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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We've seen variations of the of 4-4-2, 4-5-1, 4-2-3-1 & 4-4-1-1 being played this season, all chosen due to the circumstances Rafa was in - injuries, testing out the squad, rotation - and all was applied with varying degrees of success.

However, what I seem to notice from other Pool forums around the net, is that many have this impression that Rafa will repeat what he has done at Valencia here, which is playing the 4-5-1.

I beg to differ, not because I think he will play 4-4-2, but simply because I don't know enough to speculate. I've seen us play really well with 4-4-2 (vs Monaco at Anfield) and 4-2-3-1 (vs Arsenal at Anfield).

I want to know what you guys think about this, so the discussion subsequent discussion would enlighten me more on this little issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I think with Rafa's knowledge of the English game (remember he studied the English game for around 2 seasons before going back to Tenerife?), he probably noticed that in England, the lack of a ball playing central midfielder in the majority of the teams was the most significant factor of Arsenal's and Man Utd's dominance in the league.

In English footie, usually we would see an attacking CM, be it in the form of Scholes, or Gerrard with one holding CM accompanying him. This holding CM usually does what we often see from Hamman. To complete the midfield, teams would have to offensive minded wide men.

Now, during breaks, there is a gap between this holding midfield player and the attacing CM as the attacking CM would support the attacks. The wide midfielders would have either drifted out wide or gone into the penalty box, thus effectively leaving 3 players around the centre circle of the pitch, which are usually the CBs and the holding midfield player. In most cases, these three players are usually among the slowest players on the team.

A ball-playing midfielder like Xabi would increase the pressure on the opposing team, lessen the pressure on Gerrard to be the driving attacking force and the focal point of our offense, giving more time and space for our wingers and most importantly, give the defence less headaches because the our game would be based on possesion & distribution.

With a forward who can drop deep, hold the ball or even carry the ball to the opposing defense, the lack of a partner for Gerrard in the centre of the pitch due to Alonso's deep-playing style can be compensated. This, by no means, is a defensive approach to the game. That is why we see Ciise playing down the right for a few games right before he broke his leg, and also why we recently see Baros giong down the right channel a lot lately. With one striker going down the channel, the opposing fullback would be dragged, allowing our wide men to cut inside and go up against the CBs, which are really limited when defending against the tricks of skillfull wide men. With Gerrard supporting the attack, and the fullbacks bombing up to give width, combined with the general lack of tactical awareness of the English football teams, the formations and the tactics that Rafa employs nowadays are really2 giving us the edge and balance in attack and defence.

I think the 4-2-3-1 will be more common to us in coming few months, although with a straight 4-4-2, we can still play very well, as long as the balance of defending and attacking is kept.
 
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