Pitchside

  • Losers

    The concept of three at the back

    Louis van Gaal made three at the back en vogue again at the World Cup but it seems like his team are struggling to grasp the principals of the concept. Still at least they were competitive throughout their Premier League clash against Sunderland. QPR, who also started with a back three, were staggeringly inept in the first half of their 4-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur. They switched to a back four in the second-half and were better. Not good, but better. Is there a chance the system just isn't suited to the Premier League?

    Joey Barton

    Sticking with QPR

    Read More »from Losers and winners: Death to three at the back, All Hail Barry Davies
  • United need more than Angel Di Maria

    United are apparently going to pay £64 million (around 80m Euros) to sign the Argentina winger from Real Madrid. A fool and his money soon parted? Perhaps, but United have no options. They appear to be technically bankrupt going on the 1-1 draw with Sunderland on Sunday. Madrid know United are in desperate need of Di Maria, and they know they are good for the money - even if he is overpriced. They are holding. If Louis Van Gaal asks his board to sign this one off, a British transfer record fee, he need only show them replays of United's first two Premier

    Read More »from Facts: 7 truths – Overpriced Di Maria not worth £64m, but he is to United
  • Swedish second-tier sellout tops Premier League crowds

    A sold-out game in the Swedish capital will be played in front of more spectators than four of Saturday's English Premier League matches - not bad for a second-tier clash.

    Sunday's sellout between Stockholm club Hammarby, currently  third in the Superettan league, and leaders Ljungskile will be attended by 31,500 fans at the Tele2 Arena as the home side seek to make it back to the top flight for the first time since 2009.

    Of the six games played in England's Premier League on Saturday, only the Everton v Arsenal and Chelsea v Leicester ties were watched by more spectators.

    Sunday's crowd

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  • Trophies on the horizon for ramshackle but tenacious Arsenal

    Let's make no bones about this.

    Arsenal were really very poor indeed today. Don't let that comeback and the point fool you - Everton were by some distance the better team, Arsenal were weak, panicky, couldn't tackle, and lacked attacking edge.

    [GIROUD, RAMSEY RESCUE ARSENAL AS EVERTON LET TWO-GOAL LEAD SLIP]

    And yet, contrarily, this - the truly low-quality display from their side as they flailed around attempting to stop Steven Naismith and Romelu Lukaku - is perhaps what should reassure Arsenal fans most about the season ahead.

    It's a truism in football that the mark of a strong side is

    Read More »from Trophies on the horizon for ramshackle but tenacious Arsenal
  • Facts – 7 truths: Mourinho vindicated over big decision

    1. Mourinho right to go for Courtois over Cech

    Jose Mourinho decided the time was right to opt for Thibaut Courtois over Petr Cech, and it is decision that seems to be right. The Belgian goalkeeper made three crucial saves before Chelsea progressed to a 2-0 win over Leicester City. Petr Cech has done little or nothing wrong. But like the cop said in Die Hard 2, Cech is the wrong guy, in the wrong place. Will the Czech goalie stick about to watch the younger man do what he has been doing for the past decade at Stamford Bridge? It will be interesting to see what the final 10 days of this window

    Read More »from Facts – 7 truths: Mourinho vindicated over big decision
  • Did Cristiano Ronaldo punch Diego Godin in the face?

    Real Madrid's defeat to bitter rivals Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup was always likely to be a tasty affair.

    And so it proved when, in the latter stages of Real's defeat, Cristiano Ronaldo was involved in a controversial moment with Atleti defender Diego Godin.

    Godin appeared to have Ronaldo in a headlock but the Real Madrid forward responded with what appeared to be a punch to the head of his opponent.

    You can see the incident below.

    Should Ronaldo face retrospective punishment for this flashpoint? Or was he just trying to free himself from Godin's grasp? Let us know your

    Read More »from Did Cristiano Ronaldo punch Diego Godin in the face?
  • Has Rojo fixed Man United’s defensive woes?

    In the lull between the World Cup and the new Premier League season, Manchester United were linked with moves for centre-backs Mats Hummels and Mehdi Benatia. On Wednesday evening, however, the former champions secured the signature of Marcos Rojo from Sporting Club, but some may feel he was not quite the household name supporters were pining for.

    United’s opening day 2-1 defeat to Swansea highlighted several defensive flaws which needed addressing sooner rather than later. Tyler Blackett, making his top-flight debut in the loss, looked out of his depth against the Welsh outfit, while it was

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  • Willian set for Oscar battle as competition hots up at Chelsea

    Squawka analyse the games of Willian and Oscar, who look set to compete for one place in Chelsea's XI this season.

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    Jose Mourinho's team selection for Chelsea's opening Premier League match against Burnley contained a few talking points but one that was not really mentioned was his decision to start with Andre Schuerrle over Willian.

    Many debated on his decision to choose Thibaut Courtois over Petr Cech, and his call to leave new signing Filipe Luis on the bench was also discussed, but the decision to omit Willian was not.

    Willian playing at the World Cup was not a valid reason; Schuerrle

    Read More »from Willian set for Oscar battle as competition hots up at Chelsea
  • Miguel Delaney will be covering Europe's super clubs for us this season. He kicks off his regular column with a look at the ongoing transfer war between Barcelona and Real Madrid...

    - - -

    Barcelona felt they had to respond. Not to a goal, however, nor a Real Madrid victory - at least not on the pitch. It was a signing. Back around the turn of the millennium, when the Spanish sports papers would annually proclaim their domestic title “the league of stars” on account of the latest mega-purchases, the Catalans felt they urgently had to make a statement.

    One former player confided that, in

    Read More »from The Barca-Madrid arms race has peaked – and it could damage both clubs
  • City set to host 2022 World Cup final doesn’t yet exist

    Some fantastic cities have hosted the World Cup final – Rio de Janeiro, Paris, Madrid, Buenos Aires, even merry old London and soon we will likely be adding to the list Lusail.

    You know Lusail right? With its wondrous….eh….and its magnificent…hmm. Well no actually, we can't say much about Lusail, the Qatar city set to host the 2022 World Cup final and there is very simply reason for that - it doesn't yet exist. .

    Of course, there are several reasons to be suspicious of 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar.

    The circumstances in which the tiny Gulf state fended off competition from the United States and

    Read More »from City set to host 2022 World Cup final doesn’t yet exist