Ahead of the 2023-24 season, Wellington Phoenix's squad is looking bleak. But they are making active steps in the transfer market to improve upon their 6th place finish from 2022-23. New midfielders remain one of the first agenda items after the departures of first-team regulars Clayton Lewis and Steven Ugarkovic. In Mohamed Al-Taay, they've uncovered a 22-year-old gem who can tick all the boxes they need to become a more assertive side in the A-League. Here is what Al-Taay will bring to Wellington Phoenix, as we break down the defensive midfielder's game.
Tag: Defensive Midfield
Alessandro Hojabrpour – Player Analysis
Alessandro Hojabrpour has been one of the standout performers of the past two seasons in the Canadian Premier League. Playing in an understated defensive midfield role where he's required to proactively participate in all phases of the game, Hojabpour has also been a name that has gone relatively unnoticed when compared to some of his CPL peers. At 22 years of age, with the maturity of someone in their mid-twenties, Hojabrpour should be on the radar of every single MLS club, and soon enough on the radar of our national team. Here is my analysis of the remarkabilities to Alessandro Hojabrpour in 2022, and why he's one of the best midfielders that Canada has to offer.
Canadian Premier League Scouting Database – Defensive Midfielders
When asking the question of what player to sign, it's important to examine the most relevant information for your context. If you desire to find a true '6' who can hold down the midfield and play as a lone wolf - anchoring all on their own, Andre Rampersad might be your best bet. If looking for someone slightly more savvy in possession, Alessandro Hojabrpour is worth the swing. If you're looking for someone to play in a double pivot and dynamically venture box to box, Diego Gutiérrez is one of the best that the CANPL has to offer. Here is our analysis of the best defensive midfielders in the CPL.
Game of Numbers – #8 – Alexis Loera’s Midfield Shift
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. This is Issue No. 8, currently featuring KC Current's Alexis Loera and VfB Stuttgart's Silas Mvumpa.
How good is Scott McTominay? – Player Analysis
Throughout the past five to ten years of watching Manchester United, I had thought of myself as one of Scott McTominay's biggest fans. The Scotsman is often over-criticized when he doesn't play well, and under-praised in the big matches where he's always a central figurehead. But then out of nowhere, at the height of Scott McTominay's resurgence, a fairly well established Twitter account tweeted about the glory of Scott McTominay, causing quite the stir among the tactics and analytics community. . So with that, I analyze just how good Scott McTominay actually is, and whether or not we should be thinking of the Scottsman along the lines of @EBL2017, in line with the outrage sparked from the tweet, or somewhere in the middle. Here is my analysis of how good Scott McTominay might just be.
Explaining the Tempo Setter – Player Role Analysis
The 'Tempo Setter' is a unique player type to our system, taking into account the possession-based players that operate in a 'number 8' position, and thrive when given the ball in the half-spaces. Youri Tielemans, Christian Eriksen and Jordan Henderson feature as some of the best within the role from an emblematic perspective, perfectly exuding the cucumber coolness required. But the likes of Thiago and Tchouaméni also stake a claim despite their extreme exceptionalities on the ball, due to the high influence they present in keeping the game moving along from a withdrawn position. Beyond the streamlined skill of Thiago, they tend not to be the flashiest of players in their teams. But 'Tempo Setters' are key to setting the tone of a football match, and conducting the orchestra from start to finish. Quite simply, without their class and composure in possession, the whole entire musical production could crumble.
Game of Numbers – #2 – Walker & Cancelo Back Where They Belong
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.
Keira Walsh – Player Analysis
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.
Explaining the Deep-Lying Playmaker – Player Role 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.
Explaining the Anchor – Player Role Analysis
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.
Explaining the Midfield Destroyer – Player Role Analysis
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.