Jose Mourinho and Rafael Benitez’s arrival to the Premier League 17 years ago had a long lasting effect on the English sides. Even before Pep Guardiola’s influence on football and the German school, led by Juergen Klopp, re-popularizing pressing, the influence that the Iberian duo had on England was and is still clear to the naked eye.

It’s so clear that it became part of the furniture. Yours eyes got used to it, year after year, that it no longer stands out. The Iberian duo influenced how English teams defend. Defensive organization was the new toy back then. …


In the 1985 American sci-fi hit, Back to the Future, Marty McFly goes back in time accidentally while trying to flee the Libyan terrorists. While being there, Marty alters the future and most importantly saves Doc Brown in the future — The scientist who created the time machine — by writing him a note warning him about his future.

From 1985 we take the DeLorean to the Etihad. It’s the Champions League Quarter-finals where Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City have always reached an end to their voyage. Monaco, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Lyon were the culprits before.

This time it’s a…


Three goals conceded in thirty-two minutes and Arsenal were dead.

A three goal deficit is a game state that Arsenal had managed to comeback from and avoid defeat only twice in the Premier League. First in 2017 against Bournemouth and yesterday against West Ham United.

West Ham’s dominance in the first twenty minutes was helped by Arsenal’s sterility in attack. It wasn’t until Arsenal’s change in attacking approach that the resurrection rituals began.

Initially, Arsenal’s attacking structure had three players dropping deep to present themselves as passing options. Bukayo Saka, Alexandre Lacazette and Martin Odegaard. …


Near the lake of Lerna inhabits a serpentine water monster commonly known as the Hydra. It possess many heads, the exact number varies from one source to another. Poisonous breath and harmful blood meant that its scent was deadly. Regenerative body parts only added to its prowess, chop one head and two would grow back.

A monster. One that was only defeated by the hands of the mighty Hercules and his cousin Iolaus. They needed a specific coordinated strategy, executed rapidly before the Hydra grew new heads.

So far, 20–21 has been the season of the football Hydra, Manchester City…


Jose Mourinho’s comments prior to the North London derby were nothing out of the ordinary for the Portuguese manager. Taking a slight dig at the opponent, and not any opponent. Arsenal.

The irony in the comment “I look up, I don’t look down. If Arsenal was seven points ahead of us I would look to them but because we have seven points more than them, I don’t look down.” is that on the field of play Tottenham Hotspur weren’t looking up. The approach as expected was reactive, and when Tottenham tried to find their golden goose they were nullified.

Mourinho’s…


In biology, adaptation is the process of change by which an organism or species becomes better suited to its environment. For example, many animals have developed certain body parts to adapt to their environment.

Most aquatic animals have adapted and evolved with webbed feet to aid swimming. Webbed feet provides security from predators by allowing these animals to move faster in water.

In football, it’s a similar scenario. Transfers, injuries and suspensions at times force you into new decisions and approaches. Creating solutions to overcome these circumstances is a form of adaptation.

Liverpool’s injury woes coupled with the hectic schedule…


The beginning of Manchester City’s 19 game winning streak was initially built on solid defensive displays, notably from Ruben Dias and John Stones. City’s chance creation problems left them over-dependent on Kevin De Bruyne.

That was before the transformation. Since the Newcastle United home game in December, they have been devouring opponents for breakfast. A solid defensive line was dovetailed with an attacking structure that Bernardo Silva referred to as a “map” after the game against Borussia Moenchengladbach. …


It was all ponytails and pressing last time on the road. The road-trip was interrupted. A familiar test was facing Leeds United and Marcelo Bielsa, one that they barely managed to pass against the master. The apprentice, could have probably taken note of that encounter, adjusting the approach to suit his own ideas and personnel.

Ponytails were still present, as was the pressing. It was present, but shifted hands from Yorkshire to North London. The presser has become the pressed. From taking the opponent’s breath away, Leeds couldn’t take their own when facing Arsenal’s press.

Arsenal’s pressing scheme was similar…


The attraction towards a Marcelo Bielsa side starts at first sight. You spot them from far away. Driving their Fiat 147. All pony tails and pressing. It takes your breath away.

It takes the opponent’s breath as well. The uniqueness of his style makes his teams standout. They might not be Spanish or English champions. No trophies or winning streaks, yet they always offer joy and memories. Present joy, and future memories.

You then start to develop feelings once you see them in all white, making runs beyond the opposition’s lines. …


Slaying monsters. Every video game has it. After trying many times you eventually know their weaknesses. In a coded video game the monsters don’t evolve, they maintain the same movements, attacking strengths and defensive strengths.

Over time you figure out the needed strategy to beat them. So the question that presents itself here, what if monsters evolve?

Spotting your trends, your movements, your typical attacking strategies. Encoding them, processing them and putting them through an extremely sophisticated Spanish AI algorithm. …

Ahmed Walid

English Football. United

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