1-11 in the Premier League redux, Part 2

We’ve already looked at the first four clubs in the Premier League and how they’d fare with the players numbered from 1-11, so – a bit belatedly – here are four more.

Crystal Palace

2014-15

  1. Julian Speroni
  2. Joel Ward
  3. Adrian Mariappa
  4. Brede Hangeland
  5. Patrick McCarthy
  6. Scott Dann
  7. Yannick Bolasie
  8. Adlene Guedioura
  9. Kevin Doyle
  10. Fraizer Campbell
  11. Wilfied Zaha

The fact that Bolasie and Zaha are wingers would mean that Guedioura would be overworked, and of course the 2 and 3 switcheroo is sacrilegious.

Everton

2014-15

  1. Joel Robles
  2. Tony HIbbert
  3. Leighton Baines
  4. Darron Gibson
  5. Samuel Eto’o
  6. Phil Jagielka
  7. Aiden McGeady
  8. Bryan Oviedo
  9. Arouna Kone
  10. Romelu Lukaku
  11. Kevin Mirallas

A fairly continental-looking 3-4-3 for the Toffees. Gibson could perhaps drop back alongside Jagielka as required, but you wouldn’t be putting the house on McGeady tracking back. The front three may also be too similar to play together. Eto’o wearing 5 is obviously a disgrace, but it does provide historical balance as centre-back Johnny Hurst wore 10 on the 1969-70 title-winning side.

Hull City

2014-15

  1. Allan McGregor
  2. Liam Rosenior
  3. Maynor Figueroa
  4. Alex Bruce
  5. James Chester
  6. Curtis Davies
  7. David Meyler
  8. Tom Huddlestone
  9. Abel Hernandez
  10. Robert Snodgrass
  11. Robbie Brady

A fairly solid-looking layout. If we were being pedantic, we’d want 7, 8 and 10 to be moved around but it hardly matters in the big scheme of things.

Leicester City

2014-15

  1. Kasper Schmeichel
  2. Ritchie de Laet
  3. Paul Konchesky
  4. Daniel Drinkwater
  5. Wes Morgan
  6. Matthew Upson
  7. Dean Hammond
  8. Matthew James
  9. Jamie Vardy
  10. Andy King
  11. Marc Albrighton

Almost a perfect 4-5-1. Hammond is a central player who can play on the left, which is handy as Albrighton is right-sided.

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A look into the future?

@Jay29ers from Design Football got in touch again with another article suggestion. We’re not sure we fully agree with the execution of an interesting concept but we’ll put it to the floor. Take it away, Jay:

Monday, April 27, 2015:

Arsène Wenger’s position as Arsenal manager was hanging by a thread last night after Jose Mourinho seemingly coerced him into tactical suicide.

Chelsea’s 3-0 victory at the Emirates came at the end of a week of verbal jousting that the Frenchman had both initiated and spurned an opportunity to distance himself from.  The result leaves the Gunners four points outside of the Champions League qualification places, after a weekend that saw Manchester United and Liverpool take the opportunity to leapfrog Southampton into third and fourth places respectively.

Seven days ago, a routine press briefing was enlivened by Wenger’s questionable assertion that Arsenal’s “first eleven” was technically superior to that of their West London rivals.  A point intended to highlight his side’s injury woes throughout the season – bizarrely vocalised in a week when Wenger’s squad could boast an entirely clean bill of health – was jumped on, and ostensibly taken entirely literally, by Mourinho (“Arsenal’s one to eleven better than Chelsea’s?”), who scoffed at the idea when probed for a response by the media.

Obviously riled, Wenger held firm on Friday’s appearance in front of microphones and cameras.  Accordingly, Mourinho grunting “He still thinks that?  Ok, Chelsea’s second eleven can beat Arsenal’s first.  You know 1933 FA Cup Final?” acted as a final red rag to a bull that no one could have previously predicted Wenger would play so ably in this pantomime.  Heads were scratched amongst the proverbial Fleet Street cognoscenti, but eventually the proposition that Arsenal should select their players in possession of squad numbers one to eleven, and Chelsea theirs from twelve to 22, was understood and relayed.

Instead of rising above the Portuguese’s gamesmanship, Wenger released his inner-Marty McFly and – we presume stopping short of writing “Nobody calls me chicken” on his submitted teamsheet – duly dispensed with the resurgent Theo Walcott (#14) and the recently dependable Aaron Ramsey (#16).  With no number 5 on the squad list since Thomas Vermaelen’s departure, artistic licence allowed the retention of Alexis Sanchez (#17), in this case as an entirely ineffectual centre-forward.

