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I've seen the promised land

By Dick Fearon :  15/11/2010 :  Comments (38) :
Does anyone agree with me that an attacking trend is emerging and the system of having a lone striker is dying out?

In the Arsenal game, Davey himself brought on not one but two extra strikers. The trouble was that, Davey being Davey, he dithered over long before breaking his ingrained defensive mould. Nonetheless, and although it was only for the last few minutes.... but what an exciting riveting few minutes they turned out to be. Cahill scored another inspirational goal; Beckford, Saha and Rodwell went close, the Arsenal keeper made a couple of world class saves, the crowd roared into life and there was more goalmouth action in that 10 minutes than in the previous 80.

The Gunners may have been trying to sit on their two-goal cushion but they were very fortunate to end up with 3 points.

Later that same day, we saw an at home league-leading Chelsea torn apart by a Sunderland that threw caution to the winds with a two-, sometimes three-pronged attack. The 0-3 score line flattered Chelsea.

In the Potteries, relegation fodder Stoke ripped into a Liverpool side that didn?t know if it was Arfa or Marfa. They could not cope against Stoke's three, sometimes four strikers.

We have already rued our own performance against Bolton's two-man "bash through or crash" strikeforce. Blackpool continue to provide value for money with exhilarating attacking football. United and West Brom are others that shun the lone-striker syndrome. What amazes me is that City, with its vast riches and huge squad of top class players, stick to the lone striker rule.

Evertonians will be wondering if our Davey learned anything from that last few minutes against Arsenal but I doubt it. I expect him to revert to type with just the one striker against Sunderland... Perhaps if the chips are down and defeat looms he might just might throw on an extra striker.

Some Webbers are on record as saying that a lone striker is really an attacking ploy. IMHO that is pure unadulterated bullshit. It is and always has been the kind of negative defensive boring crap only employed by managers with the imagination of a fruit fly.

Reader Comments

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Micheal Lynch
1   Posted 15/11/2010 at 15:47:43

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100 percent agree
Paul Olsen
2   Posted 15/11/2010 at 16:01:05

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"The Gunners may have been trying to sit on their two-goal cushion but they were very fortunate to end up with 3 points."

First line here is the key, Arsenal stopped playing football. Had they not we would have lost by 5 or 6.
Trevor Lynes
3   Posted 15/11/2010 at 15:58:39

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I agree... BUT Arsenal have given us two massive beatings in recent years and DM was obviously afraid of a repeat... Let's face it, they missed one sitter and a few other chances too.Arsenal are one team who do know how to exploit gaps and starting with a gung-ho line up may well have left us beaten before half-time.

I would play a more attacking side against virtually every other team except Man Utd and the Gunners. We definitely should attack much more against lesser opposition, especially at home. We desperately need to WIN our home games and not just get draws.

Dave Lynch
4   Posted 15/11/2010 at 16:13:54

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Dick.
Your last paragraph says it all, nothing further to add my friend.
Kevin Tully
5   Posted 15/11/2010 at 16:12:45

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Yesterday encapsulates the season so far. I thought the tactics were pretty spot on, awful individual performances were the problem.

Arteta was completely off the pace, he was not even looking for a forward pass, he should be dropped next game. Heitinga gives nothing going forward, and there was no pace on the break.

If your players are this much off form, they have to shoulder the blame, not the manager.
David Price
6   Posted 15/11/2010 at 16:12:44

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Remember those two glorious home games in November a few years ago? Sunderland 7-1, then Fulham 3-0. The trusted 4-5-1 formation in full flow.

The difference? A striker in form, Arteta, a pulsating attacking force, quick ball from front to back, central, wide, pass , move, it had the lot. Why is our build up now so slow and predictable?

Long ball from Jags, long ball into touch from Distin a sideways pass from Mikel, and a foot on the ball from Pienaar.

It can be fixed on the training ground by the coaching staff. Spot-on article: attack with intent, agrression and pace. It has to be a mindset thing and not a case of lack of talent to implement.

