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Real Madrid press Juventus to defeat

Tactics Board
 By Michael Cox

Jonjo Shelvey's high-risk, high-reward football is quintessentially British

The Exploding Heads take a look at the weekend's Premier League fixtures, including the unveiling of West Brom's new mascot and the tattoo World Cup.
This week's edition of the Good, the Bad and the Funny brings you scintillating Harry Kane, woeful Joel Matip and an almost-eager Leicester fan.
Few players in the Premier League influence a game, for better or worse, like Jonjo Shelvey.

Every year, Time Magazine names their "Person of the Year." It's a curious award, famously not (as the name might imply) intended to reward someone who has necessarily done something positive, but simply to highlight someone who has, "for better or for worse... done the most to influence the events of the year." It's an interesting variation upon typical award criteria. Good? Bad? It doesn't matter. They've done something major. If football were to follow the same criteria -- man of the match...

 By Michael Cox

Hazard vs. De Bruyne: Dazzling finesse against dominating power

Jonathan Smith reports from Man City's training ground where Pep Guardiola speaks for the first time since Sergio Aguero was involved in a car crash.
Antonio Conte sends well wishes to Man City's Sergio Aguero after he was involved in a car crash in Amsterdam.

Until recently, Premier League fans would have struggled to name a famous Belgian. Belgium's contribution to the English top flight was mediocre, with Philippe Albert's legendary chip over Peter Schmeichel in Newcastle's 5-0 victory against Manchester United in 1996 possibly the only standout contribution. It took two decades of Premier League seasons until a Belgian won the title.

Now, however, you can't move for Belgians. There are currently 16 Premier League players who have represented Belgium...

 By Michael Cox

Is Mourinho right that the Premier League is more defensive than before?

Craig Burley scoffs at the idea of the Premier League title being a two-horse race between United and City this season.
After their unbeaten start to the 2017/18 Premier League season, Stewart Robson explains why Manchester United are favourites for the title.

Regardless of the positional history of pundits, defending is often the first thing to be analysed. It's easier -- and probably makes for better television -- to find fault, rather than highlight the positives and, when analysis contains replays of goals, focusing upon defensive blunders is inevitable.

But Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, when quizzed last week about Wayne Rooney's career ahead of his Old Trafford return, implied the opposite.

"I think Wayne spent probably 10 years of his...

 By Michael Cox

3-4-3 formations in focus as Chelsea and Arsenal meet again

Stewart Robson and the FC crew discuss Alexis Sanchez's role in the Arsenal squad and why he must be in the XI at Chelsea.
Antonio Conte doesn't want to speak about Arsenal's situation and has a laugh at comments about how Morata's scoring goals.
Steve Nicol and Shaka Hislop question how much Arsenal's win over Cologne will help them heading into their clash against Chelsea.

For a managerial rivalry that is just a year old, the meetings between Arsene Wenger and Antonio Conte have produced a series of fascinating Arsenal vs. Chelsea clashes that essentially tell the story of the Premier League's most significant tactical shift during that time: A shift from clubs being fixated upon four-man defences, to an increasing dominance of the back three.

Sunday will mark the fifth meeting between Wenger and Conte since the latter arrived in London. In the league last season,...

 By Michael Cox

How Real Madrid surprisingly came to dominate the Champions League

With Champions League matchday 1 looming, the FC crew delve into the marquee fixtures.

It feels like yesterday that Real Madrid were obsessed with "La Decima," their relentless quest to become the first club to move into double figures in terms of European Cups. Yet after three triumphs in the past four years, they have 12 to their name, five clear of their nearest challengers, Milan, and seven clear of archrivals Barcelona.

A haul of 12 European Cups suggests that Real Madrid have triumphed consistently over the history of the competition, but that's not entirely true. It has...

 By Michael Cox

Liverpool's press vs. Mesut Ozil might be key to Sunday's clash with Arsenal

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was the last to find out after Georginio Wijnaldum welcomed his second child.

Few fixtures over the past four years have been as entertaining as Liverpool-Arsenal: Their eight matches in that time have averaged 3.8 goals, a run that includes a 0-0 draw at the Emirates. And even that stalemate was fast-paced, frenetic and thoroughly entertaining.

Their fixture slated for Sunday seems to be a genuinely big game. It appears doubtful that both sides will finish in the top four given the competition from Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham. Three games...