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Direct football?

Following on from Robb's article about counterattacking football and the discussions we've had since yesterday's game about Chelsea's domination of the middle third of the pitch.

WhoScored's heatmaps and the game's numbers confirm that we sacrificed (willingly or otherwise) the midfield area to Chelsea.

Heatmaps

The heatmaps show both Jorginho and Kovacic's average positions as much higher up the pitch to McTominay and Pogba's.

They also show Mount, Barkley and Pedro much, much closer to their midfield two than Lingard and Pereira.

This was the case to such an extent that Kovacic's average position was almost indistinguishable from Barkley's, with the Chelsea number eight dropping in to midfield to help work the ball through the middle third.

Meanwhile, Lingard spent most of his time when United had the ball prowling just in front of Chelsea's defensive line, whilst Pereira sat completely isolated, miles away from almost anyone, in a fairly advanced inside right role.

Stats

Looking at the figures, the Chelsea midfield and supporting line made 222 passes versus their United counterparts' 174. Chelsea played 100 more short passes than we did (529 to 431), and nearly 50% more than we did in the middle third (291 to 207).

We hit 53 long passes yesterday compared with Chelsea's 38, with 30 of those launched by Pogba, McT, Lindelof and Maguire from central areas in our defensive third.

What this means

I think not only does this paint a picture of Chelsea's control of the middle of the park, it also suggests that Ole is happy to bypass the midfield area completely and use Pogba and to a lesser extent the CBs and McT as quarterbacks, hitting long passes to runners trying to get in behind high defensive lines.

This would explain why we started with two midfielders stationed deep in our own half and played with such a huge gap between the midfield and the front four.

Will this form a pattern in games in which we'll see the opposition deploy a high line, with Ole continuing to play with two deep CMs sat in front of Maguire and Lindelof, all four of whom will looking to hit a pacy attack over the top?

posted on 12/8/19

comment by Vidicschin (U3584)
posted 10 seconds ago
Think our lack of creativity will be an issue against the smaller sides who sit back and provide a low block.

.....................

I don't. I think we have plenty of creativity there. We will certainly will now have better movement in the box to help in that aspect.

We will find out on the 24th.
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We massively lack creativity.

posted on 12/8/19

comment by Vidicschin (U3584)
posted 4 minutes ago
How are you already knackered after the first game of the season??

...............

Some athletes really are not good at stamina. It is a requisite for midfield players though.
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It’s not even like the bloke bust a gut for the entire game either, he even said in the first half he barely ran.

posted on 12/8/19

We massively lack creativity.

................

No we don't massively lack it. Enough with the hyperbole.

posted on 12/8/19

Given we'll play against opposition across a broad spectrum of styles and talents over the season, how do folks think we'll approach games against non-Top 6 teams and teams that will sit back?

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Width, width and more width.

Stretch the pitch as much as possible, make better use of switches in play and overloads out wide and move the ball quickly in order to pull players out of position.

It helps when you don't have many players known for their creativity.

Having another player who can beat a man in James could be helpful in these situations as well.

comment by Dave (U11711)

posted on 12/8/19

VC and Robb, I see the logic and reasoning behind your points of view. In the past we have seemed to lack creativity.

I don't think it's simply down to that. A complementary feature of an attack that can break down defending teams is the movement and interplay between the forwards.

We've often been so static up front that no amount of creativity from MF can create incisions in a defensive structure.

VC's point about having more movement up top will be integral in how successful we are at beating these teams. With the forwards we have and Ole's style he wants them to attain, I think we can be much more dangerous than in past years.

We compete for something like 84 points a season against non-Top 6 rivals, not all of whom will be defensive, but getting the team right to maximise the points in these games is where we can make significant gains.

Hopefully you're both right in that we are better equipped to beat the majority of opponents we face and also get some more rewards with a more counter attacking style in the bigger games.

posted on 12/8/19

comment by Mike (U1170)
posted 14 minutes ago
comment by Dave Better (U11711)
posted 9 minutes ago
Given we'll play against opposition across a broad spectrum of styles and talents over the season, how do folks think we'll approach games against non-Top 6 teams and teams that will sit back?
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Exactly the same as we’ve got no plan b apparently.
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No need to be a pedantic prickkk about it. It’s an opinion that has yet in a competitive game to be proved wrong. Going by the last however many games last season and first one of this.
I hope I’m proved wrong however I just think if our style of play gets nullified we will struggle to adjust.

comment by Dave (U11711)

posted on 12/8/19

comment by Mike (U1170)
posted 17 minutes ago
comment by Dave Better (U11711)
posted 9 minutes ago
Given we'll play against opposition across a broad spectrum of styles and talents over the season, how do folks think we'll approach games against non-Top 6 teams and teams that will sit back?
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Exactly the same as we’ve got no plan b apparently.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Close the thread!

posted on 12/8/19

comment by The Red Side™ (U11275)
posted 10 minutes ago
Given we'll play against opposition across a broad spectrum of styles and talents over the season, how do folks think we'll approach games against non-Top 6 teams and teams that will sit back?

--------------------------------------------------

Width, width and more width.

Stretch the pitch as much as possible, make better use of switches in play and overloads out wide and move the ball quickly in order to pull players out of position.

It helps when you don't have many players known for their creativity.

Having another player who can beat a man in James could be helpful in these situations as well.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Goal of the weekend, TRS?

No doubt you’ll have seen all twelve!

posted on 12/8/19

Garner's rocket, it has to be.

Elanga, Ramazani and Garner's other worth a mention.

posted on 13/8/19

comment by The Red Side™ (U11275)
posted 15 hours, 19 minutes ago
Given we'll play against opposition across a broad spectrum of styles and talents over the season, how do folks think we'll approach games against non-Top 6 teams and teams that will sit back?

--------------------------------------------------

Width, width and more width.

Stretch the pitch as much as possible, make better use of switches in play and overloads out wide and move the ball quickly in order to pull players out of position.

It helps when you don't have many players known for their creativity.

Having another player who can beat a man in James could be helpful in these situations as well.
----------------------------------------------------------------------



It is no secret that all our attacking players have pace and can play in wide positions.

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