→ What formation or tactic will become prevalent and why?
GeorgeCross: I see the top 5 clubs playing a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1 formation. However, even though there has been negative press regarding 4-4-2 it will still feature heavily, especially with the EPL’s middle and bottom clubs who will be fighting to make up the EPL numbers for the following season.
I don’t care what anybody says, but most teams don’t have two players who can play the holding role effectively–that’s reason no.1. The second is that many teams will play conservatively with the notion of not getting beat–what is more effective than two banks of four? The other is quite simply the logic that many of these managers are British, and while 4-4-2 might get exposed at the highest level, i.e. CL or International football, I don’t think the likes of Sam Allardyce, David Moyes, Mick McCarthy, Tony Pulis and Steve Bruce are going change.
Shaun, TSG: I think the recent success of the 4-2-3-1 in the World Cup and Champions League will be tried by many teams. I personally would like teams to try the 4-1-3-2 which is more attacking and exciting. Managers are stubborn creatures though and they will continue with what they know best and what they are used to doing.
Jay Bell: 1 forward up top became prevalent at the World Cup, and it looks like it’s happening in the EPL too. Rooney and Torres are likely to have someone playing under them or to the wings.
Eric, Followtonians: I see the 8-1-1 becoming very prevalent in the EPL. Teams like Blackpool packing it in from the opening kick just wishing for a 0-0 draw. Could they finish with the lowest (non-penalized) point total ever in the Premiership?
Matthew, TSG: Here’s two trends that I see taking shape:
» As I mentioned in a column early last week, I think you’ll see tall target strikers be employed more frequently rather than hulking ones. As teams backs off into a 4-2-3-1, service into the box will be more open, either from the corner or from the flanks at the top of the offensive third.
Blackburn, Manchester United, West Ham, and Everton have all recently brought in strikers that are 6’2” or taller.
» I see fewer teams using a true “holding midfielder” and a true “attacking midfielder.”
The middle of the pitch will become seen more as a partnering of two complementary skill sets.
The corollary here is similar to a two-guard and point guard in basketball. If you have Kobe Bryant in your backcourt then your point guard (Derek Fisher) only needs to shoot three’s and bring up the ball occasionally.
You have Everton who may choose to play Cahill and Rodwell side-by-side sometimes or play Fellaini and Rodwell vertically, each one taking turns going forward.
For Chelsea who have John Obi Mikel, he may hold or roam with Michael Essien.
The midfield will be less position defined and more about who is partnering whom.