By Tony Attwood
In the run up to the last match Billy the Dog wrote a piece in which he suggested we play a forward line in which the players adopt a quantum approach, during which, like sub-atomic particles, they could be in several positions at once.
This got me thinking – as I understand nuclear physics the point is that you cannot know the position and speed of a quantum particle the same time. Or something along those lines.
Now I don’t want to get all entangled (there’s an in joke in that word but don’t worry about it if you finished with physics aged 14) but the fact is that both Podolski and Walcott are playing where they don’t want to play. And Gervinho is playing where he didn’t expect to play.
Podolski said, “I’d rather play centrally up front. On the left I have to do a lot of defensive work, constantly running up and down. I am not a classical winger.”
Now one way around this is to play 4-4-2 which Mr Wenger used to speak very much in favour of. Now he likes one main central striker who is also a link maker, bringing in the other players as well.
This is problematic enough, but with Olivier Giroud and Gervinho both starting as the central striker we have a problem of fitting people in. Even 4-4-2 doesn’t help – we just play Giroud and Gervinho in the centre.
When Mr Wenger talked to the German media after the 2-2 at Schalke he said Walcott and Podolski were both “strikers” in a front three.
But this is not quite as it stands, because they are much more like wingers.
So is there a solution? I suspect there are several but they are not going to look like any of the current formations. Billy’s answer was that the three keep changing positions in order to confuse the defence.
Here’s another – that one of the central players also goes for a wing wander in the style of Henry – you never know where he is going to be, but as he wanders one or more of the other forwards pulls in. I think there are hints of this turning up but it is not working that well as yet. I’ll come back to it in a minute.
But there must also be other formations that can work. Remember for example the classic WM format that it is always reported was introduced by Chapman.
With this you have a back line of 3 with one big central defender. Then two defensive midfield players. Then two forward link midfielders, and then the three forwards – two wingers and a centre forward.
Now that sounds like it still leaves the same problem – but if we had that formation we could have Theo playing in a forward midfield role and using his speed to burst through with Cazorla playing the other forward midfield but in his case using his passes to break the defence.
When it comes down to it, it is not much of a change 3-2-2-3 instead of 4-2-1-3, but it could work. The real problem is the defence going down to three, but with the defending midfield really tracking back, rather than playing in the sort of Song approach of rampaging up field, it might just work.
I am not 100% convinced – it is just an idea – but one way or another we have to fit Theo in and keep him happy. The other solution takes us back to Henry. With Henry the rule was “play in the centre and go for a stroll around the left wing”. With Theo it could be “play right wing, but take the centre any time you want it.”
This is not a full wandering role – for Henry only played two positions – centre forward or left wing. Pires knew when Henry was taking his position and so moved into centre forward. It might just work.
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