David Moore
7   Posted 15/11/2010 at 15:34:45

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I don't agree that 4-5-1 is the problem, the problem is the way it is utilised. 4-5-1 can easily become 4-3-3 in attack. The same unit is easily adapted into 4-2-3-1. Chelsea are excellent proponents of this. We could do this as well, we have the strike force (all be it misfiring) to play it with Yak and Anichebe able to play on the flanks.

Before I cop criticism about this, notice that the Yak is always perched on the left touchline, even when he is the solo striker, and Anichebe always was useful down the flank. Beckford has the speed. Playing a power game would involve a change of tactics too big for Moyes, but we can dare to dream... A line up for this tactic could be:

Howard
Neville, Jagielka, Distin, Baines
Arteta, Fellani, Rodwell
Anichebe/Beckford, Yakubu/Bily
Saha/Yak

More akin to our current style is Arsenal. One of the focal points of a 4-5-1, is the fact the midfielders have got to be willing to shoot from distance and have to be a goal threat. Apart from Cahill, I just don't see enough from the others this season.

I watched the victory over Man Utd from last season on DVD. It looks like we have two very different teams. In that game, we didn't hold the ball too long, we broke with pace and weren't afraid to shoot or have a go; if the players saw an opportunity they backed their gut instinct. It seems these days we are afraid to back that instinct.

Always looking for the perfect pass, it slows down our movement. It may be more pleasing on the eye with most of the game being played on the turf, but there is little reward for that work in keeping the ball.

As others have pointed out, the result on Sunday was Arsenal 2 - 1 Arsenal Wannabees. But the real Arsenal took shots from the edge of the box, played with speed and backed their instinct. Bilyaletdinov is a player who can do this, but just doesn't have the consistency or confidence at the moment.

A more trigger-happy line-up:
Howard
Coleman, Heitinga, Jagielka, Baines
Fellani, Rodwell
Bily, Cahill, Pienaar
A striker who can score????

On a different note, let's get Ray Wilkins... who cares if we need to let go of Moyes or Round for him? I think he has a great mind for football and would be great for this club, as coach or manager.

There, I feel a lot better now, hope that made some sort of sense!

Nelaj Behajiha
8   Posted 15/11/2010 at 16:28:13

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The problem is our strikers aren't good enough and they don't get the service. Yesterday proved that we can't pass to any standard. When we got into good positions, we lost the ball.

I think 4-5-1 is a good fromation if used correctly, but it requires having an excellent striker up front: we don't. It did work with AJ but not with Yakubu.

I think we still miss Fernandes ? the only play capable of getting the ball to our strikers. With the exception of Fabregas, Arsenal aren't that good. We made a mess of it missing 2 sitters and conceding a stupid goal.

Oliver Molloy
9   Posted 15/11/2010 at 16:43:03

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Arteta is/was simply not worth £75 grand a week, and the more I think about it, I can see totally why Piennar is pissed off at whatever he is being offered!!
James Stewart
10   Posted 15/11/2010 at 17:00:00

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4-5-1 works... but only if you have wingers like Nani, Malouda, Ronaldo, etc. You need pace for it and we simply don't have it.
Andy Crooks
11   Posted 15/11/2010 at 18:19:03

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James, we do have pace in Beckford. He must start with Yakubu (Saha is finished). It is time for Tim Cahill to be a super sub. It will happen but only when our negative coach is forced into it by injury.
Gerry Quinn
12   Posted 15/11/2010 at 18:26:55

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If Moysie goes, would the fruit-fly be willing to take on the job?
John McLoughlin
13   Posted 15/11/2010 at 18:49:27

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I still think back to the summer when people on this site claimed our midfield was a match for Chelsea's. As usual, we totally over-rate our players.

We dont score enough from midfield or create enough for our striker to compensate for the fact that only Cahill can score from midfield.

Yesterday, with the goal at his mercy, Pienaar shot nice and straight for an easy save for the keeper to make. Arteta's efforts this season (bar the derby) have been pathetic. Until these two start scoring goals ? which their wages and reputation would have us believe they are capable of ? we'll struggle.

