What do Costa and Harrison do when Leeds United are attacking?

Leeds United are once again a Premier League side. Spearheaded by the thought-provoking Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds gained promotion in domineering fashion. Bielsa expects a lot from all of his players, including his wingers, with Helder Costa and Jack Harrison playing vital roles in Leeds returning to the big time. Costa has now signed permanently from Wolves, and Harrison was secured in another loan deal from Manchester City. And the first three games of the new season have not only introduced many to Leeds’ way of playing, but just what make the wingers a prime element of that.

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Compactness, attacking down the flanks and penalties sealed victory for Leicester at the Etihad.

A convincing win against Wolves in Manchester City’s opening league game has now been overshadowed by a tumultuous 2-5 defeat to Leicester City. There’s much to discuss about what issues Pep Guardiola’s side may or may not have, but although things will be briefly mentioned here, this is a matter worth its own piece.

But, what can’t be undermined was how Leicester’s tactical game plan worked to a tee. The Foxes attacked the Citizens with overloads in the final-third, and the wing-backs and left-winger Harvey Barnes exploited spaces out wide and via the channels respectively.

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A flexible 4-2-3-1 with fluid attacks kicked off City’s campaign nicely, but Wolves still threatened

Whereas Wolves were a thorn in the Manchester City crown last season, winning both fixtures in dramatic fashion, Pep Guardiola’s side got off to the perfect start in the new season with a convincing 1-3 win.

Crowds may still be vacant from stadiums across the country, but there was still much to cheer about as chance after chance was served onto the plates of hungry attackers during the first-half, with City’s fluid combinations testing Wolves. Though this didn’t stop the hosts from trying to claim something once again from City following the interval, mostly through running in behind City’s centre-backs.

Nevertheless, City dominated possession and by extension the game. It wasn’t just a case of passing around Wolves’ 5-3-2 defensive shape, however. Here’s a breakdown of City’s build-up and attacking patterns that led to chances and goals.

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Salah and Mane’s work-rate and positioning help Liverpool outwit Chelsea

Liverpool earned two wins in two games in comfortable fashion, beating Chelsea 0-2. It was a 4-3-3 v 4-3-3 contest. But both systems had contrasting approaches to pressing, with Liverpool unsurprisingly dominant in the oppositions half. Wide forwards Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane shined in Liverpool’s game plan, and showed their work-rate and quality as Chelsea’s own tactics played into Liverpool’s hands.

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Should Everton consider using Iwobi as a no.8?

Signed last year from Arsenal for a sizeable fee of £28m potentially rising to £34m, Alex Iwobi did not set things alight for Everton as had been hoped. There has been much debate on Iwobi and how things turned out last season. Perhaps a reason why Iwobi’s not had the best of receptions as of yet is due to not playing in preferred positions on a regular basis, and Everton lacking cohesion in possession last season.

Following Carlo Ancelotti’s arrival in December 2019, Everton’s form improved. In doing so, Everton took up a range of set-ups, notably a flexible 4-4-2. But often enough, Iwobi was out of position on the right-wing, even if he had room to tuck inside, and overall failed to please many fans. But now, Everton have the chance to use Iwobi as a no.8 in the newly adopted 4-3-3, which may suit Iwobi as well as, if not far more than when playing as a no.10 on a handful of occasions last season.

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A winger, two full-backs, and a low-block set the tone for Palace’s win vs. Southampton

After having ended last season terribly, with no wins in their final eight games, Crystal Palace kicked off their new campaign perfectly with a vital win over Southampton.

There were no distinct changes to Palace’s tactical set-up, but there was a reignited sense of organisation that you’d have come to expect, and why the disappointing end to the season wasn’t fatal.

Southampton, although having more chances on goal, found it difficult breaking down Palace’s rigid shape. Their full-backs were outlets aiming to stretch the pitch, but Palace’s own width won the game with one quick counter-attack.

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James Rodriguez troubled Spurs with passes from deep positions in impressive debut

James Rodriguez was an acquisition nobody would have expected Everton to make, let alone for just £12m. Yet, not so surprisingly, the Colombian impressed as he made his debut alongside fellow midfield arrivals Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure. All were impressive for that matter, with James slightly wide right in a front three, and the latter two and Andre Gomes making up the midfield trident in Everton’s 4-3-3, which diverted from the accustomed 4-4-2.

And this 4-3-3 was up against a 4-2-3-1 deployed by Tottenham Hotspur, who were also looking for a positive start to the new league campaign.

Yet, James proved instrumental in spoiling Spurs’ day, as the Toffees secured a well-deserved 0-1 win. James’ positioning was clever, and his range of passes when tucking inside from the right-wing were a threat whenever Everton attacked.

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Abdoulaye Doucoure: Analysis of the midfielder moving to Everton

Everton have become known for spending big during the Summer transfer windows, splashing over £100m on players for the past three seasons. This summer, amidst the first full season under Carlo Ancelotti, Everton seem to have matched the expectation of putting large funds to use, but have directly addressed issues with their midfield.

Two world class midfielders, a box-to-box player in Allan (Napoli, £21.7m) and attacking midfielder James Rodriguez (Real Madrid, £12m), both familiar to Ancelotti, have come to Goodison. And now Abdoulaye Doucoure has also been added to Everton’s ranks for a reported £20m fee.

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Ferran Torres’s directness and crosses down the wings troubled the German defence

Ferran Torres only cost Manchester City, £20.8m, and the latest addition to City’s attacking riches displayed just why he was sought-after property, making a run down the right-wing and crossing the ball towards Rodrigo, whose knockdown set up Jose Gaya to give Spain a 95th minute equaliser, settling a 1-1 Nations League tie with Germany.

This piece of wing-play capped off an impressive performance during what was, funnily enough, Torres’ international debut.

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England’s centre-backs: analysis of Southgate’s choices and who else should have been considered

England’s recently released and then updated squad list for the upcoming Nations league matches has aroused a lot of discussion. And much of that circulating on social media has focused on the centre-backs. Wolves captain Conor Coady received his first call-up. But was there a particular reason Burnley’s James Tarkowski wasn’t included?

Southgate made his stance clear on why midfielder Jack Grealish was not picked, initially that is. But an injury to Marcus Rashford meant Grealish took his place, earning a much-deserved call-up. Southgate’s choices at centre-back seemingly come down to who’s available, who’s in form, who’s been regularly picked in order to not throw too many new names in at once, and what can be offered tactically.

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