With the transfer window closed, we finally have all of our new signings in place and the Polaroid of our team is finally starting to form. I wanted to take a quick look at the tactics that this new team allows AVB to implement. Through the specific lens of what is not only probable, but lines up with what AVB has been known to do. This will also be a discussion of the depth chart, and, inherently, a commentary on the depth that Daniel Levy and Franco Baldini have brought in through this last transfer season. Also recognizing that many of our commentariat have ADD, that makes #nobodyreadsthearticles a thing, I will be incorporating many pictures and diagrams (hopefully mirroring a little piece of AVB's) that help me illustrate these strategies.
To start this discussion I want to start by proposing that we will, as AVB has shown his preference in the past, be implementing a 4-3-3 for the majority of this season. And to examine this formation, we must examine our depth chart as well. Which looks, in my estimation, something like this :
Right Midfielder (Box-to-box Midfielder):
Central Midfielder (Defensive Midfielder):
Left Midfielder (Creative midfielder):
Left Center Back:
Right Center Back:
This is, as someone posted about a week ago, a very interesting look at AVB's beginnings at Porto:
Now, there are some things I want to discuss within this depth chart. First is that I think Eriksen and Holtby and Townsend and Lamela are interchangeable at this point. Meaning I think both Townsend and Lamela will start, but your guess is as good as mine in which side they will occupy, and your guess is as good as mine for who will start, Eriksen or Holtby. I think Eriksen will eventually start there, but I've heard some good arguments for Holtby starting there now.
Another thing that is interesting about this is that our two best wingers are left footed inverted wingers. Those being Andros Townsend and Erik Lamela. I do not believe either of them HAVE to be inverted wingers, nor do I believe that both of the WILL be inverted wingers throughout the year. If you look at hulk's role in AVB's porto team, you see that his main role was to cut inside, which is exactly what both Lamela and Townsend excel at as inverted wingers. And the LW or Varela's role was to hug the touchline and create chances with crosses and attacking the fullback. Which I am fully confident Lamela and Townsend can both excel at on the left wing, as a true winger.
And last, is that the fullbacks on our roster are perfect for AVB's system. Because as seen in the tactics, one side, at least, is occupied by a winger that will cut inside and leave that corner open for a fullback to advance and provide width and crosses.
Here is what I imagine our formation will look like
Solid line= movement
Dotted line = pass
I have obviously changed the role of the CAM in this diagram from the one of Porto's tactics as I believe we have the fullbacks to effectively overlap with the right winger and we do not need to waste our CAM out in that corner to deliver crosses, when he could be providing an engine for our attack right outside the box and shots on rebounds. It is no secret that we have been lacking some creativity in our midfield. This obviously has to do with having, so far this year, no actual passer in our team. This will easily be fixed now with Holtby back fit, and Eriksen coming in. Either of these two could effectively run this role.
Now I would like to look at the three avenues of attack, on our team. The first being through the center.
This is the most obvious avenue of attack, with the CAM providing a through ball or a chip over the defense. If the defenders are doing their job correctly than they will be playing the inside of their man and all of these moves will be provided that one of our attackers will have to get the jump on their defenders or have a perfectly timed run or what have you.
The next avenue is the right wing. This is provided that our right winger will take on the fullback and cut in toward the box, that both Lamela and Townsend are very adept at doing.
This tactic implies that the right winger will come to the edge of the box with the ball (usually to shoot). That leaves the CF with the responsibility to get the rebound of a shot and to provide an attacking outlet if the right winger doesn't shoot. Townsend should drift into the box, this would be the perfect opportunity for the wingers to interchange once the play is over. In this particular play, our fullbacks would be incredibly important to provide width and crosses into the box. While the CAM will drift to the edge of the box and look for opportunities and through balls if he gets it. Last is the CM, the box-to-box midfielder, will stay outside the box looking for an opportunity and make runs into the box if there is an opportunity for a cross.
The last avenue of attack I will talk about is up the left side of the pitch. With the true winger, on the left side, beating the fullback and providing service to the center of the pitch.
The most important part of this play is the players making runs to get on the end of the cross from the left. That includes, Soldado in the box, Lamela approaching the back post, and the most interesting role here, the CMer. Noe I will use this specific play to illustrate why I believe Paulinho is the ideal midfielder for this role. As shown here, this box-to-box midfielder, Paulinho, will be charged with running into the box to get on the end of whatever service they can. Paulinho, unlike Dembele, is very good at areal attacks, powerful runs, and clean up rebounds, and getting back to cover defensively. Dembele on the other hand, is much more of a CAM right now, and I, for one, have never seen him get on the end of a cross, or generally do anything in the box. He is much more adept at attacking from outside the box. Paulinho is also a very powerful and adept shooter, while Dembele seems to shy away from it.
Football is obviously not this cut and dry, and there are plenty of other ways we can attack, not using these strategies, but that would take days to get through. And these are the three that I am most excited to see, and very probable to happen. And I think this is a relatively simplistic analysis. But I thought it might help people to be able to see it all down in diagrams and know what the players might be being asked to do and so forth. Tell me what you think, I'd love to get some feedback on my theories, even if its just to say not enough pictures.