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@theweekend: Clichy Top Passer, Berba v Roo, Hawthorn Halves & Super Scotty P.

September 26, 2011

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

Manchester City 2-0 Everton : Clichy Wings It…

Everton have been a bit of a bogey team for the Citizens lately, having won seven of their previous eight encounters. City finally saw off the Toffees with goals from Mario Balotelli and James Milner, having spent much of the game being frustrated by a compact and resolute Everton outfit who not only detailed Jack Rodwell to man-mark David Silva but kept their full-backs narrow and got men behind the ball – their 29 interceptions were comfortably a league high for the weekend (the average was 14). City opted to use width to get around and to stretch Everton, none more so than through left-back Gaël Clichy who was the game’s top passer with 66 completed from 75 attempted, even outpassing Silva (44 from 56), Samir Nasri (65 from 72), Yaya Touré (64 from 70) & co. in the process – a telling feat if ever there was one!…

Chelsea 4-1 Swansea : Chelsea Charge, Swansea Sit…

Home advantage, territory and ambition (and perhaps a slightly larger budget) helped Chelsea overcome Swansea at the weekend, in spite of Fernando Torres’s 39th-minute dismissal. Swansea fastidiously stuck their guns and tried to keep the ball amongst their back four, but consequently struggled to venture out of their half, making almost 60% of their impressive 551 attempted passes in their own half. Chelsea however made almost 60% of their 547 passes in Swansea’s half, and consequently threatened the Swansea goal more readily than vice versa (15 shots to 7), emerging comfortable 4-1 winners despite playing a man-down for an hour. Chelsea benefitted from the territory, possibly from home advantage; Swansea might have benefitted from showing a bit more ambition…

Newcastle 3-1 Blackburn : Toon Triumph Over Ropey Rovers…

Newcastle comprehensively out-played Blackburn at the weekend, dominating the passing stats (NEW 428 at 81.1%, BLA 198 at 65.3%) and consequently the shooting stats too (NEW 21, BLA 3); a comfortable 3-1 victory followed. Cheick Tioté (70 at 90.9%, including an assist) once again shone for Newcastle, but it was a collectively impressive performance from a side flying high in fourth. Things are looking decidedly less rosy for Blackburn however – by illustration of their troubles, Rovers only managed 45 passes in the final third on Saturday…

West Brom 0-0 Fulham : A Tale Of Two Halves…

Roy Hodgson admitted to getting his tactics wrong (‘It didn’t work particularly well‘) as his 4-3-3/4-5-1 set-up was easily negotiated by a rampant Fulham during a first half so one-sided Martin Jol was able to suggest that ‘West Brom looked like the away side‘. The opening period saw the Whites complete an impressive 340 of 383 passes (at almost 90%), with chief orchestrator Danny Murphy making a staggering 61 of 69 passes (88.4%) in just 45 minutes. Once again though, for all Fulham’s dominance they did not have the goals to show for it. After the break Hodgson reverted to his conventional 4-4-2, with Peter Odemwingie (see heatmap) joining Shane Long in an out-and-out front two, and a more compact bank of four midfielders in the middle. Fulham consequently found it harder going, making just 151 of 197 passes (76.6%) in the second 45′, with Murphy’s contribution noticeably diminished – just 19 successful passes (from 27, at 70.4%) compared to 61 in the first half. Hodgson commented afterwards, ‘I don’t think many would argue that if the game was judged on the second half alone we’d have been the winners.’ It might have finished goalless, but it was the near epitome of a proverbial tale of two halves…

Wigan 1-2 Tottenham : Luka On The Line & Parker Shines…

With Aaron Lennon and Niko Kranjčar absent at the weekend, Harry Redknapp shifted Luka Modrić to the right flank from the central-midfield role he has revelled in over the last twelve months. Stationed predominantly on the right (until he moved more centrally following van der Vaart’s substitution in the 79th minute), the Croatian string-puller gave Spurs a good balance with Gareth Bale returned to the left-wing, and threatened throughout with ten passes – including an assist – to teammates in the Wigan area. Furthermore, this enabled Redknapp to select the more solid due of Sandro and Scott Parker in the middle, an arguably logical tactic for away days. Parker once again looked every inch one of the buys of the summer, impressing with a 90.6% accuracy rate for his game-leading 85 passes (77 successful), but also making 8 interceptions, 3 tackles, and two clearances. Another great piece of business from Harry…

Stoke 1-1 Manchester United : Berba’s No Wayne…

United failed to win a game for the first time this season, drawing 1-1 at Stoke in a keenly contested affair. It perhaps should come as no surprise that their first “dropped points” came without talisman Wayne Rooney, left at home to watch a Beyoncé DVD whilst nursing a hamstring injury. His replacement, Dimitar Berbatov, failed to shine, attempting only 30 passes (24 completed) against Stoke compared to Rooney’s 52 (38 completed) last time out against Chelsea. Furthermore, Berba made just two successful passes (from four) in the final third on Saturday, with Rooney having made half of his 52 passes against Chelsea in the final third. Poorer mobility, fewer passes, and the lack of the X-factor spark that Rooney can so often offer – Berba’s clearly no Wayne…

One For The Road : The Highs & Lows Of Being A Full-Back…

He might have bagged an assist at the weekend, but apart from that it was a terrible afternoon for Blackburn’s left-back Martin Olsson. The Swede completed just seven further passes at a lowly 44% accuracy in the 69 minutes he played before receiving his marching orders – a meagre one every ten minutes. In many ways this was comparable to the afternoon endured by Wigan’s right-back, Steve Gohouri; tormented by Gareth Bale, he received his marching orders in the 62nd minute having made only fourteen passes to that point. It wasn’t all doom for full-backs though, with Gaël Clichy (see top of the page), José Bosingwa (43 passes at 83%, 1 assist) and Bacary Sagna (68 passes at 92%) all enjoying strong performances at the weekend…

Next weekend we have the joys of the Merseyside derby, whilst the two Manchesters will be hoping to bang in the goals against Norwich and Blackburn. There are two London derbies on the Sunday as Fulham entertain QPR and Arsenal travel to Spurs…

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 26, 2011 2:42 pm

    Boo to the Everton score, nice match report.

    • September 26, 2011 3:29 pm

      Thanks. Eve. nearly got something – t’was close. But when MCFC have got £20m+ players on their bench it’s always going to be tough for everyone else… no shame in that.

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