Tottenham 1-1 Chelsea: The Thinking Behind Mourinho’s Tactics at White Hart Lane

Tottenham 1-1 ChelseaThe 28 September clash between Spurs and Chelsea saw what many believed to be one of the most interesting matches of the season, with André Villas-Boas headlined as ‘The Student’ and his previous coach, José Mourinho, ‘The Teacher.’ Mourinho’s media plan was clear: he was to have little thought for what AVB had to say, refusing to be pulled into the same conversation as him and even refusing to be put into the same league as his former assistant.

The team selection saw Chelsea present the semi-flat back four that they have adopted in the opening few weeks of the season, with Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, and Cole ahead of Cech and behind the pivot of Mikel and Lampard. Torres got the nod over Eto’o, who’s fluid movement in possession to fragment center-back pairings and full-backs was impressive, but Torres’ recent form saw him play ahead of the two wide men Ramires and Hazard, with the controversial choice of Oscar in the Number 10 role. This was an extremely similar set up to the game at Manchester City last season, which Chelsea lost with the score of 2-0.

Tottenham initiated the game by taking early control of possession, fielding a medium block in ball control and defensive transitions, aiming to cut out quick tempo counter attacking play. This move was countered with Chelsea aiming to expose the rashness of premature pressing from Naughton and Walker with long balls. Chelsea also used the medium defensive line, utilizing Lampard as well as Brazillian Oscar, who’s role was to drop deep to counter Eriksen in his zone like a typical Number 10.

Hazard and Ramires were quite easy to handle however, as too often Ramires was cut off from counter attacking after being handcuffed with providing defensive acts, and was unable to make effective runs out wide. Ramires, providing width and the defensive ability to drop into the Chelsea final third at will was quite unable for this job also, as diagonal runs from Sigurdsson inside provided a mix up between Ramires, Mikel, and Ivanovic on who to mark. This eventually saw Eriksen skip away from the jogging Lampard out wide, cutting in Soldado, who played in Sigurdsson and made that clinical run in from the left wing to take the lead for Tottenham.

Pellegrini-style tactics were initiated from the Blues in offensive transitions, creating pockets near corner flags of triangles including the winger, ST and AM, all rotating bar Ramires. This provided width and a crossing option during build up, which was however rarely utilized. The inability to provide effective possession build up in the first half was easily contained, and saw Chelsea create little opportunities to capitalize on. This ineffective use of possession in the first half saw more and more bodies pile up outside the Spurs box, creating large gaps in Chelsea’s defensive midfield area, which was totally exploited by the extremely influential Eriksen during Tottenham’s lethal counterattacks.

Tottenham 1-1 ChelseaThe second half saw Mourinho solve almost all of Chelsea’s defensive problems, with Ramires being repositioned into RDM and completely negating offensive runs from Eriksen and Sigurdsson, silencing them almost entirely for the second half. Jose switched his team to a 4-2-4 looking side with the substitute Mata being played in a central winger role, drifting wide into a RAM spot where his left foot came into effect beautifully. Oscar provided cover in defensive transitions whilst marking Walker as well as dropping deep like a traditional AM.

Hazard was repositioned into a LF role, playing between the LW and slightly deeper and to the left of the ST, being perfectly positioned to make the most out of diagonal runs being fed by Mata. The long ball was also not used quite as often, due to Spurs’ low defensive line, and this as a result saw Chelsea being far more direct in possession, using Mata to his full potential. The 4-2-4 switch was warranted due to Tottenham’s lack of numbers going forward in the early second half. Oscar was quite often being pulled deep and out of formation due to effective runs from Spurs attackers, which saw Hazard rotating and hugging the touch line more often, resulting in the instinctive Schurrle providing the runs as he was substituted for Hazard.

After a perfectly weighted cross from Juan Mata, Terry glanced it by Lloris, seeing Chelsea abandon the 4-2-4 and switch to a defensive 4-3-3, resulting in Oscar rarely going forward. Ramires’ defensive duties in the DM spot eradicated any vacant space left to be picked up by Tottenham offensive runs or through balls, heavily thwarting Spurs’ counter attacking transitions. After the red card incident, Schurrle took up a more central position with both wingers dropping even deeper, pushing Oscar out wide away from his LCM role to provide cover for offensive runs from Schurrle. This resulted in a late on possession dominance from Spurs, exploiting Chelsea’s wide midfield, flooding players centrally which forced an extremely deep line from the Blues.

