Playing against low-block teams

RussellWilson

2020 NFC Fantasy League winner
Joined
Feb 18, 2013
Messages
1,021
This is where patterns of play and working overloads needs to come to the fore. We're still very reliant on the quality of individuals. We've improved somewhat with Shaw upping his game with more overlaps and good delivery.

What doesn't help is we are so slow to get it out there, usually taking 3/4 passes. Carrick would get it out there in one touch.

Then box movement of Rashford and Martial is horrible,so when we do manage to get some dangerous balls in they are never anticipating and always slow to react.

So weak in all phases, slow to get the ball wide, struggle to create overloads and get in good crossing positions then fail to get in the right areas in the box to finish anything.

All needs better coaching so it's all automated. It's all city and Liverpool do in these sorts of games.
 

TheMagicFoolBus

Full Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2016
Messages
2,456
Location
Lisboa, Portugal
Supports
Chelsea
Agree completely. The way we played against Southampton should be the prototype of how we play against teams that sit back and defend. Obviously Southampton were down to 10 men but the way we played by using the width and stretching the play was perfect to take advantage of any team sitting back.

Today our wide attackers weren't getting involved, Bruno's first half was the worst he's played since joining us, Fred had probably his worst game of the season, Cavani was invisible in the second half...we just weren't able to build anything. But over the top of it all it was our lack of width that seemed to be limiting us.
Yeah definitely - it makes perfect sense to stretch a team that's down a man in wide areas as they'll always prioritise the centre. It's just odd that Ole isn't trying to do the same thing against teams sitting back with 11 - perhaps he's worried about being countered, but surely leaving AWB back in midfield to sweep up instead of sending him up the right wing makes sense, no? Then instruct your winger to stay high and wide on the right and have Bruno prioritise the right half space, so you have a front 5 of Shaw - Rashford - Cavani - Bruno - Greenwood.

I just sort of think that Ole isn't being creative enough in terms of his positional play - both fullbacks go forward when they can even though it's plainly not a strength of AWB's. To some extent I'm sympathetic because you have 3 wide forwards who are all in the same mould in Rashford, Martial (when he's not used as a 9) and Greenwood, so it's not the easiest problem to solve, but I just don't think Ole is doing enough to maximise their strengths and minimise their weaknesses.
 

Judas

Open to offers
Joined
Jun 28, 2010
Messages
19,374
Location
Where the grass is greener.
For a team who faces this issue practically every weak its worrying just how little improvements been made and how baffled we continue to look when we face it. It's in excusable at this point that more hasn't been done to work on it.
 

Lentwood

Full Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2015
Messages
3,806
Location
West Didsbury, Manchester
The Southampton game was a difficult one to asses with them going down to 10-men so early, however, I definitely sensed that we made a concerted effort to get more players into the box and in particular, get more players between the widths of the posts and the 'second six-yard box' as coaches describe it (the area between the end of the 6-yard box and the penalty spot).

Aside from having more bodies in goal-scoring positions, this also freed-up space down the flanks for Shaw and AWB to get forward. As we know, Shaw in particular managed to get a couple of assists and AWB actually scored a goal. I believe this was because the opposition full backs were forced to play narrow, as our attackers were narrower.

I had hoped that we would start deploying those tactics against low-block teams, regardless of whether they had 10 or 11 men. It seems this hasn't been the case since. Interestingly, Ole HAS talked repeatedly about wanting to play down 'the sides of teams', but it seems there is an expectation on Martial and Rashford to be involved in the build-up in wide areas. The trouble with this is, personally I would like them in the box on the end of the crosses, not delivering them (or helping the full backs deliver them)

Personally, I would like to see our attacking players in the box as often as possible against low-block teams. This might be an over-simplification but I can't help but thinking more players in and around the penalty area MUST surely increase the chance of us getting on the end of crosses and/or getting lucky bounces, bobbles or deflections? Likewise, if Cavani makes his trademark near-post run and we have Rashford, Martial and Bruno in the box with him, anything that misses Cavani has a good chance of falling to them. Even yesterday in a fairly mundane game, we flashed the ball across the face at least three times with nobody even close to getting the tap-in.

Basically, I would like to see Rashford and Martial much narrow and playing most of their football inside our full backs rather than outside of them. They shouldn't be receiving the ball on the touchline, 30 yards from goal. That should be the full backs area for me to run into.

