Category Archives: Arsenal

Tactical preview: Everton v. Arsenal

What will Roberto Martinez Do?

EPL Game 1: A Solid Base and a Fluid Approach

Roberto Martinez showed quite a bit of flexibility in his approach against Arsenal last season. In their first Premier League encounter, at the Emirates, Martinez played something similar to how Arsenal played against Napoli. Martinez’s 4-2-3-1 had a defensive box of two center backs and two central midfielders. By allocating four players in a 2-2 manner, with one of the midfielders dropping a bit deeper in possession to allow Everton to play out easier from the back, Everton allocated enough resources properly to the defensive side of the game to combat with Giroud, Ozil, and the forward runs of Aaron Ramsey.

That allowed Everton to allocate the rest of their players towards attack. Not only did they allocate more resources for the attack, but the certainty in the positioning of the defensive box allowed them to have uncertainty in the allocation of those resources. This fluidity in attack helps to create information asymmetries, where players, familiar with one another, know where their teammates are, while the opponent struggles to properly allocate defensive resources to counter the attacking threat. Essentially, fluidity makes the dynamic resource allocation problem for the defense much more difficult. The defensive box allowed them to mitigate the costs of fluidity, in particular the cost of being out of position when possession is lost, by having players in position to defend Arsenal’s counterattacks.

Two stand-out performers for Everton were Steven Pienaar and Brian Oviedo, who filled in for Leighton Baines at left-back. With Jack Wilshere operating as the right-sided midfielder, or Cazorla for stretches, Arsenal lacked a counterattacking threat on that side¹. This gave Oviedo license to get forward, as the marginal cost of his forays was relatively small. Clearly, they did not perceive Carl Jenkinson as much of an attacking threat. This allowed Everton to move the ball down Arsenal’s right side easily and create 2-on-1s against Jenkinson. While this occurred late in the game with Everton searching for an equalizer, making a more attacking approach more valuable, one can see how Oviedo’s willingness to go forward creates a 2-on-1 against Jenkinson, giving Pienaar time and space to deliver a cross into the box.

With Pienaar free to cut inside from Everton’s left and Ramsey taking up quite advanced positions, Mikel Arteta had to worry about the threat of both Pienaar and Ross Barkley without much help (if help came it would have to come from Mertesacker and Koscielny, but that would leave Lukaku 1-on-1) . Barkley freely roamed the area, looking for space, and driving forward with the ball. Despite not registering a goal or assist in the match, Ross Barkley was the outstanding player for Everton in possession.

EPL Game 2: A False Nine and Wide-Forwards

I view football matches as dynamic resource allocation problems. You want to optimally allocate your resources and you want to prevent your opponent from optimally allocating their resources. To that end, one of my favorite tactical approaches is the use of two wide forwards with a deep-lying central player (I’d be all for Arsenal trotting out Walcott and Sanchez up top with Ozil behind them). Chile operated in this fashion under Jorge Sampaoli at the World Cup. The value of this approach is the ability to pin back four defenders with two attackers.

First attacking the CB/FB gap can often be more valuable that attacking the CB/CB gap. Center-backs generally stay put and have a good understanding with one another. The cohesion between the two and the certainty of position allows them to better allocate themselves to kill a threat to that gap. Fullbacks, who operate as attackers and defenders, often have less of a relationship with the center-back on their side and have much more uncertainty in their positioning. When a wide forward attacks that gap, there seems to be an increased probability for some confusion between the fullback and the center-back on that side, as to how they will deal with the threat.

One of the best outcomes from this confusion can be the ability to pin both fullbacks into defensive roles. In modern football, with fullbacks playing such a crucial role in attack, often solely responsible for providing width, the ability to pin the fullbacks deals a serious blow to the opponent. Not only does it prevent the opponent from allocating their attacking resources the way they desire, but it also can simplify the dynamic resource allocation problem for the defenders. If the only threats out wide are pinned back in their own half, a defense can narrow their shape, allocating more resources to limit the success of the central attackers.

The wide forward can also exploit the space in behind an attacking fullback (or a fullback positioned too far up the pitch), and can force a center-back into a wide area. For many center-backs, being pulled into a wide area represents a pretty terrible scenario. A lack of experience in those situations can lead to a lack of knowledge about how to use one’s attributes to defend the situation (or the center-back simply lacks the necessary attributes to defend that situation) and can lead to panicky and ineffective defending. Also, by dragging one of the center-backs out wide, the wide forward may have also forced the other center-back, and the fullback on the opposite side (if he is even in position) towards him. This can create quite a bit of space for the other wide forward to make a free inside run toward the back post.

