Tactics – Chelsea, Newcastle, Tottenham

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Michael Cox, editor of Zonal Marking provides a tactical analysis on Chelsea, Newcastle and Tottenham on the first day of the English Premier League.

It’s difficult to work out Roberto Di Matteo’s preferred football style. When he was manager of West Bromwich Albion his side played an attack-minded 4-2-3-1 system, but he was sacked 18 months ago because the side conceded too many goals, among reports that little time was spent working on team shape in training. In stark contrast, Di Matteo won the Champions League last season by assembling an extremely defensive side that benefited from admirable organisation.

His first league game as coach since signing a two-year deal offered no definitive answer to the tactics he will employ in 2012-13. After Chelsea raced into a 2-0 lead in only seven minutes, the onus was on Wigan to make the running for the rest of the game.

The home side dominated possession, which says something about Di Matteo’s approach. Other managers looking to shut down a match would have insisted upon ball retention to frustrate the opposition and slow the tempo, but Chelsea were more reactive, happy to drop deep towards their own goal. They attempted half as many passes in the final third as Wigan, and had only six shots. “

Continue reading how Chelsea’s inventive midfielders will benefit Fernando Torres

While Newcastle vs Tottenham is also analyzed with the Villas Boas first match with Spurs and Alan Pardew’s flexibility highlighted.

“….Villas-Boas couldn’t be a much more different manager than his predecessor, Harry Redknapp. Whereas Redknapp focuses upon getting the best out of individuals and emphasises his lack of interest in tactics (much of which is exaggeration), Villas-Boas is a former opposition scout who approaches football from a highly strategic point of view. As such, a big change in Tottenham’s tactics was anticipated.”

…. ” Pardew changed shape at half-time, showcasing his flexibility by moving to a 4-3-3 with the same players he ‘dstarted with. Demba Ba moved to the left, Jonas Gutierrez tucked in, Ben Arfa pushed higher up. It wasn’t a hugely dramatic change, but Newcastle did compete better in the second half.”

Continue reading Newcastle 2-1 Tottenham: Pardew switches formation; Ben Arfa excels in both systems

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