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Author Archive for Jonathan Wilson

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Sunderland’s feckless decline was coming. At least fans have a parrot

The club’s drop to the third tier is far worse than that of 1987 and for many locals it got to the point where staying in the pub become more appealing than going to the Stadium of LightThe King’s Arms perches on the south bank of the Wear behind the w…

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Vulnerable channels and 20 zones: the tactics behind Guardiola’s title win

Manchester City have exploited the area between the opposition centre-back and full-back and the roles of Fernandinho and Ederson have been crucial tooOttmar Hitzfeld, the former Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich coach, used to speak of the red zone,…

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Manchester City have stirred hearts to earn a place in pantheon of great sides | Jonathan Wilson

Comparing title-winning sides from different eras is always tricky but Pep Guardiola’s champions will go down in history as one of the best to grace English footballThe statistics offer some measure of Manchester City’s greatness. They have won the tit…

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Rafael Benítez shows his class as Arsenal fail to learn their lesson | Jonathan Wilson

Arsène Wenger’s lively forwards were undermined by shoddy defending on a day when Newcastle all but secured safetyThe quest for meaning, the need to form the unbearably random constituents of our existence into some kind of order, to create a narrative…

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Barcelona showed they cannot really defend – but can anyone? | Jonathan Wilson

The Champions League is full of sides losing by three goals or more – and that includes the latter stages. Even domestically dominant sides can be found wantingExplain this: Juventus, top of Serie A, having kept clean sheets in 21 of their previous 25 …

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Pep Guardiola’s tactical gamble with Raheem Sterling goes belly-up | Jonathan Wilson

Manchester City manager’s attempt to calm Liverpool’s fury by starting with Ilkay Gündo?an contributed to his Champions League first-leg downfall at AnfieldThirteen games played, seven won, one drawn. No other manager has a record against Pep Guardiola…

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Pep Guardiola’s tactical gamble with Raheem Sterling goes belly-up | Jonathan Wilson

Manchester City manager’s attempt to calm Liverpool’s fury by starting with Ilkay Gündo?an contributed to his Champions League first-leg downfall at AnfieldThirteen games played, seven won, one drawn. No other manager has a record against Pep Guardiola…

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Pochettino used to bow to Chelsea but now Tottenham dictate the terms | Jonathan Wilson

The Spurs manager has in the past changed tactics to take account of Chelsea’s gameplan but a shifting balance of power was shown by his refusal to do so on Sunday – and winningProgress is never an easy thing to chart in football. To speak of points or…

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Tottenham’s quiet evolution slowly nears endgame under Pochettino

A win at Chelsea would go a long way to shutting next season’s Champions League door on London’s hitherto top clubOn 24 February 2008 Tottenham came from behind to beat Chelsea 2-1 in the League Cup final. Since then, they have sacked Juande Ramos, enj…

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Manchester City title stroll should not distract from strength of competition | Jonathan Wilson

We may not have had a tight title race since 2013-14 but the Premier League is still more competitive than its rivalsThe title race was in effect over about four months before the final snows of winter. Even if Manchester City do not wrap up the champi…

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Champions League quarter-finals: tie-by-tie analysis

We run the rule over the last-eight matches, including the all-Premier League clash between Liverpool and Manchester City, and predict who will triumphWednesday 4 April, the Camp Nou, and Tuesday 10 April, Stadio Olimpico Continue reading…

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José Mourinho v Jürgen Klopp and the question of football aesthetics | Jonathan Wilson

There are several reasons why there is gloom at Manchester United while Liverpool, two points behind, are borne on a swirl of positivity – but entertainment is a fundamental oneThe Premier League table does not lie but the truths it offers can sometime…

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Why Chelsea’s supine surrender at Manchester City should worry us all | Jonathan Wilson

The defending champions desperately needed a positive result on Sunday, yet they set up negatively and played even worse, suggesting they did not believe victory was possibleThere was a moment in the second half of Manchester City’s win against Chelsea…

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Chelsea have not recovered from loss of Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic | Jonathan Wilson

Antonio Conte’s 3-5-1-1 formation, partly a result of dissatisfaction with the replacements for Matic, has played a big part in the club’s declineIf there was a moment when, symbolically at least, last season’s title race tipped decisively the way of C…

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Arsenal’s problem was not Wenger’s gameplan but Mustafi’s feebleness | Jonathan Wilson

Arsenal’s tactics rattled Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final until an error allowed Agüero to score – though City may be good enough to win in the face of any barriersFootball is full of Sliding Doors moments. What if Paul Gascoigne had stretched…

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Disjointed, vulnerable and slow: Barça exposed by Chelsea’s tactical rigour | Jonathan Wilson

Chelsea stifled Barcelona’s key players, proving that the Spanish side should not be so feared as they once wereThe first leg, you suspect, went just as Antonio Conte would have wanted it to go – apart from the bit about not playing a square ball acros…

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Neymar wilts in Madrid as superclub tie descends into Disneyfied dystopia | Jonathan Wilson

The Brazilian repeatedly ran down blind allies as PSG appeared incoherent in the face of Real and Cristiano Ronaldo’s efficiencyTwo super-clubs! The most successful club in European history! The other a club that has just arranged the two most expensi…

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Mourinho’s Pogba problem grows after Benítez overcomes his old foe | Jonathan Wilson

The Manchester United manager’s talk of luck held no weight on a day when his clumsily assembled attack were again lifelessThe end was chaotic, Newcastle camped in their box with every block and clearance being roared to the rafters, but the tension of…

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Arsène Wenger gilds gateposts but the Arsenal roof is still leaking | Jonathan Wilson

Despite the latest inevitable Wengerian response, there is also a recklessness in his dotage, as though the slide from the top four has liberated himThere comes perhaps a point in the lives of men at which the usual considerations no longer seem to app…

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Spurs have done everything right: if they cannot succeed, who can? | Jonathan Wilson

If football is not merely to be the propaganda wing of petro-inflated billionaires, Tottenham must be the model – yet they face Liverpool on Sunday with their position precariousThere is an awkwardness to the situation in which Tottenham find themselve…