The first weekend of the 2018/19
Premier League season is done and in the record books.
It wasn’t the most thrilling, with no real shocks but we’re already seeing how sides are developing their tactics for the new campaign.
Premier League managers have shown us a glimpse of their tactics this season
You can stand still in modern football with your opponents scouting almost continuously so they can find holes in your side’s game plans.
But what are the most noticeable tactics for each Premier League team? With just one game gone it’s foolish to draw a full conclusion as the sample size is too small, but they may be giving us a clue about their plans.
Check out our thoughts below.
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The Gunners got stick from some quarters as they attempted some risky passing out from the back, which put goalkeeper Petr Cech under pressure from Manchester City’s forward line. On other occasions, though, this attitude will do them well and it’s encouraging overall. The players signed by Unai Emery appear to give them some extra bite too with Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi not shy in midfield.
Ryan Fraser and David Brooks will be getting amongst the goals as they barely drifted wide and allowed the full-backs to get out and overlap them. As soon as the ball is on the flank these two are hustling to get into goalscoring positions with Joshua King and Callum Wilson. In addition, when the duo were out wide, the full-backs were keen on underlapping to add an extra body in midfield.
Brighton and Hove Albion
If Yves Bissouma is given freedom he could be the magician the Seagulls need to unlock defences. He had a couple of outstanding moments in his cameo and wasn’t afraid to get stuck in, he totally outshone last season’s star Pascal Gross. Meanwhile, a propensity for long ball remains for the team as a whole.
The Clarets are looking to attack from the off. At the start of both halves they took the game by the scruff of the neck and attempt and grab a goal, while also playing a high line.
The Bluebirds are in for tough season, that’s for sure, but seem keen to adapt to their rivals. They played a 4-1-4-1 with Sol Bamba in defensive midfield but drop deep and narrow on almost every possible occasion. In one defensive phase they had seven men behind the penalty spot.
Most people have noted the evolution in N’Golo Kante’s role already. You may not have seen, though, Antonio Rudiger and David Luiz leaving a chasm of space between them, it’s a big worry they will come unstuck against teams with more in attack.
Given Phil Jagielka’s first-half red card, it’s hard to get a full take on how the Toffees are going to look. Already though, it seems Richarlison is set to be the focal point of their attack as they lean to the left, with Michael Keane and Leighton Baines also seeing more of the ball.
We all knew the Cottagers would attempt to pass teams off the park but more interestingly they seemed keen to take on long shots, which undoubtedly restricted the likelihood of them scoring, despite some good chances from Aleksandar Mitrovic in the area.
The Terriers are already favouring the right flank with Florent Hadergjonaj getting quite far up the pitch when allowed. Overall, 48 per cent of their play was on that side, with Zanka and Aaron Mooy also getting plenty of touches towards that area of the pitch as they set up in a 3-5-1-1.
The Foxes have found themselves the ultimate creator for their side in James Maddison. Last year they struggled to find the right man to play behind their lone striker but it seems Claude Puel is going to get a lot of joy with the ex-Norwich man after solving his riddle.
The Reds are ready to get dirty as they attempt to win the Premier League this season. They committed 14 fouls compared to West Ham’s nine and only Brighton made more than Jurgen Klopp’s side.
The main takeaway, noted by most observers, was Benjamin Mendy taking up the half space out side Arsenal’s penalty area when City were on the attack. Attacking as an immediate defence against a counter – something Arsenal will have been preparing to do with their pacy frontline – but also another threat in the final third, as he proved with two assists.
At no point did the Red Devils have an extended period of high pressure in the attacking third and they seemed reluctant to expend energy they didn’t need to. This could become a fixture of their play, but may also be a result of their early opener against Leicester City, which allowed them to sit back a little.
It appears the Magpies aren’t going to be afraid to attack with the ball on the deck this season. Every midfielder who took to the pitch completed at least one dribble apart from Christian Atsu, even Jonjo Shevley was and of 27 attempted (to Tottenham’s nine) they completed 15, with six being credited to the excellent Kenedy. Only Dele Alli and Hugo Lloris weren’t beaten on the floor.
The Saints are set to be lethal from crosses and set-pieces, and could play through Mohamed Elyounoussi a lot. The Norwegian made four key passes in his time on the pitch and connected with four of his seven balls into the box.
As Tottenham attempt to work out the kinks in their games against smaller teams, they appear to be moving towards a 4-3-3 formation, with Christian Eriksen and Lucas Moura drifting behind Harry Kane. Dele Alli looked a lot deeper than normal towards the left, despite his surging runs forward, with Moussa Sissoko moving towards the right with Eric Dier between them.
Javi Gracia showed an excellent ability to adapt to a developing situation in front of him. With Brighton’s Bernardo forced to swap from left-back to the opposite flank he clearly targeted their new signing, while late on he used Kiko Femenia to torment Gaetan Bong and overloaded the attack with Ken Sema and Isaac Success around Troy Deeney.
West Ham United
It seems the Hammers will play with just the one defensive midfielder this year and look to use Mark Noble in a more box-to-box role on the right of central midfield, with Jack Wilshere a creator on the left. When Declan Rice was substituted, Noble dropped into the defensive role, while Robert Snodgrass, surprisingly, took up a creative central role. Manuel Pellegrini is also set to get his wingers swapping flanks to confuse opposing full-backs.
No matter what the scenario, Nuno Espirito Santo is getting his players to take shots in central areas. Perhaps a keen student of expected goals, it may be rare to see Wolves takes shots from wide of the goal frame.