SCOUT Phil Smith looks at ways for Burnley to overcome Leeds United tomorrow.
In recent weeks I have championed the 3-5-2/5-3-2 formation as the way forward for Eddie Howe and Burnley Football Club. However, upon reflection, a system previously mocked by myself, 4-2-3-1, may indeed be a viable alternative.
Traditionally one would dissect a formation into three key zones – defence, midfield and attack. However, given the utilisation of an attacker in a deep position between the lines, 4-2-3-1 actually contains four such zones.
The system relies heavily on the midfield. If we take a look at the “2” then it is apparent that two players are instructed to sit and hold in front of the defensive position. Marvin Bartley would be the obvious choice to occupy such a role. I would consider shuffling the pack and placing Andre Amougou alongside our January signing from Bournemouth
The key problem with the 4-4-2 system is the responsibility placed on the central midfielders. They are expected to both defend and attack. Evidently space will be left in transition and even the most basic of opposition will look to exploit this weakness. This is of no concern with 4-2-3-1.The defence plus the engine room of the two holding midfielders repel the advances of any opponent. The use of Bartley and Amougou allows for a quick transition into a defensive block upon losing possession of the football.
For example, Burnley are playing with a 4-4-2 formation tomorrow afternoon and lose possession. With two centre forwards in Rodriguez and Austin, coupled with box to box midfielder McCann, there will only ever be one outcome. The team is effectively broken and Bartley will be left as the only barrier to the offensive transition of Leeds United.
Both Austin and Rodriguez retain a starting berth in 4-2-3-1. Rodriguez will occupy a deep position between the lines. He will be required to come short to receive the ball. His movement between the defensive and midfield line will create space for Burnley to exploit. How? He will look to draw a centre back out of position.
Bartley and Amougou will look to dictate the game from their deep lying position. They should look to direct distribution down the flanks.
If we accept that the opposing central midfielders will look to apply pressure to the duo, an advantage once again presents itself in our favour.
For example, if the opposition pressure Amougou, Bartley simply offers himself and receives the ball. Naturally the opposing central midfielders will look to close them both down. Rodriguez now has space to come deep, receive the ball and distribute to either Wallace or Stanislas.
A mooted tactic from the opposition, in order to gain advantage over the 4-2-3-1 system, would most likely involve the application of pressure. If you are going to adopt this method it needs to begin from the forwards and include the midfield. However, in order to prevent those between the lines enjoying time on the ball, a high defensive line must be utilised.
Given the plethora of pace available to Eddie Howe, that must surely rank as tactical suicide.