In this game, Martinez used his wide forwards to great effect, particularly on the counterattack. He played a 4-3-3, with Steven Naismith as a false 9, Romelu Lukaku as a right wide forward, and Kevin Mirallas as a left wide forward. Naismith dropped into midfield, effectively forming a diamond, giving McCarthy and Barkley a player to pass the ball to, who could link-up with the wide forwards. Naismith also did well to attract Thomas Vermaelen onto him.

In Everton’s first goal, we can see the potency of this system. Although Flamini could have probably dealt with Baines 1-on-1, Bacary Sagna stays up, but does not close the ball down. Mirallas runs into the space that Sagna has not occupied, dragging Per Mertesacker with him. Naismith’s run draws Thomas Vermaelen.

wide

This leaves Lukaku all alone with Nacho Monreal, against whom the Belgian has a significant physical advantage. Lukaku gets a shot on goal, and it is saved.

shot

However, Vermaelen is caught watching Lukaku and loses Naismith, who has looked to make a run around Lukaku. The ball falls to Naismith, and he buries it.

late

On the second goal, Naismith starts with the ball after Mikel Arteta blocks an aimless Ross Barkley pass, an opportunity that comes about due to his deep positioning. The ball falls to Mirallas in a central position with Lukaku in acres of space on Everton’s right side. Mirallas plays the ball to Lukaku who faces Monreal in a 1-on-1. Vermaelen does not commit to helping his left-back as he is worried by the run of Naismith (watch him look behind him to check on where Naismith is, as he runs back). Lukas Podolski does not seem to care on this play, jogging back, even though his fullback is in an undesirable situation. Lukaku cuts inside; he shoots and scores.

The third goal starts with Mirallas wins the ball off of Bacary Sagna, which happens when you ask Sagna to advance the ball by dribbling. Now, the break is on. Barkley, who is already ahead of the play on Everton’s left, makes a run down the sideline. While he does not keep Mertesacker on him, his run prevents Mertesacker from ever committing to stopping Mirallas. Arteta cannot dream of catching up to Mirallas, meaning the Belgian has plenty of space and time to dribble, shoot, or make a pass. Vermaelen decides to focus on the man with the ball more than 25 meters from goal, and he is caught flat-footed as Naismith runs behind him. Mirallas plays the ball to Naismith, and Wojciech Szczesny comes off his line, successfully getting the ball away from Naismith. However, the ball falls in an ideal place for Mirallas to run onto the ball and score. Mertesacker and Arteta cannot accelerate quickly enough from their slow jogs to clear the danger. And Monreal, throughout all of this, is worried about his positioning relative to Lukaku, given the threat of the Belgian making a back post run. This prevents him from helping out his teammates on the play.

Two games, two completely different game plans, and both were effective. Whatever Roberto Martinez attempts to pull off on Saturday, there is a good chance it will be well thought out and effective.

What Arsenal May Want to Do

With Nacho Monreal starting at left-back, and Martinez aware that the Spaniard will start at left-back, he may look to isolate Lukaku on Monreal as much as possible. This may call for Lukaku taking up the wide forward role again and to make diagonal runs from a central position into the LCB/CB gap. If Everton do employ this tactic, Arsenal may wish to allocate another man to that territory, to help Monreal deal with the Belgian. Had Arteta not picked up an injury in Turkey, Arsene Wenger may have opted for a defensive box of Mertesacker-Koscielny; Flamini-Arteta. By having two deep-lying midfielders, one can help defend a wide area without leaving the area in front of the center backs unoccupied. Obviously this tactic has its downside, as having two players with a tendency to sit deep, can give the opponent’s deeper midfielders (probably McCarthy and a lucky-to-not-have-received-a-red-card-and-been-suspended-for-this-match Gareth Barry), though the absence of Ross Barkley would make this tactic less costly.

When it comes to defending wide forwards, Mathieu Debuchy’s ability and willingness to sweep behind his center backs may play a key role in this match. This is an advantage of having Debuchy at right-back over Sagna; however, Wenger may need to allocate even more resources to defend Everton, in these wide areas.

