Unai Emery has been one of the most esteemed managers of the modern era, to little fanfare given that much of his managerial success has come in competitions like the Europa League and Ligue 1. But Emery is yet to truly fail in a managerial role, and looks prepared to only continue his incredible reputation at Aston Villa. When he took over from Steven Gerrard, Villa were hovering around the relegation zone, desperately trying to stay afloat. Now they've attained four wins from their last six matches, in a robust 4-4-2 system that has dragged them all the way toward the top ten. Here is our analysis of how Emery has achieved so much success in his early days at Villa Park.
Category: Most Recent
The advantages of having a player who doesn’t defend
We often look at a player who doesn't defend as a detractor. Players are told from a young age that they must defend, regardless of their position on the field. In many respects, this is true. But when you get to the professional level, roles can evolve in novel ways, and even incorporate a player who has limited defensive responsibility. It was refreshing to see two teams so clearly implementing a tactic around their attack-minded superstars at the 2022 World Cup, simply by having them prioritize the attacking side of the game. With that, I wanted to provide a potential argument into why having this type of tactic can actually be a valuable feature to a team going forward, without ruining their chances in defense.
Explaining the Target – Player Role Analysis
Historically known as the 'Target Man', we've rebranded this term to be all encompassing. More than just about any role, the word 'Target' immediately paints a picture of the type of player we're looking for. That is, someone strong, typically tall, aerially savvy, robust, and frequently used by their team as a target for advancing up the pitch. In the hockey sense, they would typically be the one responsible for 'roughing up the opposition'
Explaining the Creative Link – Player Role Analysis
Creative Links are quite similar to our attacking midfielder persona - the 'Creative Ten'. The main difference is that they play up front, and typically conduct more of their play with their back to goal in linking up with their teammates. You could call them a 'False 9', a playmaking centre-forward, or something between a '9' and a '10.'
Eddie Howe – Newcastle United – Tactical Analysis (2022-23)
Many would have expected Newcastle United to improve under their new ownership, but their rise to remarkability has been quicker than anyone would have imagined. Eddie Howe has achieved complete equilibrium within his eleven in under a twelve-month period, turning the Magpies into a top five side with many of the same faces from the days of Steve Bruce. With Newcastle's remarkable rise only likely to continue, we break down the tactics that have brought his team success in 2022-23.
The half-spaces as a key chance creation channel
It has long been hypothesized that 'Zone 14' is the holy grail of chance creation. The ideas around this concept were built around a study from the late 1990s that specified that successful teams had a higher frequency of getting into this zone when compared against their peers. Since opposition clubs often compact central channels out of possession, it's logical to reason that teams who are more successful in advancing into one of the most congested areas of the pitch are more successful overall. But while everyone conducting public analysis is busy studying 'Zone 14' (not all that well), the best chance creators are consistently conjuring up magic from a different area of the pitch, due to the desirable outcomes that follow
The successful throw-in playbook (ft. Forge FC)
CPL Winners Forge FC ranked second in successful throw-ins across the 2022 season - at 90.9%. They exceled through movement off the ball to create space, and a series of meticulous routines to unbalance the opposition. Here is how they achieved success.
Lionel Messi – Player Analysis – World Cup 2022
After coming desperately close in 2014, Lionel Messi now has another shot of World Cup glory, in what could be his final act at the prestigious tournament. The 35-year-old has been absolutely brilliant at the 2022 showcase, scoring 5 goals with 3 assists in 6 matches, and coming up with some of the most significant single-handed efforts we've seen from anyone at the tournament. Here is our analysis of Lionel Messi at the 2022 World Cup.
Explaining the Channel Runner – Player Role Analysis
Channel Runners are one of our most unique prototypes, based off the common phrase used for strikers that "run the channels". They typically exist in a front-two, and in teams that intermix moments of counter-attacking football with quick and incisive long passes over the top. The use of a striker in this manner remains a more common approach to life in the women's game, as strikers across all realms are becoming more versatile (and advised for that matter) in dropping into build-up play to receive the ball.
England’s midfield balance – 2022 World Cup Analysis
In light of Mason Mount's lack of form at the start of the 2022 World Cup and in the recent months for Chelsea, Gareth Southgate has since opted for an experienced pairing of Declan Rice and Jordan Henderson at the base of the midfield, pushing the fresh legs of 19-year-old Jude Bellingham further forward. This has worked like a charm, bringing out the best in each of Southgate's midfield men, and allowing Bellingham to play some of his best football of his career thus far under the freedom of an advanced role. Here is why the balance of England's midfield has been so successful in recent matches, and why the trio could be the key to success in unlocking France.
Gareth Southgate – England – Tactical Analysis – World Cup 2022
Three games down and England have made it out of Group B with seven points, on nine goals scored and two allowed. It sounds dominant, but skepticism remains among fans across the country as to how the Three Lions will react against a higher-quality, more expansive footballing side. USA were a tough matchup: tight marking and possession-oriented. Yet, England’s squad should still have blasted past the young Americans without too much trouble. Senegal next, and without Sadio Mané, they also lack world class talent; but their high pressing game and expert transitional attacks make them a dangerous opponent in the Round of 16. Here is our analysis of Gareth Southgate's England at the 2022 World Cup, after the group stage.
Reflections from Canada’s loss to Croatia – 2022 World Cup
After taking a few days to reflect on Canada's disappointing loss against Croatia, I have been able to take away many positives from the performance. Kamal Miller won't get much in the way of praise after being hung out to dry at the end of the game, but he had another brilliant performance at the back. Alphonso Davies meanwhile bagged the nation's first goal at a Men's World Cup inside just two minutes of action, waking my neighbours up as I yelled of joy. But in dissecting the game further, it's clear to see that Croatia operated at a higher level, with their fanciful one-touch triangulations causing chaos for Canada every time they had the ball. For what feels like the first time ever, a few things will need to drastically change from a tactical standpoint heading into the next fixture from John Herdman's team. Here are my reflections on Canada's 4-1 defeat to Croatia.
Kamal Miller – Player Analysis
Canadian footballers operating in the MLS have been notoriously underrated over the years, but now with the nation putting themselves on the world stage, clubs across the globe should start to pay more attention to our greatest players. One of those who has announced himself on the grandest stage is CF Montreal's Kamal Miller. Miller's been arguably Canada's best defender across the two opening group stage matches at the 2022 World Cup, serving as a nice compliment to his defensive partner Steven Vitoria at the back. With a range of qualities on and off the ball, Miller could easily be playing for a club in Europe's top five leagues already. So with that, we aim to strengthen Miller's case for a move across the pond.