One impending crisis was averted through Mourinho being as good as his word, in a manner of speaking.  The inclusion of numbers 24 and 26 in the form of Cahill and Terry, and certainly number 2, Branislav Ivanovic, made a mockery of the “second eleven” notion, but as simply to fill the gaps in the requisite squad section it broke no unspoken “rules”.  Conversely, with an ultra-attacking 3-4-3 formation, and Willian and Mohamed Salah having defensive duties from midfield, the Emirates faithful would ordinarily be licking their lips.  Unfortunately, with Lukas Podolski recalled to a starting lineup he surely would have assumed was now in his footballing past, and the other flank occupied by the flagging Tomáš Rosický, the industrious Chelsea wide men looked confident from the outset.

The only success for the home side was limiting the enduringly magificent Diego Costa to no goals and just the two first half assists – the first a pullback from the byline for an onrushing Andre Schürrle to tap home, the second a teasing dink forward straight into the path of the Brazilian right-midfielder.  The look the adopted Spaniard gave as his teammate offered thanks truly said “Willian, it was really nothing.”

Shortly after the break, Salah justified his place with a neat run and low drive into Szczęsny bottom right-hand corner, immediately alerting all around that the game, and the challenge, was up.  Enter number 4, Cesc Fàbregas, to half-hearted boos from the rapidly dispersing crowd.

In his post-match interview, Mourinho heaped praise on his troops – now champions elect – and kept his gloating to one barbed prediction: “Mr Wenger will never beat me.”  In the Arsenal hot-seat at least, he may just have blown his final chance.

Arsenal (0) 0 Chelsea (2) 3

Goals: Schürrle (9), Willian (28), Salah (53)

Yellow cards – Arsenal: Debuchy (33), Podolski (61), Özil (70), Wilshere (74)

Arsenal (4-2-3-1): 1 Szczęsny; 2 Debuchy, 4 Mertesacker, 6 Koscielny, 3 Gibbs; 10 Wilshere (16 Ramsey, 77), 8 Arteta; 7 Rosický, 11 Özil, 9 Podolski; 17 Alexis Sánchez (12 Giroud, 45).

Chelsea (3-4-3): 13 Courtois; 2 Ivanovic, 24 Cahill, 26 Terry; 22 Willian, 12 Mikel, 21 Matić, 17 Salah; 18 Rémy, 19 Diego Costa (4 Fàbregas, 60), 14 Schürrle.

1-11 in the Premier League redux, Part 1

We’ve already looked at the instances of Premier League sides fielding sides made up of players numbered from 1-11. Given that the last time that that phenomenon was properly witnessed was 1998, it would appear to be a relic, but how many of the current sides would be capable of managing it?

It was something worth examining, we felt, and we will do in a five-part series, working alphabetically. A couple of things to note:

– Where a club is missing a 1-11 number, it is denoted by the use of the away kit on the pitch graphic.

– Ideally, teams are laid out in the formation they use most often. If, though, all 11 numbers are filled then the formation is dictated by the players in those shirts.

Arsenal

2014-15

  1. Wojciech Szczesny
  2. Mathieu Debuchy
  3. Kieran Gibbs
  4. Per Mertesacker
  5. Laurent Koscielny
  6. Tomas Rosicky
  7. Mikel Arteta
  8. Lukas Podolski
  9. Jack Wilshere
  10. Mesut Ozil

The departure of Thomas Vermaelen meant that 5 remains free and so we have utilised it alongside Arteta in the 4-2-3-1 which the Gunners often use. Switch 4 and 5 and 10 and 11 and this would be textbook. It’s a far cry from two years ago, when 3 (Bacary Sagna) was right-back, 11 (Andre Santos) was a left-back and 2 (Abou Diaby) played – or, rather, didn’t – in midfield.

Aston Villa

2014-15a

  1. Brad Guzan
  2. Nathan Baker
  3. Joe Bennett
  4. Ron Vlaar
  5. Jores Okore
  6. Ciarán Clark
  7. Leandro Bacuna
  8. Tom Cleverley
  9. Andreas Weimann
  10. Gabriel Agbonlahor

Villa have four defenders with low numbers, but all are centre-backs. Nathan Baker is first-choice with Ron Vlaar but for this we’ve had to shunt him to left-back, where he has played before, while Ciarán Clark is deployed in midfield. Baker’s position, and Agbonlahor wearing 11, mean that the missing numbers, 3 and 9, are in unconventional positions.

