West Ham vs. Crystal Palace: In defense of zonal marking

Saturday saw Sam Allardyce’s West Ham continue a dismal run of form, having won only once in the league in 2015. Alan Pardew’s rejuvenated Crystal Palace secured a comfortable 3-1 away win, with all of their goals coming from set pieces.

Surprisingly (or not), there was no outrage at the man marking system West Ham used. All of the media focus was on the defenders who were responsible for losing their men; Carl Jenkinson, Winston Reid, and James Tomkins. But each goal showed a specific aspect of play that could’ve been avoided with a zonal marking system.

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Diego Simeone’s Atletico: Corner Analysis

For years the casual English football fan has berated La Liga for its lack of competitiveness, with the duopoly of Barcelona & Real Madrid often winning the league. But every decade or so, a challenger emerges from the midst of obscurity. The early ’00s saw Deportivo La Coruña & Valencia appear as competitors for the league, winning three titles in five years between them. Barcelona & Real Madrid then regained control, with nine titles in nine years. The pair had built themselves around two of the greatest goalscorers to ever play the game; Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, and the title looked all set to be a tug of war between them for another decade. But a contender had emerged; Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid.

His team were able to do the seemingly impossible, claiming La Liga. Simeone was rightly applauded; winning the league on a comparatively tiny budget represented one of the most incredible managerial feats of all-time. His team brought a unique blend of aggression and intensity, technical and tactical ability. But when a club overachieves, the vultures circle, and Atlético lost three of their most important players; Filipe Luís, Diego Costa and Thibaut Courtois, all to Chelsea.

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