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Liverpool. A bad day in the City.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Last night Liverpool were undone by an excellent Manchester City side. But 3-0 doesn't tell the whole story.

Hodgson set the reds up in a 4-4-2, with Lucas playing a more holding role theoretically allowing Gerrard license to roam. Up front N'Gog partnered Torres for the first time in a Premierleague game. Possibly not the best time for Hodgson to have experimented.

N'Gog too often found himself drifting into the right hand channel, a position surely better suited for Kuyt. As a result Kuyt was too often in no man's land, N'Gog was not in the centre of the box and Torres had too little involvement.

In the midfield Hodgson grossly underestimated City's prowess. With City ostensibly playing 3 DMCs (although Barry was the more advanced of these), Liverpool had no space to play the ball into. When a red shirt did receive a pass in the City half they weren't allowed to turn and lost possession easily.

With Johnson and Richards having a cracker on the right against an out of position Agger, Jovanovic was forced deep into a supporting defensive role. A similar thing happened on the left as Milner caused all sorts of problems for Glen Johnson.

Steven Gerrard was the busiest of Liverpool's team. However he was sitting far too deep trying to cope with the attacking threat of City's midfield, and never quite found himself in those positions from which he is so dangerous. Towards the end of the game he resorted to long passes all of which were unsuccessful.

In short this wasn't the game for Hodgson to tinker. With the absence of Mascherano it seems obvious that Poulsen should've started with one of N'Gog or Torres on the bench. The situation is reminiscent of Spurs v Young Boys last week where Harry lined up with a 4-4-2 only to find his team 3 goals down. The difference there was that Redknapp was quick to see the problems and change his team accordingly; Huddlestone came on to bolster the midfield and the result was a decent performance.

However the fixture list has been harsh on Liverpool and Roy Hodgson, he needs to discover his best 11 and until then this will be the best time to play Liverpool.

posted by teedoubleyou


Wigan. The right style, the wrong results.

Monday, August 23, 2010

When Wigan lost 6-0 to Chelsea, Martinez's reaction was "'The way we let things slip had nothing to do with our style of football." And he's right.

The final stats support his theory, Wigan retained 52% possession and even successfully completed 82% of their passes compared to Chelsea's 80%. So how could they fail to even realistically trouble the Chelsea defence?

Stam and N'Zogbia were some of Wigan's more industrious players, with Stam attempting 61 passes of which 52 were successful. The same goes for N'Zogbia who also on the right wing had 32 successful passes. However it was their unsuccessful passes which were their undoing.

Of the 9 unsuccessful passes by Stam, 7 were in the final 3rd. 6 of those were intended for the box yet failed. The situation is similar for Rodallega and Figueroa on the left wing (although if you observe Rodallega's passing stats, it's all too apparent that he doesn't pass enough in comparison suggesting he is wasted out wide).

When Wigan did find themselves in dangerous areas they resorted to long shots from outside the 18 yard box. Chelsea on the other hand scored all 6 goals from very close to, or inside the 6 yard box.

So was Wigan's problem in the final 3rd that Chelsea's defence was too good for them? Or that they lacked ruthlessness and belief?

A bit of both would be the unsatisfactory answer. There can be no doubt that Wigan played some excellent passing football (as supported by the stats), and Rodallega game Ivanovic a torrid time until Ferreira replaced him. However it seems that by playing Rodallega out wide they lack a player to focus passing to in the centre.

Diamé, McCarty and Thomas all occupy similar areas of midfield, with McCarthy being the most advanced yet even his positioning is that of an attacking midfielder. Their number 9, Boselli had an awful afternoon, completing 4 passes and not seeing very much of the ball. After his £6.5 million move from Estudiantes it may be too soon to expect him to lead the line solo. He clearly found it difficult against both Blackpool and Chelsea, and Martinez's insistence on playing Rodallega as a winger/striker means Boselli cuts a very lonely figure at the tip of the trident.

Compare that to Drogba's involvement as the contrast could not be greater. Drogba exhibits a greater range of movement around the pitch and an excellent work rate aided by the excellent Malouda and Anelka.

Martinez clearly has the right ideas; the passing at times is excellent and their insistence on playing an attractive brand of football is admirable.

Wigan will continue to leak goals at the back (that article is for another day) but until they work on their positioning and movement in the final 3rd they won't score any at that end either.

posted by teedoubleyou


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