As goal-contributors, defensive warriors and midfield engines all wrapped up in one modem, 'Box to Box Midfielders' end up being some of the most imperative members of their squads. Unlike other midfield player types, they consistently catch the eye for their attacking performances, even when deployed in a deeper, defensive, 'number 8' role. The likes of Conor Gallagher, Sergej Milinković-Savić and Georgia Stanway perfectly encapsulate the role, helping us to qualify and quantify more of these 'Box-to-Box' engines in the future.
Leave it to Manchester City to always be doing something interesting from a tactical perspective. Tactics were bound to change at the Ethiad with a new striker entering the door. City even made strides to accommodate Erling Haaland by purchasing yellow shirts for everybody. But the real tactical change against West Ham United came out from the back, with the re-emergence of an old City favourite that quietly died down in 2021-22. In large part, Bernardo Silva's 'Bernardo Silva Role' meant that the City fullbacks were responsible for inverting less in build-up phases, as the Portuguese playmaker drifted toward the ball to help the Citizens break through central corridors instead.
On Sunday July 31, 2022, Alexander Achinioti-Jönsson became the first non-Canadian player to make 100 appearances in the Canadian Premier League. As an integral member to the league's best side, Jönsson has arguably been the player of the season so far in the 2022 season, featuring in all but one match. What's more - he's played admirably in not one but two positions this season, splitting his playing time between the right-side of centre-back and defensive midfield. Here is an analysis of one of the CANPL's best players - 26-year-old Alexander Achinioti-Jönsson.
In our latest analysis series: Game of Numbers, we break down the various tactical undertones of the modern game, most notably the roles that individual players hold on the pitch to help their teams explore avenues for greatness. Positions are often broken down into 'numbers' to describe the areas of the field that a player may operate. This series aims to illustrate the ever-changing, fluid nature of those roles, and the ways in which various footballing teams may use the same players in the same roles to completely different effect. This is Issue No. 1, featuring the following: Lucas Paquetá & The 'Bernardo Silva Role', Joachim Andersen's 'Quarterback' Role vs. Arsenal, and Musiala's Masterclass vs. Eintracht Frankfurt.
Keira Walsh is brilliant. You know it. I know it. And thanks to the Women's European Championships, the whole world knows it too. In today's masterclass, I dissect that brilliance in a long-form Player Analysis, helping you and I come to a greater understanding of how you too can play (or coach) with the brilliance of Keira Walsh. Here is our analysis.
The 'Deep-Lying Playmaker' is one of the already attributed player types that we have adopted within our system. Also known by its Italian name 'Regista', the 'DLP' is tasked with setting the tempo of the match from build up to progression, all the way to creation. They sit in front of the defensive line as an 'Anchor', but hold a more offensive, progressive and possession-oriented role than the other two 'number 6' types within our 'Anchor' persona. Their role is in both helping create space between the lines, and then breaking lines, recycling play, or even changing the point of attack upon receiving the ball, so that their team can advance up the pitch, beat an opposition's press and seek spaces closer to goal.
Anchors tend to play at the base of a midfield three, holding the midfield together, and allowing others to work their magic up ahead. Their role is in both screening in front of the defense to disallow progressive passes forward, particularly into the opposition's striker, and to 'anchor' the midfield by holding everything together as other members step out of position or drift into the half-spaces. Unlike the 'Midfield Destroyer' they do not need to be overly active in defensive phases on sheer statistical contributions, but should be equally active on the hard work done off the ball to shift, shuffle and slide with the play.
The 'Midfield Destroyer' continues to be alive and well in the modern game, and encapsulates some of the most highly regarded and sought after defensive midfielders on the planet. The 'Destroyer' is essential to defending in transition and stunting attacks before the opposition reach the final third, within the wider umbrella of 'Anchoring' the midfield and screening in front of the back-line. Casemiro and Yves Bissouma would qualify as some of the best around, with Óscar Valentín and Benjamin André performing as two other fantastic emblems of the fearless persona behind the 'Midfield Destroyer' player type.
Not all 'Shuttlers' get the credit they deserve, even despite being absolute engines and motorcyclists for their teams. They respond brilliantly at all ends of the pitch through that tireless energy and appetite for the game, whilst prioritizing a defensive approach to life in football. N'Golo Kante serves as a perfect reminder of what 'Shuttlers' should strive to be - a player who wonderfully goes box-to-box with ease and admiration, without mitigating their resolute defensive responsibilities.
Historically, we've tailored our content toward coaches and fans of the beautiful game, attempting to use our content for practical application in the game. But more and more we find ourselves interacting with players wanting to take their tactical understanding to the next level. On the one hand, it's amazing to see players taking initiative, and recognizing the intertwined nature of the tactical side to superiority in all other "corners" of the game. But simultaneously, this points to somewhat of a hole in coaching practice and common dogmas, where the technical and physical components are still prioritized, without enough regard for the tactical elements of football. Here is how to improve your tactical understanding as a player.
It's been a strange couple of months for Canadian soccer players, almost absurdly unusual in the number of players making their way abroad. Akio is the next in line to join a European club, even in light of one of the greatest misses the game has ever seen. But as Ross County put it, Akio has so much pace and dynamism to offer, and so much more about him than all the discussion around his miss at the moment. So with that, here is our analysis as to why William Akio caught the eye of Ross County.