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Boss cautious over two-striker formation

04/05/2015  Comments (43)  jump
Roberto Martinez says that he will use the option of playing another striker alongside Romelu Lukaku judiciously, saying that the formation can leave the Blues exposed against certain opposing teams.

The manager's comments come in the wake of Saturday's disappointing 3-2 defeat at Aston Villa where the team struggled to provide service to Lukaku with the Belgian deployed as the lone striker ahead of Steven Naismith.

Martinez used a 4-4-2 system with Arouna Kone and Lukaku in the same starting XI against Newcastle United and Queens Park Rangers with successful results but he has resisted the temptation to revisit since the latter returned from a hamstring injury he picked up in that win at Loftus Road.

Some games need that sort of platform to play around a player like Arouna, who can hold up the ball and so we've played him and Rom in a front three and a front two, Martinez said in the Liverpool Echo.

But it depends on the opposition and the moment of form of the players and fitting them into a system because of the moment of form they are in.

"It is something you need to use at the right time because it can leave you exposed in other areas of the pitch."  

Reader Comments (43)

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Paul Tran
2 Posted 04/05/2015 at 21:01:10
Is it me, or do we need to actually have two genuine, quality strikers before we can start talking about the possibility of playing two of them together?
Steve Chesters
3 Posted 04/05/2015 at 21:22:52
More claptrap from Martinez, I wish heÂ’d just let someone else do his talking for him because each time he opens his mouth he embarrasses himself.

Kone is crap, he is no strike partner for anyone, one goal and one assist in two seasons says the lot ....... ٣million and gawd knows how much in wages heÂ’s cost us ....... Send him down the same road as McGeady, the one that says Â’Way OutÂ’

Dave Ganley
4 Posted 04/05/2015 at 21:56:37
Again with many of his other utterings, IÂ’m not sure whether to laugh or cry.

Having 2 strikers on the pitch may leave us exposed in other areas.... erm whatÂ’s the excuse for being exposed for most of the season then??

John Daley
5 Posted 04/05/2015 at 22:03:09
"Kone is crap, he is no strike partner for anyone, one goal and one assist in 2 seasons says the lot"

To be fair, one goal in his last nine starts puts him about level with Lukaku.

Ross Edwards
6 Posted 04/05/2015 at 22:02:39
So if 2 strikers leave us exposed, what does passing around at the back, passing for passingÂ’s sake and continually playing players out of position leave you?

Honestly, Martinez spouts absolute nonsense and has little or no tactical awareness whatsoever. If we had a quality striker alongside Lukaku he wouldnÂ’t be so isolated. But wait, we did have one. EtoÂ’o. What happened to him?

Oh yes, Martinez left him on the bench, and when he did start, it was out of position, on the wing... No wonder he got pissed off and left having such an inept clown as your manager.

Colin Glassar
7 Posted 04/05/2015 at 22:04:23
You wanted flexibility? A plan B? When he offers the possibility he still gets hammered.
Colin Gee
8 Posted 04/05/2015 at 22:17:39
To be fair to Kone he has been injured for 18 months.
However what was the excuse for the defence being so exposed at Villa on Saturday?
Terence Tipler
9 Posted 04/05/2015 at 22:15:00
Steve. Unfortunately. Martinez gave McGeady a four and a half year contract, so he wont be going anywhere for a while.
Jim Hardin
10 Posted 04/05/2015 at 22:22:11

Why if you have two good strikers would you not use them together? So Naismith could be asked to play a posiiton he is completely uncomfortable in and which does not suit his abilities instead? Because that didnÂ’t leave our midfield exposed at all with him out of position wide and not knowing who to cover on set pieces, etc., now did it?

Ant Dwyer
11 Posted 04/05/2015 at 22:55:58
I agree with most of the above, Kone is piss poor.

We had two good forwards until January and never bothered trying to work with them as a pair.