Wenger may choose to start Alexis Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out wide. Not only do both have the athleticism to recover from advanced positions and help out their fullbacks, they have also shown a willingness to do so. In particular, Sanchez is quite adept at defending his position, especially when it comes to pressing while simultaneously keeping a passing angle closed. Not only could fielding these two help the fullbacks combat the potential threat of wide forwards, but it could also help defend against attacking intentions of Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines. While this tactic would put them farther away from goal when Arsenal win possession, they do have the athleticism and the dribbling ability to still be threats on the counter. In fact, given Leighton Baines lack of recovery pace, Arsenal could look to draw the left-back forward, so to run into the space behind him on the counter.

Arsenal may also have to curb the advanced positioning of Aaron Ramsey. With Mesut Ozil possibly coming back into the side (who, by the way, was Arsenal’s best player by a considerable distance in the 1-1 draw at the Emirates) Ramsey probably does not need to play so close to goal for Arsenal to have the same level of attacking production. However, with Flamini probably playing as the holding midfielder, Arsenal need to allocate more resources defensively into the central midfield zone, compared to when Arteta plays. This also means that Ramsey must find his passing touch, which evaded him against Crystal Palace and Besiktas. Turnovers in central midfield could very easily turn into goal-scoring opportunities for Everton.

For those keeping score, it appears my preferred XI is Szczesny; Debuchy, Mertesacker (if match fit), Koscielny, Gibbs; Flamini, Ramsey; Sanchez, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain, X. When it comes to the center-forward position, the choice comes down to Wenger’s opinion on Giroud’s match fitness. The Frenchman has not played well to start the season. If he continues to play poorly, he can turn into a real liability, as his poor play would give Everton an incentive to push their back line further up the pitch. This would help them pin Arsenal into their own half.

Sure, Arsenal would have counter-attacking threats in Sanchez and Oxlade-Chamberlain in my XI, but they may have quite a bit of defending to do, taking them further away from goal. Arsenal could position either further up the pitch, but then we run into another issue of trade-offs.

While there is a marginal benefit in attacking by having Sanchez or Oxlade-Chamberlain higher up the pitch (possibly in defending too, but defending high up the pitch has the potential to be high-variance which can make it undesirable depending on one’s preference and the incentives with respect to risk), the marginal cost (or at least of them) is the increased likelihood of 2-v-1 situations for Everton on the flanks.

Therefore, if Wenger does not feel that Giroud can provide a good performance against Everton, then Yaya Sanogo is the obvious choice, unless Wenger wants to start using Sanchez up top. Even if Sanogo does not perform well, he can provide a vertical threat that can allow Arsenal to keep Everton’s back line deeper, without having to risk pushing one of the wide men forward and playing a high risk game on the flanks.

Conclusion

In Chapter VI² of the Art of War Sun Tzu writes about how an army should operate in battle:

Thus I say that victory can be created. For even if the enemy is numerous, I can prevent him from engaging. Therefore, determine the enemy’s plans and you will know which strategy will be successful and which will not; agitate him and ascertain the pattern of his movement. Determine his dispositions and so ascertain the field of battle. Probe him and learn where his strength is abundant and where deficient. The ultimate in disposing one’s troops is to be without ascertainable shape. Then the most penetrating spies cannot pry in nor can the wide lay plans against you.

With Roberto Martinez’s flexibility in approach and with Arsenal going away to quality opponent, Arsenal may want to spend the first 10-15 minutes figuring out what the Toffees game plan is and play a more reactive game. If an opportunity to get forward on the counter presents itself it may be taken, but Arsenal must focus on not conceding and learning as much as they can about their opponent. They may also wish to not give anything away as they discover how to best attack Everton. It is fine to not win the game in the first 10-20 minutes. Football is a game of 90 minutes; you need to be able to solve the dynamic resource allocation problem as well as you can for the whole game.

Naveen — @njm1211

¹it was also their 2nd match in a 3 matches in a 7-day span that ended with a match against Napoli…they probably did not want to burn themselves out before a crucial match to help decide which team progressed out of the group.
²I have seen the chapter titled “Weaknesses and Strengths”, “Weak Points and Strong”, “Illusion and Reality” or “Vacuity and Substance” depending on the translation.

