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*
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 →
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:
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 →
Chris Smalling (over 6 games, 2015/16 season) Games: vs Newcastle (27/08/15); at Arsenal (04/10/15); vs Man City (25/10/15); at Newcastle (12/01/16); at Liverpool (17/01/16); at West Brom (06/03/16). There’s also a decent sized conclusion at the bottom if you just want to skip down to that.
If you’ve not read one of these before, I look at a centre-back through the broad categories: ball-playing; positioning; awareness; decision-making; speed/strength. These (more here, including ones on Laporte and Alderweireld) are generally over just a single game, but over six here for a more in-depth look.
A fair amount of Alderweireld’s first half was spent in positions ready to receive the ball, as opposed to having to do much defending. During this time he executed several decent passes – through the opposition midfield or cross-field to Danny Rose, one of which forced Sergio Aguero back to head it away – though he wasn’t particularly under much pressure when on the ball. Continue reading →
What could he have done? – John Stones (vs Tottenham Hotspur 03/01/16)
NB: The gifs in this may take a while to load, apologies, I’m working on editing them to reduce the size and loading time
[This is a more ‘coaching focused’ (I say this though have never coached in my life) piece; instead of just drawing attention to good or bad parts of a player’s game, I’ll try to suggest how they could change in future to improve. This sounds pompous already.]
Coincidentally, one of the first instances of room for improvement also features one of the tendencies of Stones which my gut has a sincere problem with. Continue reading →
Andreas Christensen (vs Borussia Dortmund, 23/01/16)
(Ball-playing; positioning; awareness; decision-making/fundamental errors; speed/strength (/how to overcome them))
There were a couple of moments when team-mates on the ball around him seemed to think about passing to him and then decide against it, which can sometimes give you an idea of their skill on the ball, an spectre of an absence of trust. There was once instance where he took a heavy touch which led on to a bad pass, though for the rest of the match he was largely average; nothing special, nothing bad. He did manage a midfield splitting pass which set up a good Mönchengladbach attack though, which hints at an ability that perhaps just needs to be refined. Continue reading →