Really good and in-depth look at the transition from traditional 4-4-2 tactics to what is called ‘Tiki-Taka’ which approaches the game with a style originating from total football in Holland, with more focus on controlling the ball and the opposition through fluency of possession and tactical organisation. Brendan Rodger’s tactical set-up at Swansea is used as an example, who, now Liverpool manager, lead Swansea first to a promotion and then to an 11th place Premier League finish in his only two seasons swearing by Tiki-Taka football.
Via @InfostradaLive: Winning percentage last 5 England managers: Hoddle 61%, Keegan 39%, Eriksson 60%, McClaren 50%, Capello 67%
England manager’s task should be: 1) Qualify, 2) Get out of the group stages 3) Anything else a bonus. Eriksson and Capello both achieved 1 & 2 every single time. Last English boss did neither. One before only achieved point 1
England usually about the 10th best side in the world. Newcastle/Villa always win cups, don’t they?
What really hit me & forced me to take this decision was the fact the much-vaunted Anglo-Saxon sense of justice, as they are the first to claim that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. In Terry’s case they gravely offended me & damaged my authority at the head of the England side
It was an excellent win at The Emirates today – the first win away at Arsenal for over 11 years. Dirk Kuyt and Martin Kelly took the places of Luis Suarez and John Flanagan; common sense considering Suarez was tired. Kelly and Kuyt are also very physically strong and big to give us an edge. And according to the commentators on BBC Radio 5Live, Liverpool did have the edge over Arsenal. I’d say it was a bit more than an edge and it was actually quite a dominant display with more possession, more passes and more shots. Even if we did just ‘edge’ it, you have to remember we were the away team. At Arsenal. Where we haven’t won for 11 years. We took the game to them and looked more like a dominant home team than the away team underdogs Arsenal played like.
Fair enough, Arsenal were missing Gervinho and Song through suspension but is that not their own fault? Koscielny also went off injured after 16 minutes but his replacement, Miquel, didn’t do much wrong, even if he did kick the ball onto Ramsey which subsequently bounced into the goal. Anyway, Liverpool were missing Suarez for most of the game, Gerrard and Johnson were recovering from injury along with Skrtel who was back on the bench today. Not to mention that player of pre-season, Alberto Aquilani, has mysteriously disappeared.
Frimpong was rightfully sent off and despite claims that the decisions went against Arsenal in Wenger’s usual moan after the game – “It looks like both goals were offside. The referees are (supposed to be) professional” – I’d disagree. Ramsey’s own goal maybe should have been disallowed but there was nothing wrong with the second goal. Suarez was in an offside position for the first goal when Meireles’ made the pass, but he didn’t once touch the ball. Therefore the argument is whether Suarez interfered with play and since he was putting Miquel under pressure, the goal maybe shouldn’t have stood. [edit: Graham Poll claims that interfering with play means touching the ball] Suarez was also in an offside position when Lucas passed the ball to Meireles for the second goal but at this point, Suarez was not interfering with play. By the time Meireles received the ball, Suarez had got himself into position to put away Meireles’ square ball. Liverpool were the better team and deserved the goals. It would have been unjust had Arsenal scored.
Anfield Index on twitter:
Carroll V AFC Pass Accuracy:77% Ground Duels Won: 55% Aerial Duels Won: 67% Accurate Flick on: 100% Accurate Lay Off: 100%
Henderson V AFC Pass Accuracy: 90% Forward: 41% Backwards: 27% Left: 10% Right: 22% Lost all Ground Duels.. (5)
Kelly V AFC Pass Accuracy 78% Tackles Won: 100% Ground Duels won: 42% Aerial Duels won: 0% (only had 1)
Lucas V AFC Pass Accuracy: 87% Tackles won: 67% (8/12) Ground Duels won: 75% (15/20) Aerial Duels won: 50%
Adam V AFC Pass %: 81 Tackles Won: 100% (5/5) Ground Duels Won: 75% (9/12) Aerial Duels Won: 100% (1/1) Cross Accuracy: 50%
And here is a comparison of today’s game with the same fixture last season thanks to Anfield Index.
Jose Enrique was fantastic going forward as well as defending. Henderson looked sharp with 90% passing accuracy. He looks like a proper pass and move player – good one touch passing followed by instant movement creating space – and he’s still got many years to develop. Carroll did a good job of wearing out the centre backs for Suarez to terrorize when he came on. Adam was really good today with some sublime passing; you know his confidence is high when he is taking shots from the halfway line!
Speaking of shots, Arsenal took a lot more from outside the box than we would expect them to. We’re used to seeing them pass the ball hundreds of times inside the box before tapping it over the line. Is this due to Arsenal being poor or Liverpool’s tactics?
So today’s game showed the highest percentage of shots outside the box for the past four seasons in this fixture. In fact, you have to go back to the 07/08 season to find the last time Arsenal had more shots outside the box than inside the box at home against Liverpool. 58.3% of Arsenal’s shots today were outside the box compared to 31.25%, 41.6% and 33.3% in the 10/11, 09/10 and 08/09 seasons respectively. Quite a gap.
Liverpool’s defending was very good today and rather than pressuring Arsenal, the back four appeared to drop off and waited for Adam and Lucas to put in a tackle. This can often be risky as it leaves the opposition with a lot of space to run into but with two holding midfielders (and the hard-working Kuyt tracking back), Liverpool limited Arsenal’s chances. Obviously when the midfielders don’t get back in time, Arsenal could have scored a spectacular long-ranger but Reina was reasonably comfortable and the defence wasn’t too stretched. If the centre backs had stepped up and missed a tackle, Arsenal would have exploited the space with swift pass and move football so it was vital they held their position.