Ramsey-caviar

Let them eat Caviar

 I’ve never seen a player like Dennis Bergkamp. I moved right, a caviar; I moved left, a caviar. I was squeezed by two defenders, another caviar. Moving deep – another one…

Thierry Henry: Lonely at the Top

As Philippe Auclair says in his biography on Thierry Henry, “caviar” is the French footballer’s word for a pass so sumptuous, so opulent, that it would be a shame to waste it. You already know what a caviar pass is, you’ve seen them hundreds of times, it’s the pass so perfect that a player can shoot without breaking his stride, a pass that might not look right at first but slips into the perfect space (probably the only space) and gifts the player a chance, or a pass that is just so magical that wasting the chance on the other end is tantamount to being offered a bite of caviar and throwing it away saying ‘too salty’ or ‘bring me the tin of Gervinho sardines instead!’

What caviar isn’t is a simple pass that ends in a shot: a key pass. The key pass as a stat has its merit but like all stats leaves part of the story untold. If Özil leads the League in Key Passes but 95% of them are for shots outside the 18 yard box then he’s not much of a threat in reality because those shots are low percentage (~3%) conversion. Thus, while I like Key Passes and think it’s a useful number, I prefer a stat which quantifies those passes which are of such high quality that both sets of fans involuntarily let out a gasp.

A caviar is also not an assist, it can be an assist, it really should be an assist, but it’s not lways an assist because sometimes a bit of caviar goes to waste. Assists are another stat which can be dubious at times. If a goal is scored it is now customary to award an assist to the player who last passed the ball. Sort of. If the goal scorer still had a lot to do, sometimes they won’t award an assist but I’ve seen assists given to Walcott for dribbling into the box, being tackled, and the ball popping out to another Arsenal player and them scoring. Did Walcott assist the goal in that case? Well, his dribble made it happen even if his final ball wasn’t intentional, so I guess it could be counted as an assist.

But with a caviar, there is never a doubt. It’s a pass of rare quality. There’s a famous Arsenal goal against Juventus which illustrates caviar perfectly.

Dennis Bergkamp, Arsenal’s most prolific purveyor of fine caviar, takes a pass from Freddie, stalls, jinks one way, then back, his defender now turned inside out, and then in a moment of brilliance flicks the ball over his marker’s shoulder with the outside of his right boot, into the path of Ljungberg, who chips over the keeper.

It’s an assist, but of course it’s an assist, wasting that shot there would have been wasting a caviar.

One Arsenal player who got short shrift for the caviar he often served up was Alex Song. His ability to lay on a lavish pass from deep was often decried as “Hollywood” from the Arsenal fans who wished that Song was more of a destroyer in the defensive midfield role, but after Cesc Fabregas went on strike to force a move to Barcelona, Song stepped up his game and became Arsenal’s main assist man. What’s incredible is that Song had the ability to create those shots from deep early on in his career but rarely showed it off until Cesc left. One memorable caviar from Song was the Eduardo goal against Burnley. The goal is almost always remembered more for Dudu’s cheeky samba shot but he could have scored simply with his right foot, the pass was so pinpoint perfect.

On Tuesday in the Beşiktaş v. Arsenal match there were only two outright caviar passes: Özyakup’s lob to Ba and Ramsey’s flip to Giroud. There were plenty of fantastic passes, passes which probably should have been better shots or maybe even goals but only those two passes rise to the quality of a caviar.

Özyakup had a great game. His pass to Ba in the opening stages of the match probably would have resulted in a goal had Arsenal not been blessed with a great shot stopper in Szczesny. Özyakup curled in a ball from the angle, over all of the defenders, which Ba took off the volley and forced a brilliant stretched save from Szczesny. Özyakup also created a great chance for Sahan in the second half, which the Beşiktaş man tried to curl home but just missed the post wide. And then, of course, if was Özyakup’s trickery which got Ramsey sent off: first getting a yellow card for a petulant display and then moments later, that brilliant dive to make it look like Ramsey got more than a finger on him in “holding him back”.

