The Bill Nicholson Forum

The Bill Nicholson Forum

Spurs Chat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    WELCOME TO THE BILL NICHOLSON FORUM - SPURS CHAT

Latest topics

» Not been here for a while
Tue Sep 26 2017, 19:04 by BazSpur

» 17 million deal for Musacchio
Fri Feb 24 2017, 18:39 by souptheyid

» How to Block Adverts on this Site !
Fri Feb 24 2017, 18:36 by souptheyid

» This is Our Season
Sun Aug 14 2016, 00:54 by vis

» 'appy New Season
Sat Aug 29 2015, 08:09 by BazSpur

»  Time to say goodbye
Fri Aug 28 2015, 21:37 by Maximus

» Crouchinio
Thu Jan 15 2015, 03:00 by vis

» story so far ?
Thu Nov 20 2014, 03:20 by vis

» southampton team news
Wed Oct 08 2014, 09:47 by superkaboul

Navigation

Spurs Legends



Former Spurs Manager: Keith Burkinshaw

Gallery


Affiliates

Log in

I forgot my password


    Hughes gets it right to expose Arsenal blind spots

    Share

    Guest
    Guest

    Hughes gets it right to expose Arsenal blind spots

    Post by Guest on Tue Apr 03 2012, 12:05

    Judging by Queens Park Rangers' January signings, playing only one man upfront wasn't exactly the plan. Bobby Zamora arrived from Fulham, Djibril Cissé was signed from Lazio, and Federico Macheda signed on loan shortly before Mark Hughes arrived – though the Italian has now returned to Manchester United. These three joined Heidar Helguson, Jamie Mackie, DJ Campbell, Jay Bothroyd and Rob Hulse, meaning Mark Hughes had eight recognised senior strikers to choose from.

    Hughes prefers to play two strikers. At Blackburn, 4-4-2 was his first-choice shape in each of his four seasons at the club, with the likes of Craig Bellamy, Benni McCarthy and Roque Santa Cruz all enjoying excellent seasons under Hughes. At Manchester City his formation was more varied, but in his final season he generally used Carlos Tevez behind Emmanuel Adebayor – even if it often looked more like 4-2-3-1, there were two strikers on the pitch. This was similar to his strategy at Fulham, where the shape was often depicted as 4-4-1-1, with Moussa Dembélé preferred as the man to support the main striker. 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-1-1, it's roughly the same idea – two banks of four behind the ball, and two forwards higher up – as a striker who thrived in a 4-4-2, Hughes knows the benefit of a good partnership.

    The situation at QPR has been complicated by the typically daft spell enjoyed by Cissé. In his five starts, he's scored in three and been sent off in the other two. Having served his initial three-game ban, he's now a quarter of the way through a four-game sentence.

    Cissé alongside Zamora is Hughes's preference, a classic partnership of pace and aerial power. Cissé's availability essentially dictates whether it's 4-4-2 or not – since he joined, the only games where Hughes has not played 4-4-2 have been the four games when Cissé has been suspended. The inference is that Hughes doesn't believe his replacements can play the Cissé role – there are more potential back-ups for Zamora's job.

    Therefore, Hughes's formation for Saturday's home match with Arsenal was essentially already decided, but the desire to match Arsenal's three-man midfield made the decision even easier. QPR played the match intelligently, being combative but disciplined in midfield – sitting deep but not allowing Arsenal too much time on the ball in midfield, particularly important since Alex Song's surprise development into a deep-lying playmaker.

    Hughes drew upon previous experience of getting a result against Arsenal – defensively QPR were reminiscent of Hughes's Blackburn side that battled to a 0-0 at the Emirates four years ago, a match that was followed with Cesc Fábregas seeking out Hughes to ask: "Did you really play for Barcelona? That wasn't Barcelona football, was it?" But that was an FA Cup tie where a draw was a great result – this time, the defensive performance was combined with bravery and power upfront.

    There was another previous Hughes v Arsenal battle that sprung to mind – Manchester City's 4-2 win over Arsenal early in 2009-10, the game that featured Adebayor's infamous celebration in front of the Arsenal fans. Following that game, a couple of photos of the whiteboard from Hughes's pre-match team talk were leaked on the internet, and in addition to some fairly basic instructions were a couple of tasks aimed at hurting Arsenal. The first was general – "Expose them in the channels quickly when we regain possession." The second was more specific. "Draw No5 Vermaelen out of the back four, and get behind him."

    That was only four games into Vermaelen's Arsenal career, but Hughes had accurately pinpointed his major weakness – he flies up the pitch towards his man and leaves space in behind, which (then) William Gallas and (now) Laurent Koscielny has to cover. Vermaelen had a poor game against City that day, and has continued to concede goals when caught too high up the pitch.

    The approach was replicated by QPR this weekend – a couple of times in the first half, Vermaelen stormed into tackles and left space in behind for Zamora, who naturally drifts to the right channel anyway, looking to come inside on to his left foot. Combined with Zamora's physical attention, the Belgian had a very poor game – QPR were looking to expose him both positionally and aerially. He was caught out for both the goals – first Adel Taarabt turned him and coolly finished, then he slipped and allowed Mackie to set up Samba Diakité for the winner.

    With Joey Barton playing relatively deep alongside Diakité and Shaun Derry in midfield, QPR needed attacking drive from the flanks. And this was the beauty of the 4-2-3-1 system in the final third – it meant the wide players, Taarabt and Mackie, could play closer to goal and had less defensive responsibility. The combination of these two gave great balance to the side – Mackie played a basic, linear role – charging up and down the line past Kieran Gibbs, and getting himself into the box.

    Taarabt, on the left, was free to drift inside into immediately dangerous positions. With Theo Walcott playing high and wide on the right wing (unlike Aaron Ramsey tucked in on the left), there was lots of space towards that side of the pitch. Taarabt took advantage of this, and also exploited the fact that Arsenal's midfield triangle tilts to allow Song forward – he snuck into a big gap between defence and attack (particularly obvious for Diakité's unchecked run for the second goal) and moved to an area where Bacary Sagna didn't want to follow.

    Taarabt was magnificent. His goal, the first of his season from his 69th shot (previously the most for a scoreless player in the Premier League – Stewart Downing now has that honour) was a relief for a player who counted goalscoring as a key part of his game last season, having hit 19 from 44 Championship games. But his all-round game was impressive – his movement and appreciation of space is good, and he used his trickery in the right areas of the pitch. There were a couple of stepovers, a clever backheel, a brilliant turn past Mikel Arteta that left his opponent 10 yards from the ball. There was also a continual attempt to use the outside of his right boot from the left flank, and bend the ball around the defence, towards Zamora's run into the channels. He did his defensive job manfully up against the in-form Sagna.

    Taarabt, talented but inconsistent and ill-disciplined, is the epitome of the player you don't want for a relegation scrap, as the cliche goes. But QPR wouldn't have won this game without him, and a key part of his performance was his role slightly higher up on the left.

    Hughes was so pleased with his side that he didn't make a substitution until the 90th minute, such was his determination to maintain the shape and balance of the side. After this fine performance, one wonders if he'll continue to play this way – even after Cissé's return.
    avatar
    anicoll5
    Champions League
    Champions League

    Re: Hughes gets it right to expose Arsenal blind spots

    Post by anicoll5 on Tue Apr 03 2012, 22:04

    Zonal Marking strikes again

      Current date/time is Sun Dec 17 2017, 00:09