In the final moments, Azpillicueta was substituted for the fatigued Oscar, carrying out a number of defensive duties and effectively man marking wing backs. The sub also provided a worrying threat on the counter, similar to his role against United in the final moments. Despite a poor first half, Chelsea deservedly earned a 1-1 draw following drastic half time improvements implicated by the Special One himself, Jose Mourinho.

Written by Sean McBride

About these ads

David Beckham: The Glorious International Career as Legendary England Captain

David BeckhamDavid Beckham made his first appearance for the England national football team on September 1, 1996, in a World Cup qualifier against Moldova. He had featured in all of England’s qualifiers for the 1998 World Cup in France, but then England manager Glenn Hoddle accused him of not focusing on the tournament. He did not start England’s first 2 games of the tournament, but was picked for the 3rd match and scored from a long-range free-kick in a 2-0 victory. This was his first goal for England.

In the Round of 16 at the World Cup, he was sent off for kicking at Argentina’s Diego Simeone, who had fouled him beforehand. Simeone later admitted he, along with many of his team-mates, were trying to influence the referee into sending Beckham off. The match finished a draw, and England were knocked out via a penalty shoot-out. He was blamed by much of the media and many fans for England’s exit and he became the target for abuse.

The abuse of Beckham from fans continued into Euro 2000, as England were knocked out by Portugal, losing 3-2, a match in which Beckham set up both of England’s goals. Afterwards, he was taunted by a set of England supporters and he responded by sticking up his middle finger. While the reaction saw some more criticism towards him, many newspapers were urgently asking England supporters to stop abusing him.

On 15th November 2000, following the resignation of Kevin Keegan as England manager the month before, Beckham was promoted to team captain by caretaker boss Pater Taylor, and was kept that way under new manager Sven-Goran Eriksson. He helped England to qualify for the 2002 World Cup, and after impressive performances against Germany and Greece, he suddenly transformed himself from villain to hero. The final step of this happened after he scored the equalizer to give England the draw they needed desperately on October 6, 2001. Shortly afterwards, he was voted the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2001, and he finished runner up once again in the FIFA World Player of the Year award, this time to Portugal’s Luis Figo.

David BeckhamBeckham was partially fit for the 2002 World Cup and played in the first match against Sweden, scoring the winner against Argentina from the penalty spot and causing Argentina to fail to qualify for the knockout round. England were knocked out by eventual winners, Brazil at the quarter final stage. Beckham played in all of England’s matches at Euro 2004 in Portugal, but the tournament ended in disappointment for him as he had 2 penalties missed against France and Portugal respectively. England lost 2-1 to France and were knocked out by eventual finalists and hosts Portugal in a penalty shoot-out.

In 2005, Beckham captained England for the 50th time, this time in a friendly against Argentina. A month before, he was sent off against Austria, making him the first England captain to be sent off and the first England player to be sent off twice. In the 2006 World Cup, Beckham’s free-kick against Paraguay led to an own goal by Carlos Gamarra and England won 1-0. He also assisted Steven Gerrard and Peter Crouch’s goals against Trinidad and Tobago on June 15th, as England went on to win the game 2-0.

During the knockout stage match versus Ecuador, Beckham scored a free-kick, becoming the first player to score in 3 separate World Cups for England. It gave England a 1-0 victory and a place in the quarter finals against Portugal. In that quarter final, he was subbed off due to injury at half time, as England went on to finish the game goalless after extra time and eventually losing 3-1 on penalties. A day after being knocked out of the World Cup, an emotional Beckham made this statement in a news conference as he stepped down as England captain:

“It has been an honor and privilege to captain my country but, having been captain for 58 of my 95 games, I feel the time is right to pass on the armband as we enter a new era under Steve McClaren.”

David BeckhamBeckham was soon succeeded as England captain by Chelsea defender John Terry. He was left out of the England side until May 26, 2007, and he started against Brazil. It was the first time he had featured for England since stepping down as captain. He also set up England’s goal, which was scored by John Terry. He did play his part in England’s qualifying games for Euro 2008, but it was all in vain as they failed to qualify for the tournament.

