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Alternate Line-Ups

By Simon Birdsey :  30/12/2007 :  Comments (7) :

Howard
Neville   Yobo   Lescott   Valente
Arteta   Osman   Carsley   Pienaar
Cahill
Yakubu

Whilst it's effective, it can be quite predictable and it relies heavily on Cahill scoring from midfield. What if he's injured? In any case, because it is such a narrow, compact set up, I would like to see Neville especially overlapping and getting to the byeline to get the ball in.

My point is that we do need more than one way of playing. We should have at least one ready-made variation that we can switch to if we're chasing a game for example. I thought that Andy Johnson made very little impact when he came on today.

In another post I suggested that Moyes could have been really adventurous and played this system:

Howard
Hibbert   Yobo   Jagielka   Lescott
Carsley   Neville
Arteta
Anichebe   Vaughan
Yakubu

The pros for that lineup are that Vaughan and Anichebe could have provided width down the channels and occupied the inexperienced Arsenal fullbacks, that Arteta is free to pull the strings and to float from the middle of the park, that Anichebe and Vaughan and slot into wide midfield positions to tighten things up and that it allows us to rest Cahill and Pienaar.

We're currently without Osman due to a broken toe and at some point in January we will be without the services of Arteta (suspension), Pienaar, Yakubu and Yobo. Given our current personnel, the line up will most probably look something like this:

Howard
Hibbert   Jagielka   Lescott   Valente
Neville   Carsley   Cahill   Baines
Johnson   Anichebe

In my opinion, Moyes should tinker with the starting 11 more than he does. He should be giving the likes of Vidarsson, Kissock and De Silva cameos and he should be experimenting with three up front because we're going to have no creativity in the side in the new year at all unless he bloods a couple of these players. I remember under Kendall (I think it was his second spell in charge) we were struggling near the foot of the table and he switched to 4-3-3 with Beagrie and Nevin either side of the striker, maybe it was Mike Newell and we won 2-0 at Old Trafford!!

I think that he is trying to get Jags settled at centreback ready for when Yobo goes to ACON, so well done for that, but I think we could be in more trouble than he realises in the wide midfield positions.

Reader Comments

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James Smith
1   Posted 30/12/2007 at 16:29:09

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Anichebe and Vaughan as wingers? Behave yourself!
Alex Collins
2   Posted 30/12/2007 at 16:59:16

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My problem is Jagielka is in any.
Simon Birdsey
3   Posted 30/12/2007 at 18:27:49

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They wouldn’t be wingers as such. They wouldn’t be expected to hug the touchline. Vaughan, for example, could come wide for the ball and he’d have Yakubu and Anichebe to aim for in the centre. Anichebe could drop deep to pick the ball up and he’d still have two strike partners to aim for. The beauty of the system is that it pulls the opposition fullbacks wide, allowing more space for Arteta to slot the ball in to Yakubu. It’s pretty much the same system that Chelsea used with Robben/Cole and Wright-Phillips/Duff behind Drogba with Lampard exploiting the extra space created. In their case they had Makelele and Essien protecting the defence.

One other pro for this system is that we have the best pool of striking talent that we’ve arguably ever had at the club and we’re mostly only using one of them at a time. How long before they become unsettled at their lack of first team opportunities? Ally this to the fact that we’re short of numbers in midfield, especially creative wide players, and it makes even more sense to try it out.

As for Jagielka, I am a fan of his. It shows the character of the man that, when with Sheffield United, he can go in goal and produce a shut out against Arsenal and then follow that up with a crucial winning penalty at Blackburn the following week. If you listen to Unsworth talking about Jags, he says that Phil was always asking him about Everton when they were Blades team mates. It obviously means a lot to him to be with us and, not having had a run in the team in any set position, it will take him a while to settle in. I’m sure though that, in time, he can be a legend for us, he can be our equivalent of Steve Nicol or Denis Irwin, a Mr Reliable, able to cover a multitude of positions well. He just needs to chill out and stop trying to get rid of the ball so quickly.
Tom Campbell
4   Posted 30/12/2007 at 18:51:30

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I think that team lacks creativity, maybe switch hibbert for nevill so neville goes full back, and take hibbert out and put in Peineer!! Give him and Arteta freedom,Carsley to sit in front of the back 4
Simon Birdsey
5   Posted 30/12/2007 at 19:18:31

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Right Tom, so you’d play 4-1-2-2-1?! We would get horrendously exposed down the flanks and Carsley would be running round like a blue arsed flie in midfield trying to fend off the marauding hordes! Because Anichebe and Vaughan aren’t going to be as conscientious about their defensive duties as maybe Pienaar or Osman might be, you need the insurance of an extra defensive midfielder so that one can go out to the flanks whilst the other one holds the centre of the park...it’s a well established formation on the continent. To do away with one of the anchor men and bring in a winger would be suicide and he’d only be occupying the same space as the left-sided striker anyway.

You could play Pienaar and Arteta behind Yakubu with Cahill or Osman running on from a central position, but neither of those guys are as predatory as Victor and Vaughany and you’d lose the facility of Arteta to spread the play from just in front of the oposition back four.
Jarrod Prosser
6   Posted 30/12/2007 at 22:13:54

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Formations, the ’other’ FM alert.

But for what it’s worth:

Howard
Jagielka Yobo Lescott Baines
Carsley
Arteta Pienaar
Cahill
Yakubu AJ/Vaughan/Vic

We’ve got some fantastic attacking options, so why not play two up front, with Cahill in the ’Scholes’ role.

Also helps aleviate some of the depth issues in midfield, as Ossie can play wide or in the centre.
Tom Campbell
7   Posted 31/12/2007 at 16:52:23

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No I don't see how we would get exposed, I dont see the opposition fullbacks pushing 2 far forward when they are in possesion! And also this team is a counter attacking team with Vaughan and Anichebes pace!!!

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