Newcastle vs Arsenal Premier League Preview

Newcastle vs Arsenal Preview: Can Arsenal breakdown a low block?

Arsenal have won two in a row to climb up to the top half of the table. Newcastle have lost two in a row and fallen into the relegation zone. This match is an important one for both teams coming off the first international break of the season.

Newcastle

Here’s their rankings for different statistics this season:

20th – Possession

18th – Shots

19th – Danger Zone Shots

17th – Big Chances

19th – Expected Goals

13th – Dribbles Attempted

4th – Average Pass Length

Rafa Benítez is a really good coach, but one thing he is not is a coach who will sacrifice defensive solidity to create scoring chances. With a challenging schedule including matches at Chelsea and against Tottenham and Manchester City, it is not surprising to see Newcastle at the bottom of most offensive categories this season.

As a team they have been in control of the ball for just 96 minutes this season, which averages out to 24 minutes a match. For comparison the average team has been in control for 34 minutes per match (this measure takes out all of the time that the ball is not in play and on average there is about 60-70 minutes of ball control per match). Read More

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Manchester City vs. Fulham

Manchester City vs Fulham Preview: Time for Sané to start?

There’s no better way to leave the interminable international break behind than with an incredibly exciting Manchester City fixture. As an American, Fulham have always held a place in my heart as the club of Brian McBride, Clint Dempsey, and (to a much lesser extent) Carlos Bocanegra.

But more than that, the current incarnation of Fulham have a genuine buzz about them. Only Arsenal games feature more shots and shots on target, they have exciting young talents like Ryan Sessegnon, and they picked up a genuine star in Jean-Michel Seri in the transfer window. In short, get ready for some fireworks.

As with Wolves, Fulham aren’t your typical newly promoted side. Rather than playing defensively and seeking to counter-attack, they use possession to get their shot attempts and are even averaging a greater share of the ball than Spurs, United, or Arsenal thus far this season (albeit having endured a light schedule to date). Read More

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Chelsea vs Cardiff City

Chelsea vs Cardiff Preview: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Back in 1966, Italian movie director Sergio Leone released one of the greatest Spaghetti Western epics of all time. ‘Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo’ had Clint Eastwood in a remarkable role and is known for Leone’s use of long shots and close-up cinematography, as well as his distinctive use of violence, tension, and stylistic gunfights.

Well, maybe we’ll not see stylistic gunfights at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, but for sure there will be a lot of tension on the field. That’s because Cardiff City travel to London without a win to face a Chelsea side who have won all four league matches this season.

At first sight, it’s an easy match for Sarri’s rangers if we compare both teams on Twelve’s leader board. Of the top 10 players, only three are from the Bluebirds: Joe Ralls, Sol Bamba and Sean Morrison. Read More

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Tottenham Hotspur vs Liverpool Premier League Preview

Tottenham Hotspur vs Liverpool Preview: Just Score First

The ‘head-to-head record’ may well be the weakest statistic used in football but the sport is changing. The top teams, at least, are firmly out of the era of the reactive and into that of proactive tactical approach. Alternatively phased, we now have a lot of managers who are accused of not having a plan B.

As a result, the last seven games between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur – in the period since Jürgen Klopp took over – have been largely very similar.

Screenshot from 11v11.com

Spurs open themselves up with possession football. Liverpool turn the ball over in midfield and counter-attack with rapid pace. Spurs do a decent job of pressing in return to suffocate the counters, and are less tired by the end of the game so can rally back (as evidenced by the fact only two of their goals in these fixtures have come before 60 minutes). Read More

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Gareth Southgate's England Team

Twelve’s algorithm selects Gareth Southgate’s England team

England had a strange World Cup. They lost three matches yet returned as heroes, but also didn’t lose any game which really mattered inside 90 minutes. It was certainly a successful tournament from a PR perspective, as the England team reconnected with a fan base which had grown increasingly disconnected. The real question is whether or not they can sustain the love-in for a couple of years until the next European Championships.

