Speed and Width
I was interested to hear Gordon Strachan's comments on our current formation during the Anzhi game.
He suggested that where we had previously bombed down the wings and crossed the ball we were now trying to play through the centre. This had also involved a change of pace, where before Bale or Lennon would break quickly, stretching the game, we were now moving forward and back as a unit. This was giving us an advantage defensively with less space between players for the opposition but hurting us offensively, particularly because Soldado was not getting the crosses he needed to score from, he felt Defoe was actually more comfortable with the passes through the middle.
Thinking about it this makes a lot of sense. There has been a definite slowing of the build up this year and while Townsend, Chadli and Lamela are all wingers they are also all playing on the wrong side, cutting in rather than overlapping, Siggurdson of course prefers to cut in whichever side he plays. This leaves the full backs as the only genuine width, when Naughton has played on the left there has been no width that side at all.
While a strong defence is a definite plus our lack of goals in the league is a concern. It makes me wonder if we have the balance right, both in terms of pace and width. Barcelona have passed their way through teams for years, but part of that was the high tempo they played at, having Messi on the end of the moves hasn't hurt either. With a much slower tempo and a striker who prefers balls in from wide I'm not sure how effective our current system can be against well drilled defences.
I do wonder whether trying to speed up the play a bit and including at least one wide player playing on his natural wing would be an improvement. Alternatively, if Strachan is right about the strikers, maybe we should be starting Defoe in the league. But paying £26m for a p! layer and then failing to set up your team to harness his talents seems crazy management.
Written by jod