The traditional ‘No.10’ has made a strong comeback in the English top flight this season as fatigued players and less specific tactics mean more space
A perfectly weighted through ball is one of the most beautiful sights in football, and the tighter the angle, the more bodies it slips between, the more suddenly the ball slows and sticks to the turf, the more glorious the pass.
If you watch back Xherdan Shaqiri’s assist against West Ham last weekend, you’ll find it’s a pretty effective stress reliever, the pass so perfect it has a calming effect on the mind. Perhaps through balls have always had that impact on us, but one cannot help but wonder if part of the pleasure comes from their increasing rarity at the top level of the game.
What made Mesut Ozil such a wonderful player is that graceful, delicate way in which he would caress the football, slipping it between the lines so unexpectedly it was as though the physics had kinked, the ball skipping through time to arrive at the striker’s feet on the blindside of everyone else.