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4-3-3 musings


Madmax

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The recent games have got me thinking about our rigid 4-3-3, especially it's midfield.

Teams have figured out how to play against us. Press Chelsea when they are in possession, deny them time to pick out a pass, stifle space around the midfield and thus cut out supply to the forwards. They've done this primarily by planting 5 across the middle. City did this perfectly in the 1-0 loss and others seem to have taken the idea form them. At the beginning of the season teams were afraid to play us, almost overawed by our fluid passing game and great movement. But once they decided to take the game to us, we've been found short of an answer.

Admittedly injuries and suspensions coupled with the thin squad has limited our options. Zhirkov and Malouda have been played in the LCM spot which is usually occupied by Lampard. Mikel, Ramires, Essien and Josh have all been tried out in the DM role, yet we haven't been able to find the correct combination of pace and drive and a balance between attack and defence.

I've always been a fan of Mikel and it's been great to see his fantastic performances this season but I think we can do much better without him in that DM role. While his strength on the ball and calmness when under pressure from opposition players is unquestionable, I think he's not been able to move things about quickly in the middle of the field. IMO his decision making while passing is just a tad slow still and we'd be better served playing Essien there. He is the complete midfielder and certainly among the top 3 box to box mids in the world and we're wasting his vision and passing by playing him as a CM. Ramires showed in the Spurs game that right now his best position is at RCM. His pace is terrific and he gives us great energy there, a perfect compliment for Lamps alongside him who will do what he does best now that he's returned.

IMO our 3 in midfield should be set up like this :

------------------------Essien----------------------------

--------Ramires-----------------Lampard-------------

The second half against Spurs really demonstrated that we have a lot to gain by playing Essien and Ramires as mentioned above, with Lampard providing the creative impetus and late runs into the box.

Thoughts?

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To be honest I think that

-----Bos----Terry----Ivan-----Cole-------

-----Mikel/Ramires---Essien---Lamps--------

---Malouda------Drogba------Anelka---

is your best 11.

Lamps having the free role, Essien and whoever holding a bit more but still allowing Essien to get forward. Also Malouda has to be further up the field.

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Agree with you - agree with you both, actually.

Essien is key to either way we should use the 4-3-3 formation. Either deployed as the holding midfielder where his durability and stamina can be used to the max, with Lampard on one side and Ramires/Zhirkov/Malouda making up the numbers. I don't think Mikel should be used in a more advanced position, though, its simply not in his blue print anymore. You can say he used to be a really promising attacking player, but that has moreorless been wiped from his game unfortunately. Its very much the same case with Anelka and Kalou; both seem incapable of playing in centre forward positions, which is where they played before we signed them!

The other 4-3-3 is more defensive-minded, with Mikel in the holding role and Essien and Lampard supporting the front three.

I say we need to start the game with Mikel and if it isn't working, drop Essien back one and stick either Ram, Yury or Flo into the third midfield spot and bring on another striker, etc. etc.

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I'd love to see Essien reclaim his defensive midfield role. I say that, with knowing the other side of the coin, which he's he's also a great attacking player too. Still, he's made his name playing defensive midfield, he really was pipped to be the next Makelele. Mikel is more attack, or used to be anyway, I'm sure he's not forgotten how to play there, and we know he can certainly pick a pass. We should switch their roles, do I think it'll happen? No.

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Good thread!

I'm not sure shackling Essien to just a purely defensive role is good for him or the team. He is a box to box midfielder of the highest calibre and should be free to go forward if there is the opportunity. I don't think he is as good as Mikel in playing the DM role mainly because Mikel is a better distributor of the ball.

Our best midfield is Mikel, Essien and Lampard. That midfield has everything you want. It is the best midfield in the league by some distance but sadly we haven't seen a lot of it this season.

Ramires is beginning to come good. He had a very positive performance against Tottenham but he really needs to sharpen up his control and passing. He has incredible speed that perhaps isn't being utilized properly in the defensive role that he plays. He is one of the few players in our team that can run with the ball taking out opponents and he hasn't done enough of it.

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The issue I have with Mikel is that his timing on the pass isn't great imo. He delays it a fraction while deciding who to pick out. Essien's better in that respect. Plus like it's been mentioned he's more box to box and he gives us that added drive from midfield which Mikel while sitting back, doesn't. In any case, Ramires is always there to cover for him when Essien decides to go forward.

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I'd love to see Essien reclaim his defensive midfield role. I say that, with knowing the other side of the coin, which he's he's also a great attacking player too. Still, he's made his name playing defensive midfield, he really was pipped to be the next Makelele. Mikel is more attack, or used to be anyway, I'm sure he's not forgotten how to play there, and we know he can certainly pick a pass. We should switch their roles, do I think it'll happen? No.

Exactly what i said before the Tottenham game. Would love to see how that could work out. But yeah it's only a dream, CA doesn't like to experiment.

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It isn't exactly a rigid 4-3-3 given the positions Malouda & Anelka take up.

Has anyone actually been impressed ever by Essien's passing? It's never been the best aspect of his game. Mikel is a far better passer of the ball, far better at shielding the ball, far better at intercepting the ball etc etc. I wouldn't drop our player of the season just because Ramires and Essien are the high energy players.

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It isn't exactly a rigid 4-3-3 given the positions Malouda & Anelka take up.

Has anyone actually been impressed ever by Essien's passing? It's never been the best aspect of his game. Mikel is a far better passer of the ball, far better at shielding the ball, far better at intercepting the ball etc etc. I wouldn't drop our player of the season just because Ramires and Essien are the high energy players.

