Mohamed Salah Leroy Sane Premier League wingers

Tactical Analysis: Contrasting Style of Premier League Wingers

The Premier League has seen an array of wingers in years gone by. But with managers willing to try different things to adapt to the modern-day game, we have witnessed the wingers performing different roles in different set-ups. Below we will analyse the distinct types of wide players, focusing on England’s top flight.

Firstly, let us define the role. A winger is an attacking midfielder who plays in wide areas, from where they can cross the ball and dribble past defenders. All in all, they are present to support the attacks from the sides of the field. Generally, a player playing in this position possesses pace to make runs in behind the defence, especially on counter-attacks.

The “yesteryear football” in England was predominantly about teams playing the 4-4-2 system with two wingers high and wide, crossing the ball on a regular basis with two strikers present in the box to attack those deliveries. Sir Alex Ferguson won countless trophies with Manchester United playing the flat 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1.

Back then the full-backs were defenders first, who would move forward if given the opportunity. However, the tale has changed in the modern game. The full-backs are like half-wingers themselves, hence they move forward whenever the team is in possession. It has made their job tougher in a positive sense, as they have to run up and down the pitch for the whole game, with a chance of making an impact at both ends of the field. Read More

Huddersfield vs Manchester City

Huddersfield vs Manchester City Preview: New manager bounce?

There may not be any sport which is drawn so magnetically to the apocryphal as football. The idea that marquee signings recoup their value through shirt sales. Pundits citing win-loss records from the last 50 years in games between two teams who are now made up of entirely different players. The idea that there is such a thing as a ‘ball to hand’ rule. And then there is the New Manager Bounce.

It seems obvious enough: you get rid of your old manager; bring in a new one; the results are almost certain to turn around at once (even if only for a short period). There is only one problem: it’s almost certainly not true.

When Omar Chaudhuri, head of football intelligence at the London-based sports consultants 21st Club spoke to Reuters about the New Manager Bounce, he was quite clear — there is no evidence that it exists:

“What we see is that when managers are sacked, a lot of the times their teams have been playing okay, but without luck. It only needs one crucial moment per game to go against you and that is the difference between three points and one or one point and no points. In most cases sacked managers are unlucky.

“It’s like calling tails five times in a row in a coin toss and losing each one. The next person calls tails and wins. It’s the same with a football manager.”

Read More

Manchester City vs Wolves

Manchester City vs Wolves Preview: Tricky Match-up for Guardiola’s Team

Manchester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers have one obvious thing in common: both have recently beaten Liverpool 2-1. Granted, the Wolves defeated a diluted version of the Reds in their FA Cup encounter last Monday, but both Wolverhampton and City can certainly take away a lot of positives from succeeding against the current Premier League leaders.

For Manchester City, every match is a do-or-die situation right now. After a horrendous December in which they lost three matches within 18 days, the much-needed victory over Liverpool brought back some life to their hopes of defending the Premier League title. Still, City are trailing by four points and another loss would probably crush their hopes once and for all.

Wolves are not only one of the best teams behind the Premier League’s big six, but one of the trickiest opponents for City. When they met in August, Wolves drew with the powerhouse from Manchester. And Nuno Espirito Santo’s side could repeat exactly that on Monday. Read More

Southampton vs Manchester City

Southampton vs Manchester City Preview – A Tale of Two Cities

It was the best of teams. It was the worst of teams. At least as far as the Premier League table was concerned.

It was Matchweek 16. Southampton had just lost 1-0 to Cardiff City and found themselves in 19th place – level on points with Fulham who were sat just below them.

At the other end of the table, Manchester City had fallen to Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea, having been unbeaten in the league before that. Liverpool had managed to sneak ahead but, as everyone was saying, every team has to lose at some point and Chelsea seemed as likely a team as any to inflict first blood on Pep Guardiola’s team. City were still the overwhelming favourites to take home the Premier League trophy at the end of the season.

Since then, the tables have turned: recently-appointed Ralph Hasenhüttl has reversed Southampton’s fortunes, seeing them victorious against Arsenal and Huddersfield in his first four games in charge. Read More

Manchester City vs Everton

Manchester City vs Everton Preview: The next stumbling block?

In a title right as close as the one between Manchester City and Liverpool, every mistake counts and could end up being one too many. City came up short on Saturday when Pep Guardiola’s side were defeated by Chelsea. The former Premier League leaders now have to get back on track, though their opponents on Saturday are anything but pushovers. Manchester City vs Everton is not easy to forecast.

City’s 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge was one of those matches which did not necessarily expose any weaknesses the team has. Guardiola’s players were dominating for most of the first half against a surprisingly passive Chelsea side and were close to scoring the first goal, although those chances came from successful counter-pressing attacks or quick counter-attacks out of City’s half, not from long spells of ball possession.