It was brilliant because no one else on Arsenal looked likely to score or create a goal except Ramsey and Ramsey had been kicked all over the pitch (including a blow to the family jewels moments before being sent off) clearly indicating that Ramsey was targeted for harsh treatment. Still, Ramsey should have won the game for Arsenal in the opening minute of the second half. Playing deep, he whipped a to Alexis up front, kept running, ran to the top of the box, collected the return pass, and then in a moment of Bergkamp-esque brilliance, flipped the ball up and over the defenders right to Giroud’s feet. Literally all that Giroud had to do was get any touch on the ball and it was a goal. Instead, the Frenchman turned up his honking nose at the caviar and the ball was collected easily by the keeper. It was typical of Giroud’s game that night and if there’s a sniffy lining its that the Frenchman will never have a worse game.

Ramsey-caviarAlexis was the creator of a handful of great passes in that game but no caviar. He had the early ball in to Giroud which nutmegged his marker and which Giroud stumbled over, almost impossibly failing to score from two feet away from goal. And Alexis also had a through ball to Debuchy which I thought the fullback should have shot instead of getting to the end line and trying the drag back. Those passes were fantastic but in the end only illustrate how rare the caviar pass really is.

Watching the games over again I wonder, is caviar a once a game occurrence? Is it something that happens more often than we think? I don’t know, but I’m going to have fun tracking it as a stat this year.

Where are my pearl spoons?

Qq

Besiktas Arsenal Cazorla

The Bunburyist — Odds All Even: Gunners Peer into Cauldron of Doom, Say ‘Meh’

Thou hast nor youth, nor age,
But as it were an after-dinner’s sleep
Dreaming on both, for all thy blessed youth
Becomes as aged, and doth beg the alms
Of palsied eld; and when thou art old and rich,
Thou hast neither heat, affection, limb, nor beauty
To make thy riches pleasant. What’s in this
That bears the name of life? Yet in this life
Lie hid mo thousand deaths; yet death we fear,
That makes these odds all even.

- A Motivational Speaker in Measure for Measure

Like the game itself, this report will be a draw, each side canceling the other out, only here it’s a 3-3 result. Six talking points, three positives, three negatives, even though I think, in the end, it will be Besiktas facing death, not Arsenal. And by “death” I mean losing the tie, of course, because in football we can never be too hyperbolic in framing issues.

Jose Mourinho, let’s not forget, once said he “came to kill” Arsenal, and Jamie Redknapp would only add “literally.” Phil Brown literally got up our noses one time, and some teams even like to “put it up” other teams for the sole reason that those teams “don’t like it up them.” If you believed the pundits, English football would literally be a murderous orgy of buggery.

That might be the case when Chelsea* or Stoke City are involved, but our game against Besiktas was nothing of the sort. For all the talk of a cauldron (and it was loud, despite the stadium being about a third empty), the image caught on camera of an elderly female Besiktas fan wrapped in a knitted shawl with both hands pressed nervously to her lips is one that resonated with my impression of Bilic, their players, and their fans. There’s a lot of bark there, but very little bite. Woof! (Ba.)

Let’s start with the even.

EVEN

1. A good result, all things considered.

Considering where the two teams were at with squad fitness and preparation, this is a decent result for Arsenal. The Turkish club did not have to deal with a league game only three days prior to this match (the Super Lig doesn’t start until August 31st), nor did they have to travel, nor has their squad had to deal with players returning late from international duty: Not a single one of their players went to the World Cup this summer. Unlike us, their entire squad has been preparing collectively throughout pre-season for Champions League qualification, and it’s their sole focus. One week won’t work miracles, but we should be sharper next Wednesday, and we’ll be playing at home (on an actual football pitch instead of the Turkish impression of Edward James Olmos’ cheeks). For all the frustration of tonight’s performance, we should be favorites to go through next week.

2. Chambers.

Let’s roll out the adages, shall we? Old head on young shoulders. Mature beyond his years. Doesn’t look out of place. Not overawed by the occasion. Plenty of fish in the sea. A bird in hand is worth two in the bush. All true! I really don’t think there’s any danger of going overboard here. He’s quite simply the best player of his generation in any league. Haha. I kid (Neil Ashton for the Daily Mail, however, is not kidding, and yet weget blamed for overhyping players???). Anyway, there are moments when Chambers plays with the expected rawness of a 19-year-old, and there are moments when he plays like a cultured defender of the highest caliber. Thankfully, for us, the latter outweighs the former. What a player, and full credit to Wenger on this one. Everyone was talking about Shaw and United this summer, but we got the better deal by some distance. Still work to do, but the signs are immensely encouraging.