In a friendly against France in March 2008, he became only the fifth Englishman to reach 100 caps for the country. New manger Fabio Capello hinted that Beckham was part of the long term plans to achieve qualification for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Beckham was honored before a match against Trinidad and Tobago on June 1st that year by receiving an honorary gold cap representing his 100th cap from Sir Bobby Charlton, and was also given a standing ovation from the crowd.

He played his part in the World Cup qualifiers as England finished top of their group, but in March 2010, he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon injury and he was ruled out of the tournament in South Africa. He never featured for England again after this injury, but has remained part of the England set up as he wants to help the development of young players. He reached 115 caps for his country, 10 behind record holder Peter Shilton.

Beckham’s Club Football Career
  • 1992-2003: Manchester United - (394 apps, 85 goals)
  • 1994-1995: Preston North End (Loan) - (5 apps, 2 goals)
  • 2003-2007: Real Madrid - (157 apps, 19 goals)
  • 2007-2012: LA Galaxy - (118 apps, 20 goals)
  • 2009-2010: AC Milan (Loan) - (33 apps, 2 goals)
  • 2013: Paris St-Germain - (14 apps, no goals)
  • Major Honors: 6 Premier League titles, 1 Champions League, 2 FA Cups, 4 Community Shields, 1 Intercontinental Cup, 1 La Liga title, 1 Supercopa de Espana, 2 MLS Cups, 1 Ligue 1 title

Written by OneFutbol

Racism Epidemic is Still Very Much Alive in Football Today

Say No To RacismSo here we are in 2013, a modern society where people are brought together by the beautiful game of football. But unfortunately, checking the football headlines when I woke up the other day, an old problem that is becoming far too familiar in the game was once again in the news. To no one’s surprise, there were 2 new incidents of fans and clubs being punished for racist behavior at matches.

1 of these incidents involves a man of 53, Gerrad Scanlon from England, who has been fined a mere £425 and banned from The Den (home of Millwall) for racially abusing Leeds United striker El-Hadji Diouf. The other involves Lazio, who have been ordered to play 2 games behind closed doors and fined pittance in terms of a £35,000 fine for racist behavior amongst their fans following a Europa League match-up against Borussia Monchengladbach.

Now, unless you’re have been hiding under a football stadium for the last few years, racism and football used in the same sentence won’t be something you are unfamiliar with hearing in today’s game unfortunately. What worse for Lazio is that they have already been involved in familiar incidents this season, let alone the needless self-tagged “ULTRA” hooligans that seem to be going on rampages on about a monthly basis.

So UEFA have given them their punishment and everything will be fine from now on of course; I think not. The embarrassing thing is that in both cases, the punishing verdicts issued by a Magistrates court in England (which has nothing to do with the game) and UEFA is less than a slap on the wrist.

Let me use this point to remind you that UEFA, the union body of European football, have recently handed the Serbian football association a fine of £65,000 pounds and ordered their Under-21s to play a game behind closed doors. This came as a result of 90 minutes of booing and monkey chants in their game against England Under-21s in October 2012 at Krusevac.

With everybody aware of the money in today’s game, ask yourselves, are these punishments fair? Have UEFA done enough to say racism is not to be tolerated in the game, and are these punishments going to stop future occurrences?

Kick Racism OutI can easily tell you the answer is quite simply a no. The fines, for a start, just in these 2 instances with UEFA, are close to nothing, and the stadium bans for the fans are not long enough to stop future occurrences. I think the fines should be in the £100,000′s, and the bans should be half a season or longer; it’s the only way it is going to make people think before they act.

Meanwhile, some of you will be thinking about the innocent fans who are being punished. This is a necessary action, because we are essentially heading back towards the earlier years, before where the beautiful game was rife with racist and despicable behavior towards players.

I can recall incidents this past weekend, such as that of Mario Balotelli being racially abused while playing for Milan by people of the country he plays for! There have been incidents in the majority of countries leagues in the last few months, alongside a few high-profile cases involving Luis Suarez and John Terry, both of whom were punished for using racist language on the field of play. Quite honestly, the list of pages of racial punishments and incidents would shamefully be pages and pages long.

The terrible thing is that we have incidents put in front of us like these and reported across media outlets across multiple countries every day, and yet it is something that still happens in society today, 90% of which still goes unreported. In some cases, it is the poor education of accepting people outside their own cultures, but in others, its is pure naivety. They simply are not thinking straight when they abuse someone for being different than themselves, and unfortunately some people just aren’t very nice and like causing people distress.