Leon Perrin
14   Posted 15/11/2010 at 18:08:37

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When you're getting £3mil a year and only Fergie and Wenger have been given more time than you, you need to be doing more than this bollocks.

I'm fed up with the minutia of excuse-making for Moyes, it's a tired old record, he just ain't up to it. He knows it; we know it... but the unholy alliance with Kenwright means he's free to hang around as long as he wants.

If he was as honourable as people think, he'd do the decent thing but that would fuck his delusions about the Utd job. His po faced attitude stinks, how can players look to a man like that for motivation when he can't motivate himself?
Jamie Tulacz
15   Posted 15/11/2010 at 18:52:50

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Forgive me, but don't Arsenal play 4-5-1 as well? David Moore (7) you speak a lot of sense, like the second line up especially.

Problem at the moment is too many underperforming players (eg Arteta, Heitinga) and no striker able to score. Unfortunately due to injuries/suspensions we don't have the players to replace these, but once Rodwell and Fellaini are back and firing, it gives us better options and we can then drop out-of-form players.
Andy Crooks
16   Posted 15/11/2010 at 19:10:13

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Leon, I agree. £3.5 million a year should buy more than we've got.
John Brennan
17   Posted 15/11/2010 at 18:56:01

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How much time does Moyes spend actually talking to his players and geeing them up?

At my ripe old age, I believe you could go a long way as a manager by sitting down with an individual and telling him why you brought him to this club, and how damn good you think he is.

Does Bily feel he has made a mistake? Does Heitinga feel the same? If so, is that their fault, or should the management team accept responsibility?

Moyes should spend a heck of a lot of time telling these players why he wanted them in the first place, and just what this club could achieve with players like themselves to make things happen.

What has made me feel so disappointed on behalf of foreign imports into the Premier League is the way that some of them have just been ignored or "sent to Coventry" by their managers; for example, the way Gullit treated Lee at Newcastle (yes, I know, a foreign coach FFS!!!).

Bily looks lost, and Heitinga looks as if he were somewhere else. Is that their fault, or are their lives that boring at the club, they just want to move on and forget this period of their careers?

Cue newspaper headlines after departure: "Moyes never spoke to me, I never felt I belonged." (Bily); "I was never played in my true position and the trainer just ignored me", (Heitinga).

Foreign players need to feel welcomed, and I believe it takes time to build up not only the team spirit, but the confidence and belief in (and of) the manager.

I admit, I haven't the slightest idea if what I have indicated is in any way relevant or instrumental in our team's play so far, but perhaps Moyes could do with injecting a bit more Holloway, Pulis, Coyle, oh and yes that foreign geezer, Wenger or whatever his name is, to raise spirits and really make players feel 10 feet tall!!!

Drew O'Neall
18   Posted 15/11/2010 at 18:25:57

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Oliver Molloy (#9) ? bob on. Arteta looks lethargic, or worse still, in need of a new challenge.

Considering the effort Pienaar puts in every week, I'm not at all surprised he has assumed the club would eventually see sense and give him the same kind of deal as MA at least. I'd be inclined to stick Arteta out on the right until he pulls his socks up, then we could accommodate Fellaini and Rodwell in the centre and have a quality player in every position across the midfield instead of having a makeweight on the right every week.

If nothing else Arteta would realise he is not untouchable and do whatever is necessary in order to redress his performances.

Robert Daniels
19   Posted 15/11/2010 at 19:56:23

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Promised land:

Howard (for now)
Baines,
Distin,
Jags (for now)
Coleman,

Heitinga, Fellaini, Rodwell,

Anichebe, Beckford, Gueye.

Front three can be changed, as required: Vic, Yak, Saha; Bily, Cahil, Pienaar.

Result: more direct style, midfield axis, hopefully three powerful forwards.

I've said it before, a midfield of midgets, or three big players, one who's a bruiser, one who is as good as any in Europe (and a bruiser), and one who is going to be as good or even better than the other two.

