucky, but sometimes I think we need to just shoot when we are in front of goal.” last_img read more

Ohio State’s Thad Matta Was Pretty Unhappy With The Referees Following His Team’s Loss To Michigan State Last Night

first_imgThad Matta yells at a referee.Thad Matta did a lot of screaming during his team’s game against Michigan State Friday night. Plenty that yelling was directed at his players, who performed quite poorly in a 76-67 loss to the Spartans in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal round. But a lot of it was aimed at the officials. Matta, 47, has been coaching in the conference since 2004. He, in a roundabout way, called the officiating during last night’s game the worst he’s ever seen. Matta on the officiating: “I’ve been in this league 11 years and that was amazing.”— Kevin Trahan (@k_trahan) March 14, 2015Matta was mostly unhappy with the amount of physicality the Spartans were getting away with. He believed his players were getting bumped on cuts, hand checked when dribbling and bodied when driving into the lane. Matta says this was one of the most physical games he’s ever seen. My interpretation: “We got hacked to death.”— Jerod Smalley (@JerodNBC4) March 14, 2015To be fair to the refs, there was an even distribution when it comes to the amount of fouls that were called – 20 on Michigan State and 18 on Ohio State. With the win, the Spartans moved on to the semifinal round, where they’ll face No. 2 seed Maryland. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, will find out their NCAA Tournament fate Sunday night. Most projections have Matta’s team seeded on the No. 8/No. 9 line.last_img read more

Howe the crucial factor for Clyne in Bournemouth decision

first_imgNathaniel Clyne says that getting to work with Eddie Howe was a deciding factor in his decision to join Bournemouth on loan until the end of the season.Clyne’s decision to join the Cherries came after Cardiff boss Neil Warnock claimed that Liverpool had made a verbal agreement that the full-back would join the Welsh side for the remainder of the campaign.The Cardiff boss described the deal struck between the Reds and Bournemouth as “a disgrace” after he only heard about the move via a TV report. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? But Clyne has no regrets about his choice after making his debut for his new side during their 3-1 defeat at home to Brighton in the FA Cup on Saturday.“They have a great manager and that’s what urged me to come here. I have looked a lot at how Bournemouth play and it is similar to my style,” Clyne told the Telegraph.“I got the call and my agent said: ‘Get packed, you’re ready to go.’ It was a nice five-hour drive down here. I have gone a whole season and a half without really playing consistent football, which is unusual for me.“Knowing you are fit and you can go out there and play, but constantly not getting selected for the team is a bit disappointing. I would rather go out and find another club which would give me the opportunities to play games.”Bournemouth boss Howe was impressed with the performance given by his side’s new acquisition despite the defeat, and played up the importance of the loan market in helping clubs of the Cherries’ size competitive in a financially imbalanced league.“Investing in youth and younger players has been a transfer policy that we’ve kept and will try and maintain. To do that obviously you need finances, coveted young players aren’t cheap,” Howe said.“Defensively [Clyne] was excellent and when he understands how the team plays he’ll get better. I’ve hardly seen him to be honest. He literally reported for the game and played. You wouldn’t have known it was his first game today. We had no doubts over him.”last_img read more

Ramos could play up front for Real – Solari

first_imgSantiago Solari has admitted that Sergio Ramos could be used as a striker, with a Real Madrid “warrior” having proved his goalscoring pedigree once again.The World Cup winner has been a regular source of firepower for the Blancos down the years.In 594 appearances for Real, Ramos has recorded 82 goals – many of them vital, such as priceless efforts in Champions League finals. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? His most recent outing saw him net an important brace, with a late surge staged against Girona in the first leg of a Copa del Rey quarter-final to secure a 4-2 win.Ramos converted a Panenka penalty shortly before half-time, before restoring Real’s lead on the night 13 minutes from the end.That contribution in the final third has not gone unnoticed, with Solari conceding that he may be tempted to use the 32-year-old as a frontman if the situation ever called for such a move.He told reporters: “I wouldn’t rule it out.”Sergio is a warrior, a leader. He showed that in defence, and in the opposition area heading his second goal just like a centre-forward.”He took the penalty like that [a Panenka], he’s a specialist – so perfect. He doesn’t just take them like that, but in many different ways.”Sergio RamosRamos has become famed for his penalty-taking expertise since inheriting spot-kick duty in the wake of Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure from the Santiago Bernabeu.He had already displayed plenty of composure from 12 yards prior to that, but has been a reliable option for Real this season.There is, however, an acceptance on his part that he cannot continue to delicately chip every penalty he takes down the middle, with opposition goalkeepers now wise to his preferred approach.Ramos told Real’s official website of the decisions he now faces: “It’s how I like to play and hopefully they will keep going in, but I can’t take it for granted.”Keepers are staying on their feet for longer, so maybe I’ll have to put it to the side next time.”The Blancos will be back in La Liga action on Sunday when they travel to Espanyol, with Solari’s side currently sat 10 points adrift of another Catalan foe – arch-rivals Barcelona – in the Spanish top-flight table.last_img read more

