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Mourinho got his changes right, Guardiola got them wrong – Tactical lessons from the Premier League weekend

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Mourinho got his changes right, Guardiola got them wrong

Manchester City have now slipped 22 points behind Liverpool and have already lost six league matches this season, as many as in Pep’s first season
Another Premier League weekend has been and gone, with Liverpool moving ever closer to a first English title in 30 years.

Jurgen Klopp’s side are now 22 points clear after their win over Southampton and Manchester City’s defeat at Tottenham.

It ended up being a very good weekend for Spurs, with top-four rivals Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal all dropping points.But what were the main tactical lessons?

1) Guardiola gets key calls wrong as Mourinho nails substitutions
Before Oleksandr Zinchenko’s red card, Manchester City were dominant and should have been comfortably ahead, despite an improved defensive shape for Spurs in a diligent mid-block.

The key players were Sergio Aguero – who by dropping off the front line pulled the hosts out of position and created small openings – and Riyad Mahrez, who was dominant on the right wing partly because Tottenham left winger Steven Bergwijn drifted infield too often.

Failing to capitalise on their possession and chance creation, the red card for Zinchenko then changed the game largely because City could not adapt to playing with 10 men. Pep Guardiola’s tactics are complex and they could not cope with the loss.

Their lopsided shape – a 4-3-3 but without the left winger – left them hesitant, unsure where to pass or how to break down the galvanised Spurs defence.

Tottenham were assisted by Guardiola’s decision to withdraw Aguero and put Raheem Sterling up front, which meant City lost their fulcrum and the one man able to pull Harry Winks and Giovani Lo Celso out of position.

The two Tottenham midfielders were outstanding throughout, assisted for the final 20 minutes by an assured cameo from Tanguy Ndombele. Spurs rode their luck, but Mourinho got the big in-game calls right and Guardiola did not.

2) Rodgers’ half-time midfield shake-up tactically outclasses Chelsea
Leicester City were the better side against Chelsea on Saturday and should have won the match; Harvey Barnes missed a simple chance in the 80th minute that would have justly rewarded Brendan Rodgers for a key tactical switch made at half-time.

In the first 45, Leicester’s midfield was flat and static, leading to periods of aimless possession at the back and, more importantly, meaning Chelsea could win the territorial battle and work the ball out to Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James.

These two combined expertly, overloading Ben Chilwell with Barnes failing to adequately track the Chelsea right-back.

In the second half Youri Tielemans wandered considerably higher up the pitch while James Maddison came short to receive the ball from his centre-backs, essentially shifting Leicester from a flat 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1 with – in an unusual move – Maddison deeper than Tielemans.

Now Leicester could pierce through the middle, their three central midfielders creating a zig-zag passing line that forced Chelsea back and shifted momentum. It indirectly stopped Hudson-Odoi and James from attacking down the right, and directly led to the equalising goal.

As the game wore on the tactical shift became increasingly prominent, shining a light on Chelsea’s problem playing Jorginho alone at the base of midfield. He was drastically overworked, while the visitors were lucky to escape with a point.

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