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Category: Football tactics

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Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid tackle Liverpool in battle of opposites | Jonathan Wilson

Recent transfer activity suggests that the La Liga side may be moving towards a more expansive approach to the gameE lite football is more attacking now than at any time since the coming of systematisation in the mid-60s. Between 1994?95 – when the Cha…

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Pioneering reds to the Reds: Why Jürgen Klopp’s pressing is a perfect fit for the age | Jonathan Wilson

The dominant style of football’s hyper-capitalistic age has its origins in the unlikeliest of placesA training field near Ostfildern, in the forest south-east of Stuttgart. It’s February 1983, and local sixth-tier side Viktoria Backnang are playing a f…

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Pioneering reds to the Reds: Why Jürgen Klopp’s pressing is a perfect fit for the age | Jonathan Wilson

The dominant style of football’s hyper-capitalistic age has its origins in the unlikeliest of placesA training field near Ostfildern, in the forest south-east of Stuttgart. It’s February 1983, and local sixth-tier side Viktoria Backnang are playing a f…

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Pioneering reds to the Reds: Why Jürgen Klopp’s pressing is a perfect fit for the age | Jonathan Wilson

The dominant style of football’s hyper-capitalistic age has its origins in the unlikeliest of placesA training field near Ostfildern, in the forest south-east of Stuttgart. It’s February 1983, and local sixth-tier side Viktoria Backnang are playing a f…

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Ole Gunnar Solskjær is not the right manager for Manchester United | Jonathan Wilson

There has been little sign of improvement since Solskjær took over and he looks ill-equipped to turn things aroundO n Friday 5 March 1909, Manchester United went to Burnley for an FA Cup quarter-final. The pitch was frozen, there was heavy snow and wit…

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Spurs fans should fear four years of Mourinho’s small-minded cynicism | Jonathan Liew

Desperate negativity of his approach to playing Liverpool at home is José Mourinho’s management style in microcosmChampions aren’t flawless. It’s just that you glimpse their flaws for only a fleeting instant – a shadow you think you saw in the mirror –…

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Football obsessive Marcelo Bielsa restoring hope and expectation to Leeds | Jonathan Wilson

The manager’s entire career feels a rebuke to the idea that life is measured by trophies and his methods have ignited a regionA t teatime last Sunday came perhaps the broadcasting highlight of the festive period, a moment both dramatic and farcical tha…

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Unai Emery’s broken kaleidoscope was a small part of Arsenal’s problem | Jonathan Wilson

As so often when big clubs go bad, the manager carries the can for errors in recruitment and in the boardroomA nd so the grumbling of the Emirates has claimed another victim. By the end, Unai Emery cut a hapless figure, mumbling incoherently after defe…

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Demise of Premier League clogger means fewer teams play the long game | Jonathan Wilson

Football has amassed a vocabulary of territory but, more and more, the game at the top level is about possessionD uring the World Cup last year, the thriller writer Jeremy Duns, who by his own admission is not much of a football fan, asked why so many …

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From Vardy to Lewandowski, vintage traditional No 9s are thriving again

The modern game was supposed to have left such centre-forwards behind, so why are they topping the scoring charts?Ever since Hungary swaggered into Wembley in 1953, deploying Nandor Hidegkuti as a “false nine” and shattering England’s superiority compl…

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Manchester City flirt with defensive dark side as Death Star’s flaws emerge | Jonathan Wilson

When Pep Guardiola or Darth Vader’s awesome destructive creations go wrong it tends to be for the same reasonsThere are many issues with Return of the Jedi, not the least significant of which is the fact that it ends in essentially the same way that A …

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Manchester City flirt with defensive dark side as Death Star’s flaws emerge | Jonathan Wilson

When Pep Guardiola or Darth Vader’s awesome destructive creations go wrong it tends to be for the same reasonsThere are many issues with Return of the Jedi, not the least significant of which is the fact that it ends in essentially the same way that A …

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Marcus Rashford the biggest victim of Manchester United fall from grace | Jonathan Wilson

United’s lack of an overarching plan is now clear for all to see, with Ole Gunnar Solskjær not entirely free from blameWhere does this rank in the litany of dreadful Manchester United performances? Not quite as bad, perhaps, as the equivalent game of t…

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Ditching Ole Gunnar Solskjær will not stop the rot at Manchester United | Jonathan Wilson

By now the malaise at Old Trafford has deep roots – only equally deep systemic change can put it rightAll in all, it’s been an excellent week for Manchester United. There was progress in the Carabao Cup and the announcement of record revenues of £627.1…

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Is Arsenal’s strategy of playing out from the back too great a risk? | Jonathan Wilson

Sokratis Papastathopoulos’s blunder against Watford is part of a recent trend that will have many sides questioning whether the adoption of this high-risk strategy is worth itL ast Sunday, when the Arsenal defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos attempted t…

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Is Arsenal’s strategy of playing out from the back too great a risk? | Jonathan Wilson

Sokratis Papastathopoulos’s blunder against Watford is part of a recent trend that will have many sides questioning whether the adoption of this high-risk strategy is worth itL ast Sunday, when the Arsenal defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos attempted t…

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Kane, Rashford and Sterling ensure England are ominously short of drama | Jonathan Wilson

England’s forwards proved decisive against Bulgaria and underlined their potential in Euro 2020 qualifyingIt wasn’t thrilling. It wasn’t much of a spectacle. There must be broader concerns about the diminution of the Euro qualifiers as a spectacle sinc…

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Shift from power to possession allows Chris Wilder to set centre-backs free | Jonathan Wilson

Sheffield United’s innovative tactics are derived from the influence of Pep Guardiola and changes in the lawsL ast Saturday, Rochdale scored a brilliant goal against Southend, working the ball from front to back in 16 rapid passes. As is the way of thi…

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Pep Guardiola’s quest for control at Manchester City undermined by VAR

Football’s occasional ability to provide a wrinkle frustrates Guardiola’s dreams of order despite a dominant performanceFootball remains a magnificently capricious sport. You can crush its competitiveness with a self-perpetuating structure that leads t…

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Shortcomings of Lampard the manager echo those of Lampard the player | Jonathan Wilson

The midfield problems at the root of Frank Lampard’s early defeats as Chelsea manager will have been familiar to anyone who followed the ups and downs of his playing careerC enturies from now, when the world is a wasteland and football exists only in t…