Gareth Southgate’s first chance to uphold his newly found superstar status comes over the next week, when England take on Spain in UEFA’s gleaming new Nations League competition, then play a friendly against Switzerland. He has selected his squad, so at Twelve we thought it’d be interesting to pick the best team based on the players’ performance this season.

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Romelu Lukaku Premier League Team Of The Week

Premier League Team of Week 4: Lukaku Bullied Burnley

Romelu Lukaku Premier League Team Of The WeekIt had to happen eventually: James Tarkowski‘s reign of terror is over. In fact, he didn’t even make the top 50 players this week, and in light of the name of the article, you can probably guess why. Still, the Burnley defender remains the only player in the Premier League with three team of the week appearances this season, so he shouldn’t be too disheartened. We do have a player from last week returning to join Alli and Pogba on two caps though, and we begin our round up with a stunning goalkeeping performance.

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Två defensiva derbynycklar i Hammarby och Djurgården

Hammarby-Djurgården på söndag, en där Hammarby är och ska vara kraftiga favoriter. Djurgården har, i tillägg till sin usla derbystatistik, tappat en hel del på sensommaren och hamnat utanför toppstriden. Medan Hammarby vunnit sex av nio matcher sedan VM-uppehållet, bara förlorat en och i allra högsta grad slåss om guldet.

Nu tror jag inte det blir någon överkörning och 5-0 till Bajen bara för det. Det brukar bli tätt (en 4-2-seger 2016 är Hammarbys “största” seger sedan återkomsten i allsvenskan). Inte bara de offensiva stjärnorna är i fokus, utan spelarna längre ner i banan synas mer. I derbyn skruvas alla reglage upp och varenda litet inkast analyseras grundligt, och inte bara av den s k expertisen.

Två spelare som rankar högt hos Twelve för sitt respektive lag defensivt: Marcus Danielson i Djurgården och Serge-Junior Martinsson Ngouali hos Hammarby.

Bägge är spelare som när de presenterades som nyförvärv möttes av i bästa fall ljumma reaktioner från supportrarna; Danielson var tänkt som backupspelare, Junior kom närmast från spel division 1 med Brommapojkarna och det var nog ärligt talat fler som hävdade att de sett honom spela än vad som faktiskt hade gjort det.

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Djurgårdens sportchef Bosse Andersson kritiserats av egna lagkaptenen Jonas Olsson för en felbalanserad trupp. För många mittbackar och yttermittfältare, för få ytterbackar och anfallare, det är kontentan av kritiken.

Men tittar vi på Twelves ranking så kanske man också kan ifrågasätta valet av spelare som faktiskt finns tillgängliga i truppen. Bland alla mittbackar hittar vi Marcus Danielson högst upp i defensiv-rankingen i Djurgården.

Nämnde Jonas Olssons kontrakt skulle gå ut efter säsongen och Jacob Une Larsson skulle förr eller senare lämna för utlandsspel. Och Danielsson skulle komma att få sin chans på sikt. Sedan värvades ytterligare en mittback på sommaren i Erik Johansson.

I hackordningen bland Djurgårdns mittbackar så har väl Danielsson sett som fyra, utifrån rockader på senare tid (Une Larsson har flyttats ut som högerback) trea.

Nu har Danielsson ändå fått starta 15 av 19 matcher, flest av samtliga mittbackar. Nu är det förvisso int ens säkert att han får spela i derbyt. Men sett till Twelves defensivranking så är han i särklass i Djurgården. Både totalt och per spelad minut. Medan Jonas Olsson hamnar först på nionde plats

Trots gott om speltid och en utsatt position som defensiv spelare så hamnar Danielsson hamnar näst sist i Djurgårdens ranking på “errors”, misstag. Vunna höjddueller, blockade skott, rensningar. Bland avgörande misstag finns främst några förlorade höjddueller i eget straffområde:

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Alla de som kritiserade Hammarbys Junior-värvning har fått ta på sig dumstruten. Efter ett drygt år i klubben är han en absolut nyckelspelare. Defensivt ankare på mittfältet på papperet men känslan när man ser honom är att han snarare är överallt på banan. Han är den Hammarbyspelare näst efter försvararen Björn Paulsen som får högst defensiv rating av Twelve.

