Guest Session by Andy Cook – Arsenal Ladies U17 Centre of Excellence Coach – Counter Attacking

Andy Cook – Arsenal Ladies Centre of Excellence

Andy has a multi-faceted role overseeing the Centre of Excellence Under-17s, managing the reserves and working with Laura Harvey (First Team Manager) in the Elite Education Programme.

His responsibilities also include player recruitment and scouting for the youth section

Andy has the UEFA ‘B’ License and is pursuing the UEFA ‘A’ License.

You can follow Andy on twitter: @Andycook87

Session – Counter Attacking

Phase of Play: Transition in Attack – Regaining Possession – Counter attack and end product (Any thing under 6 passes or as long as opposition does not have equal numbers in and around the ball)

Main Principle: Forward Passes


  1. Change Attitude – Open the options and pass forward
  2. Score as soon possible – take advantage opponents lack of organisation
  3. If it is not possible to play forward we retain possession and build up pressure – links back to offensive organisation (Over 6 passes)

Guest session by Ryan Hall – Tottenham Hotspurs Academy – 1v1 2v1 2vGK Penetration thru Possession

1v1 2v1 2vGK Penetration thru Possession

Ryan Hall – Tottenham Hotspurs Academy

Ryan Hall is a coach at Tottenham Hotspurs Academy working with the younger players. He has his UEFA ‘B’ License and the FA Youth Module Level 2. he is pursuing the UEFA ‘A’ License.

You can follow him on twitter: @RyanAHall


Session aims: To penetrate opposition lines in possession of the ball.


Premier League Analysis

Liverpool Vs Manchester United Analysis: ‘Liverpool Crying out for striker or was it typical UTD’

A liverpool Vs Manchester United derby has always created an interesting game and this game was just that. Liverpool however dominated the game for long periods creating more chances than Manchester United throughout.

Line Ups:

1st Half:

Both teams had chances but it was Liverpool that had more. Young Raheem Sterling is a shining light in the liverpool side, full of confidence wanting to run at players and combining with Suarez well. This happened a few times in the first half as he caused Evra Problems. Suarez’s movement is always a handful as he checks short and peels into space behind defenders always looking to make runs in behind from passes from wide or from Gerrard. He is an intelligent player that creates so much with his movement creating space for himself or others.

The Sending Off…..Liverpool down to 10 men

It was a bad mistake by JonJo Shelvey to lunge in on Jonny Evans as he had a ‘rush of blood to the head’. Yes the ball was there to be one but he didn’t need to lunge in but he merely just needed to stay on his feet. Yes both went with both feet but Shelvey’s dramatic lunge got him sent off. Right decision!

2nd Half

Liverpools Goal…

Liverpool goal was a piece of great overlapping movement from Johnson and Suso but also Bad defending from Manchester United. Johnson and Suso worked it well down the left and play a ball into the box. To get the cross in Scholes made it very easy for Suso by diving in (typical Scholes challenge). As Suso was driving at Scholes, Gerrard was driving into the box with Carrick Tracking his run. The ball was deflected into the box into Gerrard after Johnson’s run. As this was happening Carrick pushes up and leaves Gerrard with to much space and time to finish. Carrick went to early and should have denied Gerrad the space. Because he pushes up he is now the wrong side and consequently watches Gerrard chest and volley into the bottom right hand corner.

Manchester UTD’s 1st Goal….

Just before the goal Scholes came on for United. His Defensively ability is his weakness but his passing and his ability to dictate the play is his major strong point. Scholes gets on the ball and starts to distribute. He plays it wide to Rafael who runs into the attacking third. Sisou makes it easy for him to cut inside and draw a defender. Sisou should have stood his ground and made it difficult for him to penetrate. Rafael immediately gets pressed and plays to Valencia who delivers a great ball in. As Rafael plays wide he does not get tracked and is allowed to run into the box and receive the knock down by Kagawa. Rafael’s finish was excellent and was a shock to Liverpool’s GK Reina.

Manchester UTD’S 2nd Goal…

The goal was caused by Liverpool giving the ball away in a dangerous area in the field with a sloppy square ball across the pitch. The weight and accuracy of the pass wasn’t good enough and was intercepted by the speedy Valencia. This allowed Valencia lots of space to break into on the counter and hurt Liverpool with a number’s up (3v2) situation. The desperate Johnson who was in the collision when Valencia stole the ball came in a tried to make a challenge from behind. Valenci went down pretty easy and the Referee pointed to the spot. Johnson didn’t need to make the challenge as it seemed valencia had ran out of ideas and space but it was too late for Johnson. Robin Van Persie consequently stepped up to take the penalty and scored.