Tom Bowers
12 Posted 04/05/2015 at 22:53:40
The only viable striker Everton have is Lukaku and he has his limitations. Lukaku cannot play as a lone striker and I donÂ’t care which team Everton play. It would be a big mistake. Kone is second rate, Naismith is slow although he ties hard and Mirallas is just not as consistant as he should be.

I like the idea of Barkley just behind Lukaku but Martinez quashed that idea with his team selection against Villa. The answer is getting a quality striker to compliment Lukaku or replace him when he is injured.

One hopes there will be a clearout at the end of the month as some players for various reasons have been useless to the Blues all season and even those with contracts should be addressed.

The game on Saturday one hopes will be a much better one for the Blues than at Villa Park but Sunderland will be defending like crazy. They are the draw specialists in the Prem. and have only conceded 4 goals more than Everton so it could be another frustrating afternoon.

Lyndon Lloyd
13 Posted 04/05/2015 at 23:21:40
My problem with RobertoÂ’s rationale here is that he has played Barkley off Lukaku for much of the season, a player who offers as much (for that read "as little") defensively as any second striker.

Just having Ross in the team exposes us because he barely puts a tackle in; it’s not his game – he is there to create things going forward.

Ross Edwards
14 Posted 04/05/2015 at 23:28:15
Colin, heÂ’s essentially said he wouldnÂ’t use it. Not consider it.
Patrick Murphy
15 Posted 04/05/2015 at 23:23:52
On the other thread Lukaku said that he likes to score but he likes winning more, I wonder considering his previous proclamation about being comfortable with Kone along side him whether he thinks he is at the right club to be able to win often enough.

The more I read the more I doubt that Lukaku will be here beyond the end of the next transfer window, similarly with Mirallas who said he would be wearing the same shirt at the start of next season but he could still move before the end of the window and not be called a fibber.

Personally as long as we got good wedge for both players I wouldnÂ’t lose too much sleep but I would never be able to sleep again if Kone is leading the line for the whole of next season.

Andy Peers
16 Posted 04/05/2015 at 23:36:53
All I can say is Suarez/Sturridge combo last season almost won the RS the league, the rest of the team was average at best. They have scored over 40 goals less this year and Sturridge ( even though injured most of the season ) has not been effective without Suarez. When you have quality strikers 2 up front is better. When you have Lambert/ Balotteli or Lukaku/Kone it is not as dangerous.
Tony Abrahams
17 Posted 04/05/2015 at 23:43:11
See your point about Barkley, Lyndon but I wish he had played him there more, instead of out wide.

Why not play 3-5-2, with the right personel of course

James Marshall
18 Posted 05/05/2015 at 00:28:58
Nobody uses two strikers these days, itÂ’s old-hat. Some teams donÂ’t even use one anymore.


James Marshall
19 Posted 05/05/2015 at 00:30:09
I also agree with Lyndon - weÂ’re not exposed by having 2 strikers on the pitch, weÂ’re exposed by having players who are afraid to tackle, and are lazy bastards when it comes to doing anything without the ball. Barkley being the prime example.

Thank God for Aaron Lennon is all I can say - he tracks back more than any forward player weÂ’ve had in years, and makes a huge difference for us defensively, just by being in a position to slow down opposition attacks, even if he doesnÂ’t break them down himself. For that quality alone we should sign him, nevermind his pace going forward (albeit without the best end product in the world)

Brian Porter
21 Posted 05/05/2015 at 06:06:55
Yes, James #19, Aaron Lennon has been the only breath of fresh air to hit the team since the turn of the year and we should go all out to keep him. Sometimes a player comes along who may not be a world-beater for other clubs but who fits perfectly with your own club. I believe Lennon is in that mould for us.

I agree with those who say we donÂ’t really have two effective strikers at the club. Kone is worse than a Sunday league striker (with respectful apologies to some decent Sunday league strikers), and just embarrasses himself and the shirt every time he is allowed playing time. He has to go, but is a Martinez favourite so I fear weÂ’re stuck with him.