Up the other end of the pitch Liverpool had a much more controlled and steady tempo compared to last week’s first half against Sunderland. Still, the movement was excellent and Henderson, Kuyt, Downing were in constant rotation. The versatility of the three came in useful as they popped up on the left, on the right and through the middle, stretching Arsenal’s defence. Carroll pushed up on the Arsenal centre half pairing allowing for the flowing movement behind him. I was extremely impressed with the intelligent runs of Downing and Henderson in particular.
Overall, a very encouraging performance but unlike last week, an encouraging result to go with it. Let’s see how long we can keep it up for.
I was at Anfield on Saturday for the final warm up match before the 2011-2012 Premier League season begins. It was a competent win against a good Valencia side. Agger was my man of the match yet others such as Downing impressed. Lucas was fantastic when he came on with a patient, intelligent and exciting performance within just 45 minutes of playing time – surprisingly sharp considering he’s only just back at training after his break following Brazil’s Copa America exit.
While newspapers and magazines have been predicting every result, outcome and formation this coming season, I’m surprised how much I’ve seen our best player last season left out of speculative starting 11s. Lucas Leiva was voted Liverpool’s player of the season and I expected him to be the first name in everyone’s ‘perfect’ team.
I’d like to draw your attention to a fantastic article on Lucas from a while ago on level 3 football. Roy Henderson outlines here the underrated magnificence of our Brazilian “steering wheel”. Noone in our team can anchor the midfield as well as Lucas.
Against Valencia, we started of with a sort off 4-3-3 with Adam, Spearing and Aquilani making up the central midfield trio, although there was a lot of rotation and movement. Spearing and Adam were the deeper of the two, both faithfully making themselves available to the back four and starting off attacks. Yet neither of them provided the same cover Lucas does.
Many have named Adam as an inferior version of Alonso. He’s got good long range passing yet his intelligence, patience and short passing is nowhere near Xabi’s level. Where Alonso is happy to pass the ball 5 or 6 times to the same few players before penetrating, Adam will prefer to go for the spectacular (and often unnecessary) long, searching ball to a forward. The typical Spanish v British comparison.
Spearing, though he is a great little midfielder, isn’t there yet to be controlling Liverpool’s midfield like Lucas. Spearing was passing the ball very well on Saturday yet he doesn’t read the game well enough to anticipate and cut out danger from the opposition. He’s more of a box-to-box midfielder with lively and dynamic movement, rampaging runs to track back and a thunderous slide tackle to top it off. A disciplined and more conservative role wouldn’t suit his style of play.
The rest of the midfield army consists of more attack minded players who are best in more advanced positions than Lucas. Aquilani (who I really hope we keep hold of) is an excellent playmaker, similar to Modric, but too weak defensively. Meireles’ off the ball movement is superb and it would be wrong to lock him up in a restricted role like Hodgson did. And despite many attempts to put Gerrard in CM he has always been at his best in a free role where his lack of discipline and lapses of concentration can’t cause any damage (saying that, with his age he may be asked to play more conservatively like his performance in Liverpool’s mauling of Man Utd in March). Henderson is very versatile and I only see him playing on the flanks or an attacking central role, not holding midfield.
Jonjo Shelvey is a fantastic young prospect in my eyes and reminds me of Stevie G with his roaming of the pitch with super through balls, a good shot and he’s exciting to watch. Again, too attacking for a holding position. And then there’s Poulsen who’s as much use as a brick.
This leaves only Adam to rival Lucas as “steering wheel”.
I found some stats using the limited resources I had from two games last season. For Lucas I chose our 1-0 win over Chelsea – some consider Chelsea a better team than Liverpool but I think they’re quite even teams for the sake of this comparison. For Adam I chose Blackpool’s 3-2 loss to fellow Championship promotion team, West Brom. Again, quite even opposition.
Straight away we see the defensive superiority of Lucas with three times as many tackles won and five interceptions to Adam’s none. The only area Adam wins in is shots. Though one of these shots was off target and the other blocked; both were from long range. He has one less unsuccessful clearance but this is irrelevant as the situation of the clearance is unknown – a booted clearance under pressure which ends up with the opposition anywhere outside the box is often deemed as a good clearance.
Passing is what I really wanted to look at and see if there was evidence in my claim of Adam’s tendency to hit it long. From the stats above, he has over three times as many unsuccessful passes as Lucas. Both completed forty each. So Adam attempted a greater number of passes but also conceded possession more often. To see where all these passes went, let’s look at some Chalkboards.
If we look at the ‘Heatmap’, Lucas actually covers more ground across the midfield where Adam makes a massive 32% of his passes in one area. Adam also shows up in the final third much more than Lucas, backing up my point about him being more attack minded and less disciplined. Obviously team tactics and management can have an influence on the players but we get an idea for the general style of play.
We’ve yet to see the best of Adam. I see him playing with another midfielder behind him – Lucas. So when the season get’s going and everyone is available, he can become a very good asset for Liverpool. One of Adam’s strengths is in set pieces which are generally few and far between in pre-season friendlies which are meant to be more laid back than intense league and cup matches. He can also add some much needed balance with his sweet left foot. In my opinion, no one can rival Lucas in our midfield for what he does. He’ll be one of the first names on the team sheet this coming season, though he may not be match-fit yet to start against Sunderland.