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@theweekend: Tremendous Tioté, Fantastic Faurlín, Adebayor & more…

September 19, 2011

Our weekly dose of chalkboard analysis from the Premier League at the weekend…

Blackburn 4-3 Arsenal : Wasteful Gunners Shoot Themselves In The Foot

Blackburn rode their luck to claim three important points at Arsenal’s expense this weekend. The Gunners might have dominated the possession, passing, and shooting statistics, but two own goals proved just as costly as the number of chances that Arsène Wenger’s team conspired to miss. At the top level, you simply have to take your chances, and only 3 goals from 23 attempts will not please Wenger. Credit to Rovers though, who worked hard and put their bodies on the line to secure the win, blocking eight of Arsenal’s attempts on goals in the process…

Aston Villa 1-1 Newcastle : Tioté and Cabaye Shine

Villa and Newcastle shared a point at the weekend, although it was a match Newcastle can count themselves unlucky not to have won. The Magpies out-passed Villa by quite some margin, completing more passes (401-257) and at a higher accuracy (79.1%-70.6%), enabling them to engineer 22 attempts on goal; Villa by contrast registered just three blocked efforts and one shot on target (their goal) in the 90 minutes. At the heart of Newcastle’s impressive performance were central midfielders Cheick Tioté (76 passes at 83.5%) and Yohan Cabaye (63 at 82.9%), who comprehensively out-played and out-passed their opposite numbers, Stiliyan Petrov (18 at 81.8%) and Fabian Delph (34 at 77.3%). Tioté also completed six interceptions and five tackles (from eight) whilst Cabaye hit the woodwork and forced some great saves from Shay Given, although it was Tioté and Cabaye’s commanding display in central areas that allowed Newcastle to dominate the fixture…

Swansea 3-0 West Brom : Patience & Width Help Swansea to First Win

Swansea completed their first victory of the season with a 3-0 triumph over West Brom. What has characterised Swansea this season has been a patient passing game and the utilisation of width through full-backs Àngel Rangel and Neil Taylor as well as wide forwards Scott Sinclair and Nathan Dyer. Both elements were very much on show against West Brom, a team who tend to defend in a compact manner but can get stretched by width-focused teams such as Swansea. The Swans persisted with their beliefs this weekend and reaped the rewards, frequently stretching the Baggies back line, creating gaps in the middle which helped lead to goals. A comparison between the two right-backs on show, Swansea’s Àngel Rangel and West Brom’s Steven Reid (a converted midfielder), highlighted the difference in ethos between the two sides and the two players, with Rangel hugging the touchline for 94% of his 80 passes, as opposed to Reid who frequently drifted in-field and consequently made just 53% of his 47 passes on the flank…

Wolves 0-3 QPR : Fantastic Faurlín

QPR claimed a fine three-goal victory away to Wolves at the weekend, and whilst Joey Barton might have grabbed the headlines for reasons right and wrong, it was the efforts of Alejandro Faurlín that perhaps deserved most praise. In a manner of, say, Darren Fletcher, the Argentine did the simple things well, completing 41 of 49 passes at an impressively high success rate of 83.7%. Faurlín’s strike for QPR’s second goal was indeed delightful, but he had also played a significant role in their opener, four-times being involved (number 11) in the fine passing move that led to Barton’s strike. An excellent game for Faurlín…

Tottenham 4-0 Liverpool : Adebay-More

Let’s not beat around the bush – Spurs dominated this one: 591 passes at 89% versus 306 at 75%, coupled with 26 shots to 3, paints a pretty clear picture. Two red cards didn’t help Liverpool’s cause, but Spurs were already dominant when the first dismissal came. Undoubtedly central to this display were Scott Parker and Luka Modrić, who made 81 passes (95% accuracy) and 98 passes (90%) respectively, although it has been the acquirement of Emmanuel Adebayor on loan this summer that has most transformed Tottenham’s attacking play. Replacing Peter Crouch up front, Adebayor’s superior mobility, passing, and work ethic (yes you read correctly!) were in evidence as he completed 65 passes (at almost 90% accuracy) across large swathes of the pitch, and won four from five tackles to go with the two goals he scored. By comparison, against Blackpool at the end of last season, Crouch completed just seven passes at 58% and was hauled off after 65 minutes. Spurs fans should look forward to a good campaign if Adebayor can continue to produce such impressive displays…

Fulham 2-2 Manchester City : Cottage Turnaround

After rescuing two-goal deficits against Manchester City in both April 2008 and in October 2009 it was perhaps little surprise that Fulham managed the feat once again this weekend. Aside from City ‘s mental and/or defensive frailties, the Whites engineered this turnaround by playing at a higher tempo further up the pitch and with more width in the second half. The Cottagers attempted almost 40% more passes after the break (223 vs. 174), notably utilising the width offered by attacking left-back John Arne Riise to far greater effect in the process (23 passes vs. 9 passes). This gave Jol’s troops a better balance and stretched the City backline, enabling Fulham to get into the box more regularly (28% of second-half passes were in the final third, just 21% pre-HT) and consequently get off more shots (9 vs. 5). The goals and the comeback followed…

Sunderland 4-0 Stoke City : Vaughan-iesta

Sunderland recorded their first win of the season with a resounding 4-0 triumph over Stoke City on Sunday. David Vaughan replaced Lee Cattermole at the base of the Black Cats midfield and set about breaking up Stoke’s play to a greater degree of success (winning six tackles from nine) than Cattermole had managed in the same role in the previous game against Chelsea (winning just one tackle from three). Vaughan was also a constant and dependable source of control on the ball for Sunderland, completing 50 of 56 passes (89%) in comparison to Cattermole’s 19 from 25 (76%) the week before. An impressive first start for Vaughan then; Sunderland fans will be hoping for more of the same. Hopefully Steve Bruce gives him the chance…

Manchester United 3-1 Chelsea : Fernando Flounders

It is a simple game at times. United went into the break following a relatively even first half with a three-goal lead. The Reds had hit the back of the net with three of five shooting chances, whilst Chelsea had nothing to show from thirteen attempts in the same period. It was, put simply, virtually game over. The difference was reduced in the second period through an instinctive Fernando Torres strike, but there was still that miss and just one goal from six attempts (good opportunities too) to show for his afternoon’s work…

One For The Road: Joey Versus ‘Kelvin’…

Joey Barton versus Karl Henry – a testy battle if ever there was one. This time around, the QPR midfielder had the last laugh, putting in an influential and energetic performance for Rangers that was capped by scoring the opening goal in a 3-0 rout. It took Henry, Wolves’s midfield enforcer, 92 minutes to win a tackle on Barton, a dubious challenge that was only his second successful tackle in the match…

Next week, QPR and Norwich look to build on impressive away wins with home games againts Villa and Sunderland respectively, while Arsenal and Liverpool will seek to repair this week’s damage when they entertain Bolton and Wolves…

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