3. Alexis.

He’s (understandably) still in pre-season form with a new club, but you can see the quality, and it’s beautiful. There’s little doubt he will be a success for us. There’s also little doubt that, while he adapts to the club, the media will write him off as a complete failure and transfer dud and what the hell was Wenger thinking he should have bought Costa and Fabregas along with the rest of the Chelsea squad and if you want a proper center forward look no further than Andy Carroll or Carlton Cole. I’ll tell you what excited me most about his performance tonight: the change of pace. The last time we had a player who could appear to be running as fast as he could with the ball, only to somehow produce yet one more gear, was…Thierry Henry. I’m not saying they’re similar players. I’m just saying we’ve really missed a forward who can move like that while keeping the ball stuck to his feet.

ODDS

1. Giroud (but the need for perspective, and…another striker?)

In the middle of the second half, Alexis broke quickly and played a wonderful pass to Giroud, who was in a very dangerous attacking position. But, by then, we all knew what Giroud would do with it. Nothing. He had spent the entire match making sow ears of silk purses, and there was no exception in this moment. However, the criticism of him for this performance has been largely embarrassing. Giroud is, like Alexis, still in pre-season form, but, even more than others, he came back from international duty lacking a little bit the fitness. I’m quite certain Sanogo would have started tonight had he been fit. You simply cannot make a wholesale judgment about Giroud based on this performance. He was never this bad in any game last season. When fit, he remains a good but limited player. And this brings me to my next point: We’re in the same position now as we were last summer; namely, needing a better out-and-out striker. Alexis is a wonderfully versatile attacker, but we’ll see him deployed wide more often than centrally (especially as Walcott tends to drift in and out of the treatment room). The proof of the pudding occurred when Wenger subbed off Alexis rather than Giroud, despite the latter being less fit than the former. It might have made more sense to remove Giroud, add Campbell, and put Alexis in the middle (Campbell wide). Does this indicate Wenger wants to use Alexis primarily as a wide forward? Possibly. So, for me, there is still room for an upgrade on (a nonetheless very capable) Giroud at center forward, but I would be very surprised indeed if such a transfer materialized.

2. The amazing, vanishing spray.

I don’t know what’s going on here, but it’s a tad worrying, especially because I have a lot of affection for both Wilshere and Cazorla. What’s surprising is that quite a few ‘player rating’ articles in the last several hours have rated Wilshere and Cazorla in the 6-7 range. I’d put them in the 4-5 range. Cazorla was largely invisible; and, while Wilshere never hid (good for him), he was terribly sloppy in possession. If this had been a one-off for either player, there would be no need to mention it, but, unfortunately, this game was reminiscent of a pattern that developed in last season’s performances for both. There’s really no “lack of pre-season” excuse here, as both returned to training relatively early. Perhaps there is room to be gracious, as Ramsey was nearly as ineffectual against a well-organized Besiktas, but I think in Wilshere’s case especially, there’s been hope he will have a breakout season and give the manager a selection headache instead of a hangover headache. Let’s hope both of them are able to turn it around, sharpish. We’d rather they were integral than wasteful.

3. The red card.

Consider the following: A second yellow for Ramsey for the faintest of touches on the Besiktas player, but no yellow for a more egregious hold on Wilshere only minutes later. In truth, Masic was only enforcing the UEFA rule that you must send off an Arsenal player in an important game. At least UEFA are consistent: Jens Lehmann, Robin van Persie, Aaron Ramsey… I blame the red card on Wenger for not teaching his players this rule. Anyway, it’s ridiculous behavior from a ref not without controversy. The related problem, of course, is that Arteta may well miss next week’s game through injury, which means a loss of two of our most dependable central midfielders. You’d rather not see Ozil rushed back too soon, so it may well be we field Flamini, Wilshere, and Rosicky next week. Not the end of the world, but not ideal either.

SUMMARY

We look like a team scrapping it out while we wait to get fit, and for the return of integral players. We’ve been in this position before, but, unlike in previous seasons, we’ve managed not to get beaten in the early games, so there are signs we’ve become more resilient. There’s great determination, quality, and a little bit the right spirit in the squad, and we must hope that Wenger won’t waste these qualities by neglecting to strengthen key areas before long.

*Crowned 2014-15 Premier League champions after overcoming Burnley, so we can all go home now.