May 13, 2013
Steven N’Zonzi’s goal – A Charlie Adam free kick is shaped towards the near post, with three Stoke runners making moves beyond a static Spurs defence; N’Zonzi flicks the ball goal-wards, and Lloris is unable to keep it out, despite getting a palm to it.
Adam seems to take a strange run-up, quickly placing the ball and dashing back – presumably indicating a near post delivery through a pre-arranged signal. Spurs line up to defend this set piece zonally.
The runners start to make their moves as Adam runs up to deliver his cross. Parker, Bale, and Adebayor stand their ground in their zones, with Vertonghen man-marking in behind.
Somewhat shamefully, the static Spurs defence let three Stoke players get in at the near post – Bale and Parker are ill-positioned to deal with the ball or the runners. Parker is too far forward, and Bale sticks to defending his zone, not reacting to N’Zonzi’s run across him to meet the cross. He has a ridiculous amount of space when he makes the header.
For me, Lloris could do more – he gets a palm to the ball but still doesn’t keep it out. However, this goal has to be put down to the way that the set piece is defended – presumably we set up for a ball to the back post, not realising the threat that was unfolding at the near.
May 9, 2013
Oscar’s goal – Another set piece goal. Mata’s corner is flicked on by Cahill (who is afforded too much room by Dawson), and Parker fails to track Oscar at the back post, leaving him free to head in from close range.
Spurs do not seem particularly organised from this set piece. As usual, we have a man on the front post only, so the back post is unguarded. The eventual goal-scorer, Oscar, is being marked by Parker. Regular readers of this blog will know that his marking from set pieces – or rather his ability to lose his man – is not a new problem.
As the ball comes in, Dawson leaves Cahill in too much room, and Cahill wins the header.
Parker simply doesn’t track Oscar and, as a result, the Chelsea man is left with the simple task of heading in at the back post.
It’s poor from Dawson, and it’s poor from Parker – but a man on the far post would surely clear this.
Ramires’ goal – Ramires lays the ball off, continues his run, and gets on the end of a pass from Torres before toe-poking beyond Lloris.
Chelsea look to spring forward quickly. Our midfield is positioned awfully – Parker has pushed far too high up-field to press Luiz, and can be seen here just on the halfway line, with Ramires at least ten yards ahead of him.
Torres receives the ball wide in space. He beats Huddlestone, and makes a driving run down the line.
As Torres cuts in, note Ramires – he has continued his run, with Parker barely having made up any ground.
Torres slips a pass through, and Vertonghen goes ‘all in’ – lunging to try to cut it out.
Ramires breaks through – Dawson could go to ground, and risk a penalty/sending off, but instead stays on his feet.
That may have worked had Ramires not toe-poked his shot so early – taking Dawson and Lloris by surprise, and finding the bottom corner.
For me, this goal is more about Parker’s positioning than Dawson and Vertonghen’s defending, though – I cannot understand why he had pushed quite so high up the pitch to press Luiz, leaving just Huddlestone and the back four to deal with Chelsea’s talented attacking players. Luiz moving the ball quickly instantly takes Parker out of the game, and a clever run by Ramires to take advantage of this leads to a goal. In my opinion this is a goal that we simply wouldn’t concede with Sandro in the team.
April 28, 2013
Emerson Boyce’s goal – Boyce gets up above Vertonghen and powers a header into the corner of the net.
Vertonghen is marking the eventual scorer, Boyce, whilst, once again, we have decided not to have a player on the back post.
Boyce leaps well whereas Vertonghen doesn’t – he has a habit of being a little flat-footed when defending set pieces.
Had we had a player on the post, he would likely have been able to clear this.
Callum McManaman’s goal – McCarthy picks out McManaman who steps inside Naughton and lashes in an unstoppable strike which swerves late to take it beyond Lloris.
Wigan begin to work the ball around the box early in the second half, with Kone dropping off Dawson and finding McCarthy. Naughton has tucked round on the cover at this point, because McArthur has found himself on the penalty spot, behind Vertonghen. Our three midfield players, Parker, Huddlestone, and Holtby are all very close to one another with none tracking McCarthur – this would be fine if one had stuck with McCarthy, who instead picks the ball up in space.
