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Michu, 64th Minute. Swansea 2 – 2 Liverpool
Much of this week’s Swansea City – Liverpool matchup focused around Jonjo Shelvey, the midfielder who left Liverpool in the transfer window for better prospects with the Swans in Wales. His recognition was well deserved; as he was involved in three goals in this match, including my top goal of the week from Michu. Let’s see how Swansea was able to beat what has been a relatively stable Liverpool defense.
Jonathan de Guzman was subbed on for Nathan Dyer, and in this case is lying next to Shelvey for most of the attack, dropping deeper to help build something for the Swans. They play some tidy passes, and push the ball up across the halfway line. Noted by the red line, we can see how deep Liverpool’s midfield of Steven Gerrard, Philippe Coutinho, and Lucas are playing leaving plenty of room in front of them. With Iago Aspas on, Sturridge up front, and the lead, we can assume the main job here is to prevent a ball into the next level of Michu and Wilfried Bony. With the space in front of him, Bony opts to go get the ball and run forward to help out the attack, and slots ahead of Lucas.
Olivier Giroud, Arsenal – 11th Minute
It’s starting to seem that it wouldn’t be a “Goals of the Week” without Olivier Giroud. The French striker received loads of criticism last year, but this year has been the complete opposite, benefitting from Arsenal’s fantastic play within the midfield. Now, they’ve added Mesut Ozil to that occasion in what many believe could be the signing of the summer – an intelligent attacker with eyes for goal and who seemingly sees the game ten seconds ahead of anyone. Ozil hit the ground running in his Arsenal career on Saturday, creating a fantastic Giroud goal early on against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll know I’m a bit of a sucker for goals that involve a great defensive play and smart positioning. This one is absolutely no different. With Ozil taking the attacking duties in the center of the pitch, Aaron Ramsey drops just a bit deeper, and stays more wide in the Gunners’ formation. Here, early on in the match, Arsenal is doing a great job of pressing Altidore who is arguably Sunderland’s best goalscorer. Laurent Koscielny has stepped forward out of defense to cut Altidore off as Ramsey makes a tackle (more like a push), and wins the ball off of him.
It’s been a long international break, but the Premier League returned last weekend with a bang, providing some great debuts, goals, and matches for all to watch. Here at #3 in the Premier League Goals of the Week series is Gylfi Sigurdsson’s first goal against Norwich City.
Until now, Spurs had yet to score a goal from open play in the Premier League. Yet, a fantastic transfer window and an attack full of new personnel aimed to change that, and that it did. Christian Eriksen got his first start since moving from Ajax at the end of the window, and it was Sigurdsson who was the benefit of his great play.
We head to Spurs’ first touch of the ball. Up to this point in the match we’ve seen some nice attacking play, with Roberto Soldado narrowly missing a crafty backheel to grab a lead. Here, Moussa Dembele earns the ball deep in midfield, as the first line out of the defense. We see options to his right, but they are pretty well covered. He could easily head into the space behind of his defender and attempt a take-on. As the last line, that’s not necessarily his job, though. As there isn’t an immediate option, Dembele opts to send a great ball out wide to his left back Danny Rose.
Olivier Giroud, 23rd Minute. 1-0
It only took 23 minutes for Arsenal to take the lead in the North London Derby against Tottenham; some said it was against the run of play, but any goal like this shouldn’t be criticised. The Gunners have picked up their form in the recent weeks, and great team goals like this one finished by Olivier Giroud are undoubtedly the reason for that improvement. Let’s take a deeper look at how the Gunners grabbed an early lead.
For the first aspect of this goal, it’s pretty imperative that you see the .gif instead of just a screenshot, as you can see just how important Per Mertesacker’s tackle is to this goal. Nacer Chadli had eyes for the box and a shot on goal, but it was the big German who stepped up and won the ball cleanly. Not only is this play integral in stopping an attack, but it allows for Arsenal to start their own. Like a fantastic counter attack, their midfielders can shuffle their feet, turn around, and being the attack the other way. At the end of this gif you can see five Spurs attackers – with just one striker to their formation, this means that only one of their midfielders are left in their best position to defend. Arsenal’s midfield takes full advantage of just that.
Alvaro Negredo, 65th Minute. 1-0.
It would be a farce to say that Manchester City’s performances this season have been anything less than interesting. Three weeks ago we saw a crisp team playing tidy passing, exploring great overlap attacks that ended up scoring four goals. Last week, we saw a team lost defensively that was disjointed defensively. This week, we saw a mix of both – City at times were beautiful in their passing, but were pressed well by Hull defensively and thus couldn’t get going. Amidst the negativity, criticism, and even praise, let’s look at this week’s number two goal – Alvaro Negredo’s fantastic header.