I do understand this tactic poses more risk to us being countered but we will still have Fred and McTominay to cover. Plus, teams like WBA offer such limited options for themselves going forward you like to think we should be OK
 

Infra-red

Full Member
Joined
May 4, 2010
Messages
9,525
Location
left wing
Generally with a low block the consensus seems to be that you need to provoke the opposition to get them to break their defensive shape.

That can mean a CB stepping into midfield with the ball or a deep lying playmaker constantly shifting the point of attack from side to side - anything to move the opposition players around and potentially draw them out of their shape/up the field, vacating some space for one of your attackers to exploit.

Obviously, in the final third you need a lot of quality to make the most of your opportunities but there's also a systematic element to it, with attackers well-drilled in patterns of play that will pull the opposition apart or isolate defenders for 2v1s.

Guardiola has been up against low blocks for most of his managerial career, as has perfected the art of breaking them down. If you watch one of his sides in possession, these are the types of things you see.
 

Handré1990

Full Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2013
Messages
4,333
Location
In hibernation
The first thing you need to do is switch play quickly from side to side. I have time to reheat yesterdays dinner waiting for us to get the ball from left to right and vice versa.
 

Dominos

Full Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2009
Messages
5,075
Location
Manchester
Shaw is that guy. Our only world class player.

Our main problem, I feel, is in the centre of midfield. Fred and McTominay are not good enough on the ball to dictate the tempo, build attacks, or create chances. Bruno is the opposite. He forces the issue too often, and plays low percentage balls when patience is required. I would like to see Bruno played as a false nine with Greenwood and Rashford in support. Pogba is very important to this team, love him or hate him. He has the ability on the ball that our other midfielders lack. I would like to see us sign Tielemans from Leicester. Tielemans, McTominay, and Pogba would be a good blend of attributes in midfield.
We had the same problem against Sheffield United with Pogba playing. I don't think it's an issue 1 player can fix, all our players need to be on the same wavelength as to how they're going to go about creating chances - what positions they should be operating in, what runs they need to make, where they can create overloads, what runs to make in the box when we do work a good position out wide (Cavani the only player we have who actually has good movement in the penalty area). All comes from the training ground.
 

Bebestation

Full Member
Joined
Oct 9, 2019
Messages
3,543
A deep lying playmaker and a RW.

One that can dictate the tempo and pass to either side wingers or Bruno quickly.

Then the wingers and Bruno stretch the play with the fullbacks causing confusion during the wide areas. The area which have the ball target the other side and centre.

The problem right now is that we have inverted forwards playing alongside a fox in the box. It would be okay if our inverted forwards were creative but they aren't and hardly have the ability for a pullback.

I also want to stop seeing the 4231.

We use 2 CDM when we should be able to do that role with a single CDM.
 

JMack1234

Full Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2017
Messages
1,483
It's so frustrating. We keep getting the ball into the opposition third and then pass it sidewise and backwards.

First thing you need to do when facing a low block is start moving the ball quickly.
 

croadyman

Full Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2018
Messages
8,098
A deep lying playmaker and a RW.

One that can dictate the tempo and pass to either side wingers or Bruno quickly.

Then the wingers and Bruno stretch the play with the fullbacks causing confusion during the wide areas. The area which have the ball target the other side and centre.

The problem right now is that we have inverted forwards playing alongside a fox in the box. It would be okay if our inverted forwards were creative but they aren't and hardly have the ability for a pullback.

I also want to stop seeing the 4231.

We use 2 CDM when we should be able to do that role with a single CDM.
Yeah starting to wonder if we will ever see us playing with a top class single CDM again
 

Hughie77

Full Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2017
Messages
1,323
I cant see why we dont go into a 4-4-2. But it wont happen, the 4-2-3-1 seems the dish of the day. Ok this protects the back 4 , it buggers u up in the front, I know its supposed to be a front 4 as they call it now. But I just think a old fashioned 4-4-2 can work against the low block as its called now. The CM push up, as do the CB they do anyway , I think we can play that system with the squad we got, I'd use Telles on the left in front of Shaw, and Rashford in front of AWB the right. And Cavani, Martial as 2 up front . And Mctom, and Bruno as 2 CM . And Maguire , Bially CB. DDG . In goal.
 