LIVE: Qatar vs Argentina

first_imgAn improved Argentina cruised to a 2-0 win over Qatar to revive their stuttering Copa America campaign and progress to the quarter-finals along with Group B winners Colombia.On a night when defeat would have seen them bomb out of the competition, the Albiceleste were rarely troubled at Gremio Arena, where Lautaro Martinez fired them into an early lead after a Bassam Al Rawi error gifted him the simplest of chances.It was not a vintage Argentina performance by any stretch of the imagination, but after defeat to Colombia and a draw with Paraguay in their opening matches, coach Lionel Scaloni will have been relieved to see his side dominate for large spells to set up a meeting with Venezuela.  Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi both had numerous opportunities to extend Argentina’s lead and the Manchester City forward did so eight minutes from time as tournament guests Qatar were dumped out of the competition despite some impressive displays.@CopaAmerica @Argentina 2 (Lautaro Martínez y Sergio Agüero) – #Qatar 0Final del partido en Porto Alegre. #VamosArgentina ! pic.twitter.com/8WlzwFU7sR — Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 23, 2019 Al Rawi’s woeful clearance was easily intercepted by Martinez, who simply side-footed it into the bottom corner of the net to give Scaloni’s men a fourth-minute lead.Franco Armani had to hurtle off his line to narrow the angle on Hassan Al Haydos as he bore down on goal, the Argentina goalkeeper getting a hand to the Qatar captain’s lob to keep his side in front.But the 2022 World Cup hosts rarely threatened and were fortunate to go in trailing by only a solitary goal after Aguero fired tamely wide when Messi presented him with a golden opportunity from the edge of the box.Aguero missed a trio of second-half chances as Qatar struggled to contain him, and goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb did well to parry the striker’s stinging close-range volley.Al Sheeb made another diving save from an Aguero pile-driver before Messi uncharacteristically ballooned over the crossbar from 12 yards with the whole goal to aim at.Aguero finally got his goal after outpacing Boualem Khoukhi and drilling a low shot that beat Al Sheeb and bulged the bottom corner of the net to make sure of the result.What does it mean? Crisis averted – for now Had Argentina been forced to pack their bags, the inquest back home would have been tempestuous. As it stands Scaloni can breathe again, but he must continue to demand further improvements as his players head into the last eight.Aguero just the tonic After Messi and Martinez laboured in a front two in Argentina’s 1-1 draw with Paraguay last time out, the addition of Aguero in a three-pronged attack did the trick here.Al Rawi error costs Qatar Given the way Argentina bossed the first half it is unlikely Qatar would have kept them at bay had Al Rawi not opened the door to them, but in doing so he tarnished his side’s chances.Key Opta Facts- Argentina have won each of their last seven meetings in the Copa America with non-CONMEBOL nations, with their last defeat in such games coming in 2004 against Mexico. – Argentina have lost only two of their 23 meetings with Asian nations in all competitions (W18 D3), and both defeats were in friendlies: 1-0 v China in 1984, 1-0 v Japan in 2010. – Argentina have progressed from the group stages in each of their 10 appearances in the Copa America with the current competition format (since 1993) – they withdrew in 2001.What’s next? Argentina will face Group A runners-up Venezuela in the quarter-finals, while Qatar return home with only one point but plenty of new admirers after some good moments in their three group games. read morelast_img read more

Solskjaer: Man Utd should build around Pogba

first_imgOle Gunnar Solskjaer clearly isn’t ready to see Paul Pogba depart Manchester United, declaring he wants to build his team around the midfielder.While transfer speculation continues to swirl around Pogba, who declared prior to pre-season he was ready for a new challenge, the Red Devils coach has reiterated just how much he rates the 26-year-old.Solskjaer said on Tuesday he believes he can give the Frenchman the necessary challenge at Old Trafford before suggesting he’d like to build his side around the 2018 World Cup winner. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? “Paul is a fantastic player and a fantastic human being. He has always been a great professional,” Solskjaer told BBC Sport . “When I was at Molde, I said, ‘if he’s in your squad, you’d build a team around him’. I would say the same now.”Manchester United fans know their football. We know Paul has been criticised by a few but he’s loved by loads more.”Pogba has been causing a stir in Perth as part of United’s pre-season tour of Australia and happily embraced fans following an open training session last week . After the Red Devils finished last season in sixth and missed out on a place in the Champions League, club legend  Bryan Robson has stressed a top-four Premier League finish is required in the upcoming campaign. Solskjaer however is aiming even higher admitting success will be key to keeping players at the club moving forward. “You know, it’s the best feeling you can have to be at this club when we’re successful,” he said.”The ones that might want to leave now haven’t been here when it’s been successful. Hopefully they want to be part of that. I want to be part of it. “We have to aim for further up than fourth. I would rather be an optimist and be wrong than a pessimist and be right.”I am not used to us being fifth or sixth but that is where we are at. That is the size of the challenge. I love that challenge.”Manchester United will end their pre-season tour of Australia with a friendly against Leeds on Wednesday night before flying to Singapore where they’ll take on Inter Milan.  Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.last_img read more