Likewise McGeady, who cannot hold a candle to Aaron Lennon. Martinez really should keep his mouth shut. He contradicts himself with almost every statement he makes, is the master of gobbledegook, saying a lot but meaning little at the same time, and shows his total lack of tactical awareness in the way he talks about team selection and whatever Â’momentÂ’ a player is in. Does he not know a moment refers to the passage of a few seconds, and is he therefore picking his team based on a few seconds with each player? "How are you in this moment Arouna?" "Â’OK, boss Â’ "Oh good. YouÂ’re in the first team on Saturday." I now get a headache every tine I have to read or hear this idiotÂ’s nonsensical pronouncements.".

Colin Glassar
22 Posted 05/05/2015 at 08:27:21
Ross, he said he will, and I quote, "use judiciously two strikers in some games". Where does he say he wonÂ’t even consider it?
Chris James
23 Posted 05/05/2015 at 08:59:55
He should play Naismith alongside Lukaku tbh, he’s got a much better eye for goal than Kone and indeed is one of the most dangerous finishers – when he’s had a run in a genuine forward slot, rather than pushed out onto a flank or played deep, he’s created and scored goals.
Jim Bennings
24 Posted 05/05/2015 at 10:08:26
He could quite easily play a midfield four of Lennon, Mirallas, Barkley next to McCarthy, Naismith next to Lukaku? How can that possibly leave you exposed at home to average opposition?

In fairness, none of our front players have been outstanding this season. Naismith started the season well but has tailed off considerably since December. Lukaku has just one goal in open play since early December (in the Premier League) so he has had a poor season whatever way you look at it.

I think Martinez would be very naive to think we are okay striker-wise, I have got news for him... We ainÂ’t!!

Ian Brandes
25 Posted 05/05/2015 at 10:15:10
I despair.
James Marshall
26 Posted 05/05/2015 at 10:17:09
Please, can we stop with the Naismith stuff – he’s a thoroughly nice young man but he’s a thoroughly awful footballer. When he plays we look bereft of any shape, mainly because he lacks any nous and spends his entire time charging about looking like he’s working hard, but actually he’s just, well, charging about.

Rubbish player, lovely bloke, tries hard, limited.

Andrew Ellams
27 Posted 05/05/2015 at 10:18:11
I think we would see a different Miralles if he played as part of a front two. The glory would probably suit his superego a bit more than playing out wide. We could a diamond of Besic, McCarthy, Lennon and Barkley playing behind them.
James Martin
28 Posted 05/05/2015 at 11:02:45
Ultimately you can have as many strikers as you want playing, a midfield of Barry and McCarthy arenÂ’t going to supply them. That is why we would be exposed because Barry has to play in a three with the full backs pushed up to make his slow shuffling possession football even mildly effective.

If you put Gibson and Barkley in the middle with Lukaku and Mirallas up front we’d get strangled at places like Stamford Bridge but we would blow away the majority of the dross in the league by the number of goals we would score by getting quick ball to our forward players. Instead we have Lukaku, Mirallas, Barkley and Lennon – a forward line better than most in the Premier League but they can barely score in most games because of our tactics and midfield personnel.

Tony J Williams
29 Posted 05/05/2015 at 12:20:56
HereÂ’s a novel idea with Naismith.....

Play him as a striker, you know the position he was always employed to do...before someone decided he was a winger (Moyes & Martinez) or a old fashioned No 10.

He is a clinical finisher but I can probably count on one hand the number of games he has played as an out and out striker.

So basically what Martinez is saying is that he doesnÂ’t trust his midfield to do what theyÂ’re supposed to do so he has to saturate it with 5 players.

Tom Bowers
30 Posted 05/05/2015 at 13:13:25
Many teams use 2 quality strikers. How about the Champions?
Hazard/Costa, Hazard/Drogba.
Paul Baker
31 Posted 05/05/2015 at 13:26:17
Bull, Mr. Martinez – actually a 4-4-2 formation (and especially a flat one) is best and easiest for defending (take a look numbers of league goals conceded domestically by Borussia M’gladbach, Juventus, Atletico Madrid or Olympique Lyon – all of which use two upfront).
Eddie Dunn
32 Posted 05/05/2015 at 13:43:02
Naismith has got worse and worse this season largely because he has been shunted into places he is not cut out for. If he was played up top, then I think he could get plenty of goals.