Our new holy trinity: Johnny, Felli, Jack. Build the team around them.
Jon Cox
20   Posted 15/11/2010 at 19:40:27

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David Moore, great fuckin post.

I'll try an match that (but I doubt it).

For me, it has to be the defenders defend; the midfield organise the chances that the attackers will get; the attackers'' only job is to put the ball in the net. Football was always best in it's simplest form.

All this 4-4-2, 4-3-3, 4-5-1 is to my mind stopping our players doing what they are payed for and that my friends is playing football.

By the time they've heard three or four guys telling them the different ways to play in a tactical sense they will not know whether they are coming or going.

Moyes and his backroom staff, because of the pressure of the Premier League have drilled into our team so much information before a game of football, that it's obvious that everyone in the team is massively confused.

They play football like it's from a Haynes manual but they're in so many two-mind situations that it ends up slow and ponderous.

I really do think this is our problem and until the team is given license just to go out and play football without tactical constraints, like we did with Sunderland 7-1, then we'll have this problem for a long time.

Over the past decade my fave game which is never chatted about was the away game at Crystal Palace. I thought that this was the template for the Moyes era. I was of course proved wrong.

I just wish we had that attitude of WHO THE FUCK GIVES A SHIT you know, like a certain other manager: Holloway....!
John Daley
21   Posted 15/11/2010 at 20:15:20

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I thought Steve Bruce's rationale for starting with two forwards at Stamford Bridge was quite interesting. He said that nearly every team who turn up there play with just one up front and it has become predictable. Chelsea are simply so used to defending against that system now and know what to expect every week. The fact someone had the temerity to play two up top and take the game to Chelsea from the off put them on the back foot straight away.

If the big Geordie gargoyle has the balls to go for it then why can't Moyes?
Jay Harris
22   Posted 15/11/2010 at 20:55:22

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John #20 I am not defending Moyes but how often has Steve Bruce finished above Moyes as a manager, despite having spent significantly more money?

One game doesn't make a season nor a succession of seasons.

My frustration is our inability to bring in the likes of Bent and Gyan when Moyes has to make do with a crocked Yak and Saha and an inexperienced free from League 1.

Put that with a crocked Arteta and a worn out Heitinga and anyone can see why we have problems.
John Daley
23   Posted 15/11/2010 at 21:15:17

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Jay,

I certainly wasn't hailing Steve Bruce as a managerial mastermind or anything. I just found his reasoning to be sound. Everton have been utterly predictable and laboured in their attacking play this season and even in the closing games of the last campaign. However, you just know Moyes will persevere with it indefinitely because that cautious streak runs straight through his core. It's all well and good throwing two forwards on with ten minutes left and saying "we really went for it at the end there". Why not go for it from the beginning for a change?
Ian McDowell
24   Posted 15/11/2010 at 21:34:09

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If we had Gyan and Bent of Sunderland things would be a lot different. That?s the value of having a chairman who puts his hand in his pocket.
Jay Harris
25   Posted 15/11/2010 at 20:55:22

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John #20 I am not defending Moyes but how often has Steve Bruce finsihed above Moyes as a manager despite having spent significantly more money.

One game doesnt make a season nor a succession of seasons.

My frustration is our inability to bring in the likes of Bent and Gyan when Moyes has to make do with a crocked Yak and Saha and an inexperienced free from League 1.

Put that with a crocked Arteta and a worn out Heitiga and anyone can see why we have problems.
Eugene Ruane
26   Posted 15/11/2010 at 22:54:00

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Yes, last paragraph says it all for me too.
Mike Allison
27   Posted 16/11/2010 at 08:36:21

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I've never, ever read anyone claim 4-5-1 is an attacking ploy. If you think people have been saying that you've misunderstood things.

They might have said "it's not necessarily defensive, as it's the attitude and not the formation that matters" or they might have said "a five man midfield gives you more chance of winning and retaining the ball, which you need to do to attack" but I don't remember anyone ever saying that a lone striker is an attacking ploy.
Larry Boner
28   Posted 16/11/2010 at 08:51:35

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Modern-day football requires one vital ingredient to be successful ? pace; we don't have it anywhere on the pitch, apart from in defensive positions, Distin, Coleman, Jagielka and Baines.