We hadn’t realised that number 3, Joe Bennett, was out on loan. His inclusion at left wing-back means 9 would play on the right with Weimann moving up alongside Agbonlahor. Most unsatisfactory.

Burnley

2014-15a

  1. Thomas Heaton
  2. Kieran Trippier
  3. Danny Lafferty
  4. Michael Duff
  5. Jason Shackell
  6. Ben Mee
  7. Ross Wallace
  8. Dean Marney
  9. Sam Vokes
  10. Danny Ings
  11. Michael Kightly

The Clarets generally play 4-4-2 but numbers 4, 5 and 6 are all worn by centre-backs. The numbering is pretty much how we’d do it ourselves for a 3-5-2, though Wallace and Kightly are wingers rather than central midfielders.

Update: Thanks to Kitclashes Matt for pointing out that Ben Mee has played a bit in midfield, so we’ve changed it to what’d be considered a classic 4-4-2 in Ireland, 4 at CB and 6 in CM.

Chelsea

2014-15

  1. Petr Cech
  2. Branislav Ivanovic
  3. Filipe Luis
  4. Cesc Fabregas
  5. Kurt Zouma
  6. Nathan Ake
  7. Ramires
  8. Oscar
  9. Fernando Torres
  10. Eden Hazard
  11. Didier Drogba

We know that Fernando Torres is unlikely to play for Chelsea again but he officially remains their number 9, even if having him permanently gone would allow it to be placed alongside Fabregas in a more accurate 4-2-3-1. Of the back four, only Ivanovic is first-choice though the other three are all young.

Our love/hate for Kieran Richardson

Readers of a certain age may remember the 1990s cartoon Hey Arnold. A central character in that was Helga, who was constantly torn between declaring her love for Arnold and doing all in her power to hide it. For us, there are similar feelings when it comes to Kieran Richardson (the post title also refers to the hit Irish drama Love/Hate, with the current season finishing tomorrow night).

When Richardson signed for Sunderland in 2007, he asked for, and was given, the number 10 shirt (Roy Keane mentions the request in passing in his new book, but overall he is fairly complimentary of Richardson). He wore 10 for his first three seasons there but – as had happened during his time at Manchester United – he played more than a few games at left-back.

richardson1

The number 10 at left-back is incredibly incongruous, of course, and eventually Richardson himself realised this, as he switched to number 3 for the 2010-11 season. Clearly, he was aware of what was right and what was wrong.

richardson3

Alas, his penchant for playing in the wrong positions remained and he flitted between left-back and left-midfield during 2010-11, playing in the more advanced role so often that he took 11 for 11-12, despite having the odd shift at left-back still.

richardson2

So, throwing it open to the floor – does he deserve credit for wanting the wear the right numbers, or is he worthy of disdain for ending up looking out of place? At both Fulham and Aston Villa, he has sought to cover himself by wearing numbers in the teens, which is probably the best compromise.

Steve Bruce’s aversion to number 5

We started watching football in 1990-91 and, from an early stage, became aware of the generally accepted way of numbering a 4-4-2. Non-conforming systems, like Liverpool’s (more in the future), were fascinating though, and we often wondered just how Manchester United came to have numbers 4 and 6, Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister, at centre-back while 5 – often, but not exclusively, Mike Phelan – was generally in midfield.

Bruce made his debut for United in December 1987 against Portsmouth wearing 4 and kept it for the entirety of his time with the club. Midfielder Remi Moses, who had been 4 for the previous few games, switched to 6 while Bruce slotted in alongside number 5 Kevin Moran.

Later in the season, Graham Hogg would move from midfield to central defence while wearing 6 with Liam O’Brien wearing 5 in midfield. The club still started 88-89 with 4 and 5 as centre-backs but when O’Brien got another run of games it was at 5 again and this time the change stayed permanent.

To find out why Bruce came to be so attached to 4, though, you have to go back to his time with previous club Norwich City. His defensive partner there was Dave Watson, who revealed all in the 1986 Shoot! annual.

Watson

In the course of a piece outlining how great things were for the Liverpudlian, there was a note of caution sounded:

But Dave has harboured one secret hate about Norwich City.

“Wearing the number 5 shirt. It’s just a superstition that involves Steve Bruce and myself.

“When Steve arrived here last summer he was reluctant to wear the number 5 because he’d scored three own goals while wearing that number for Gillingham.

“Then after just minutes of his debut for us against Liverpool Steve put through his own goal again.

