Category Archives: CB Focus match reports

Bumper centre-back analysis: Koulibaly, Rudiger, Ake, Gibson, Mawson

If you know what you’re looking for, there’s a lot you can tell about a player from a single game of football (crucially, if you know what you’re looking for, you also know what you *haven’t* learned about a player from a single game as well). As a celebration for my (now defunct) Patreon getting to the $20 a month goal, I’m doing a bumper analysis article on *takes deep breath*

–          Kalidou Koulibaly

–          Antonio Rüdiger

–          Nathan Aké

–          Ben Gibson

–          Alfie Mawson


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Michael Keane 3 minutes, 3 games Video report: The Bonus Features

If you haven’t seen the video, here it is.

Michael Keane – 3 minutes, 3 games Video Report from EveryTeamNeedsARon on Vimeo.

I should stress that these conclusions are based on these 3 games. If I’ve happened to pick 3 games where Keane didn’t exhibit Hummels-esque passing ability or Riise-esque shots from distance, then I can only shrug and apologise for not spending more of my free-time watching Burnley.

What I wanted to focus on in this, the Bonus Features, is something which relates to the Ray Wilkins clip which did the rounds a few days or so ago. Ray “when they come from Europe the fee always starts with a 3, or a 4, or a 5” Wilkins said on Sky Sports that Manchester United choosing Victor Lindelöf over Michael Keane was silly, as the former had done nothing and the latter was proven Premier League talent. United would know what they were getting.

But the truth is that – and it’s why I put that block of text into the video – they wouldn’t. Continue reading

Andreas Christensen – 3 minute 3 game video report: The article

Games watched:

  • ‘Gladbach vs Barcelona: 28 September 2016
  • Fiorentina vs ‘Gladbach: 23 February 2017
  • ‘Gladbach vs Schalke: 16 March 2017

If you’re reading this then you probably watched the video put together on Andreas Christensen, so I won’t go over much of the ground covered in that in detail. This is intended to be a supplementary article, because you can’t talk about everything in a 3-minute vid. If you haven’t seen it, here it is:

Andreas Christensen – 3 game, 3 minute video report from EveryTeamNeedsARon on Vimeo.

The video opens with a mention that Christensen looks pretty good in the middle of a 3, but his weaknesses are a little more exposed in a centre-back duo, which is to be expected. The middle role in a 3 can be pretty forgiving for a centre-back as you’re both a sweeper and a reference point for the wider centre-backs. Back 3s, the ones I’ve seen anyway for Chelsea, Tottenham, and bits of Mönchengladbach now, have also all been pretty deep defensive lines, which can also shelter a centre-back and make them look better than they are, or probably more accurately cover for their deficiencies. Continue reading

Centre-back analysis of Manchester United vs Chelsea (I’m sorry, I couldn’t think of a pun-y title)

It – Manchester United against Chelsea – was not a match filled with attacking prowess. It was a midfield battle which yielded just 3 shots on target in the entire 90 minutes, all of which were taken by United. Chelsea had one shot in the first half. It was a midfield battle where the defences dropped to absorb pressure too. United completed 94 passes into the final third (which is a lot; 62 in the first half and 32 in the second), and Chelsea completed 101 (24 in the first half, 77 in the second, showing how Mourinho treated going 2-0 up).

As a result, there wasn’t an awful lot for the United centre-backs – who I’d originally been planning on focussing on – to do. Mourinho’s man-marking job of Herrera on Hazard worked perfectly, and after a couple of moments of confusion early on, defending in the right-back area, United worked out how to deal with occasionally having twin full-backs on that side.

Bailly and Rojo made for a good, if rather sheltered, partnership. There was a small difference apparent at some times in the second half, where Rojo wanted to keep a higher line than Bailly, but this may hint at part of why they worked well together. Rojo is a bit of a jumper-inner; Bailly sits back and backs off a little before choosing his moment to challenge. Continue reading

Matthew Pennington’s Merseyside Derby

Matthew Pennington, Everton’s 22-year-old ‘one of our own’ has been thrown into the first team this season through a combination of centre-back injuries and Koeman’s will to play a back three. He was highlighted in the Merseyside Derby by Gary Neville for failing to stop Philippe Coutinho cutting onto his right foot and shooting for Liverpool’s second goal.

