Mourinho’s United and Puel’s Southampton met at Wembley for the EFL Cup final on Sunday evening. Cup victory would be significant for either side, it would offer Europa League qualification for Southampton and a chance for Mourinho to be the first United manager to win a trophy in their first season.
Klopp’s Liverpool hosted high-flying Tottenham on Saturday evening still looking for their first league win of 2017, with a poor run of form that saw them drop from 2nd to 6th, albeit temporarily. Pochettino’s men however were unbeaten in their last 9 league games, winning 7 and earning the title of Chelsea’s main “challengers”. The clash between both sides’ high intensity approach was an element that added further intrigue to a tie which already had the league’s attention.
Guardiola’s Manchester City hosted in-form Tottenham in a highly anticipated clash on Saturday evening. Fresh from their 4-0 defeat at Everton City were under pressure to win to keep alive their increasingly slim title hopes. This task was made tougher since they welcomed the league’s most in-form side with the North Londoners enjoying a 6 game winning streak.
Guardiola suffers the highest league loss of his career against Everton. The formation of the team and the roles of the players were poorly chosen.
Klopp’s Liverpool side hosted Guardiola’s Manchester City in the final league encounter of 2016 on Saturday evening. The opposing managers’ renewed acquaintance after clashes in Germany was one factor that ensured the game was eagerly anticipated. To add a further edge to the game, Liverpool were one point ahead of City coming into the game and the winner would take the title of Chelsea’s main challengers.
Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool played host to Stoke City in the sole Premier League fixture on bank holiday Tuesday. Stoke arrived at Anfield in relatively poor form, without a win in their previous three matches. On the other hand, Liverpool came into the game fresh from a hotly contested victory in the Merseyside derby, giving them local bragging rights as well as back to back wins after a small blip in form at the start of the month.
11 games, 11 wins, 25 goals scored, 2 goals conceded, from 8th place and 8 points off the pace to 6 points clear at the top of the table. This is, of course, Chelsea’s record since Conte changed to a 3-4-3 formation. These results are impressive regardless, however, they become even more impressive when the quality of the opponents are taken into account. On this stellar run the Londoners have beaten, Leicester, Man Utd, Spurs, Everton, Southampton and Man City amongst other tough challenges. Formations are, of course, merely a starting point; this piece seeks to analyse the finer details of Conte’s system and why it has been so successful.
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City hosted Arsenal in the Premier League’s 17th game week on Sunday evening. City came into the game with criticism surrounding the team with the performance in the defeat at Leicester in particular raising doubts amongst the media over Pep’s suitability to English football. Arsenal however had been in strong form and were eager to show the midweek defeat at Goodison Park was a mere blip and not the start of an annual meltdown.
Guardiola’s Manchester City hosted Conte’s Chelsea in arguably the most eagerly anticipated Premier League clash of the season thus far. There were several reasons behind the excitement; with the coaches being two of the strongest tacticians in the league and the two sides being firmly in the title race. What followed was a high class, high intensity football game befitting of its expectations.
Since Santi Cazorla suffered another Achilles injury in October, Arsenal have stuttered through a run of four draws (and three wins) in seven games. Much has already been written about how the Gunners struggle in possession but not as much attention has been paid to the struggle Arsène Wenger’s side have out of possession.