“He was so uptight about it, I offered to swap my number 6 with him. But while I was wearing the number 5 I scored two own goals myself! The only time I enjoy carrying that number is for England.”

In 1985, Norwich had won the Milk Cup with Bruce wearing 4 and Watson 6, though when Watson joined Everton he overcame his dislike of 5 and wore it with distinction there. The luck with that number deserted him with England, however. He wore it in Euro 88 but only featured in the final game against the USSR, a 3-1 defeat. He never played for his country again.

Meanwhile, Bruce’s love of 4 has transferred to his son Alex, who has worn it for Leeds and Hull City.

Scotland cap it all off

We have already looked at the phenomenon of alphabetical numbering by countries in the World Cup.

That is the most well-known ‘quirky’ style, but it’s not the only one. In the 1990 World Cup, and the European Championship in Sweden two years later, Scotland employed a system which – to the best of our knowledge – nobody else has replicated.

If you just had a quick glance at the squad list, you mightn’t twig anything, as numbers 2, 3, 4 and 6 were defenders, 5, 8 and 10 were midfielders and 7 and 9 were strikers. Only number 11 on Gary Gillespie, a defender, jarred with you might consider acceptable.

The basis for the allocation of the numbers was the amount of caps each player had, in descending order. Goalkeeper Jim Leighton was excluded, but if the system had been rigorously applied then he would have been him in number 2 and the most-capped player, Alex McLeish at 1. The only other change was that of strikers Gordon Durie and Alan McInally. It’s possible that the numbers were assigned before friendlies against Egypt, Poland and Malta. Durie played only against Egypt while McInally started the other two. The full squad, with caps in brackets, was as follows:

  1. Jim Leighton (55)
  2. Alex McLeish (69)
  3. Roy Aitken (53)
  4. Richard Gough (49)
  5. Paul McStay (46)
  6. Maurice Malpas (34)
  7. Mo Johnston (33)
  8. Jim Bett (24)
  9. Ally McCoist (23)
  10. Murdo MacLeod (14)
  11. Gary Gillespie (11)
  12. Andy Goram (9)
  13. Gordon Durie (6)
  14. Alan McInally (7)
  15. Craig Levein (5)
  16. Stuart McCall (5)
  17. Stewart McKimmie (4)
  18. John Collins (4)
  19. Dave McPherson (4)
  20. Gary McAllister (3)
  21. Robert Fleck (1)
  22. Bryan Gunn (1)

Had Scotland fielded the players from 1-11 in any of their games, it would have looked like this:

5-3-2

Not perfect by any means, but nor would it have been the worst ever seen. Their first match, the loss to Costa Rica, was the closest they came, with eight of those players present. McPherson featured instead of Gillespie while McCall replaced MacLeod and McInally was up front with Johnston.

When Scotland qualified for Euro 92, they followed broadly the same system but this time there were a few discrepancies.

euro 92

Gough – who had worn 2 in the 1986 World Cup – was in that shirt again despite having a cap fewer than McStay, who was 3. In 1990, reserve goalkeeper Goram had been 12th in the list of caps but now he was first-choice and took 1. His deputy Henry Smith was a relative newcomer with only three caps but he wore 12. Number 18 Dave Bowman and 19 Alan McLaren should have been the other way round too.

Again, it’s likely that the list had been decided before Scotland played the USA, Canada and Norway in friendlies prior to going to Sweden. Before these games, Gough and McStay had the same number of caps but Gough missed the USA game while McStay played in all three. Additionally, Bowman had one cap to his name while McLaren had yet to feature but he played in all three with Bowman only being seen once, leaving McLaren on three and Bowman on two. Duncan Ferguson had also been cap-less before these games but played against the USA and Canada.

  1. Andy Goram (20)
  2. Richard Gough (56)
  3. Paul McStay (57)
  4. Maurice Malpas (50)
  5. Ally McCoist (38)
  6. Brian McClair (23)
  7. Gordon Durie (19)
  8. Dave McPherson (20)
  9. Stewart McKimmie (17)
  10. Stuart McCall (17)
  11. Gary McAllister (15)
  12. Henry Smith (3)
  13. Pat Nevin (12)
  14. Kevin Gallacher (9)
  15. Tom Boyd (9)
  16. Jim McInally (7)
  17. Derek Whyte (4)
  18. Dave Bowman (2)
  19. Alan McLaren (3)
  20. Duncan Ferguson (2)

For their games against Germany and the Netherlands, Scotland had the 11 most capped players on the field and looked something like this:

4-4-2