It was with good reason, no matter how much Jamie Redknapp wanted to give the youngster the benefit of the doubt, and Pennington struggled with one-on-one moments like it for the 67 minutes that he was on the pitch.

True, Coutinho never should have got past Gueye, but the view from behind the goal shows clearly how Pennington’s weight and body were still moving to his right when Coutinho had skipped past the Everton midfielder. Ideally, you’d want to be balanced, and blocking the path to cut inside, facing the direction you want to show him. Pennington does one of these, the latter.

Pennington – Coutinho goal from EveryTeamNeedsARon on Vimeo.

Where Coutinho (and probably others who have similar trademark moves, Arjen Robben for example) can cause big problems is the way they can change their weight quickly in either direction, meaning that they can afford to make the angle of the initial cut wider.

Artists representation: The dotted line represents the usual path of a forward cutting inside, the fuller line the angle that causes problems. It means that the defender has to be more alongside the forward, which then leaves a bigger opportunity for them to sprint down the line.

This isn’t about Coutinho though. Throughout the match, Pennington looked wobbly on his feet. For Liverpool’s first, he nearly falls over as he backs away from Mané and as he recovers he takes out his team-mate Holgate, who could have helped cover if he hadn’t been put on the floor.

Then there was the moment a few minutes later when he – again faced with Coutinho one-on-one – was off-balance and swung a leg at thin air as the forward skipped past him. In fairness, it looks a little worse than it is, but it still isn’t exactly good.

Pennington waves a leg at Coutinho from EveryTeamNeedsARon on Vimeo.

You can put the imbalances and decisions down to nerves perhaps – he also miscontrolled a loose ball early on, the touch heavy and his step backwards too far and with too much weight put onto his heels, allowing Mané to almost nick the ball away. Despite this, he had some normal, regular, non-mess up touches on the ball in the latter part of the first half and in the part of the second when he was on the pitch.

He also looked like he was communicating decently with the rest of the defensive players, which is probably a relatively reassuring sign, that he wasn’t completely overwhelmed by the occasion. And he looked to be following Koeman’s instructions well, sticking to Coutinho or Firmino when they came into his zone and being positionally flexible between the reference points of Holgate at right wing-back and Ashley Williams as the central centre-back.

But then, even in the second half – presumably after a nice and calming chat with boss Ronald – he still looked uncertain in one-on-one situations.

Pennington – Showdown with Can from EveryTeamNeedsARon on Vimeo.

Pennington was subbed off in the 67th minute with Enner Valencia coming on as Everton changed shape, although he was the clear choice of the centre-backs to bring off.

I can’t profess to be a Pennington expert so this may not be representative of his game. He’s still young-ish, and didn’t look phased by playing in a back 3 and, on occasion, having to tuck into central midfield in the hole behind Davies and Gueye – so that’s relatively promising, at least.

I dunno, I don’t have any firmer conclusions than that. That was his Merseyside Derby.

England’s centre-backs: vs Turkey

The match against Turkey, for Cahill and Stones, was generally a quiet affair. You could probably count the times they had to tax themselves to deal with the opposition on your fingers.

Turkey’s goal, in the 13th minute, was one of these, although really it should only count as a half-example. It was more a case of running and basic positioning than reading the game in a more advanced way.

Continue reading

Avec les défenseurs centrales comme ces, qui a besoin des enemis?

Marseille vs Monaco, 1-1

[Ligue 1, 29/11/2015]

[Un version français de la poste ici

Le match était résumé dans les interviews au bord du terrain d’après-match, l’intervieweur commence les deux par nommé le match ‘complètement fou’. Un nul probablement un résultat juste, ni équipe joue bien et la plupart des buts compris un degré de bizarre hilarité. Marseille pourrait avoir entré la première moitié du classement avec une victoire, mais plutôt réussi à encaisse trois buts des arrières des Monaco.

Trois des défenseurs centrales ont joué pour le match complet, N’Koulou et Rekik pour L’Olympique Marseille (Rekik substitué en le 73’ minute, avec Isla retombe du milieu de terrain), et Wallace et Raggi pour AS Monaco. Continue reading