A Tactics Stick Or Twist

We now have joint worse ‘goals against’ tally in the Premier League, having conceded 26 goals in 13 matches. Crystal Palace continued the awful stat of an average conceding rate at two goals per game; and yet I find myself scratching my head and thinking has it really only been 26?

The Premier League this season has been full of goals, this is partly due to the ‘big teams’ turning up this year, and we certainly felt that against Manchester City. However, the new craze that has swept the Premier League has left most teams now playing wing backs in a back three or back five, depending on how defensive or offensive the team has set up . Mark Hughes set this formation up early on in pre-season and made it clear that this was the formation he wanted to start the season with. The big question now is, why has this formation failed so badly? Or is it a work in progress?

Chelsea brought in this new craze of playing three centre backs and two wing backs last and I think it’s fair to say they executed it very well. Winning the Premier League and conceding only 33 goals all season they looked watertight at the back and lethal up front; I understand Chelsea have world class players, however the difference in our negative approach compared to their positive approach is what is so baffling at times. Looking back at games against teams such as Leicester, Bournemouth and Brighton; teams that we should be competing with, we have looked fragile, timid, and scared to have the ball at times.

The wing back position seems critical in this formation taking inspiration from Spurs and Chelsea their wing backs have been vital in securing their victories. Looking at our ‘wing backs’, I don’t see enough quality in that position, Erik Pieters has a hard enough time defending at the moment let alone pushing forward. As for Diouf I find it difficult to criticise his defending when he has played as a striker his whole career! We have some smart ball players in our squad who take fewer touches in the game than our centre backs due to how deep we set up. For me this formation simply does not play to our strengths nor do we have the players to play these complex positions.

West Brom reverted to four at the back this weekend earning them a point at Wembley, I believe we should scrap this formation and build from a back four, pack the midfield again and move forward as a team, not as individuals. Mark Hughes is under pressure and I don’t necessarily feel it is the results that is causing this alone, I feel the performances our sucking the life out of our matches at times.

Looking forward to Wednesday night we host Liverpool, should Mark Hughes stick or twist with his selection and formation? Let us know what you think.

By Todd Bennett

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