Exactly Obi controls the midfielder plus we lose to much by playing Essien in a holding role.

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No matter what MIKEL should b der in our midfield....................from last season his passing has improved(like diagonal balls)....................his tackling has improved..................in this season he has d best record to win the ball(ahead of terry,alex,essien,ivanovic)..............................

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For the majority of the season we should be making teams worry about our midfield and not concern ourselves with stopping other teams, ideally i would love to see us play with Essien Holding, Lampard playing his usualy role and a creative playmaker making up the 3 for me that would be the strongest midfeild we could play. However as we are lacking that creative player at the club at the moment our best midfield is Mikel holding with Essien and Lamps.

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For the majority of the season we should be making teams worry about our midfield and not concern ourselves with stopping other teams, ideally i would love to see us play with Essien Holding, Lampard playing his usualy role and a creative playmaker making up the 3 for me that would be the strongest midfeild we could play. However as we are lacking that creative player at the club at the moment our best midfield is Mikel holding with Essien and Lamps.

this is exactly what we should do +1

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've always been a fan of Mikel and it's been great to see his fantastic performances this season but I think we can do much better without him in that DM role. While his strength on the ball and calmness when under pressure from opposition players is unquestionable, I think he's not been able to move things about quickly in the middle of the field. IMO his decision making while passing is just a tad slow still and we'd be better served playing Essien there. He is the complete midfielder and certainly among the top 3 box to box mids in the world and we're wasting his vision and passing by playing him as a CM. Ramires showed in the Spurs game that right now his best position is at RCM. His pace is terrific and he gives us great energy there, a perfect compliment for Lamps alongside him who will do what he does best now that he's returned.

IMO our 3 in midfield should be set up like this :

------------------------Essien----------------------------

--------Ramires-----------------Lampard-------------

By all accounts, this worked a treat against Bolton. IMO Carlo should stick with this, Essien and Ramires together provide us something Mikel and Essien can't, because the latter partnership takes too much out of Essien. Anyway in recent games Carlo has taken off Mikel at HT when we've needed goals. Ramires is more the all action type and we could use his energy in midfield from the start of games rather than throwing him on when we're chasing. Mikel could do with a rest too.

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By all accounts, this worked a treat against Bolton. IMO Carlo should stick with this, Essien and Ramires together provide us something Mikel and Essien can't, because the latter partnership takes too much out of Essien. Anyway in recent games Carlo has taken off Mikel at HT when we've needed goals. Ramires is more the all action type and we could use his energy in midfield from the start of games rather than throwing him on when we're chasing. Mikel could do with a rest too.

I'm guessing you didn't watch the first half then? It was easily the worst 45 minutes we've played this season and the midfield had a lot to do with that.

Mikel is the best DM at the club.

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I'm guessing you didn't watch the first half then? It was easily the worst 45 minutes we've played this season and the midfield had a lot to do with that.

Mikel is the best DM at the club.

Yeah soz second half, should've mentioned that.

I agree - Mikel is the best DM at the club, but imo Essien at DM and Ramires at RCM gives us more than Mikel-Essien.

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By all accounts, this worked a treat against Bolton. IMO Carlo should stick with this, Essien and Ramires together provide us something Mikel and Essien can't, because the latter partnership takes too much out of Essien. Anyway in recent games Carlo has taken off Mikel at HT when we've needed goals. Ramires is more the all action type and we could use his energy in midfield from the start of games rather than throwing him on when we're chasing. Mikel could do with a rest too.

I've liked Ramires' performance, but I still want to see how works a midfield : Mikel-Essien-Lampard -- before make of Ramires a permanent starter.

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Mikel is the best DM at the club.

Once we fix our defence and stop the goal leaks, then I'll be happy to see Mikel sitting at DM. At the moment, I'm still not sure about his defensive abilities, as in getting in that crucial tackle and all. Though often John Terry is the last line of defence anyway. I'd also love to see Mikel attack a bit more, come out with the ball, while Essien or Ramires just sit back to give Mikel that support in case he loses it out. The boy was an attacking midfielder, I'm sure he still remembers how to make a good run.

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Once we fix our defence and stop the goal leaks, then I'll be happy to see Mikel sitting at DM. At the moment, I'm still not sure about his defensive abilities, as in getting in that crucial tackle and all. Though often John Terry is the last line of defence anyway. I'd also love to see Mikel attack a bit more, come out with the ball, while Essien or Ramires just sit back to give Mikel that support in case he loses it out. The boy was an attacking midfielder, I'm sure he still remembers how to make a good run.

I can fully understand why some people dislike Mikel because of his languid style. But he isn't the problem as was proven last night.

And I don't think he needs to attack much. It would be great if we had strikers and wingers we could leave the attacking to as opposed to asking our DM to come up with the good.

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I can fully understand why some people dislike Mikel because of his languid style. But he isn't the problem as was proven last night.

And I don't think he needs to attack much. It would be great if we had strikers and wingers we could leave the attacking to as opposed to asking our DM to come up with the good.

Nah, I like Mikel.. I think when he's on the ball, his control is probably the best anyone has on the squad, bar McEachran perhaps. His composure and control and Josh's are fairly similar actually.

Fully agree with the last line, but the fact that we don't, is why I'd like to see Mikel make those runs, just as in impulse. We've seen Terry try it, but if Mikel did it he'd be superb, because of that control he has.

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