Foxbatt

Full Member
Joined
Oct 21, 2013
Messages
8,590
I cant see why we dont go into a 4-4-2. But it wont happen, the 4-2-3-1 seems the dish of the day. Ok this protects the back 4 , it buggers u up in the front, I know its supposed to be a front 4 as they call it now. But I just think a old fashioned 4-4-2 can work against the low block as its called now. The CM push up, as do the CB they do anyway , I think we can play that system with the squad we got, I'd use Telles on the left in front of Shaw, and Rashford in front of AWB the right. And Cavani, Martial as 2 up front . And Mctom, and Bruno as 2 CM . And Maguire , Bially CB. DDG . In goal.
I agree with you. We need to play two up front. Martial dropping deep and Cavani staying up front. I am not so sure about McTominay though. His passing is terrible. Against a team that defends I would play Matic. He is a decent passer of the ball.
 

76side

New Member
Newbie
Joined
Jan 26, 2021
Messages
94
Until Ole can fathom out a way to break down teams who defend in depth all men behind the ball we will win nothing.
Teams come to Old T and do this because of who we are, they don't play these tactics against every other team.
Ole gets paid a fortune to manage the team and he and his backroom team should be analysing how ciddy and liverpool and others at the top breakdown these stubborn defences. Without being capable of this we will just go from season to season making up the numbers.
 

SadlerMUFC

Full Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2017
Messages
3,839
Location
Niagara Falls, Canada
Lots of people were upset with Bruno taking a 30 yard shot against West Brom, but for me, that's one way to pull out a low block. If you start taking shots from that area they will eventually start to come out at you. Especially if you get a hold of a couple and test the keeper. I also think that we should play a classic 4-4-2 against a low block. We need more guys in the box to get on crosses...
 

Hughie77

Full Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2017
Messages
1,323
I agree with you. We need to play two up front. Martial dropping deep and Cavani staying up front. I am not so sure about McTominay though. His passing is terrible. Against a team that defends I would play Matic. He is a decent passer of the ball.
Agree, 2 up front when against low block teams, will create more problems for opposition, if like W Brom where we have 78% possession, the CBs are so far up the pitch they are basically the Midfield. So even a Mata in there but we need Bially type CB for break aways .
 

Bristol_Red_87

New Member
Newbie
Joined
Nov 28, 2018
Messages
93
I do understand this tactic poses more risk to us being countered but we will still have Fred and McTominay to cover. Plus, teams like WBA offer such limited options for themselves going forward you like to think we should be OK
This highlights one of the issues at present in the sense we worry far too much about the opposition rather than impose ourselves and let them worry about our strengths.

Ole's concern is if we play high, we can be got at in behind, which is a valid concern with Maguire/Lindelof and a keeper who rarely leaves his 6 yard box.

May we see a more expansive approach when we have Eric back perhaps or have brought in a pacey CB in the Summer? One can only hope.

For the moment, we'll continue to be stuck between a rock and 11 men behind the ball in games such as that on Sunday.

In addition, and as you rightly pointed out, we do have cover when we push on, but we never look secure when being countered.

Fred is great at breaking up play but his positional sense isn't the best. McTominay is more box to box and Matic isn't mobile enough these days.

I'll be lambasted for this suggestion but I would be interested to see VDB in a double pivot with McT.

He did it during his time at Ajax with some success. If we are going to continue taking the ball off the keeper, I would rather have Van der Beek taking the ball when being pressed than Fred.

I'm not suggesting its the solution, but its an option we could explore in the future, even if its for squad rotation purposes.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Sultan

Lentwood

Full Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2015
Messages
3,806
Location
West Didsbury, Manchester
The first thing you need to do is switch play quickly from side to side. I have time to reheat yesterdays dinner waiting for us to get the ball from left to right and vice versa.
This is definitely something I have noticed too - in the SAF days, we had Paul Scholes who could knock 40 yard switches for fun and this meant the opposition where always on the stretch. Wayne Rooney could drop deep and hit the big switch. Ferdinand and Vidic could play the long diagonal and so could Michael Carrick. I even remember Mikael Silvestre being great at those long, left-footed cross-field passes from LCB or LB.

Nowadays, we only have Pogba and possibly Greenwood and McTominay who even attempt it on a semi-regular basis. We've got to start being bold enough to attempt it more. Ole clearly wants to isolate the opposition one vs one in wide-areas but we are never going to achieve this if it takes us 4/5 passes to go horizontally across the pitch. We play like a Rugby team at times!
 