Som ankare på Hammarbys mittfält så är han ofta den som startar anfallen och speluppbyggnaden, men han vinner också frisparkar åt sitt eget lag, och – inte minst – bollen. Här nedan hans defensiva aktioner som varit av avgörande karaktär den här säsongen:

Inringat i straffområdet till vänster är avgörande aktioner i eget straffområde, främst rensningar (krysset anger en förlorad höjdduell). Inga konstigheter att det inte är fler då det ju främst är försvarsspelarna som opererar där

Men mer till höger, högre upp i banan på bilden – där hittar vi mer anmärkningsvärda saker. Klustret av markeringar på mitten och ännu längre fram är samtliga bollvinster från Juniors sida. Hammarbys presspel är något som ofta ger utdelning i form av målchanser och mål.

Highlights på tv-bilder spolar sällan speciellt långt tillbaka i tid innan ett mål visas. Men spolar man tillbaka filmen lite längre så börjar ofta ett Hammarbymål med att Junior vunnit boll på mitten. En absolut nyckelspelare för Hammarby, i morgon och i alla andra matcher.

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Cardiff City vs Arsenal

Cardiff City vs Arsenal Preview: Does Ozil deserve a start in Wales?

After the 3-1 win against West Ham, much of the talk was about the absence of Mesut Ozil from the matchday squad. Unai Emery said the playmaker was ill but had recuperated enough to enter the dressing room before the game. Any other player and it could have slipped under the radar, however it was Ozil.

Prior to the game it was reported that there was a rift between the German and the coach regarding demands that Emery had of Ozil. The former PSG manager denied any rift in the press conference after the game. However, when Emery was asked if he planned to play Ozil in a different position, the Spaniard’s reply was a terse and instructive ‘maybe’.

After Emery took over from Arsene Wenger, he spoke about the need for more intensity in pressing and the need to be more defensively aware. In the three games the coach has managed, there has been measured progress and sparse semblance of what he demands. However, it seems Ozil hasn’t added to the process as much as he needs to. Read More

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Firmino and Aguero

A Striking Resemblance: Firmino and Aguero Lead The Way

Both Liverpool and Manchester City have made stylish starts to the new season, displaying brands of football which have prompted suggestions that the title race will be played out between these two North West sides (we’re not allowed to call them rivals yet).

Even though these teams have scored nine and seven goals respectively in their opening three games, doubts are still raised about their strikers, if not of their quality then of their role in the side.

While there are unique traits which separate Sergio Aguero and Roberto Firmino, neither are necessarily bad at the things the other gets praised for, and criticisms can be wide of the mark. They play in similar, if not completely identical, systems and both play a big part in the success of their teams. Read More

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Real Madrid vs Leganés

Real Madrid vs Leganés Preview: Should Marcelo evolve to left wing?

Two La Liga matches are past, and Real Madrid’s concerns are all about how long Julen Lopetegui’s independence will last. The new coach played an unimaginable XI against Girona at Montilivi stadium, giving a game to keeper Keylor Navas, Nacho and Marco Asensio, while Thibaut Courtois, Raphaël Varane and Luka Modric – respectively the World Cup’s best goalkeeper, best defender and best player – were sat on the bench. And let us not forget Vinicius Junior’s debut for Castilla, Real Madrid’s second squad, in the Third Division. This was surely not president Florentino Perez’s dreams coming true?

And definitely not Marcelo’s, as the Brazilian ace once again failed to give solidity to his flank. On his back, 18-year-old Pedro Porro found the avenue he wanted to show speed and skills. On his side Girona found their only goal, when Lozano centered to Borja García, and that raises a question: should Marcelo be kept as left full-back? Or does he need more time to recover from this troubled World Cup calendar? Read More

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