Picking the 2021-22 PFA Team of the Year

It's that time of year! In this week's Tactical Thinker, we asked you to name your PFA Team of the Year, as though you were one of the pros making the difficult selection. After a countless number of responses, we compile the top eleven players as voted by our own stack of pros - you, the readers. Here is our PFA Team of the Year, from the TMS community.

Explaining the Wide Warrior – Player Role Analysis

A 'Wide Warrior' is a full-back who hasn't quite kept up with the modern trends associated with their position. Rather than relying on attacking threat and potency to make their name, the 'Wide Warrior' continues to be an ever-present at the back, doing their best work closer to goal. They excel at the defensive side of the game above all else, even if they may offer certain advantages going forward (like a wing-back), or in half-spaces (like an inverted fullback). Further, not only do they excel at the defensive side of the game, their manager has made clear intentions for that to be the most important facet of their role within the team, restricting their attacking height.

Canadian Premier League – Player Ratings

After the first week of action in the 2022 Canadian Premier League season, we have officially launched our brand new Player Evaluation System. The details of this can be found in this article - Evaluating players based on role continuity, and we have already begun the process of identifying roles for specific players that may have stood out on the day. Here are how the players of the Canadian Premier League currently rank based on our brand new model.

Explaining the Sweeper Keeper – Player Role Analysis

The 'Sweeper Keeper' came to deserved acclaim at the 2014 World Cup, when Manuel Neuer showcased his ability to rush out of his goal, and "sweep" in behind Germany's high-line, almost playing like another centre-back out of possession. Since then, the role of the sweeper keeper has only grown and evolved, becoming a player who is capable in build-up phases, ventures out of their goal to involve themselves in passing sequences higher up the pitch, and completely commands their penalty area by coming off their line and taking control of any situation.

Finding the next Jamie Vardy – Tactical Analysis

A truly iconic forward, not to mention incredibly unique in his career path, personality and play style, Jamie Vardy has been instrumental to Leicester's years of success. Now that Leicester have the finances to spend more than the notorious £1m steal spent on Vardy, there are a vast array of options within the transfer market for the Foxes to make their best attempt at recreating his legacy in the Premier League. So with that, we make strides toward helping Leicester in that complicated cause.

Tactical Thinker: Picking the PFA Team of the Year

This past weekend, Mohamed Salah claimed the Football Writers' Association Player of the Year, with more individual awards soon to follow. Individual awards are fraught with controversy within a team sport that relies on all eleven players working in tandem, and sometimes fail to acknowledge those that didn't do the flashy bits on a football pitch, but performed like their lives depended on it week in and week out. On both accounts, that's what often makes the Team of the Year an intriguing award to follow. When it comes to the PFA Team of the Year, it becomes all the more fascinating to see who the pros themselves had the most difficult time playing against this season, and who they felt deserved to be remembered for their role in making the 2021-22 season special. So with that, we ask you to pick your PFA Team of the Year, if you were one of the pros.

Why patterns and context are so essential to analysis in football

If you're reading this article, chances are you love to analyze football. So allow me to help with your love for analysis with this call to action. Stop taking information from single-match occurrences, or single-match statistics, even statistics over time on their own, as a mechanism for making inferences about the wider context at hand. Recognizing patterns over time, and the wider context behind those patterns, are the essentials behind analysis in football, allowing you to more accurately assess performance, and improve upon performance problems.

Explaining the Shot Stopper – Player Role Analysis

While formations may exclude the never-changing goalkeepers from their numbering, we could never fail to recognize the importance of goalkeeping in the game. As a result, we start with one of the most scrutinized positions on a football pitch - that of the keeper. We break goalkeepers down into two broad categories - 'Shot Stopper', and 'Sweeper Keeper'. We can then use these classifications to help distinguish between different types of players, and measure accordingly. Today's article is all about the 'Shot Stopper', defining role expectations and answering the soon to be common question of - 'What exactly is a shot stopper?'

The best young players outside of Europe’s top five leagues in 2021-22

We take a look at the six best (or the six most submitted) young players outside of Europe's top five leagues, who have been catching the eye in 2021-22. But not only that! We also take a deep dive into the discussion vaults, describing where each of our youngsters could end up next season, both in stylistic fit and reported rumours.