I have #thoughts on the Lamela-Eriksen thing some of y’all were asking about (and that Kevin wrote about) yesterday. But I’m still working through game footage and looking at the stats I can get through WhoScored and Stats Zone.
Here are two initial thoughts:
First, we shouldn’t make too too much of a player’s positioning in a system like Mauricio Pochettino’s is usually going to be a mistake. The pressing style demands such fluidity in terms of position that it’s much harder to identify a player’s “position” in the system. A system like Pochettino’s is probably better understood in terms of “roles” than “systems.”
Second, the main thing that stood out to me wasn’t that Eriksen was playing on the right wing—he was playing more in the half-space between the left back and left center back, if anything—but that he simply wasn’t receiving the ball enough. Here’s a chart of passes he received:
There simply aren’t a lot of short passes here nor are there that many lateral passes, both of which tend to be pretty essential service for a playmaker like Eriksen who is at his best presenting for the ball, receiving simple passes, and then picking out teammates.
Compare this to Eriksen’s performance last season in our 4-1 win against West Ham:
In this game, we see a ton of short, quick passes on the left side of the field along with a lot of simple horizontal passes played into Eriksen’s feet as he drifted inside.
Related to this is the point that in that game Eriksen and Danny Rose exchanged 23 passes while Eriksen and Mousa Dembele exchanged 22. So there probably is something to the complaint that flipping Eriksen and Lamela disrupts the relationship between Eriksen and Rose and Lamela and Walker. That said, I’m not sure how much of that is down to Eriksen having a unique relationship with Rose and how much of it is a combination of Christian not showing for the ball as much (which isn’t a huge cause for concern this early in the season) and Christian missing Dembele. Lamela is constantly buzzing around the ball, Dele Alli is a vertical attacker. Amongst last season’s attacking three, Eriksen (more than anyone else) relied heavily on Dembele’s ability to win the ball and make short, simple passes to nearby players.
Anyway, I need to watch the game again and look more closely at the stats, but that is my initial #take.
On to the links:
Paulinho recalled into Brazilian national team.
Gervinho sent off for stamping on an opponent this weekend. Best part is he tries to tell the ref he got the ballpic.twitter.com/tsVqHAQfhx— Onefootball (@Onefootball) August 22, 2016
Stats Bomb’s Bundesliga preview series is live:
Did y’all see Gianluigi Donnarumma’s stoppage time penalty save to preserve Milan’s 3-2 opening weekend win:
SBN sister site The Bent Musket looks at how an NWSL player trains during the off-season. This is an important read.
This is kinda insane:
Brazilian soccer star Carlos Kaiser had it all: exclusive contracts with popular teams, money, fame, and women. The professional soccer star was only missing one thing: the ability to play soccer. Arguably the greatest con artist in all of sports history, Kaiser (birth name Carlos Henrique Raposo) was able to maintain a career that spanned nearly two decades while playing in as few games as possible and never scoring a goal.
Andi Thomas’s Liverpool take is very good and, unsurprisingly, fun.