Football Tactics for Beginners: Defending Corner Kicks

We are all afraid of it. It is the 90th minute, your team is up by one goal and the opposition is about to...
Konstantine Var
Football tactics have always exerted a certain appeal to the generations growing in the 90s and the last two decades. Colossal figures of these times, such as Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp, have influenced many a folk to indulge further in the people's game. As a part of this generation, I couldn't stand aside. I launched a personal blog discussing the tactical trends of English football. Here we are going to analyse the above theme alongside tactical matters comprising the rest of European football.

Latest Posts

Man City 3:0 Arsenal Tactical Analysis- The Master vs The Apprentice

When Mikel Arteta was an assistant of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, they not only dominated England but were one of the best teams...

How will Pjanic fit in at Barcelona? A look at Barcelona’s 4-3-3 formation for next season

As the deal between Barcelona and Juventus regarding the transfers of Arthur Melo and Miralem Pjanic has almost been finalised, let's take a look...

A look at Nigel Pearson’s tactics at Watford

4/12/2019, Leicester City Stadium. Watford suffers yet another defeat, and the ominous bells of relegation are echoing louder at Vicarage Road. The board had...

Great Squads From History – Bayer Leverkusen 2001-2002

The 2001-02 great Bayer Leverkusen side is infamous for their incredible choke job in the last stretch of the season, losing out on three...

How will Arthur fit in Juventus’s midfield: Sarri’s thrilling 4-3-1-2 formation

Sky Sports News has confirmed that Juventus and Barcelona have agreed upon a £72.5m fee for the signing of midfielder Arthur. The Brazilian midfielder...

The Man of Ten Thousand Voices

A young man graciously welcomes me into a room radiated with TV screens, computers, control panels, and flashing LEDs.  A small group of men...

A Tactical Look at how Marseille qualified for the Champions League

After a 7 year exile from Europe’s elite competition, the club from the south of France has finally restored their Champions League status by...

Football Books

Best Football Analytics Books

We have compiled a list of the best football analytics books for the casual football fan. Football analytics and data science/machine learning in general...

The Best Football Books of 2019

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2020, we have compiled a list of the best...

The Best Football Books of 2018

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2019, we have compiled a list of the best...

5 Books every Soccer fan needs to read before the FIFA World Cup 2018

The FIFA World Cup is just around the corner and it's the perfect time to brush up your history and facts about the World...

Best Soccer Coaching Books

We have compiled a list of the best soccer coaching books which every soccer coach must have in his/her bookshelf. No matter whether you...

A look at Nigel Pearson’s tactics at Watford

4/12/2019, Leicester City Stadium. Watford suffers yet another defeat, and the ominous bells of relegation are echoing louder at Vicarage Road. The board had already dismissed two highly-regarded managers, failing to compete with the unprecedented 2018-2019 campaign. These desperate times called for the appointment of a seasoned manager, like Nigel Pearson.

Pearson had accomplished a colossal task in avoiding an embarrassing descent to the second tier with Leicester, in 2015. Having been at the bottom of the table by Christmas, Leicester secured survival with a series of wins in April. Eventually, he departed in summer of 2015 due to irreconcilable differences with the board. Nonetheless, Nigel Pearson is highly acclaimed for his contribution to the fairy tale of 2016.

Defensive Organization

His first order of business at Vicarage Road was to sort out the defensive organization of the team. The statistics ( for instance, 33 goals conceded vs 29.3 expected goals conceded) had revealed an apparent lack of composure throughout the squad. Additionally, the compactness was negligible with 25-30 meters distance between the lines.

The new strategy involved the introduction of a new pair to the midfield (Hughes and Capoue) in a formation resembling the 4-2-3-1 one. Capoue’s new role places him in front of the centre-backs (centre-halves), with clear instructions to provide additional cover in defensive mode. The Frenchman also protects the crosses of the right-back, a typical feature for the adopted build-up game (Figure 1).

Figure 1 Watford formation under Nigel Pearson

The Nottingham-born manager switched the pressing strategy from the usual high defensive line. The first group of the defence comprises of the likes of Deulofeu, Sarr, Doucoure, Deeney and the utilized right-back. Their instructions are to press predominantly in the middle zone of the pitch to exploit the opposition’s defence on the counter (Figure 2)

Figure 2 First pressing line and counter-attacking moves of Nigel Pearson’s Watford

Another critical aspect in terms of defence is the marking strategy in the opposition’s dead-ball passes (set pieces, corner kicks) around the penalty area. The manager utilizes a combination of man-marking and zonal-marking, and it has proven successful until this day.

Build-up

Nigel Pearson has overly abandoned the possession game of Javi Garcia. The precarious position in the League table and the players at his disposal necessitated the adoption of a more counter-attacking approach. Long balls from the defenders, quick passes towards the front line and constant movement are the basic principles of the build-up game.

Will Hughes is the prevailing figure of the through balls to the prolific attackers, while Doucoure is the principal recipient of the long balls from the back. The presence of the French midfielder ensures dominance in the air and quick deliveries. Furthermore, he is a constant threat inside the box, exhibiting dexterity in scoring goals.

As mentioned in the above paragraphs, the primary attacking zone of Watford is along the right side of the pitch (Figure 3). Specifically, Watford players create numerical superiority in this particular area of the field with the advancements of the right-back (Femenia or Mariappa), Capoue, and Doucoure. The aim is to exploit the outstanding pace and finishing ability of Ismaila Sarr.

Sarr’s crosses derive goals and assists to the attacking-minded players located inside the box (Deulofeu, Deeney, Pereyra, and Doucoure). Deulofeu is the prime source of opportunities originating from the left side, as the ‘La Masia’ candidate is proficient in disorganizing the most disciplined of defences. Unfortunately, his injury against Liverpool has sidelined him for the rest of the season.

