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.
An open field, hundreds of one-on-ones and a few slapstick moments–that’s what the North London looked like on Sunday afternoon. As Arsenal’s level dropped in the second half, a 1-1 draw left head coach Arsène Wenger frustrated. Even though Tottenham have now gone seven games without a win in all competitions, picking up one point at the Emirates gives Mauricio Pochettino a desperately needed breather.
David Moyes and his struggling Sunderland side hosted Arsenal in the early Saturday kick-off. Billy Jones returned to the starting XI in place of Javi Manquillo, with Adnan Januzaj kept on the bench. Despite returning to fitness, there was no starting place for Olivier Giroud as Wenger opted to stick with Alexis Sanchez as his centre forward.
Klopp’s Liverpool hosted Mourinho’s United at Anfield on Monday night in the highest profile Premier league clash of the weekend. With their blistering, free scoring form Liverpool headed into the game as heavy favourites against a labouring United side. However the fans and media alike were all too aware of Mourinho’s propensity to upset the odds to write off the Red devils.
After Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic challenged City with their pressing game in the midweek draw, Pochettino’s Spurs took full advantage and clinical first-half finishing saw them administer the first defeat of Pep Guardiola’s City reign.