For much of the 2022-23 season, Arsenal looked like genuine title favourites, with the Gunners in full flow under a former Pep Guardiola mentee, Mikel Arteta. But in the past few months, the Gunners have slowly started to slip away, and tip the scale back in favour of the team that have won four of the last five seasons. Pep Guardiola's team have been absolutely immaculate as the season has come to a close, under much in the way of new, evolving tactics. We break down the tactical undertones of Guardiola's team in 2022-23, and how they've evolved their approach in the quest for another league title.
Tag: KEVIN DE BRUYNE
Game of Numbers #14 – Ilkay Gündoğan’s Movement Masterclass
İlkay Gündoğan had a masterclass of a performance against Liverpool, playing a massive part in their commanding 4-1 win over their title challengers from last season. It was vintage Gündoğan at his best, and showcases City's potential to continue putting on top quality performances even without the presence of Erling Haaland. Here is Game of Numbers #14, illustrating Gundogan's movement masterclass!
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
Why Erling Haaland scores so many goals
Let's not get overly simplistic about this. Erling Haaland is the best footballer in the world at the moment. But how he scores so many goals can be scrutinized in far greater depth than simply saying he's an alien. So with that, here is our latest analysis on the great Erling Haaland, and how he scores so many incredible goals.
Explaining the Creative Ten – Player Role Analysis
When we say 'Creative Ten', I'm sure you immediately conjure up an image of a classical painter of a player, who wonderfully creates art with their passing and incisiveness in the final third. But as has been well documented over the past few years, that type of player does not tend to exist in the modern game. The Mesut Ozil's, David Silva's and Cesc Fabregas's of this world no longer tend to exist as they once did, or play in the same positions that they once held. Nowadays, 'number ten's' must not only be capable contributors in the final third, but highly active in pressing from the front, and contributing to rotations that spread the width of the pitch.
Game of Numbers – #3 – The Evolution of the Target Man
Target Men are often seen as the bottom of the barrel centre-forward in terms of footballing ability. But increasingly, it's becoming more difficult to quantify 'Target Men', recognizing the vast skillsets they employ. The likes of Aleksandar Mitrović and Sasa Kalajdzic are easier to distinctly categorize as 'Target Men' for their physical, imposing frame that allows them to score headed goals for fun. But it becomes more difficult to keep the likes of Erling Haaland and Darwin Nunez in that same specification, recognizing the vast array of traits they possess, particularly speed on the break. Target Men have historically been seen as slow, technically inept individuals who use their physicality, whether that be height or strength, to get one up over the opponent. But more and more, we are seeing an evolution of the 'Target Man' in 2022, to include a vast array of traits.
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.
Kevin de Bruyne Masterclass vs. Wolves – Tactical Analysis
Currently in the process of chasing down a fourth Premier League title under Pep Guardiola, Kevin de Bruyne has taken charge of Manchester City's dominance in the last few months, rising above the rest as a completely untouchable figurehead in the team. Last night saw the Belgian score four goals in a single match, taking his tally up to 15 for the season - his most in a single Premier League campaign. With that, we break down the tactical elements of Kevin de Bruyne's masterclass against a normally stern Wolves defense, and how the Belgian led his team to a smashing 5-1 victory.
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.
Manchester City 2-2 Liverpool – Tactical Analysis
"If Manchester City win the match, the title race is over." - every Premier League pundit in existence. Well, Manchester City didn't win the match, so what happens now? First of all, what a match. Second of all, I am of the firm belief that Manchester City thoroughly outclassed Liverpool on the day, and that Raheem Sterling should have been ruled onside from that VAR disallowed goal (surely it's too close to say clear and obvious?). But I digress. I am not here to talk about refereeing decisions. Instead, the tactics! So let's jump into it, and discuss whether or not the title race is over, or in fact, still with everything to play for.
Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea – Match Analysis
Manchester City are running away with the 2021-22 Premier League title. Thomas Tuchel looked resigned to the same belief in his post-match interview, with the Blues having one of their worst games since the German took over. Manchester City were utterly dominant from start to finish, allowing the Blues just 7 touches in the Sky Blue penalty area - Chelsea's lowest in seven years. So with that, here is our tactical analysis of how Guardiola's City claimed such a dominant victory over Thomas Tuchel's team.