Regarding the behavior of fans, the game has come a long way since reports of racism on the field were first written down. Many countries have some fantastic charities whose goal is to stop racism, such as “Kick It Out” and “Show Racism the Red Card.” Other charities include the European football charity, “FARE” (Football Against Racism in Europe), and individual charities in most top leagues.

The “Kick It Out” campaign in England is well known for their t-shirts, worn by players during warm-up before a match (with the exception of some individuals). Joleon Lescott, a Manchester City and England defender, has refused to wear the “Kick It Out” t-shirt since 2007 after alleged abuse of Everton teammate Joseph Yobo, and like Lescott, Rio Ferdinand, Jason Roberts, Micah Richards, and Kenwyne Jones are amongst the players refusing to join the show of support for the project.

The racism issue is not exactly receding, so as lovers of the game, let’s hope we can work together with the footballing authorities, wake up a bit, and start acting more severely. We don’t want the people who are causing this unnecessary distress to players and fans to ruin it for the rest of us.

Written by ChalkOnYaBoots

Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool: Draw Puts Chelsea in 3rd on EPL Table

For their 3rd Premier League match in a row, Chelsea was unable to record a win to put them back on top of the league. At Stamford Bridge, they managed a tie against Liverpool in a game that should have awarded the Blues an easy 3 points. Despite being down 1-0 thanks to John Terry’s 20 minute strike, Liverpool exhibited a huge improvement and scored a late equalizer that ended the game in a well-deserved tie. For the 4th time in succession, the Blues couldn’t win against Liverpool on their own turf.

Liverpool had dominated possession early on, having the ball nearly 70% of the time. The first half saw few chances on target and only 1 goal, which was scored by Chelsea captain John Terry. Terry, who had just returned from a racism ban, found the back of the net on the 20th minute after missing Chelsea’s 4 previous matches. The English defender netted his 50th goal in the Premier League following a corner from Juan Mata. He judged the ball just right and headed it in beyond goalkeeper Bradley Jones’ reach. But Terry’s return to the team did not last long. Just 15 minutes later, Terry took a fall on his right knee after a collision with Liverpool forward Luis Suarez. After several minutes of treatment, Terry, who was in a lot of pain, was taken off the pitch on a stretcher and was replaced with Gary Cahill just minutes before the break. Another few games will probably pass until Terry recovers from his injuries and returns to the team for good.

Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo, who was frustrated with Terry’s removal from the game, said, “He has just got into the team after the ban … we just hope it isn’t a serious injury and he is back soon.” The extent of the injuries will be assessed in the hospital on Monday as well as an estimate for the duration of his recovery.

The second half had clearly taken a turn in the Reds’ favor, primarily the final 20 minutes of the match. They were constantly on the attack and harbored a strong defense that Chelsea was unable to penetrate. Liverpool’s substitution of Suso for Sahin had finally paid off just 17 minutes before full time. This time, it was Luis Suarez who scored a header for his team. Suarez found Suso’s accurate corner in the air and sent a powerful ball past world-class goalkeeper Petr Čech. But Liverpool was not done yet. They were eager to snatch a victory after firing shot after shot in the final minutes of the game. Suso’s ball went just wide while Ivanovic sent a powerful header just high over the crossbar. Suarez could have easily secured a win for the Reds after racing toward the goal, clear of any defenders, and shooting a ball that Cech just managed to save. In stoppage time, Cech once again rescued Chelsea from a loss after a vital save following Enrique’s powerful shot, ending the game in a 1-1 tie.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was happy for his squad and with the results of the match. “That was our sixth draw, and in a lot of those games we’ve come back from being behind. We’ve got great character and resilience and survival instincts in the group, and we’re dominating games with the ball, but you need materials.”

The draw puts Chelsea in 3rd with 24 points, trailing Premier League leaders Manchester United by 3 points and 2nd place holders Manchester City by 1. Chelsea had remained on top of the league for 2 months, but a loss to Manchester United put the Red Devils in the lead. Manchester City recorded a much-needed win against Tottenham today, placing them in 2nd. Meanwhile, Liverpool is in the 13th place on the table, currently with 12 points after today’s match. This far into the season, it is unlikely for Liverpool to become this year’s champions, a feat that they have not been able to accomplish since the founding of the Premier League in 1992.

Written by FutbolPulse