The problem we have is Lukaku. He is very difficult to play with. He doesnÂ’t pass when you would expect him to, and he is too slow. He can hit a lovely pass on occasion, but I just think he is a strange player. He is forever looking over his shoulder pointing where he wants the ball, telegraphing the defence of what is about to happen.

Kone is really ordinary, but you can see what he is trying to do, and he is often a part of good build up play. I would happilly see the back of them both.

Give me a quick lad who can head the ball and hold it up when needed. Is it that much to ask?

Ross Edwards
33 Posted 05/05/2015 at 14:24:51
Â’JudiciouslyÂ’. That doesnÂ’t mean: Â’I definitely will use 2 strikersÂ’ does it?

That in Martinez speak means: Â’I could use 2 strikers but I wonÂ’t because it leaves us exposed.Â’

Jim Knightley
34 Posted 05/05/2015 at 14:19:42
A 4-4-2 is not tactically productive: there is a reason it has almost entirely disappeared amongst the best teams. A midfielder behind the striker can offer extra midfield cover, creative benefits and the running from deep option. PellegriniÂ’s absurd desire to continually play two strikers this season, especially since Christmas and in tough away games, constantly left City over-ran and exposed in midfield (especially as their defensive midfielders have under-performed).

And Paul, picking teams which are better than the vast majority of teams in their respective leagues, and who do not consistently play 4-4-2 anyway, does not prove 4-4-2 gives decent defensive returns (especially when so many 4-4-2 sides fail defensively, and when teams do not play wingers, which we have a surplus of). Juventus often play a 3-5-2 formation with wing backs pushed forward (they will play like that tonight too, with Lichensteiner and Evra pushed forward), whilst Griezmann often plays deeper for Atletico when playing alongside Torres or Mandzukic, especially in the bigger matches.

That said, as others have said, weÂ’ve been absurdly exposed this season anyway, because weÂ’ve had a variety of attacking players dumped in attacking positions (Mirallas, Naismith, Barkley, McGeady, EtoÂ’o) who not only let players run off them, but who run into the space of our full backs, and who do not suit MartinezÂ’s passing style).

He is being lampooned for saying something sensible, because he has overseen a terrible season. I do not have much sympathy for him, because he has created the discontent. We do not want much, we just want tactics which suit our players, and for Martinez to buy players which suit the tactics he wants to play. He has done neither, but has failed to keep a lid on player and fan discontent, failed to get our players ready in terms of fitness for the start of the season, has made some massive tactical howlers, has helped turn an albeit over-rated Barkley into one of this seasonÂ’s biggest failures, and irritated us with misplaced positivity in the process. The formation is not the problem, tactics, nativity and Martinez is.

John Gee
35 Posted 05/05/2015 at 14:37:05
For all the stick he gets, Martinez must have belief in Naismith.

"Hola Steve, this season I want you to play the Messi role for us. Until Villa away, then you can do IniestaÂ’s job"

Tbf, given the personnel, IÂ’d only play one striker. Can Garbutt play up front? (Just kidding.)

James Hughes
36 Posted 05/05/2015 at 17:57:41
John Gee you may have a point about Garbutt; well, we did play Steve Watson up front and he got a hat-trick!!
Max Wilson
37 Posted 06/05/2015 at 09:31:56
RM appears to mean he prefers to keep his options open re two up front. That sounds fair enough.

Someone above says Romelu isnÂ’t fast. Go out and buy the Sunday Mirror this weekend. Their footie section contains technical data on PL matches. Rom has been one of the fastest on the pitch all season. IÂ’ve got the tables in my scrap book.