Handré1990

Full Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2013
Messages
4,333
Location
In hibernation
This is definitely something I have noticed too - in the SAF days, we had Paul Scholes who could knock 40 yard switches for fun and this meant the opposition where always on the stretch. Wayne Rooney could drop deep and hit the big switch. Ferdinand and Vidic could play the long diagonal and so could Michael Carrick. I even remember Mikael Silvestre being great at those long, left-footed cross-field passes from LCB or LB.

Nowadays, we only have Pogba and possibly Greenwood and McTominay who even attempt it on a semi-regular basis. We've got to start being bold enough to attempt it more. Ole clearly wants to isolate the opposition one vs one in wide-areas but we are never going to achieve this if it takes us 4/5 passes to go horizontally across the pitch. We play like a Rugby team at times!
Couldn’t have said it better myself! I was thinking exactly of SAF’s teams. A lot of brilliant fotballers patiently looking for a way through.
 

Fanta Stick

New Member
Newbie
Joined
Feb 13, 2021
Messages
77
I always wondered if a 4-4-2 would be effective against a low block if you had a couple of physical, skillful players up front?
 

croadyman

Full Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2018
Messages
8,098
Very pleased with the result tonight but need to find a way to overcome low blocks in the premier league if we want to hold on to that second spot until the end of the season
 

Glorio

Full Member
Joined
Jun 16, 2020
Messages
748
Very pleased with the result tonight but need to find a way to overcome low blocks in the premier league if we want to hold on to that second spot until the end of the season
Pace in defence really. When we have that, confidence spreads through the team and allows us to play a higher line and use the extra bodies in attack and pressing (and winning the ball) high up the pitch as well.

A lot of times when we do try to do the above, we get done by a simple ball over the top which leaves our defence for dead, and therein lies the issue, as the whole team loses the confidence to go forward (particularly the full backs in wide areas) or press high with any real conviction. That's when our famous "semi-press" starts to manifest. :lol:
 

TheMagicFoolBus

Full Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2016
Messages
2,456
Location
Lisboa, Portugal
Supports
Chelsea
I still think there's a fundamental problem with the positional play to be completely honest. For me, it's mind-boggling that AWB isn't used as an inverted fullback to sweep up in midfield when you have the ball - in all honesty you probably could not design a better player to mop up and snuff out counter-attacks. Why is he being sent all the way up the right wing where he's at best mediocre at attacking? I know there's a dearth of true wingers in the squad, but the solution surely is to tell Greenwood to stay wider on the right, have AWB step up into midfield and not overlap, then have Bruno try to drift a bit less and focus more on the right half-space. Now with Shaw overlapping you have all 5 attacking channels occupied, you have one of the best players in the league at ball recoveries in a position where he can do just that, and you can start to build defined patterns of play as opposed to the current approach which seems to rely overly on individuals doing individually brilliant things.
 

GazTheLegend

Full Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2014
Messages
1,949
I still think there's a fundamental problem with the positional play to be completely honest. For me, it's mind-boggling that AWB isn't used as an inverted fullback to sweep up in midfield when you have the ball - in all honesty you probably could not design a better player to mop up and snuff out counter-attacks. Why is he being sent all the way up the right wing where he's at best mediocre at attacking? I know there's a dearth of true wingers in the squad, but the solution surely is to tell Greenwood to stay wider on the right, have AWB step up into midfield and not overlap, then have Bruno try to drift a bit less and focus more on the right half-space. Now with Shaw overlapping you have all 5 attacking channels occupied, you have one of the best players in the league at ball recoveries in a position where he can do just that, and you can start to build defined patterns of play as opposed to the current approach which seems to rely overly on individuals doing individually brilliant things.
Absolute tactical genius and I mean that unironically, but it's probably a difficult thing to do. You have to really believe that AWB is going to be comfortable with that job for a start and know instinctively WHEN to change positions that way, and gauge Bruno's position at the time, Greenwoods, etc etc at any given moment. That would take a total visionary footballer to do, and I can only think of the likes of Scholes, Rooney, and (arguably) Bruno that have that level of insight. Our main problem remains that Greenwood isn't -really- a right winger (although I honestly think he's been much better this season than he was last season, just without the goals to show for it), and shifting Bruno over to the right would seem like a waste. I think AWB is improving too going forward, you have to remember this is still his first full season with us - usually takes a year or two for players to hit their absolute top gear, and it's been visible to me at least that AWB has been offering a lot more going forward of late.
 

