EPL Jumble: Tactic or Formation

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.

Big Sam Allardyce..

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.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. I definitely buy into that, Matthew. It feels like more teams are working with interchangeable parts… outside mids who can drift inside, or center mids that can drift out and put in a good cross. Defenders who can play multiple positions across the backline and strikers who double as wingers… it just feels like there is more positionally flexibility than ever before. Just look at the US team… Bocanegra, Spector, Holden, Bradley Jr, Donovan, Dempsey, Torres, Kljestan… all of them are used in different roles depending on the situation.

    Reply

  2. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/08/18 at 7:54 AM

    Not so sure I agree with the fewer teams using a true holding midfielder. Just look at Liverpool who went and bought Poulsen in the likely event that Masherano leaves. Looking at the PL teams, all generally play with a DM – admitedly, some are a little more offensive than others, but essentially they break up attacks through timely tackles or interceptions in the gap between midfield and attack and they are required to effectively cover the full-backs when they go forward.

    Chelsea – Michael Essien
    Man Utd – Darren Fletcher
    Arsenal – Abou Diaby
    Tottenham – Wilson Palacios
    Man City – Nigel DeJong
    Liverpool – Javier Macherano / Christian Poulsen
    Villa – Stiliyan Petrov
    Everton – Jack Rodwell
    Birmingham – Lee Bowyer
    Bolton – Fabrice Muamba
    Sunderland – Lett Cattermole
    West Ham Utd – Scott Parker
    Newcastle Utd – Joey Barton
    Fulham – Dickson Etuhu
    Wigan – Mohamed Diame

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/08/18 at 8:15 AM

      George, I think you misunderstood my comment. I said a “true” holding midfielder.

      Let’s look at your list:

      Chelsea – Michael Essien (primarily a holding midfielder, but plays wide midfield as well as outside back on occassion)

      Man Utd – Darren Fletcher (hardly a true holding midfielder, comes into the attack extremely frequently also frequently plays at RB)

      Arsenal – Abou Diaby (true)

      Tottenham – Wilson Palacios (true)
      Man City – Nigel DeJong (true)

      Liverpool – Javier Macherano / Christian Poulsen (true)

      Villa – Stiliyan Petrov (hardly a true holding midfielder frequently joins attack and makes runs)

      Everton – Jack Rodwell (Extremely offensively gifted and attack-minded central midfielder, sometimes is put in the holding midfielder role. That role for Everton has been occupied quite frequnetly by a deep lying Fellaini when healthy or occassionally Tim Cahill).

      Birmingham – Lee Bowyer (not a true one)

      Bolton – Fabrice Muamba (balance currently with Stu Holden who sat back frequently on Saturday)

      Sunderland – Lee Cattermole

      West Ham Utd – Scott Parker (true holding midfielder)

      Newcastle Utd – Joey Barton (hardly a true holding midfielder)

      Fulham – Dickson Etuhu (Don’t know enought about his game)

      Wigan – Mohamed Diame (Don’t i know enough about)

      All I’m saying if you look at my less isthat there are “less” true holding midfielders. That’s a fact.

      Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/08/18 at 10:09 AM

        Less than when? What point in time are you comparing August 2010 to? My point is that I believe it has remained fairly constant – maybe the overall quality of the DM has declined, but that is a separate issue…

        Reply

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