10 men Liverpool still created chances and pushed for an equalizer but it was to be.

Rogers is yet to spark liverpool with that cutting edge, as chances are created but they still lack the goals. With a 4-3-3 system it is clear Liverpool will always create chances and possibly dominate possession with the likes of Joe Allen providing the distribution (Stat 57 complete passes out of 65) however it seems the way Liverpool play it is Suarez that is the player producing the movement and assists rather than the finish. For me it shows they are crying out a ‘Natural’ goalscorer. It was typical UTD winning a game that really this time they didn’t deserve. However they have mastered the art of the counter attack and have been doing it for years in the Premier League. They score against the run of play with their pace and when Liverpool got sloppy they capitalized.

Liverpool deserved more even with 10 men for long periods but Man UTD took all 3 points.

Premier league – Analysis – QPR Vs Chelsea

QPR 0 Vs 0 Chelsea – September 15th 2012

The QPR V Chelsea game had plenty of drama surrounding it due to the high profile case with John Terry and Anton Ferdinand race case. Once again the handshake didn’t happen   and it is obvious it probably never will.

QPR (4-4-2 ) V CHELSEA (4-3-3) LINE UPS:

The Game….

The game was a close fought match with both teams having chances (chelsea had more). It is obvious that both teams defensively need work. Chelsea last season were giving away sloppy goals and this match it was evident that Chelsea can give goals away cheaply. QPR defensively in wide areas look shaky and Chelsea had joy down both flanks. The game was 0-0 but chances were created and not taken.

Chelsea Defensive problems:

Chelsea defensively switching off as a ball is crossed into the box. Mikel ball watching and not picking up runners into the box. Need to stay compact until ball is fully cleared or in good possession.

QPR Defensive Problems due to QPRs sharp combination play (lay off and play wide – The chelsea Y) with Hazard, Lampard, Ramirez:

As you can see QPR’s left back is way too Tight allow ball to be played wide into space in behind.

The chelsea Y exercise, which is used thru the academy and first team – passing pattern (playing to FWD/AMDF to MDF to Wide areas):

Possession was won marginally by QPR with 52.7% over Chelsea’s 47.3% however Chelsea made more passes in the final attacking third.

Attacking third Stats:

Chelsea played more direct than normal as QPR pressed high up the pitch with their two forwards Johnson and Zamora.

As usual Eden Hazard was shining light for chelsea as his sharp combination play in midfield caused QPR problems.

Chelsea had a shout for penalty in the first half when Hazard was brought down on the left hand side of the box.









Man Of the Match was Julio Cesar:

Cesar made some great saves from the better chances that Chelsea created mainly from Hazard and Torres. He kept QPR in the game. QPR had some half chances from a sloppy pass back from Mikel and a shot from Zamora outside the box.



The game overall was pretty disappointing and was overshadowed by the hand shake drama. There was some exciting plays from Chelsea and some hard work from QPR.

Overall Draw was a fair result.

Q&A with Dan Abrahams – Soccer/Football Psychologist


Dan Abrahams is a global sport psychology consultant and coach scientist. He regularly consults with footballers across Europe, most notably in the Premier League. He has had some successful case studies over the past decade including helping Carlton Cole go from forgotten West Ham reserve team player to England international in just 18 months. He has delivered to a range of governing bodies including the Premier League, the FA, the PFA, the LMA and has presented at the Grassroots Conference and at the World Science in Soccer Conference.He is passionate about de-mystifying sport and performance psychology and has recently written his first book on the psychology of football called ‘Soccer Tough.’

His website is at

You can also follow Dan on Twitter: @DanAbrahams77

To buy the book please click on the front cover of Soccer Tough (Below): 

Questions from….

1/ What can a Sports Psychologist do to help soccer players ?

Where do I start? A sport psychologist provides a range of services, helping soccer players with challenges on and off the pitch. Off the pitch a sport psychologist can help a player develop emotional intelligence/toughness and social intelligence. By emotional intelligence I mean being able to cope with tough times, being more self-aware and being able to develop self-belief. Socially, being able to fit into a group, handle conflict and manage relationships with coaches, parents etc. On the pitch a sport psychologist can help with performance challenges such as lacking confidence, managing distractions, improving focus, and managing intensity levels. To my mind a big part of the job is helping players bridge the gap between training and playing – so helping develop structured (and confident) thinking on a day to day basis leading up to a game, helping deliver deliberate practice/training and helping devise a pre match routine. Perhaps an underestimated role the sport psych has is in working with coaches – helping coaches (and managers) develop a culture of excellence, helping build a team, and helping coaches deliver training sessions that improve cognitive skills such as awareness, focus and pattern recognition. I always say the sport psych fits somewhere in between the coaching staff and the players.

