Early Doors

Tactics Bored: How clever Pardew out-witted Hull

Early Doors

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The week in tactics has thrown up more exciting and counter-intuitive developments than one could shake 4231 sticks at. It is not always immediately obvious on a Monday what those are, because of the sheer brainpower and computer resources needed.

Finally, though, the findings are here, and there are examples from Stoke versus Arsenal, Hull City versus Newcastle, Paris Saint-Germain versus Marseille, and then an incisive preview of the match between England and Denmark.

STOKE 1-0 ARSENAL - STOKE’S OTHER VICTORY

Arsenal have been claiming the moral victory after the match between them and Stoke at the Britannia. Ever since Ryan Shawcross broke Aaron Ramsey’s leg, Arsenal have been concerned at their treatment at the hands of Stoke. Stoke have not been cowed by this, or by the change in manager from the agricultural Tony Pulis to the agricultural Mark Hughes.

Stoke, on the face of it, deserved to win because they scored more goals than Arsenal, which is the traditional way to apportion points at the end of a match of association football. They didn’t enjoy as much possession, but they did, however, outscore them on another new analytical metric - the ragemap.

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If you take a look at the diagram you will three that Stoke’s four key instances of rage outweigh those instances committed by Arsenal, who actually had no rage on offer to help win the match. There is evidence of a correlation, if not causation, between rage and success, shown elsewhere in the weekend’s football.

HULL CITY 1-4 NEWCASTLE - ALAN PARDEW HEADS FOR VICTORY

It was Steve Bruce who released an autobiography when he was still playing for Manchester United, called ‘Heading For Victory,’ and it seems that the keen psychologer Alan Pardew had done his research on his opposite number, and the opposing team.

Pardew is a student of the game, and is happy to use esoteric approaches to analysis to get an edge on the opposition. He knew that a team like Stoke, for instance, would have to perform their rage throughout the team to intimidate the opposition, as shown above. Pardew thought laterally, befitting his thoughtful demeanor, and so took it upon himself to headbutt a Hull City player, as shown below:

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As a result, City players would have thought at that point, ‘If their manager is willing to assault us, I don’t even want to think what their players are capable of,’ and thus quickly slumped to a comprehensive 4-1 defeat.

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN 2-0 MARSEILLE - LUCAS MOURA CONTRADICTION

Lucas Moura showcased an interesting tactical manoeuvre that has been used by others before, but developed the theme by demonstrating that he also believes goals are, indeed, overrated. Hatem Ben Arfa, for Newcastle against Blackburn Rovers, and Ryan Giggs, for Manchester United against Arsenal, showed that one way to score a goal is to run towards the goal, with the ball, and then kick the ball into the net.

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If you examine the diagram you can see that Lucas Moura improved the initial part of the move - running 70 yards in a straight line rather than moving left or right, away from the shortest path to goal - but then in the second part, he really flourished. Nothing so vulgar as a goal for such a technician, he simply chipped the ‘keeper and allowed Marseille to clear, keeping the ball moving.

ENGLAND VERSUS DENMARK - INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY PREVIEW

Coming off the back of the weekend, David Moyes can be happy with his performance, as Manchester United were, for once, unbeaten. Roy Hodgson is spiritually his managerial brother, using two banks of four in defence as well. If you look carefully at the diagram below, you can see the subtle similarities between Moyes and Hodgson:

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David Moyes

Inspiring Manchester United fans, inspiring Liverpool fans. Replacing Alex Ferguson, replacing Kenny Dalglish. Both these managers have performed under incredible pressure to make sure that they deliver the very best they can. The similarities are starting to look impressively uncanny.

Alexander Netherton - @lxndrnthrtn

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