From where I was sitting, I could experience all my favourite parts of the match. When the whistle blew, the chanting started. And continued. And continued. At an American soccer match, the home team supporters’ section cheers for most of the game. I’m a member of the DC United Screaming Eagles but this experience – even though I sat across from them – made me realise what I was missing. The crowd at Vicarage Road had two major advantages over an American soccer crowd.
Read more about my experiences at my first Premier League match here.
One of the greatest aspects of sports is the underdog taking on the favoured team. There’s no greater thrill than watching a smaller club take down a favourite. If you are rooting for the favourite, there is a special thrill in rooting for the favourite club, as you have a large community to draw energy from. Often, this is the best way to describe the Bundesliga, but this year’s title race between Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig presents a new paradigm.
Read more here about why this title race is stressful.
Managers tend to think in “group think.” Substitutions must be made at the optimal times – 60th minute, 70/75 minutes, and depending on the situation in the 80th or later. Rarely does a manager make a first half substitution except for injury, even if a player is rubbish. In this case Mitrovic was rubbish and in danger of seeing red. Yet Benitez gambled by keeping him on and holding out until halftime, when he could substitute him, if not later.
Read more here about the match.
This is the problem, however. If Arsenal hired Allegri, they’d replace a manager known for his intellect and player-friendly style with a similar style of manager. The biggest difference is Allegri can adjust his tactics and style to react to situations but this would not be the drastically different style that Arsenal need. The players are too comfortable and simply swapping positions or starting formations would not be enough. Allegri has not faced this type of locker room in his career.
Read more here of my Arsenal Insider debut.
Stefan Pioli had a good problem on his hands. His Inter club was in form. The doldrums of earlier in the season were gone and the Nerazzurri had climbed to within points of a Champions League place. Standing in their way to reclaiming their usual spot as a scudetto contender was their nemesis Juventus. This chapter of the Derby d’Italia would impact the title race, although Juventus entered the match simply seeking to maintain their lead in first. It also had an element of revenge, since Inter had won the first match-up in September.
Read more about Inter’s strategy and why it didn’t work (but almost did) here.