Diamonds are a manager’s best friend: a look at the diamond formation

“They say diamonds aren’t forever, but they certainly are for this manager.”

So go the dulcet tones of Alan Smith on FIFA’s hugely popular football simulation game. Such is the rarity of the 4-3-1-2, 4-1-2-1-2 or 4-4-2 (diamond) formation that it has been gifted its very own Worcestershire cliché when deployed on games consoles across the land. Continue reading “Diamonds are a manager’s best friend: a look at the diamond formation”

Declan Rice: West Ham’s wonder kid and now the future of England’s midfield

By Lauren Savage

The long-awaited decision has finally come. Declan Rice has pledged his international allegiance to England over the Republic of Ireland, despite already earning three caps for the men in green. Continue reading “Declan Rice: West Ham’s wonder kid and now the future of England’s midfield”

Inside Bloomfield Road: what’s happening with the Blackpool boycotts?

By Joe Davies

It is a rare thing in football that an away support outnumbers the home fans in a stadium. As I failed to establish the chant ‘Woah Lacazette-y, Aubameyang’ (to the tune of Black Betty), it occurred to me that without a home chorus to contend with the incentive for away fans to stand up and sing is dampened somewhat. While Gooners have been criticised for their lack of home atmosphere since the ‘Highbury Library’ days, you really could hear your own voice echo as Arsenal beat Blackpool 3-0 at Bloomfield Road. The magic of the FA Cup this was not.

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Advent Day 24 – Tim Howard

By Joe Davies

“Tim, I think I don’t know how you are going to survive the mobs when you come back home man. You are going to have to shave your beard so they don’t know who you are.”

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The renaissance of the English 4-4-2

By Joe Davies

English football was once a game of partnerships. Big man, little man – one guy to hold it up, one to work the channels and play on the shoulder – was the dominant strike pairing across all British sides. Managers lined their teams up with two pacy, outside wingers, and two box-to-box midfielders in the middle, with one going while the other stayed and vice versa. In defence, you would have two imposing centre-halves, one covering while the other marked tight, and full-backs would adopt a similar strategy to the central midfielders in order to make sure there were always three staying back in possession. This is the way all English school kids grew up playing football on the weekend, and is still the dominant shape in Sunday-league football today. Football was simple.

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Advent Day 12 – Thierry Henry, the return of the king

By Joe Davies

On the 6th of January 2012, Arsenal’s record top goal scorer returned to North London on loan to cover for Marouane Chamakh and Gervinho who were at the African Cup of Nations. Unable to take his old number 14 shirt, occupied by Theo Walcott since his departure, Thierry Henry opted for the number 12 he had won the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championships with for France. Arguably the greatest player to have ever played in the Premier League, TiTi left Arsenal for brighter pastures at Barcelona, but returned a crowd favourite and self-confessed fan of the club.

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Advent Day 10 – Juan Román Riquelme, the player who pauses

By Joe Davies

Number 10. Football’s most iconic shirt number has been synonymous with teams’ creative attackers all over the world. Brazil have had Pelé, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo. Italy had Roberto Baggio, Francesco Totti and Alessandro Del Piero. Even England have had Geoff Hurst, Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney. However, nowhere is the number more crucial to a team’s identity than in Argentina. Arguably the two greatest players to have ever played the game, Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi, have donned the number for La Albiceleste, but few have embodied the essence of the shirt and its implied role more than Juan Román Riquelme.

Continue reading “Advent Day 10 – Juan Román Riquelme, the player who pauses”