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Category: Football tactics

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Formation, full-backs, Grealish: big calls facing Southgate for Euro 2020

We outline six key decisions England’s manager must make before his team start their tournament against Croatia It wouldn’t be a major tournament without an England player struggling to prove his fitness. Harry Maguire is in the David Beckham role this…

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New age of austerity: Guardiola, Tuchel and the case for the defence | Jonathan Liew

Despite all their luxury attacking players it is back-to-basics defending that has been key to Manchester City’s and Chelsea’s success this seasonSeveral epochs ago, back in the long-forgotten wilderness of October 2020, a good deal of airtime and colu…

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Pep Guardiola left to ponder his fatal flaw with quadruple dream in ruins | Jonathan Wilson

Yet another defeat to pacy counterattackers raises tantalising questions over Manchester City’s European tie with PSGAnd so the quadruple remains out of reach for another season. Perhaps Pep Guardiola is right to banish talk of it: when goals are set s…

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The great Alexander-Arnold debate: a pressing question for Gareth Southgate | Jonathan Wilson

Liverpool’s press has been weakened this season, exposing their right-back – and Southgate knows it could happen with EnglandNonessential shops are reopening, fans are returning to stadiums, and English football has developed an unhelpful monomania in …

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Reguilon on for Bergwijn: how José Mourinho blew Spurs’ title charge | Jonathan Wilson

Fear has become the manager’s defining principle and at Anfield a typically defensive substitution was the unravellingNine days before Christmas was not really so very long ago, yet it feels like a different world. Manchester City had just been held to…

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Sergio Agüero a man out of time as Manchester City change around him | Barney Ronay

A genuine aristocrat of European football, the striker’s final run at the club he has flourished at may well come from the fringesThe agony of choice. Manchester City started this game with a frontline of Riyadh Mahrez, Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus:…

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Sergio Agüero a man out of time as Manchester City change around him | Barney Ronay

A genuine aristocrat of European football, the striker’s final run at the club he has flourished at may well come from the fringesThe agony of choice. Manchester City started this game with a frontline of Riyadh Mahrez, Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus:…

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Liverpool’s slump: a story of burnt-out brilliance and the need to go again | Barney Ronay

A team built prudently to Jürgen Klopp’s designs and geared to thrive on fine margins have lacked wiggle room in adversityThe story of Liverpool FC’s wild, thrillingly committed Premier League collapse has been told mainly in numbers so far. And to goo…

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Liverpool’s slump: a story of burnt-out brilliance and the need to go again | Barney Ronay

A team built prudently to Jürgen Klopp’s designs and geared to thrive on fine margins have lacked wiggle room in adversityThe story of Liverpool FC’s wild, thrillingly committed Premier League collapse has been told mainly in numbers so far. And to goo…

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Derby defeat exposes old weaknesses in Guardiola’s Manchester City | Jonathan Wilson

Despite City’s 21-match winning streak, Manchester United were able to rattle their neighbours with balls in behind themIt is one defeat. It does not change the fundamental fact that Manchester City will win the league and look probably as well-positio…

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Safety-first plan for big games is defining Solskjær’s roundhead Reds | Jonathan Liew

First face second in the Manchester derby on Sunday – and yet has ever a game between the Premier League’s top two sides ever felt so essentially inessential? The look on Sir Alex Ferguson’s face was a curious mixture of disbelief, shock and amusement….

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Bruno Fernandes the driving force behind United’s road trip brilliance | Barney Ronay

Ole Gunnar Solskjær isn’t just picking a more defensive team away from home – he’s picking a more effective one On the road with Manchester United: a journey in 19 acts. As with most road stories, the biggest question around United’s record unbeaten aw…

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Bruno Fernandes the driving force behind United’s road trip brilliance | Barney Ronay

Ole Gunnar Solskjær isn’t just picking a more defensive team away from home – he’s picking a more effective one On the road with Manchester United: a journey in 19 acts. As with most road stories, the biggest question around United’s record unbeaten aw…

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Three schemers smooth way for Mikel Arteta’s Manchester City reunion | Nick Ames

With Bukayo Saka, Martin Ødegaard and Emile Smith Rowe, Arsenal can finally face manager’s old club on their own termsThe last time Arsenal hosted Manchester City for a top-flight fixture Mikel Arteta looked on and, inwardly at least, shook his head. H…

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Thomas Tuchel has started well but Southampton offer Chelsea stern test

A meeting with the Southampton manager Ralph Hassenhüttl, a fellow disciple of Ralf Rangnick, may give an interesting insight into Chelsea’s progress under Thomas TuchelSince his arrival last month, Thomas Tuchel’s toughest game on paper looked like th…

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Young pretender Nagelsmann gunning for Klopp, his mentor of the gegenpress | Jonathan Wilson

With Liverpool stuttering, RB Leipzig’s bright young acolyte of the German press must see Tuesday’s Champions League game as a chance to claim another major scalp Football, Brian Clough used to complain, is not a world that ever lets you enjoy your suc…

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Nuno’s Wolves suffering a crisis of belief after tampering with old gold formula | Jonathan Wilson

Molineux misfortune stems from flaws in shift to a back four plus Raúl Jiménez’s injury and Adama Traoré’s loss of form The clear streets glitter in the quiet day. A cold wind haunts the silent underpass. Between Asda and the Mary Seacole Building, cro…

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Inspirational and always shouting: Henderson embodies Liverpool spirit | Jonathan Wilson

Mohamed Salah’s sublime skill saw off West Ham but it would not have been possible without Liverpool’s versatile captainNine minutes: Mohamed Salah gave the ball away. West Ham advanced down the left. Salah charged back, which is usually a sign he has …

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Manchester United’s lack of philosophy an advantage in these chaotic times | Jonathan Wilson

Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side are better able to adapt to the bizarre circumstances of this season while Liverpool, a team with a defined way of playing, are strugglingDid Alex Ferguson have a “philosophy”? Perhaps, over the 39 years between him taking hi…

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Manchester United’s lack of philosophy an advantage in these chaotic times | Jonathan Wilson

Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side are better able to adapt to the bizarre circumstances of this season while Liverpool, a team with a defined way of playing, are strugglingDid Alex Ferguson have a “philosophy”? Perhaps, over the 39 years between him taking hi…