Figure 3 Attacking mode of Nigel Pearson’s Watford

 

Transitions

The perks of counter-attacking football include the implementation of rapid transitions from defence to attack. Admittedly, the Hornets under Nigel Pearson have exhibited remarkable progress upon this matter. Unfortunately, there are issues in need of immediate addressing regarding the counter-attacks of the opposition.

Capoue has the appropriate pace to return quickly in the defence, but that is an attribute his midfield pair (Will Hughes) lacks.  The utilization of a more athletic figure, like Chalobah, has been implemented lately to stabilize the defence.

What lies ahead?

Securing a Premier League spot for the upcoming campaign is the sole aim in the minds of any person at Vicarage Road. The road may seem perilous as the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal await, but Watford is the sole team claiming Liverpool’s scalp this season.

The facts suggest that the adopted tactical approach can work wonders against attacking-minded squads and be put into disarray against like-minded ones. Nevertheless, there are several twists and turns ahead until the definite verdict.

References

https://fbref.com/en/squads/2abfe087/Watford#all_kitchen_sink_passing

https://www.whoscored.com/Teams/27/Show/England-Watford

https://www.buildlineup.com/

- Advertisement -
Konstantine Var
Football tactics have always exerted a certain appeal to the generations growing in the 90s and the last two decades. Colossal figures of these times, such as Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp, have influenced many a folk to indulge further in the people's game. As a part of this generation, I couldn't stand aside. I launched a personal blog discussing the tactical trends of English football. Here we are going to analyse the above theme alongside tactical matters comprising the rest of European football.

Related

Man City 3:0 Arsenal Tactical Analysis- The Master vs The Apprentice

When Mikel Arteta was an assistant of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, they not only dominated England but were one of the best teams...

Great Squads From History – Bayer Leverkusen 2001-2002

The 2001-02 great Bayer Leverkusen side is infamous for their incredible choke job in the last stretch of the season, losing out on three...

The Man of Ten Thousand Voices

A young man graciously welcomes me into a room radiated with TV screens, computers, control panels, and flashing LEDs.  A small group of men...

A Tactical Look at how Marseille qualified for the Champions League

After a 7 year exile from Europe’s elite competition, the club from the south of France has finally restored their Champions League status by...

Why Ruben Neves is a perfect signing for Klopp’s 4-3-3 formation

The English outlet The Sun is reporting that Jurgen Klopp has made the Wolves midfielder, Ruben Neves a summer transfer target. The report also...

Are defensive players undervalued? A quantitative analysis

I always believed that defensive players might be undervalued compared to offensive ones, especially in the Premier League. Now, this was just a point...

A look at Imanol Alguacil’s tactics at Real Sociedad

The 19/20 season has certainly been one to remember for Real Sociedad as the side located on the northern coast of Spain have sailed...

How will Ole fit in Bruno & Pogba together: Man United’s thrilling 4-2-3-1 formation

Before the lockdown due to Covid-19, Manchester United were possibly playing their best football for a long time. The arrival of Bruno Fernandes in...

Latest Posts

Jürgen Klopp Pressing system

Jürgen Klopp is regarded by many as one of the best managers in the world. He started his managerial career with a German Club...

Man City 3:0 Arsenal Tactical Analysis- The Master vs The Apprentice

When Mikel Arteta was an assistant of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, they not only dominated England but were one of the best teams...

How will Pjanic fit in at Barcelona? A look at Barcelona’s 4-3-3 formation for next season

As the deal between Barcelona and Juventus regarding the transfers of Arthur Melo and Miralem Pjanic has almost been finalised, let's take a look...

Three best Premier League transfers of all time

The Premier League is famous for its lavish spending on player’s transfers. Top clubs like Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United have been spending...

Don't Miss

Súper Dépor! The rise and fall of Deportivo La Coruña

At the Start With the exception of a 2nd place finish to Helenio Herrera’s Atlético Madrid in 1948/49, Deportivo La Coruña have historically plied their...

Football And Alcohol

      “When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.” Football and booze go a long long way back, in...

When Sir Alex Ferguson Lost by 9 Goals in back to back matches

I'm shattered, I can't believe it. It was our worst ever day. It's the worst in my history, ever. Even as a player I...

FC Start and The Death Match

“Without belittling the courage with which men have died, we must not forget those acts of courage with which men have lived.” – John...

Dr. Carneiro or: How I should learn not to stop the game and love the boss

Hundreds of journalists this week have condemned Jose Mourinho for his treatment of Eva Carneiro and Jon Fearn after they wrongly ran onto the...

Transfers

How will Pjanic fit in at Barcelona? A look at Barcelona’s 4-3-3 formation for next season

As the deal between Barcelona and Juventus regarding the transfers of Arthur Melo and Miralem Pjanic has almost been finalised, let's take a look...

Three best Premier League transfers of all time

The Premier League is famous for its lavish spending on player’s transfers. Top clubs like Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United have been spending...

Where will Kai Havertz play for Chelsea? A look at Lampard’s exciting 4-2-3-1 formation for next season

There have been several rumours surrounding Kai Havertz's transfer to Chelsea and Havertz's current boss, Peter Bosz has indicated that the winger might not...

Man United expected lineup against Sheffield United: Pogba & Bruno to start together for first time

Manchester United salvaged a draw against Tottenham in their first game post the lockdown. Their performance improved after the substitutions of Paul Pogba and...

How will Arthur fit in Juventus’s midfield: Sarri’s thrilling 4-3-1-2 formation

Sky Sports News has confirmed that Juventus and Barcelona have agreed upon a £72.5m fee for the signing of midfielder Arthur. The Brazilian midfielder...