One Man, One Game: Miguel Britos (vs Southampton, 04/03/2017)

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). In the ‘One man, One game’ feature, I do just that.

You may think Miguel Britos is a weird choice for a player to focus on, but it was a request from one of my Carles Puyol tier Patrons. This isn’t to pass the buck. It’s to say that if there’s someone that you’d like featured, you can back the Patreon at $5+ a month and your suggestions will take priority, as well as access to other features like the exclusive thoughts on the Patreon blog.

Given all of the relatively obscure centre-backs that could have been suggested, I was also pretty happy to look at Britos. Watford’s centre-back situation has interested me pretty much since they’ve been back in the Premier League, as all of them seem to vacillate quite strongly between performing well and performing badly. It was a pleasure to have an excuse to look at one of them in more depth. Continue reading

Advertisements

One Man, One Game: José Giménez (vs Athletic Club, 22 January 2017, RCB, no. 24)

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). In the ‘One man, One game’ feature, I do just that. 

Part 2

Last week, in Part 1, I watched a game of Giménez playing at right-back, with a view to seeing what skills on show there might translate to playing at centre-back. To cut a medium-length article short, there wasn’t a lot on the core skills of positioning, awareness, and physical attributes to go on, although there was an indication that Giménez struggled to accelerate on the turn.

The question for this week is whether this transfers to his play at centre-back, and what else we can tell about his game from watching him play again, this time in his preferred position. Continue reading

One Man, One Game: José Giménez (Atlético Madrid vs Real Madrid, 10 May 2017)

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). In the ‘One man, One game’ feature, I do just that. 

Part One.

Giménez is one of that awkward bunch of nominal centre-backs: those who get shunted around the pitch into different positions because they’re young, and good but not too good, and malleable. England has a recent tradition of this. Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Calum Chambers, and Eric Dier are just the first defensive player names to spring to mind.

Evaluating centre-backs playing at centre-back is one thing; evaluating how people playing in other positions might fare at centre-back is something else. This week, I’m going to watch a game of Giménez playing at right-back and next week, a game at centre-back. What skills or features of his game will transfer, or not, from right- to centre-back? Continue reading

Width is underrated, or why some counter-attacks work better than others

This’ll be quick, and for the first few sentences I’m going to engage in a sin of journalism (not that this is strictly journalism) and use first person pronouns. Forgive me.

About the time that I started to hear about the world ‘halfspace’ – or perhaps it was about the time that I’d learned from stats Twitter how inefficient crosses can be – I noticed that Arsenal were avoiding the wings like they used to avoid 5th place. If anything, it was a little too much. But anyway.

Then plucky youngderdogs Monaco came along with their fiery brand of dagger-plunging counter-attacks. What made them overperform their Expected Goals tally by so much? Was it (as it seemed likely) linked to their efficacy on counter-attacks, and what made those counter-attacks so effective? Continue reading

One Man, One Game: Per Mertesacker (Arsenal vs Barcelona, 23 February 2016)

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). In the ‘One man, One game’ feature, I do just that. 

 Per Mertesacker has a lot of fans. Partly it’s for things like this.

Partly it’s because he might – and here the narrative voice slightly trails off into the higher pitch of uncertainty – be Arsenal’s best central defender. I’ve liked Koscielny for a while and they’re different types of centre-backs, so it’s neither an easy nor obvious comparison. Possibly more relevant to Arsenal is the fact that the alternatives to Mertesacker during the BFG’s injury are all more naturally aggressive players, so the Koscielny-Mertesacker balance is harder to replicate without him. Continue reading

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

Enjoy.

  Continue reading

One man, One game: Pepe (Napoli vs Real Madrid, 03 March 2017)

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). In the ‘One man, One game’ feature, I do just that. The first, on John Terry’s first game of the 2016/17 season, is here.

 

Pepe’s reputation precedes him. This isn’t (I think?) so much to do with his defending as his tendency to kick people. In fairness to him, this is a major part of defending, and so he should be respected for continuing the noble tradition of the centre-back. But, with his Real Madrid now over and a move to Turkey already completed, it seems like a good time to consider how good he still is.

In hindsight, the second leg of a Champions League tie where Madrid were already 3-1 up was not likely to give a representative picture of Pepe as a defender. That said, it showcased some useful little features of his game. Continue reading