Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolverhampton Wanderers tactical analysis: A breath of fresh air

We expect promoted teams in the Premier League to be defensive. We anticipate a cautious approach from their managers, and eventually a lack of goals hits them hard as the season progresses. This has been the downfall of many sides in relegation fights.

However, there was one team that chose to have a clear footballing identity to their game, from the first whistle in their first top-flight season after six long years – Wolverhampton Wanderers. Right from their opening game against Everton at Molineux, there were patterns in their build ups, pressing structure off the ball and exquisite work-rate to help each other on the field.

We could vividly witness a football team operating together, and all 11 men are buying into what the manager is asking them to do. It’s working too; at present they have the fourth best underlying statistics in the division.

Credit goes to the gaffer, Nuno Espirito Santo, who arrived at the club in the summer of 2017 and got the Old Gold back into the Premier League in his first season in charge. The former Porto goalkeeper always has his own way of playing football, and he doesn’t back away from that if there is a situational change. Let’s take a closer look at how the 44-year-old sets up his side.  Read More

Premier League

The Premier League is still very competitive (with one big exception)

Last week the Guardian ran an article entitled “Premier League the most competitive in the world? You must be joking” describing what they considered as the poor state of excitement in the World’s most popular league.

The article started with a statistic that caught my attention: “The top five clubs have played the bottom five 19 times this season and won every one.” Last weekend’s matches might be said to have reinforced that picture, with Liverpool beating Fulham 2-0 and Tottenham winning 1-0 away against Crystal Palace.

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Premier League Team of Week 12

Premier League Team of Week 12: Rose like a Salomón

Six of the top nine performers on our leaderboard for this week are centre-backs, so our team has switched to three at the back. Our XI contains seven ‘team of the week’ debutants, but two players from last week retain their place. Here’s our full Premier League team of week 12, and we begin with a goalkeeper who did his damnedest to earn his team three points.

Goalkeeper: Jonas Lössl. Huddersfield Town 1-1 West Ham United.

Huddersfield lead for 68 minutes on Saturday. That’s almost half of their tally for the whole season, so shouldn’t be underestimated. That they were ahead for so long was in no small part thanks to Lössl, who saved two clear-cut chances.
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Manchester City 3-1 Manchester United

View From The Press Box: Manchester City 3-1 Manchester United

Paul Pogba might be glad he got to watch this one from the stands. Some of Manchester City’s play mesmerised spectators and opposition alike, and with the injured Pogba falling into both of these categories he may not have known what to make of it.

The sky blue half of Manchester went home happy, having seen their manager, Pep Guardiola, outsmart the opposition, and their players win a Manchester derby with relative ease.

They weaved in and out, buzzing around the red obstacles using their quicker feet, sharper minds, and crisper passing to bamboozle their opponents.

The troubles United would have in this game were laid bare in the opening few minutes. David Silva and Bernardo Silva were finding acres of space, leaving the opposition unsure as to who should track them.

Manchester City regularly play with these dual attacking midfielders in a midfield three, but today they roamed back and forth, and ventured out wide, leaving opposing full-backs, defensive midfielders, and wingers unsure as to who should be keeping an eye on them. Read More

Arsenal vs Wolves Premier League Preview

Arsenal vs Wolves Preview: Gunners face test to continue unbeaten run

Arsenal are on a 15 match unbeaten run that they look to continue against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday. During this run Arsenal have scored 36 goals and conceded just 13, averaging 2.6 points per match. The last three matches have resulted in draws but Arsenal have still played relatively well in those games, even if they didn’t get the three points.

The main driver of being able to turn okay performances into wins for Arsenal this season are their two main strikers getting them goals when sometimes the performances didn’t quite merit the final result.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is tied for the most goals in the league at seven and while he isn’t the best option on the wing, it doesn’t look to have hurt his ability to score goals. Read More

Crystal Palace vs Tottenham Hotspur

Crystal Palace vs Tottenham Hotspur Preview: Midfield Missing

Central midfield has not stopped being the overarching theme all season and the most recent games are no exception. Last time we checked in things were looking up with Mousa Dembele and also Harry Winks finding fitness at the same time. This was shortly followed by both defensive midfielders, Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama, becoming injured and then Mousa Dembele going down in some pain during the opening two minutes against Wolves.

All this combined to lead Pochettino starting a midfield duo of Harry Winks and Christian Eriksen against PSV midweek, a midfield thinness not seen since Tim Sherwood infamously played Nacer Chadli in the role.

Often, when mentality is discussed, and it is discussed often, it’s perceived as a singular aspect. “He was mentally strong”, “He was mentally weak”, “They had a winning mentality”, “They had a losing mentality”. Tuesday night’s victory over PSV seemed to showcase some of the complexity and nuance around the psychological side of the game. Read More

Manchester City vs Manchester United Premier League Preview

Manchester City vs Manchester United Preview: Key men to the left?

Go back seven months to the last Manchester derby and Manchester United ruined Manchester City’s coronation. Pep Guardiola’s side were 2-0 up at half-time, set to be crowned champions in front of their neighbours. What followed was irrelevant in one respect – they clinched the Premier League title the following weekend – but not in others. If it spared United the ignominy of seeing City celebrate and got Jose Mourinho a rare win over Guardiola, it also showed Paul Pogba’s catalytic impact.

The Frenchman scored twice in United’s comeback that day. If his performances this season have attracted decidedly mixed reviews, the numbers offer another picture. Pogba ranks second in Twelve’s Premier League leader board for the season, behind only Leicester’s Harry Maguire.

Examine the different coloured bars and it shows how his contribution stretches across the pitch, underlying his abilities as a box-to-box midfielder. It suggests he is the best all-round player in the division (at least while City’s Kevin de Bruyne is injured). If he does not have as many attacking points as City’s David Silva, he has delivered more in defence and off the ball. Read More

Chelsea vs Everton

Chelsea vs Everton Preview: Morata is still far from a title-winning striker

This was only ever meant to be a season of transition for Chelsea as the club recovered from the turmoil of last season, and allowed their new manager Maurizio Sarri the time to settle in to English football.

But after eleven games Chelsea find themselves believing they might actually stage a genuine title challenge, as they sit in second place just two points behind Manchester City at the top of the table.

Chelsea have been a revelation under Sarri, playing attractive attacking football to win eight games and draw the other three to remain one of only three teams yet to lose in the league alongside Liverpool and City.

But while their title rivals can each boast a reliable supply of goals – City have Sergio Aguero, and Liverpool have Mo Salah – Chelsea have to make do with the more modest talents of Alvaro Morata leading their forward line. Read More

Liverpool vs Fulham Premier League Preview

Liverpool vs Fulham Preview: Reds to bounce back from Serbian sorrows?

Liverpool vs Fulham looks like being a stone cold, cast iron home banker. You can get odds of 30/1 for Fulham to win on Sunday. Yet anyone who witnessed the Reds’ abject efforts in Belgrade on Tuesday night will think the away side’s chances are considerably better than that.

Even so, when looking at the expected goal data for 2018/19, it’s easy to see why the bookmakers have come up with the prices they have. You can work out the percentage chance of any score line using the statistics, and doing so suggests a 9-0 Liverpool win is more likely than a 0-0 draw.Liverpool vs Fulham Expected Goals xG Prediction Read More