TheMagicFoolBus

Full Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2016
Messages
2,456
Location
Lisboa, Portugal
Supports
Chelsea
Absolute tactical genius and I mean that unironically, but it's probably a difficult thing to do. You have to really believe that AWB is going to be comfortable with that job for a start and know instinctively WHEN to change positions that way, and gauge Bruno's position at the time, Greenwoods, etc etc at any given moment. That would take a total visionary footballer to do, and I can only think of the likes of Scholes, Rooney, and (arguably) Bruno that have that level of insight. Our main problem remains that Greenwood isn't -really- a right winger (although I honestly think he's been much better this season than he was last season, just without the goals to show for it), and shifting Bruno over to the right would seem like a waste. I think AWB is improving too going forward, you have to remember this is still his first full season with us - usually takes a year or two for players to hit their absolute top gear, and it's been visible to me at least that AWB has been offering a lot more going forward of late.
I appreciate the kind words and definitely would defer to you in terms of how you'd evaluate your players - I'm certain you've watched United far more closely than I have this season!

I definitely agree that it'd take a significant amount of coaching to implement, but I think I'd slightly push back on the notion that a player of the calibre of Scholes / Rooney / Bruno is required - Azpilicueta, for instance, fills this type of flexible role very well for Chelsea and he's nowhere near that trio. Similarly, someone like Hudson-Odoi has taken to a new role as a RWB like a fish to water, and that's down to coaching and a well-defined tactical plan. I suppose my worry for you is that Ole hasn't thought to even try this sort of system, let alone lay the groundwork to implement it. If he has done and I've missed it or if it was such a catastrophe in training that it was never used publicly, then fair enough - I just think that your current approach often features square pegs being jammed into round holes. You're spot on that AWB has certainly improved going forward and I do think patience is warranted with him - he's less of an overt liability in attack at this point and given his youth there's no reason to think he won't improve there. I guess I still would always wonder if it's the optimal use of his abilities, given how good he is in 1v1 situations, at covering huge amounts of space, and at reading the game defensively.

Re: Bruno - I totally agree that you'd never want to shackle him; I suppose my vision would be to have him default more towards the right half space without necessarily curbing his freedom of movement (and to be fair, I generally think his default is to play more on the right, especially as he often featured for Sporting as a right inside forward). I do think that if attackers have a better sense of which player is responsible for occupying each channel, they can build an understanding with each other of when to exchange positions laterally to throw off defenders and I wonder if this wouldn't provide a better platform for the likes of Rashford and Martial in general.
 

MadDogg

Full Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2002
Messages
12,036
Location
Manchester Utd never lose, just run out of time
I still think there's a fundamental problem with the positional play to be completely honest. For me, it's mind-boggling that AWB isn't used as an inverted fullback to sweep up in midfield when you have the ball - in all honesty you probably could not design a better player to mop up and snuff out counter-attacks. Why is he being sent all the way up the right wing where he's at best mediocre at attacking? I know there's a dearth of true wingers in the squad, but the solution surely is to tell Greenwood to stay wider on the right, have AWB step up into midfield and not overlap, then have Bruno try to drift a bit less and focus more on the right half-space. Now with Shaw overlapping you have all 5 attacking channels occupied, you have one of the best players in the league at ball recoveries in a position where he can do just that, and you can start to build defined patterns of play as opposed to the current approach which seems to rely overly on individuals doing individually brilliant things.
AWB's worst defensive attribute is his positioning, which would probably be highlighted more often if he moves into that kind of position where things are happening all around him instead of just up and down the wing. It would also likely highlight his lack of comfort on the ball and make it more difficult for Greenwood to get any kind of space on the right, which would make us even more left-side oriented. It's an interesting idea but I don't think it would work.

Hell, positioning is arguably AWB's worst attacking attribute as well, as he rarely gets into the positions to really hurt the opposition. When he does get into the right positions his final ball is normally decent enough, he just doesn't do it enough as he sits too deep which gives the opposition plenty of time to switch over to that side when he gets the ball.
 

TheMagicFoolBus

Full Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2016
Messages
2,456
Location
Lisboa, Portugal
Supports
Chelsea
AWB's worst defensive attribute is his positioning, which would probably be highlighted more often if he moves into that kind of position where things are happening all around him instead of just up and down the wing. It would also likely highlight his lack of comfort on the ball and make it more difficult for Greenwood to get any kind of space on the right, which would make us even more left-side oriented. It's an interesting idea but I don't think it would work.