Like Dzeko last week and the goals of their first match against Newcastle, Sergio Aguero has gone from a striker looking only for passes, to a link-up player involved in almost all of City’s attacking play. This time, instead of linking up with Dzeko, it’s his compatriot Pablo Zabaleta. Yaya Toure, here, dropped nearly into City’s defense to get the ball, but then feeds it up to David Silva in the midfield. This link is so crucial for City as both of these players command defenders. Amidst that, watch Aguero’s positioning. He drops nearly to the center line, but once the pass follows up to Silva, Aguero senses the play and starts to make a run. His movement is so crucial as he can draw defenders, and give somebody like Negredo room to roam in midfield. Here, both Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore are starting to track him.
Stuart O’Keefe, Crystal Palace – 92nd Minute
It’s not often a promoted team shows that their scoring ability is one of their best qualities. This year, Crystal Palace is proving just that. After a great goal from Maruoane Chamakh last week, and a solid three goal win against Sunderland this week, the Eagles are putting balls in the net at a solid rate. This week, it was substitute Stuart O’Keefe that scored one of the best of the week, capping a solid passing move with a sublime finish.
Here’s the buildup. We see Dean Moxey put an over-the-top ball to Jason Puncheon down the left hand side, that results in a throw in. Moxey, here has the options to throw the ball into the middle, or play the corner. With just a few minutes in the match remaining, the obvious choice is to play the ball down into the corner to Aaron Wilbraham. An easy, smart, move for Crystal Palace who wouldn’t want to risk dropping points at home in extra time.
1) Daniel Sturridge – Liverpool. 21st Minute, 1-0
Liverpool took on an Aston Villa team making waves early on in the Premier League with good performances against Chelsea and Arsenal before hosting Liverpool. While Aston Villa still can be proud of their work, it was Daniel Sturridge’s fantastic play that won Liverpool this match.
Team goals are fantastic, and buildup can be a thing of beauty. For most people, it’s an individual effort that makes a goal. It’s the slick feet, the great placement, and the amazing speed, that make a goal inspiring. In Sturridge’s goal against Aston Villa, we see not only some great team play but a superb individual effort.
What do all four of these screenshots have in common? They happen within a few seconds of each other. Four separate tackles by three different players, including two attacking players. This is how Liverpool won the ball on the buildup to Sturridge’s goal. Phillippe Coutinho starts it by turning Gabby Agbonlahor off the attack and forcing him to pass the over way (notice we’re at the halfway line). Iago Aspas further backs them up, and then Lucas Leiva eventually intercepts the pass, giving the Reds the possession. This is fantastic teamwork, in quick succession. Players dropped back, tightly tackled (mind you, no fouls were called), and got the ball to the right place for their defensive midfielder to effectively win the ball. This play alone is worth of top play status.
Fast forward a few seconds and here’s the product of Liverpool’s ball winning. Coutinho gets the ball down to Sturridge on the wing. Decision-making, like in every goal, is key here. Coutinho could have kept the ball and ran into nothing, but he gets it to his best playmaker. Sturridge places himself in great position to keep the ball alive, though. He’ll be the next one to have a decision to make.
2) Charlie Adam – Stoke City. 58th Minute, 1-1
When perusing the matches for the weekend it might have been easy to assume Stoke City v. Crystal Palace would be the least likely to produce a top goal, but it turns out this match proved to be one of the more exciting. So with that in mind, we have Charlie Adam coming in at number two in the goals of the week.
Stoke here are set up against Crystal Palace and just looking to push the ball forward. Under new manager Mark Hughes, it’s expect that the long-ball style we’re so used to seeing will diminish. Here, we see the opportunity for a through ball on the left, possibly to plan for a cross. Matthew Etherington decides to play the ball a different route, getting the ball to his best scoring opportunity, Peter Crouch.
We see now that Stoke have opted for a shorter pass. Crystal Palace have closed down the open space well, but in doing so they’ve dragged their defenders away from key points of the attack. Steve N’Zonzi and Charlie Adam are now alone and not being tracked. The options for Stoke to both play a long pass or short are a great use here, as they drag the defenders away, but also set up a pass to Peter Crouch, who has position behind his man. He can sneak deeper into the box, and hope for a nice volley.
For each week here at Goal Breakdown, I’ll do my best to write a breakdown of what I believe were the best three (or five) goals of the week. I’ll do my best to write one a day or so. Here’s number three in my countdown.
3) Edin Dzeko – Manchester City. 52nd Minute , 1-0
Edin Dzeko’s goal here is a fantastic example of link up play between strikers, in this case Kun Aguero and Dzeko. Like last week, we see these two playing nifty balls to find each other, and they seem to be on point. City does lose this match to Cardiff, but nonetheless take the lead with this beautiful goal. Let’s look at it.
Here’s the reminiscence of the attack just a few seconds before Dzeko’s goal. We see Fernandinho, a deep playmaker pushing up. We see Clichy, Dzeko, Silva and Aguero missing just to the right. City is getting high up the pitch, but this is what helps to make this goal great.