Pedestrian buildups & sloppy defending = Defeats
Straight Shootin’ LJA would like to take a few of minutes of your time to focus a bit on 2 of the big games this past Saturday (24th September 2016), Manchester United 4-1 Leicester city & Arsenal 3-0 v Chelsea.
Manchester United 4-1 Leicester City -
Just for the sake of full disclosure, I was hoping Man United would get beaten soundly as you know that Jose Mourinho would have had a bitch fit, but I digress. The reigning champions were humbled at Old Trafford and it wasn’t by accident. Like I said on a recent Pitch Talk live show, for the money paid for Paul Pogba, I’d want him influencing every game he's in, helping his team get back into the champions league in the process and i'm expecting a ballon d'or winner inside 2 years, because if world record fees are being paid, i’m having world class expectations.
Credit to Pogba though as he was impressive in this match…at last, he pinged a quality ball that Ibrahimovic blasted high, wide & butt ugly, was defending in the 2nd half and scored a quality header to reopen his Man United account, this is the start of the sort of impact most are expecting for £89m.
The Smalling header for the 1st goal, free header and a very poor goal to concede because if you're man marking you have to stay tight to your man, looking at Robert Huth as directly culpable there.
Generally, Leicester looked sluggish as hell as they were sitting deep and letting runs happen rather than closing down and stopping United from playing, already in direct contrast to last season and a repeat of what happened recently v Liverpool who put 4 goals past them. 2nd and 3rd goals, again, sloppy defending, Morgan and Simpson switched off, 1 on marking and the other from a quick corner and Pogba’s header for the 4th, as good as it was, was icing on the cake in a comfortable victory for United and looking at all 3 goals, 3 of the back 4 have to hang their heads in shame at how poorly they were defended.
This season Leicester (so far) haven't got that surprise factor any more, the onus is now on them to break teams down and because of this, teams now expect what they’re bringing. Also, they now lack the infinite energy of N’golo Kante running their midfield from deep, which allows other, more attacking players to unleash themselves creatively. Mahrez & Slimani looked lively in flashes early on, but Vardy was starved of service, which will cause any striker problems.
Demari Gray got an absolute belter as a consolation goal but to quote edge and christian from the WWF Wrestlemania 16 post show interviews - 'it's a lot easier to get to the top than it is to stay there' and ironically, that was said after their first title win (WWF tag team titles), so I thought that would be an apropos #OWR to drop here. Leicester have already lost 3 games, which is all they lost last season, so it’s crucial for them that they get it together, or they could end up like Chelsea last season…an awful title defence.
Arsenal 3-0 Chelsea -
The omens looked ominous considering Chelsea's recent record against Arsenal but in hindsight, it looked like Wenger's 20th anniversary in charge of the side was the perfect ammunition for the Gunners to blow Chelsea away. Even though Arsenal were dominant in the early exchanges in terms of possession & attacking intent, poor defending comes under the microscope immediately as Gary Cahill dithering on the ball for the 1st goal (similar to the game v Swansea) & Eden Hazard not tracking his runner properly on the 2nd goal shows how sloppy Chelsea are at the back against stern opposition.
About 36/37 mins into this match, Steve McManaman had a proper go about how slow Chelsea were building up and to me I thought… fair do’s. Playing across and back is easy to defend against as it allows your opposition to get set again, 3/4 backwards and/or square passes before you get into the opponents half is really easy to read and defend against. Also, looking further up the field, your striker/s could be in acres of space, but if the ball takes 5 minutes to get forward the space gets closed down before that ball ever gets played, so you basically end up nullifying your own attack, making it easy for your opposition and just like against my boyz Liverpool, Costa got isolated.
For Arsenal’s 3rd goal, look how quick that break was, forward passing all the time and more importantly, quick forward passing. Arsenal got onto the front foot and had the Chelsea defenders turning back towards their own goal, which (speaking as a centre back for SAL side Ibis Eagles AFC) defenders hate doing.
2nd half, Arsenal looked like they could have got another couple but players were getting in each others way, players were in acres of space but delivered poor crosses, but because chelsea were sitting so deep, there was no real chance of Arsenal getting caught on the counter attack, again, pedestrian buildup, allowing Arsenal to get their shape back ended up meant Chelsea not only had to be intricate, but absolutely postage stamp accurate in terms of passing to end up getting in a position to test Petr Cech. One example that finally happened was a great pass from David Luiz that set Michy Batshuayi in around 84 minutes in but unlike Alexis Sanchez, the young striker couldn’t finish the job, 1 shot on target all game has to be concerning, even at this early stage of the season for Chelsea & especially Antonio Conte.
Food for thought for the last 2 Premier League title winners, on a day where both were shocked and humbled in equal measure and were both beaten by 3 goal margins.
Don’t get me wrong, both winning sides deserved their victories and the margins of those victories were fair reflections of the games. Arsenal were ruthless and slick to say the least and i’m taking nothing away from them or Manchester United (as a Kopite you know that burns me lol) but I always look at the defending first on goals.
I'm Straight Shootin' LJA...and that's my opinion!!!