As McCarthy receives the ball, Naughton suddenly realises that he has a problem – he now effectively has given himself two men to mark. Holtby tries to get to McCarthy in time, but he just has too much room – he is too good a player to be allowed this much time and space.
He zips an excellent pass into McManaman’s feet and, whilst his first touch loops away from him, Naughton can’t get there in time because he’s had to make up so much ground.
What happens next from Naughton isn’t great – McManaman is primarily right-footed, but Naughton lets him skip inside on to his left far too easily.
He ends up in quite a bit of space, with Naughton over-committed.
This screen-grab doesn’t do Lloris any favours but, in truth, it swerved late and was hit with such venom that it is very difficult to blame the goalkeeper.
I am a huge fan of the 4-3-3 system, particularly as I think it can best utilise our current squad. For example, we can easily accommodate Huddlestone who currently looks incapable of playing as part of a ’2′ in central midfield. However, with Huddlestone playing the deepest-lying role, there is no room for Parker in this formation. He is not efficient enough on the ball or swift enough in his decision-making to play as the water-carrier, and not intelligent enough in the final third to play as the most offensive midfielder. I felt his selection hindered us – whereas Dembele, Holtby and Huddlestone seems to be an ideal blend. Of course we weren’t helped by Dembele’s injury – fingers crossed it is nothing serious – which also later restricted any tactical changes.
Secondly, the 4-3-3 relies on width from the full backs, as discussed on The Fighting Cock podcast this week. This made the selection of Kyle Naughton even more baffling, as he instantly narrows the pitch when he cuts back on to his right foot. Personally I think that Assou-Ekotto at his worst is far more suited to this team than Naughton at his very best, but what do I know? On the plus side, Walker on the opposite flank was one of our best performers, and will seemingly flourish in 4-3-3.
Thirdly, we missed Adebayor. Whilst he didn’t have the best of games against City last week, his presence can occupy defenders and create space for our other attacking talents. He also drops deep and wide to receive the ball, whilst other players break forward – giving us a platform to build from. Defoe’s the opposite of this – he mostly plays on the shoulder and doesn’t tend to involve himself in build-up play, as his 19 touches yesterday will testify (by far the lowest of any player who completed 90 minutes). Defoe is an ideal impact sub, but we need Adebayor back ASAP if we are to prosper in our remaining matches.
April 22, 2013
Samir Nasri’s goal – Tevez drags Vertonghen out wide, beats him, and finds Milner, who bursts between Parker and Assou-Ekotto. His intelligent cut back is volleyed goal-wards by Nasri, and beats Walker on the line.
Manchester City break for the first time in the game, and Tevez finds himself one-on-one with Vertonghen. Parker begins to cover round – Assou-Ekotto is up-field after supporting an attack (Spurs relied on the width of the full backs throughout this game, so I have no issue with this).
Tevez attempts to drive past Vertonghen…
…but Vertonghen does a good job of using his strength to force Tevez wide.
However, having got him right where he wants him, Vertonghen commits himself and tries to win the ball.
Tevez is one of the strongest forwards around – he holds Vertonghen off, nips round him, and has the awareness to play a terrific reverse pass.
Whilst Vertonghen is holding Tevez up, Assou-Ekotto has tracked back (albeit slowly), and has followed Milner. Parker is attempting to back Vertonghen up, but hasn’t got his angles right…
Milner runs off Assou-Ekotto, into Parker’s zone. Parker is neither positioned well enough to stop the pass or on his toes enough to go with Milner. Assou-Ekotto stops tracking Milner – presumably passing him on to Parker, but apparently with no communication.
As a result, Milner gets clear…
…he drives closer to goal, before cutting a precise pass back – note the horrendous marking from Spurs, notably Walker being left with two men over at the back post. Perhaps Lennon would usually have been there supporting him, such is his defensive work-rate.
Nasri cushions his volley well (considering it’s at an awkward height), guiding it into the corner beyond Walker, who has dropped back on to the line.