Mid-way in speed are some the players that most of us would like to see moved on. I think most of us agree this list includes Naismith, Kone, McGeady and Alcaraz. ThereÂ’s nothing personal about this as far as I can see, itÂ’s just that they are not up to the level demanded by the PL. Essentially, playing one or two of these players in our line up has damaged our results (together with our injury problems) this season.

Denis Richardson
38 Posted 06/05/2015 at 10:43:34
Â’Playing two strikers leaves the lone striker less exposed.Â’

Wow – it’s taken him 8 years of management to come to this astounding revelation.

Â’Some games you need that sort of platform.Â’

But weÂ’ve played with one striker for about 99% of the games heÂ’s managed, so basically you donÂ’t need that sort of platform presumably according to him?

Â’It is something you need to use at the right time because it can leave you exposed in other areas of the pitch.Â’

Back to No 2 above; so actually itÂ’s hardly ever the right time as weÂ’ve hardly ever played it. (Given we were Â’exposedÂ’ playing 6 defensive players and one striker for pretty much all season, following his logic, we should presumably bin Lukaku and play with no strikers so as not to be Â’exposedÂ’.)

Trevor Peers
39 Posted 06/05/2015 at 11:06:04
The latest instalment in RobertoÂ’s daily updates, of course most of us canÂ’t understand what heÂ’s talking about. CanÂ’t wait for his next message of enlightenment !
Denis Richardson
40 Posted 06/05/2015 at 14:31:20
Jim 34, whilst a lot of teams donÂ’t play 4-4-2 anymore, I donÂ’t think you can say it is not a practical set up nowadays. After all, SAF won I think 13 Chamionships playing 4-4-2 most of the time.

Most important thing is to have two decent wide men – and of course two decent CMs – which we don’t have. Nevermind the two decent strikers...

Andy Meighan
41 Posted 06/05/2015 at 21:20:11
So Lukaku, according to the stats, is one of the quickest in the league. He hasn’t been quick enough to get enough goals for us. Considering what we paid for him his goal return is poor – 9 league goals, 2 pens and he’s not even that convincing a penalty taker.

I had a bet at the start of the season that he wouldnÂ’t get 10 from open play. IÂ’m quite looking forward to collecting come the end of the Spurs game. As for Martinez claiming heÂ’s cautious about playing 2 strikers. HeÂ’s certainly not cautious about filling the midfield with defensive players, even against mediocre opposition at home.

Patrick Murphy
42 Posted 07/05/2015 at 12:45:22
Having just read Duncan FergusonÂ’s interview about his admiration for all things Barcelona and their methods, perhaps he could have a word with Roberto reminding him of the THREE strikers they usually have on the pitch at any one time, but donÂ’t mention how much they might cost.
Brian Harrison
43 Posted 07/05/2015 at 13:01:03

I haven't read Duncan Ferguson's piece on Barcelona, but I think his boss needs to look at how both Bayern and Barcelona play the game. No long bouts of interpassing at the back, both play a very high tempo game – something I don't think we are fit enough to do. Also, they move the ball from back to front very quickly; admittedly they have the wonderful Messi and the highly talented Neymar and Suarez.

Now they don't just play at that tempo on matchdays, as Guardiola says, they both train with that high tempo and intensity throughout the week. So RM, get a tape of last night's game and learn how the game should be played, not your boring style of football that sends us to sleep.

Derek Thomas
44 Posted 07/05/2015 at 13:09:39
Eddie @32 the pointing means HE knows where the ball should be for him to be on the end of it, but the others either canÂ’t see it or the way we are set up doesnÂ’t allow them to play it...even if they did see it.

Feed the Yak... no wait, we don’t say that any more – but the principle is sound.

Mike Goodwin
45 Posted 07/05/2015 at 13:38:44
All this talk of 4-4-2, 4-5-1, 3-4-2-1 etc etc leaves me confused.

Are all these master tacticians saying that a team set up in the modern formation would always beat a team from the sixties set up with 5 forwards, because they would dominate the midfield?

ItÂ’s still 11 against 11, and if youÂ’re short in one area of the pitch, then presumably you will have a numerical advantage in another area of the pitch.

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