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Graham Arnold has continued his disruptive capacity, just in a different hue.
Disruption is his forte. His teams are highly skilled at identifying, targeting and stopping the playing patterns of opponents, something the Mariners were renowned for and which has given Sydney FC a new dimension.
The Mariners’ plan in their A-League grand final win over the Western Sydney Wanderers two seasons ago was near perfect. Or, as importantly if not more so, their execution of the plan was perfect.
As Victory coach, Kevin Muscat said several weeks ago the level of opponent analysis had risen a thousand fold in the past few seasons and there were no secrets any longer in the A-League.
It is one thing though, as Muscat pointed out, to assess, strategise and arrive at a way forward, and quite another to transfer this to a group of players with such efficacy they can execute under pressure, at speed and with Women Free 4.0 V3 sale the necessary variability as the game unfolds.
Few do this better than Arnold.
I remember Patrick Zwaanswijk, former Mariners grand final-winning captain, saying the decider unfolded perfectly for his team who knew what to expect from the Wanderers’ playing style and had worked relentlessly on applying the solutions.
It’s an eerie thing, he said, to be in a game where everything that happens is anticipated, a case of football deja vu.
In this sense, the A-League is following a similar pattern to the German Bundesliga, where match analysis has long been recognise as a critical ingredient of top-level football.
To qualified eyes – and there is a growing army of these both within the clubs and in the general community with fantastic blogs and websites like the Leopold Method providing a breakdown of every A-League and Socceroo match for Nike Free 4.0 V3 cheap your fancy – the game is fully transparent and simply a matter of choices.
To press or not, to possess or not, to commit to attack or not, to play out or not, every choice underpinned by 100 ways to execute. The analyst simply identifies the choice, then the mechanics of its implementation reveal themselves by default.
This rapid rise of match analysis is one of the most important and beneficial steps the game has ever taken.
This competency, however, and unlike at the Mariners with respect to the little caboose that always scales the mountain, is now backed by a squad with exceptional quality and depth.
And when a high-quality group of players seeks to destroy before they build, they are extremely difficult to play against, as Mike Mulvey pointed out post-match on Friday night, alluding to the well-organised defence that expertly stifled the Roar at home.
Rarely has the Roar looked so unlikely to recover a deficit.
Arnold does not hide the fact that the purpose of his teams is to not concede and a conservative start almost proved their undoing against both Melbourne City and Western Sydney Wanderers. However, it was in the more aggressive, high pressing on Friday that Sydney gave the Roar most headaches, ultimately leading to Marc Janko’s strike of global significance.
The Roar simply could not play through a Sydney side, with smart footballers like Alex Brosque, experienced ones like Janko and energetic ones like Corey Gameiro and Bernie Ibini chasing them down, and so far the best midfield duo in the competition in Terry Antonis and Milos Dimitrijevic behind, forming a second wave of attacking defence.
Importantly, most of the players mentioned possess exceptional speed, a vital factor in maximising the paralysing effect of a collective press.
The organisation of teams when pressing is already a major feature of season 10, miles ahead of just two years ago, placing teams that seek to build under far greater pressure than ever before.
This is a positive evolution, as building teams will have to become more adept at recognising and overcoming pressing patterns, a necessity for us at continental and international level and an important step forward.
For Sydney, it is an explosive combination.
Excellent players with strong organisation to either win the ball back near the opposing goal or sit deeper and attack quickly when the ball is recovered.
It shows how the defensive aspect of a team can be an attacking weapon by conceding possession, directing the opponent’s initiation of play and capitalising on the moments that ensue.
It may not be to your footballing taste, but Sydney FC has only ever been known for believing in three points and in this respect Arnold is the perfect choice.
The worry for the rest of the competition is that Sydney FC has found a way to lead against City, having been outplayed, to fight back against the Wanderers for an extraordinary win and to disrupt the champions to render them almost impotent at home. Three matches, three different problems solved, early leadership of the competition.
Quality, depth, organisation, competitive spirit, the Free 3.0 V5 Womens Sale four hallmarks of champion teams.
More worryingly, the attacking line is on fire. Gameiro, Janko and the superb Alex Brosque are playing well.
The defence has accommodated the absence of Nikola Petkovic comfortably, with Alex Gersbach and Ali Abbas both shining at left back.
One thing is certain, the king of playing the underdog role, Arnold – who would surely claim with a poker face that a Sunday park team carry all the expectation heading into a Nike Free 3.0 V5 Mens match against the richest club in the land – will surely try to play down the growing hype but Sydney FC fans already know this is a formidable team with very few weaknesses and quite considerable strengths.
One with which the Sky Blues can again dream of glory