Hell, positioning is arguably AWB's worst attacking attribute as well, as he rarely gets into the positions to really hurt the opposition. When he does get into the right positions his final ball is normally decent enough, he just doesn't do it enough as he sits too deep which gives the opposition plenty of time to switch over to that side when he gets the ball.
That makes sense re: AWB's positioning, but I actually think his biggest problem has been judging the flight of balls in the air as I think he gets turned around easily - I'm by no means an optician but I almost feel as though he struggles a bit with depth perception. In that respect, putting him in a position where everything would be unfolding in front of him might be a benefit. He'd really only be there to snuff out transition opportunities for the opponent - when the other side has sustained possession he'd drop back to right back anyhow.

I do agree that his positioning when attacking has room for improvement - but this is part of the reason why I'd just lean into those deep-lying instincts and take advantage of his ability to shut down counterattacks.
 

TheMagicFoolBus

Full Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2016
Messages
2,456
Location
Lisboa, Portugal
Supports
Chelsea
I still think there's a fundamental problem with the positional play to be completely honest. For me, it's mind-boggling that AWB isn't used as an inverted fullback to sweep up in midfield when you have the ball - in all honesty you probably could not design a better player to mop up and snuff out counter-attacks. Why is he being sent all the way up the right wing where he's at best mediocre at attacking? I know there's a dearth of true wingers in the squad, but the solution surely is to tell Greenwood to stay wider on the right, have AWB step up into midfield and not overlap, then have Bruno try to drift a bit less and focus more on the right half-space. Now with Shaw overlapping you have all 5 attacking channels occupied, you have one of the best players in the league at ball recoveries in a position where he can do just that, and you can start to build defined patterns of play as opposed to the current approach which seems to rely overly on individuals doing individually brilliant things.

Not trying to toot my own horn here or anything but watching the match I thought it was notable that AWB wasn't flying forward on overlaps and was staying further back to sweep up. There's still an issue with Rashford and Martial wanting to occupy the same space that can perhaps be sorted by playing Cavani, but this was the first time I thought Ole had a clear idea of how to best use AWB.
 

Maagge

enjoys sex, doesn't enjoy women not into ONS
Joined
Oct 9, 2011
Messages
10,238
Location
Addis Ababa

Not trying to toot my own horn here or anything but watching the match I thought it was notable that AWB wasn't flying forward on overlaps and was staying further back to sweep up. There's still an issue with Rashford and Martial wanting to occupy the same space that can perhaps be sorted by playing Cavani, but this was the first time I thought Ole had a clear idea of how to best use AWB.
I'm not sure that's how Wan-Bissaka would've played with e.g. Greenwood in front of him. When James stays wide there's not really much room for overlapping so it makes more sense to occupy more central areas and possibly stay back a bit more.

Of course it remains to be seen if it'll be different next time James is on the bench.
 

Brightonian

Full Member
Joined
Sep 22, 2012
Messages
13,249
Location
Juanderlust
Cavani is crucial. It's all very well criticising the speed of the build-up but these are all creative players who we've seen play very incisive attacking football in the past. The difference is that if the only way to score is for them to fiddle the ball through two tightly packed ranks of defenders, those defenders have a very easy job to do.

You have to have a man in the middle who is an aerial threat. As soon as your central creative players aren't seeing a way through the middle, they ping the ball out to very advanced fullbacks who cross early. That may not instantly get you a goal, but it will force that defensive block to spread wider to try and stem the flow of crosses. That in turn creates more gaps for the creatives in the middle. Route A makes Route B easier, and vice-versa. It helps if Route C, your midfielders who can score from distance (Pogba and McT), is an option too.

We are like night and day with and without Cavani. We must get a proper #9 in this summer. And we mustn't let some drawn-out vain Haaland chase stop us from pursuing someone more realistic if necessary.
 

TheMagicFoolBus

Full Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2016
Messages
2,456
Location
Lisboa, Portugal
Supports
Chelsea
I'm not sure that's how Wan-Bissaka would've played with e.g. Greenwood in front of him. When James stays wide there's not really much room for overlapping so it makes more sense to occupy more central areas and possibly stay back a bit more.

Of course it remains to be seen if it'll be different next time James is on the bench.
Yes definitely - Greenwood is a wonderful player but he's not suited to hugging the touchline and providing necessary width in the final third.