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Blog - Tactics and Analysis

WhoScored: Ramsey recapturing form

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WhoScored: Lampard rebirth a lesson

Tactics And Analysis
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Premier League's best youngsters are English

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WhoScored: Five international debuts

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WhoScored: Prem underwhelms in Europe

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Ramsey's return to form an auspicious sign for Arsenal

With a bolt from the blue, Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey thundered home this long-range strike against Galatasaray, on route to a 4-1 win at the Telekom Arena.

It was difficult to not stand up and applaud Aaron Ramsey's rasping long-distance drive in Arsenal's 4-1 thumping of Galatasaray on Tuesday night in the Champions League. Joel Campbell's corner was cleared only as far as the Welshman, who executed a sumptuous rising left-footed strike into the top corner from 30 yards out, leaving Sinan Bolat grasping for thin air. Yaya Sanogo's reaction in subsequent Vine posts summed it up -- the look on the striker's face screamed: "Did that really just happen!?"

The...

 By Michael Cox

L.A. Galaxy exploited New England's weak flank defence to win MLS Cup

ESPN FC's Steve Nicol breaks down Robbie Keane's game-winning goal for the LA Galaxy, which secured a fairy tale finish for Landon Donovan.

Broadly speaking, there are two distinct types of tactical battle. Sunday's MLS Cup final, which saw the L.A. Galaxy beating the New England Revolution 2-1 after extra time, was particularly interesting because everyone expected one type of tactical battle -- instead, it was the other.

Explaining the different types of tactical battle is simple: it's either about style, in terms of how the opposing sides are attempting to play -- or it's about location, and a specific zone of the pitch.

Usually,...

 By Michael Cox

Thibaut Courtois is equally worthy of Manuel Neuer's Ballon d'Or honour

ESPN FC's Craig Burley and Paul Mariner seem to be a bit wary of Manuel Neuer's inclusion in FIFA's short list for the 2014 Ballon d'Or.
Thibaut Courtois has not received as much attention as Manuel Neuer this year, but he's been a massive part of Chelsea's success.

Goalkeepers rarely receive significant attention in terms of major individual awards, partly because of obvious difficulties comparing them to outfielders.

This, however, has been a good week for goalkeepers. Manuel Neuer was named on the three-man list for the Ballon d'Or alongside usual suspects Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Many would love to see Neuer triumph, partly because he won the World Cup, partly because he's a goalkeeper and partly because it would, frankly, make a nice change.

The...

Lampard's renaissance at Manchester City a lesson for clubs

Manchester City are expected to make a decision on Frank Lampard's future this month, with the on-loan midfielder currently set to join parent club New York City FC in January.

When Frank Lampard played out one of the most uninspiring England matches of the millennium to end the 2014 World Cup bottom of their group, most onlookers presumed it would be the final time we would see him playing at anything resembling the top of the game. A deal was soon thereafter announced that the Chelsea legend would be moving to MLS new boys New York City FC in time for the 2015 season, and after a year well below his usual high standards, few would have expected him to be involved come...

 By Michael Cox

Ruthless Real Madrid can beat teams in a multitude of ways

The ESPN FC team react to Real Madrid's 16th consecutive win in all competitions, a club record set by Carlo Ancelotti's men.

In recent years, arguably the major tactical debate within top-level football has concerned the optimum approach in the attacking phase of play: possession play or counterattack?

Spain and Germany have dominated European -- and therefore world -- football during this period, essentially since they contested the Euro 2008 final. Spain won three consecutive major international tournaments before their demise allowed Germany to take charge with their World Cup triumph this summer. In club terms, too,...

Tactics Board: Sunderland show how to stop Chelsea scoring

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho explained every match in the Premier League is difficult as Sunderland held the league leaders scoreless in a 0-0 draw.

Chelsea are unbeaten but they might not be unstoppable. Sunderland became the first team to stop the league leaders from scoring this season in Saturday's 0-0 draw. So how did Gus Poyet's team succeed where others had failed?

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Defend deep and narrow

Chelsea Vergini
Santiago Vergini, at right-back, showed how Sunderland wanted to keep things narrow.

Lee Cattermole helped explain Sunderland's gameplan after the match when he said they intended to "keep the ball in front of us." By that, he meant was that the Black Cats did not want to get turned, meaning they did not want to push up towards the halfway...