Notice how refreshing it is to see Coleman moved into a RM role and use his pace to get round the back of a defence, the overlapping Baines bursting into the box. That is where it all ends, we never play through balls because there is no forward fast enough to catch it, so we play sideways passes, eventually filter it out to the wings for a cross to be put in for Cahill.

The likes of Liverpool, poor as they are, have a fast forward in Torres so the through ball from Gerrard is a vital weapon for them.Look at the pace all through the Arsenal team.

I don't think Arteta played a pass forward on Sunday, I can't remember a pass being played through a defence all season, which is why we end up with the hoof from the back 4 or a pass back to Howard.

Everton's best team, possibly ever, the 84-86 team was not over-endowed with pace, Ratcliffe, Steven, Stevens, Heath then Lineker apart, but the pitches then were so heavy that pace was not the major attribute for a team ? skill, commitment and strength were. Sheedy, Reid, Bracewell, Van den Hauwe all had at least two of these assets.

The pitches now are perfect all the year round, skill, commitment and strength has to be allied to the vital ingredient, pace. Man Utd, although unbeaten, look a shadow of previous teams, because of the missing Valencia and Rooney ? no pace, Hernandez, though a rocket, is still learning to adjust to the PL.

Aiden Jones
29   Posted 16/11/2010 at 10:50:51

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Robert #20. Anichebe, Beckford, Gueye up front ? you have to be kidding. With Heitinga going walk about in midfield and Coleman's defensive problems I think this team would struggle a little.
Aiden Doyle
30   Posted 16/11/2010 at 10:17:08

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Sorry, but that article falls at the first hurdle. The lone striker is dying out? Really?

Just off the top of my head, I?d have to point out that:

Chelsea are very adaptable and will use two, or even three, strikers ? but they?re not shy about leaving either Drogba or Anelka by themselves when needed.

Manchester United play two strikers against the weaker teams then use Berbatov by himself when Ferguson thinks they?re in for a tough game.

Arsenal now tend to use Chamakh (or Van Persie when fit) as a lone striker supported by adventurous midfielders.

Manchester City default to a similar system with Tevez being the focal point.

Spurs tend to play a lone striker, supported by Van der Vaart.

Villa do the same, with Agbonlahor (or Carew) up front and Young providing a link to midfield.

Same for Fulham, with Zamora up front and Dempsey providing the link.

Liverpool are dependent upon Torres, with Gerrard behind.

Newcastle often go for a single striker, with either Ameobi or Carroll left by themselves.

There?s no denying that teams sometimes use multiple strikers and that they sometimes get good results because of this ? as Sunderland's victory demonstrated ? but single-striker formations are still very much the norm.
Leon Perrin
31   Posted 16/11/2010 at 13:23:12

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Jon Cox @ 20

Send the "Haynes Manual" para to Moyes ? it's exactly what the problem is. Only when it's chucked, ie v Man Utd and Arsenal last 10 mins do we play. Well said.
Jason Thomas
32   Posted 16/11/2010 at 14:32:45

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It?s my first post, but I just had to get this out there?

Why does Moyes always play 4-4-1-1. Just as the Yak was getting back to form and started to score, he sticks him back on the bench for Saha. I think both are good enough to be in the team and we have to sacrifice a midfielder.

Bottom line is we are not scoring enough goals. I would start with the following against the Black Cats:

Howard
Neville, Distin, Jags / Baines
Arteta, Rodwell, Cahill, Pienaar
Saha, Yak

Robert Daniels
33   Posted 16/11/2010 at 16:31:46

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Aiden @29,

If you remember, Heitinga played in front of the back four towards the end of last season, when we were hard to beat; I would play him there with Felli and Rodwell, in front of him, bossing the midfield.

