A possession based three at the back team has never won the Champions League. Three at the back systems are typically related to defensive teams but Thomas Tuchel and Pep Guardiola have changed the paradigms of football fans around the world who previously associated a defensive approach with a 3 at the back system. Remarkably, both face off against each other in the final, so no matter what the outcome is, history will be made. Let’s take a deeper look into how both teams play.
After being proven correct in my latest bold prediction which received an abnormal amount of attention, I’m back to make yet another bold, but logical, prediction. Liverpool, just like Chelsea against Atletico, will progress with ease against Real Madrid bar an almighty fluke, and for similar reasons.
The build-up to this huge encounter seems somewhat pessimistic from Liverpool’s perspective after yet another daft result against mid-table minnows on Wednesday night, whereas City’s superb run of form against those same mid-table minnows has seen them clamp their authority at the top of the Premier League table. With City 7 points ahead of Liverpool with a game in hand and 16 games to go, this really is last chance saloon for The Reds. This article discusses the tactical intricacies and game dynamics of the most important Premier League game of the season so far.
Arsenal vs Manchester United is a classic match-up of a 4-4-2 vs 4-4-2 high press, or a 4-2-3-1 if you want to refer to their-on ball systems. Both of Arsenal’s previous two fixtures were against Southampton who also play with a 4-4-2 high press so that’ll give Arteta’s men apt preparation for the game against Manchester United. The primary focus of each manager will be to press the game high up the pitch whilst reinforcing their players to be secure technically in the build-up phase. Whichever team makes less mistakes in these affairs typically comes out on top.
When people talk about the best central midfielders in the Premier League they’ll refer to the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and N’Golo Kanté in the same sentence, and that doesn’t sit right with me. One spends most of his game between the lines and rotating with the right winger whereas the other is typically a box to box destroyer. One has an attacking role with little defensive responsibility and one has a defensive role with little offensive responsibility. So how does it make sense to compare the two? Well, in short, it doesn’t, despite them both being ‘central midfielders’ in their respective teams. This suggests that a player’s role is a better parameter when comparing, or judging, central midfielders. So, what role is considered to be that of a traditional central midfielder, and who are the best players at that?
The 4-2-3-1 is typically a problematic system for Liverpool whenever they come up against it because of the natural overload it creates in the build-up versus Liverpool’s press. Manchester City, Napoli, Flamengo, Spurs and Ajax have all had success against Liverpool using that system (amongst other teams I’m sure I’m forgetting). Manchester United also typically play this way, but never have done against Liverpool because of the difference in quality over the last few years. The 4-2-3-1 represents a high risk-high reward approach as the system plays into Liverpool’s hands because of their notorious pressing (assuming the opposition play out from the back, which is what United do). As a result of this, Solskjaer always felt that a low block was the best way to play against Liverpool because he didn’t trust his players to play out of Liverpool’s press.
“Sometimes we’ve struggled more in games where we’ve had to break teams down. I can’t see Liverpool coming to park the bus – that’s just not in their mentality. So I can see it being an open game, which will suit us.” (@talksport, @metro).
Georginio Wijnaldum is a player that divides opinion in the Liverpool fanbase despite being an integral figure for Jürgen Klopp both on the pitch and in the locker room. His future at the football club is up in the air due to a dispute in contract negotiations, with Barcelona heavily linked with the Dutchman. The uncertainty surrounding the relationship between the club and player have accelerated as a result of rumours linking Liverpool with the recent Champions League winner, Thiago Alcântara. This article aims to look at Wijnaldum in depth, and why some fans are looking at the wrong criteria when judging the player. The Spaniard, Thiago, will also be analysed as a player in relation to how he potentially fits in at Liverpool as a direct replacement for Wijnaldum.
It’s often considered difficult to consider how a new manager will do at a club, particularly in the case of Mikel Arteta. A coach at Manchester City, the most successful English club of the decade and record breaking point holders, under the tutelage of one of the best managers ever, Pep Guardiola, but Mikel himself has no managerial pedigree at the top level, making it very difficult and essentially guesswork to figure out how he’ll do.
Liverpool’s 4-2-3-1 is a defence-first system that’s typically utilized against teams that Jürgen Klopp feels Liverpool have a clear quality advantage against. It’s designed to increase the compactness of the team from the moment the ball is lost. The essence of the system is the strong central spine. The two key elements within the system revolve around the first and second phase in which the ball is lost.