Written by NWCherries98
Without concrete information as of yet regarding Joshua King, Nathan Ake, Callum Wilson, Lloyd Kelly, Adam Smith, and probably some others I’m forgetting, I have no idea what kind of team we can expect to see vs Chelsea. Do we pack the centre of midfield; the only area that seems to be somewhat at full strength? Do we put faith in Jack Simpson and Chris Mepham as a partnership and stick with a flat back 4, or do we go back to 3 at the back with Simon Francis in there? Its definitely going to be a 442. Do we drop Wilson? Do we have anyone to replace him with?! Does Jack Stacey get a (deserved) look-in? Could we see some of our on-fire U21 players get some surprise appearances? Will a wild Lloyd Kelly appear from the wilderness? Could Ibe have a part to play?
It might’ve been almost exciting if it wasn’t all so soul-crushing. Here are some options I guess:
I don’t want to see this. This doesn’t work. I’m not going to pretend to have all the answers as to why this doesn’t work; this is just based on what I’ve seen in the last 5 games. If we can’t put in a decent display with players like Smith, Ake and Cook involved, then a back 4 of Francis/Stacey, Mepham, Simpson and Diego Rico doesn’t fill me with much hope either. The only way this could maybe work is if we dropped Wilson for a more proactive attacker like King; or maybe if we put Harry Wilson in behind Wilson or Dominic Solanke and brought someone else in on the wings. I am fully expecting to see some variation of this against Chelsea; with the consolation of maybe our previous wins against them inspiring a Christmas miracle.
Another worry I’ve just thought of with this back 4 is the fullback to centreback partnerships; mainly Rico and Simpson. We know that Ake was working exceptionally hard at building a relationship with Rico, learning Spanish and being very vocal on the pitch with him. Hopefully, Rico has a good enough, baseline understanding of what’s expected of him now to still do an effective job at the back. He looks a lot more settled now at least.
Or, we could just go really defensive. A lot of people have grown to dislike the current style we’ve opted for, so I could see why this wouldn’t be a popular way to go, but something like this wouldn’t be a complete car crash, as long as it’s implemented correctly. Stacey has shown real promise as an attacking fullback so, in theory, having “the leader” Francis behind him should give him some good cover. With Rico further forward you would also be less reliant on him linking well with Simpson, and you could have Jefferson Lerma there ready to drop back and support him too without losing numbers in midfield.
Then, if we’re going by current form, the midfield 3 of Lerma, Lewis Cook and Dan Gosling looks like it could be decent. Gosling has been good since his return and has in my opinion earned a start (plus he gets forward well and carries a goal threat from midfield that we are sorely lacking), Lerma always has to play when fit, and L. Cook looks in much better form than Philip Billing recently. That’s certainly not a bad midfield, and it gives you three players that all have different positives to work with.
Then with the two Wilson’s upfront… I think we should give Wilson one last chance to look like a footballer before he drops to the bench; there were signs that Harry can be an effective link man upfront with some good through balls and obvious goal threat, and I think we get the best out of him in the middle. Solanke might also be fired up to score against his old club, I suppose. He certainly offers far more than Callum in general play at the moment, but we know Wilson can score in bursts when he hits his stride.
Plus, you also get a much more economic use of the squad with a formation like this. Instead of having 3 centre midfielders on the bench and Ibe as your game-changers, we would have Danjuma, Fraser, Solanke, Billing, maybe someone like Kilkenny. It just looks more positive. We only have two fit strikers, yet we start both of them over and over again (luckily Wilson isn’t out for long); we have so many centre midfielder to pick from now, yet we limit ourselves to starting two of them. It’s really dumb.
Another option would be to go 4-3-3; keeping the positives of a 3 man midfield while also not being quite as defensive. The issues with the back 4 remain; will we trust Mepham and Simpson together, will Francis be forced into the team at all costs; should he replace Mepham as a CB and let Stacey come into the side? Should Stacey play with Mepham and Simpson and have Francis on the bench? Dunno. Just watch out for those diagonal long balls Chris. I like this formation a lot and would like to see this against Chelsea, as I think its the most sensible choice, giving us a stronger core while still having something different to what we’ve seen in the attack.
What does everyone else think?
A long but interesting and well thought out post cheers NWC98.
After reading all that it at least FEELS as though Eddie still has some options.
I don’t really have a preference myself, I just can’t see us keeping a clean sheet with the defenders we have fit and recent form suggests we are going to struggle to score goals. If Eddie shares my pessimism I would expect to see one of the more defensive formations in the hope that we once again experience a Christmas miracle at the Bridge ( i.e. somehow fluke a draw ). I think we will see a fairly conservative “try to keep it tight” setup in the present situation.
I agree Gaz.. I can’t see anything but a 2 or 3-0 loss if I’m being realistic, but my heart thinks with some pace we can grab a goal… It all depends if we can grab the 1st goal…
We can’t score 1 so when we go 1 down, the players must instantly think it’s game over… Get that 1st goal mind, and it gives us something to grab onto… Confidence is everything and so finely balanced…
I tell you… Ibe up top could do no harm…
It’ll be 4-4-2 though with Franno at RB, Billing in the middle, Fraser on the wing and Callum up top… – Join the conversation, click here.