“Upon returning to Chelsea, Mourinho pledged that he would introduce a more proactive, passing style, but he is struggling to find an alternative to the counter-attacking approach that is his trademark. Chelsea have averaged a healthy 56.9 percent of possession in their 12 league games to date this season, but they seem happier when they have taken an early lead and can pick off their opponents on the break. Of their 12 victories in all competitions, 10 have come after they went ahead inside the first 33 minutes and on the five occasions when they have conceded the opening goal, they have come back to win only once, in last month’s 4-1 win at home to Cardiff City.”
I’ve written a piece for AFP on José Mourinho’s search for a winning formula at Chelsea, and you can read it here.
“As staff wages went unpaid, a consortium backed by former Southampton great Matt Le Tissier failed with a bid to buy the club, but salvation arrived in the form of a Switzerland-based, Germany-born entrepreneur called Markus Liebherr. Liebherr had no previous experience of working in football and promptly sacked head coach Mark Wotte after buying the club, yet his arrival marked a sea change at St Mary’s Stadium. A year later, Southampton won the Football League Trophy and, after securing back-to-back promotions, they returned to the Premier League in 2012.”
I’ve had a look at Southampton’s staggering rise from the verge of bankruptcy in League One to the top five in the Premier League, and you can read it here.
“London — Fernando Torres exploited a 90th-minute horror show from Manchester City to earn Chelsea a 2-1 win on Sunday that sent them up to second place in the Premier League.”
My AFP match report on a potentially significant victory for Chelsea can be read here.
“LONDON — Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson launched his new autobiography on Tuesday, lifting the lid on his relationships with stars including David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, Roy Keane and Wayne Rooney.”
My AFP report on the launch of Alex Ferguson’s forthright new autobiography can be found here.
“Jack Wilshere was initially exiled to the left wing following Özil’s arrival from Real Madrid, but he demonstrated his worth in a central role by breaking the deadlock against Norwich with a breath-taking goal that Wenger described as “one of the best” of his 17-year tenure. Having started the move deep in his own half, Wilshere was involved in a razor-sharp passing exchange on the edge of the Norwich area that went Cazorla, Wilshere, Cazorla, Giroud, Wilshere, Giroud, Wilshere, culminating in the England midfielder volleying past goalkeeper John Ruddy from 10 yards.”
I’ve written a piece for AFP on how Arsène Wenger’s patience finally appears to be paying off for Arsenal, and you can read it here.
“The topsy-turvy opening weeks of the Premier League campaign have fuelled pre-season optimism that the 2013-14 title race would be one of the most open in years. With Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea all under new management, and a glut of new players having arrived during the close season, the English top flight is in the throes of transition, and the off-pitch upheaval has been mirrored in the results.”
I’ve written a piece for AFP asking if we are set for the most competitive Premier League title race in recent memory, and you can read it here.
“MANCHESTER, United Kingdom — David Moyes’s first derby as Manchester United manager turned into a nightmare on Sunday as Manchester City inflicted a humiliating 4-1 defeat at a triumphant Etihad Stadium.”
My AFP match report on a dazzling display by Manchester City and an abject afternoon for Manchester United can be read here.
“Sporting the captain’s armband for Paris Saint-Germain, Sakho conceded a penalty with a rash sliding challenge on an opposition forward in the 71st minute of a French Cup tie at Lorient’s Stade du Moustoir. Worse, PSG were playing Saint-Colomban Locminé, an amateur team from the French fifth tier, who promptly equalised from the resulting penalty. Worse still, Sakho was making his first appearance under new coach Carlo Ancelotti, who had succeeded Antoine Kombouaré just 10 days earlier.”
I’ve written a piece for AFP on why things fell apart for Mamadou Sakho at Paris Saint-Germain, and you can read it – should you wish – here.
“MANCHESTER, United Kingdom — Wayne Rooney may have played his way out of a transfer to Chelsea after a committed display in Manchester United’s 0-0 draw against their Premier League rivals on Monday.”
My AFP match report on the first major head-to-head encounter of the new Premier League season can be read here.
Related link: Ramsey rubber-stamps Arsenal progress
David Moyes is only two competitive games into his tenure as Manchester United manager, and his tactical strategies are likely to evolve as the season progresses, but his side’s early performances have already benefited from the unique skillset of versatile forward Danny Welbeck.
In both the 2-0 victory over Wigan Athletic in the Community Shield and last Saturday’s 4-1 win at Swansea City, Welbeck operated in a role that was difficult to define; hugging the left touchline one minute, darting into the box the next. In this respect he dovetailed with Ryan Giggs, who was United’s most advanced central midfielder in both games.
Welbeck and Giggs were the only players in the United XI who could be said to have taken up unorthodox positions in the two matches. Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley patrolled the centre of the pitch – Cleverley slightly ahead of his England colleague – and while Wilfried Zaha (in the Community Shield) and Antonio Valencia (against Swansea) stayed wide on the right flank, Robin van Persie led the line as a conventional number nine.
Welbeck and Giggs, however, were harder to pin down. Giggs played slightly in advance of Carrick and Cleverley, and was often the player charged with carrying the ball forward into opposition territory, but he occasionally drifted wide to take up a role on the left. Welbeck orbited in support of Van Persie, typically moving to the left when Giggs was not there, but in the game against Swansea he also made a series of bursts into the penalty area from central positions, as his two goals demonstrated. The 22-year-old blends the stamina and work ethic of a central midfielder with the pace and dainty footwork of a winger, and his mobility equips United with both an outlet on the left flank and a foil for Van Persie.
“LONDON — José Mourinho made a winning return as Chelsea manager with a 2-0 success at home to promoted Hull City in the club’s opening Premier League game on Sunday.”
My AFP report on José Mourinho’s Stamford Bridge homecoming, as well as a successful Premier League debut for Roberto Soldado, can be read here.
“LONDON — Manchester United manager David Moyes picked up where Alex Ferguson left off on Saturday as the Premier League champions began their title defence by winning 4-1 at Swansea City.”
My AFP report on the opening day of the 2013-14 Premier League season can be read here.
“[Laurent] Blanc nicknamed him ‘The Plank’ due to the way his Bordeaux team-mates bounced their attacking moves off him, but despite his skill at holding the ball up, his lack of pace was always likely to provide an obstacle amid the cut-throat speed of the English top flight. So it proved, and by November 2011, Bordeaux president Jean-Louis Triaud was already on the phone pleading with him to return to the Stade Chaban-Delmas.”
I wrote a piece for AFP on why things went wrong for Marouane Chamakh at Arsenal, and how he’s hoping to revive his career at Crystal Palace. You can read it here.
“LONDON, England — New Manchester United manager David Moyes put a testing pre-season behind him as his side beat Wigan Athletic 2-0 in the Community Shield at a sun-soaked Wembley on Sunday.”
My AFP report on David Moyes’ first official match as Manchester United manager can be read here.