2/ How can a coach deal with team motivational problems?

That depends on how you are defining motivation. If you have a ‘lacklustre’ team you may need to set individual and team process goals. If everyone’s noses aren’t pointing in the same direction then have a team meeting and get them to set attitudinal rules and also targets for the end of the season.

Motivation is determined by importance and confidence, so as a coach your job is to raise these two attributes.

3/ Most players have experienced nervousness before a big game, how can coaches help this?

Help players develop a pre match routine that helps them pinpoint their focus and build their confidence. I always advise players to treat their physical warm up as a mental warm up and give them a few triggers and behaviours to get them into the correct mindset. It’s about sitting the players down as a group and getting each of them to write a plan that starts an hour and a half prior to kick off.

4/ How important is mental imagery?

It’s very important for a player to MANAGE his mental imagery. Every player images to some degree…but not all players know how to manage their images. In my new book Soccer Tough I teach players small ways to be able to do this. For example, asking yourself a question eg “What does my best game look and feel like?” This question opens up a catalogue of positive images related to your game. This influences how you feel about your game and subsequently influences how you perform on match day.

But lets put this into context. I’ve heard some consultants (most often trained in ‘NLP’) preach the benefits of imagery. It does indeed help and there is some solid science behind the mental technique. But it isn’t a replacement for physical practice and its benefits shouldn’t be taken out of proportion.

5/ A lack of self-confidence will have adverse effects on performance how can coaches help this?

Help a player to manage his/her self talk day to day. Soccer Tough devotes 3 chapters to this. I think how a soccer player speaks to him or herself on a daily basis is an important mediator of success. A coach must ask him or herself “What are my players rehearsing in their mind everyday?” The perfect place to manage this is on the training ground. Help players leave the training ground with their strengths in mind…with what went well in training in mind.

6/ How important is Goal Setting?

It’s very individual specific. I’m not convinced by outcome goals. I think people have to hold onto something meaningful…’meaning’ is more important than ‘goal’. Wanting to be a professional soccer player ultimately comes down to wanting to be happy, accomplishing something tough etc. Outcome goals are out there for everyone anyway…I’m not sure you need to write them down.

I think process goals are important. I help players set them for training and matches. But I don’t call them goals…I call them your ‘training script’ and your ‘match script’ because I think they drive your self talk on the pitch (hence the term script.) Again Soccer Tough has a couple of chapters dedicated to setting your match script.

7/ Should players practice concentration as a skill?

Yes…on the pitch! I’m not really into meditation as a route to improve in-game focus because I don’t think that type of practice is specific to the soccer environment. Meditation or mindfulness are great things to do…but as exercises to develop resistance to stress more so than improve specific soccer concentration (I am of course happy to be proved wrong…but I don’t think researchers will ever be able to do this.)

Focus in soccer is complex. Quirks of the brain make it difficult. The brain is attracted to the most important thing in its environment – the ball. So players will always be distracted by the ball. The brain also loves to focus on problems. So players will always be distracted by a bad refereeing decision or a mistake they’ve made. Soccer players need to consciously play ‘in the moment’ and focus on the things they can control – but it takes conscious effort everyday, and you still won’t master it. Soccer Tough addresses plenty of in-training, in-game ways to improve focus.

8/ What factors should coaches take into account when building a team?

Everyone counts. As tough as it is time wise you need to get around everyone and chat t them individually…tell them what you want from them individually and as a team mate. Make every player feel special – especially the ones with least ability. A coach should imagine every player has a tattoo on his or her heart saying “Make me feel great.”

The other aspect would be communication. In your training session coach, develop and demand great communication. You can’t insist on this enough. Have players work on this every single training session.

Guest Session with Aaron Danks – Academy Coach at WEST BROMWICH ALBION


Aaron Danks is a UEFA A Licensed coach at West Bromwich Albion. He also does performance analysis for the club. He works with players from the age of 6 to 18 years old. You can follow Aaron on twitter @coachdanks

Here is a Crossing and Finishing session done by Aaron for

Note: Click on session to make image larger