Up-front, we could perm any of our forward players into the front three. Saha could play on the left, Anichibe on the right (he looks good to me when he plays there), and the Yak or Beckford in the middle.

With Baines and Coleman supporting them at every opprtunity, I think this would be a strong team with power and a bit of pace... or at least people who can run forward. The full-backs both like to get forward, so does Rodwell, who would carry the ball through midfield, rather than the crab-like effect we've been subjected too latley.

Fellaini can break forward as well, and him and Rodders could both get into the box when were on the attack, with Saha/Gueye bursting down the left, Big Vic galloping down the right, Yak holding up play, Baines and Coleman streaming forward as well...

Anyway, I just think it's a more attack-minded line-up, and they wouldn't be pushed about either.

But let's face it, Moyes would never be that brave, so it's all hyperthetical really.

David Price
34   Posted 16/11/2010 at 20:26:52

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Keep posting, Jason, good call for the next game, pal.
David Poole
35   Posted 16/11/2010 at 20:51:04

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I have not always been a massive advocate of playing two up front ? mainly because the few times we have tried it in recent years, it has clearly not worked. However, we are quite clearly in need of something different, mainly because of our horrendous lack of goals from midfield players.

If you look at other teams that play 4-5-1, Arsenal for example, they get a great deal of contribution from their attacking midfielders, Chamakh or Van Persie, who play as lone frontmen, and may only get around 15 goals a season. But you know that the likes of Arshavin, Fabregas, Nasri, Walcott et al are going to add 9 or 10 every year.

When you look at our midfielders, only Cahill can contribute anything like that. Arterta and Pienaar get 5 or 6 at best and, whilst Coleman and Rodwell will certainly improve, they're unlikely to be scoring regularly at the moment. Add to that our misfiring strike force and you've got a team that's seriously lacking in genuine goal threat.

Personally, I would play Beckford up front with either Saha or Yakubu as he will provide the pace and movement we are lacking. I would move Cahill into central midfield with Arteta: we would still have his aerial threat from set pieces and he certainly couldn't do a worse job at breaking up the play than Heitinga is at the moment. When Fellaini is back and Rodwell is fully fit I'm not sure, but for now my team would be:

Howard
Neville, Jags, Distin, Baines
Coleman, Arteta, Cahill, Pienaar
Beckford, Yak/Saha

Sorry if that comes out a bit long winded ? never really posted here before.

Matthew Mackey
36   Posted 17/11/2010 at 12:18:36

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I agree we should ALWAYS play two up front when we are at home (Cahill not included in that two). Maybe for away games, depending upon the opposition we may or may not play two up front.

Just as a slight side issue here, and apologies if I have missed something over the last week, but why was Yakubu on the bench sub for the Arsenal game and the Bolton game (I think)? Yakubu was really getting into his stride again so the last thing he would want is to be sitting on the bench ? unless he was injured of course. Maybe I have missed something. Answers on a postcard please!
Ernie Baywood
37   Posted 17/11/2010 at 12:29:07

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For what its worth, Jason, I see Cahill as a forward now. Not an out-and-out forward, but not someone I would burden with too much midfield responsibility.

Agree with other posts about Yakubu. Him and Cahill was starting to look good... then we changed it to accommodate a forward who hasn't looked good for a very long time.
Larry Boner
38   Posted 17/11/2010 at 16:06:29

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After Cahill's performance against Arsenal, I would play him centre mid against Sunderland, he totally drove the team forward from that position and scored.

Arteta needs to rewind two seasons, he was stuck out on the wing with minimal influence on the game, was moved to CM and became a top player that deserved to be considered for the world's best midfield ? Spain; his whole game has disintegrated, power, pace, commitment, skill...

The only thing that worries me is that on these pages we spot where players should be operating before the manager does: Arteta, Fellaini, Coleman, Baines etc. Scary stuff... but the next big change Mr Moyes needs to make is the keeper; Howard is not filling me with confidence, especially when crosses come in or when through-balls are played.

If no go on Cahill, then play Gueye, with Pienaar CM.

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