Formations, Formations, Formations

Whereas the discussion in Monday’s match against Chelsea has focused around Clint’s penalty, to me the bigger story in the game was the formations. And how they would dictate the, erm, “spectacle”.

Chelsea came out with the predictable 4-3-3, albeit Drogba started on the bench. Hughes countered with an inverted 4-4-2 — that was mostly a 4-4-1-1 — with Duff on the right and Dempsey on the left. So just by looking at the team sheets, you knew there would be absolutely no width. There’s Route One football, and then there’s youth league soccer where everyone clutters the middle and follows the ball. Sadly, this was a case of the latter.

But, I think this was Hughes’ plan as Rich alluded to. By forcing Chelsea, who have a lot of things but not the quick passing acumen of Barcelona or Arsenal, to play directly up the middle there was never any real danger of us being stretched and ripped apart. Even when they have over 60% possession, and out-shot us 25 to 13 (although we managed to out-shoot them 5 to 3 on target), at no point were we truly up against the ropes. We wanted them to go through the middle, which they did. And we kept a clean sheet.

To illustrate my point, below are the average positions in Monday’s game and last week’s game against Villa. Monday’s game is on the bottom, Villa on the top.

For those unaware of Chelsea’s numerical roster, #9 and #39 are Torres and Anelka respectively. Also notice how our #16, Damien Duff, got so far forward against Villa in comparison to how deep he was against Chelsea.

So unfortunately Soccernet had to go and change their gamecast/data info, so the images aren’t as good as they once were. And they don’t really match up proportionally to one another.

But the point remains: Monday was a clusterfark.

7 thoughts on “Formations, Formations, Formations

  1. Clusterfark is definitely what I thought afterwards. Regardless of the penalty, it’s still a good point to have in our pocket. We can put all the pre-xmas talk of relegation form behind us.

  2. I find it interesting how far back we pushed Anelka and Torres, too, vs. how far forward Drogba got. (I think, as a reflection of the way the play was balanced during the period when Drogba was on the field.)

    But as Dave said, a good point to have. If you had said to me in the 85h minute, “this game will end 0-0”, I would’ve been thrilled.

  3. Noithing to do with the above really but I thought I’d document on which manager’s watch the current fist choice 18 players (IMO) came from: Schwarzer RH
    Pantsil RH
    Hughes LS
    Hangeland RH
    Salcido MH
    Baird LS
    Murphy LS
    Etuhu RH
    Sidwell MH(RH)
    Greening RH
    Gera RH
    Davies CC
    Dempsey CC
    Duff RH
    Dembale MH
    Zamora RH
    Johnson RH
    Stockdale RH
    So CC = 2, LS = 3, RH = 10 MH = 3
    NB Not a single player rising up from youth squad. Only Dempsey & Davies from Chris Coleman’s time. Three of our best in Sanchez’s time (at least something good came from it!)
    Not sure if there are any comments to be made from this but certainly Dempsey & Davies have been great servents of the club but Murphy is now the player with the most games.

  4. In both games our back 4 is holding a much tighter line than the opposition (this might be that the Villa game is played away from home and because of the quality of the Chelsea side). I wonder whether this line is played higher than most other teams as it seems surprising that forwards (Torres and Anelka particularly) should play as far back as they appear to.

    Salcido is playing much further forward against Chelsea than he is against Villa.

    1. I think that’s a) Chelsea had no real width down the right, Ivanovic being a centre-back in a wide role, the midfield diamond squashing the play and b) we were away to Villa and they did use width.

  5. Speaking of formations, it was somewhere in the 70s-80s of the Chelsea game (don’t have a screen capture to support), but I could easily see two lines of four on defense when the boys in blue were busy hopping about 40 yards from Schwarzer…one line being Salcido, Hughes/Hangeland and Baird left to right on the 18 yard line in perfect symmetry, and the 4 mids about 10 yards further up in a straight line mimicing the back 4. It was one of those, “hey, did they just? No they couldn’t be…wait they are!” moments.

    Did anyone else notice that? I’ve got the game saved on the DVR if anyone wants me to go back for proof.

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