Premier League talking points: Emery’s tactical unpredictability and endangered Kante

By Daily Sports on December 4, 2018

Views: 1,397

What a dramatic Derby Sunday in the English Premier League. Three traditionally key fixtures proved true to historical type as Chelsea vs Fulham, Arsenal vs Tottenham and Liverpool vs Everton matches all provided the exhilaration that is worth every penny of the match ticket, the viewing centre charge and the DSTV subscription.

The last game between hosts Liverpool and Everton, termed the Merseyside Derby, ended in dramatic fashion with the visitors’ usually reliable goalkeeper Jordan Pickford making a calamitous error to gift Liverpool a dying second winner, leaving manager Jurgen Klopp running across the field wildly like someone spurred immediately into excitement by an overdose of tramadol.

It was nice to see Pickford man up and immediately apologise to his teammates and fans after the game and in the post-match interview. He's definitely going to bounce back because he's a top and tough lad.

The Merseyside Derby illustrated how close the two teams have become after Everton had become clearly the inferior of the sides in recent years.

Under new manager Marco Silva Everton seem to have clawed back to reckoning, dominating the game for some significant spells and could even have scored on several occasions.

Chelsea made hard work of their match against Claudio Ranieri’s Fulham, but eventually sealed the win 2-0 courtesy of goals from Pedro and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

But Fulham were full of life in the encounter, and with a little more clinical finishing they could have even snatched something from the game.

Rannieri is still in his early days of drilling his compact football philosophy into the minds of his new players and on the evidence of their dogged display for most parts of their game against the Stamford Bridge giants, the Fulham players are well on their way to becoming a more formidable outfit.

Mauricio Sarri’s boys are having a fine season so far overall and though they didn’t exactly stroll past Fulham, it was a relief to get back to winning ways after the 1-3 blip against Tottenham Hotspurs in their previous game, which is their only loss of the campaign so far.

One of the major talking points that have surrounded Chelsea since they were taken to the cleaners by Spurs has revolved around Sarri’s resolve to play solid midfielder N’golo Kante as a more advanced midfielder in his Sarriball tactical set-up as opposed to the holding midfielder the world has come to admire him for.

For Sarri, as he stated in an interview after the Spurs game, new arrival Jorginho from Napoli will continue to be his main holding midfielder in front of the back 4.

Sarri prefers Jorginho because he’s considered a more technical player who can distribute passes from the back, and Kante’s new job delineation is to win tackles further forward and sweep more into the opponents’ area.

The trouble is, Kante doesn’t possess the technique of a David Silva, say, or most other top advanced midfielders to do the job at the highest level.

The new direction for many a coach now is to plump for more technical  players, at the expense of more physically imposing ones in areas of the pitch where high passing technique was not traditionally the biggest requirement.

The choice now is to look for the goalkeeper who can pass the most, the defender with an eye for a forward pass, as well as a midfielder who could fetch the ball from the back and move it as smoothly as an uninterrupted orchestra conductor.

It is in this sense that Kante is endangered at Chelsea.

It is not hard to see a situation where Chelsea struggles to break down top class opponents, as Spurs are, and Sarri requiring a player who can play more penetrative passes between defensive lines of opponents. If Kante can’t do the work consistently in big games, as the suspicion is, then Sarri would have a big decision to make as to dropping Kante as a regular from that position and as to returning him to his favourite defensive midfield position where he shines more.

Sarri himself has made it clear that the latter option is ruled out for him.

                                                                 ***

Arsenal have the North London bragging rights after dismantling old foes Tottenham 4-2 at the Emirates Stadium.

It's nice to see real joy return to Arsenal family and new manager Unai Emery has really hit the ground running.

The resilience of the Gunners — they've not been on the lead in the first half so far this season — the unpredictability of Emery's tactics, with a constant change of formations before and during games as well as quicker proactive change of players during matches, have got the football world watching in admiration. Successful foreign managers bring something revolutionary into the English League and Emery is showing so far to be one. 
Arsene Wenger came in with dizzying fast passing football. Jose Mourinho brought a style based on defensive solidity, Conte showed how  the 3 at the back system could succeed and all these managers proved a success with their revolutionary styles. 
Emery is showing how games can swing around in the second half on the foundations of strong tactical match reading and an ability to keep opponents unsettled with his constant in-game tactical and personnel changes. 

Source Daily Sports

Posted December 4, 2018

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