City missed the chance to convert one of their opportunities, but there was no indication the Blues could come up with an idea to find the back of the net. Yet they did and put City in a position from which they did not recover. Read More

Manchester United vs Crystal Palace

Manchester United vs Crystal Palace: Did United learn their lesson?

Jose Mourinho registered yet another loss against Pep Guardiola and it seems their eternal battle came to an end. It’s been a long time since we had the opportunity to live up to the hype of the Manchester derby. The clash between the two Manchester sides at the Etihad was rather one-sided and saw the home side go 12 points clear of their neighbors after just 12 games of the 2018/19 Premier League season.

The brightest spark in Mourinho’s side was once again Anthony Martial. The young French starlet made it five straight Premier League games with a goal from the penalty spot after Ederson had brought down Romelu Lukaku.

But that was all from United at the Etihad. Their only shot on target was the penalty, and Ilkay Gundogan wrapped up the points for City after an amazing 44 passes between City players prior to the third goal five minutes from time. Read More

West Ham vs Manchester City

West Ham vs Manchester City Preview: What hope the Hammers?

Previewing Manchester City games is like reading Romeo and Juliet for the first time: you know how it ends even if you don’t know how it will quite get there.

Pep Guardiola’s team are favourites to take home the Premier League trophy again this season. If you doubt this fact, then maybe the data will convince you. Take, for example, expected goal (xG) values from the 12 games so far this season. Of the top six teams, Manchester City are the only side who have consistently produced a greater xG for than their opponents have produced against them.

West Ham vs Manchester City Premier League Preview

If this isn’t impressive enough as it is, City’s average xG For – hovering, as it is, just below the 3 xG per 90 line – has only been bettered by Manchester United in one of their games so far (against Bournemouth away). Guardiola, then, is producing an average xG For better than Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United have managed in 11 of their 12 games. Read More

Shakhtar Donetsk vs Manchester City

Shakhtar Donetsk vs Manchester City: A Cold Tuesday Night in Ukraine

Is there anything to win when you put your billion-Pound star ensemble on an airplane and travel across Europe to play in the cold of the Slobidshchyna? At least three points in the Champions League group stage. That is the motivation for Pep Guardiola, knowing that Shakhtar Donetsk vs Manchester City might not turn out to be pretty. But that is not what City is all about right now.

Some football philosophers may suggest that the best teams sometimes look average and win nevertheless. That is what Manchester City have done in the past few weeks. Usually, head coach Guardiola comes up with a variety of tactical ideas; some outlandish, most brilliant.

But the Catalan also knows how valuable his players are and how many of them can make match-altering moves. It is the beauty of the current City squad that the likes of Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez and Leroy Sané battle for two spots in the starting XI, that Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus often battle for one berth, with Guardiola knowing that each of them can rip through defences and score the one decisive goal. Read More

Liverpool 0-0 Manchester City

View From The Press Box: City Used Napoli’s Sky-Blueprint To Tame Reds

Liverpool versus Manchester City was one of the most entertaining battles witnessed last season, both in terms of tactics and as a spectacle.

Jürgen Klopp’s side were the team which ended the eventual Premier League champions’ unbeaten run in January, and also knocked them out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage.

Pep Guardiola has had plenty of time to apply his meticulous research and preparation methods to this particular opposition, and even though Liverpool aren’t firing on all cylinders at the moment, he was able to make noticeable progress at Anfield, where Manchester City haven’t won since 2003.

When the lineups were released the unexpected change came in the Liverpool side. Dejan Lovren replaced Trent Alexander-Arnold meaning Joe Gomez would be shifted across to right back.

This suggested that Klopp might be going with a shape similar to the one they faced at Napoli in midweek, when Carlo Ancelotti used Nikola Maksimović as the right centre-back of a three when attacking and as a right-back in a four when defending. Read More

Guardiola and Klopp

The contrasting use of full-backs by Guardiola and Klopp

Whenever we hear the word full-back in football, there seems to be a varied concept in people’s minds circling around. Back in the day, the job of a full-back was to stay close to their centre-backs and defend, occasionally making runs forward. However, the modern-day usage of a full-back is something different, not really alien to the previous version, but a bit more attacking and adventurous.

A right-back or left-back now acts as a winger in possession moving forward at every opportunity. They should have the awareness of making recovery runs or staying in good positions while defending. As a result, many managers in the past decade have their front-line very narrow, because they depend on the full-backs to provide the width on both sides of the field.

There are two such managers in the Premier League who make use of these players in a contrasting way: Jürgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola. The former’s 4-3-3 system is quite different to the 4-3-3 of the latter, so let’s take a closer look at how Guardiola and Klopp employ their full-backs. Read More