Talking Tactics - 2 CDM's and 4-2-3-1

Many #LCFC fans berated the decision of #Rodgers to play two DCM's against Brighton in mid week calling it negative. Although he was only matching up with their formation and has to consider squad rotation with the games coming thick and fast. The fact that we played really poor and created almost nothing has amplified that decision and fans are calling for changes ahead of the #FACup tie with #Chelsea.

The 4-2-3-1 Formation

The 4-2-3-1 formation came to prominence in Spain in the 1990s and early 2000s and is now used by many teams throughout the world although it has lost its prominence since 2013 when it was the default formation in The Premiership.


The two players in front of the back-four, known as the 'double pivot' in Spain, give support to the defence, with one player breaking up opposition attacks, and the other putting more emphasis on distributing the ball to the attacking players. One being an out and out sitter and the other a more dynamic runner, comfortable breaking forward in possession. The formation should ensure teams are not out-numbered in midfield, and with so many advanced players, there is great flexibility.

Strikers in the 4-2-3-1 Formation

In this formation, the striker should not lack support as he has three players whose job it is to supply him with ammunition. If the players behind the main striker are of genuine quality, the formation can be a dream for a striker as he should receive plenty of balls into the penalty area.

The 4-2-3-1 formation can accommodate a big target man who can hold the ball up, with his back to goal, and lay it off for the oncoming midfielders, or a more nimble striker capable of running on to balls, in behind, and finishing chances.

It is important that the front-man is either a strong physical specimen or a mobile, pacey player. Despite the support from midfield, the striker either needs to hold off defenders, facing his own midfielders or on the half turn or be flexible enough to create movement and runners in behind/beyond him. This does though mean that no two 4-2-3-1's, like no two 4-3-3's are ever the same. In fact it can be so different that the set-ups can only really have a basic notation when play is restarted in common.

Attacking Midfielders in the 4-2-3-1 Formation

The three attacking midfielders can be hard for opposition defences to pick up, especially if they interchange and run in from deeper positions. There is usually one central creative force, playing behind the striker in a number 10 type role..

To either side of the playmaker, there are two wider players whose job it is to create chances from the flanks as well as cutting in so the full-backs can exploit the space they leave in the wide areas.

There is also an onus on these three players to help out defensively, particularly those playing in the wide roles. When on the back foot, these players should be helping their full-backs, and the formation will look more like a 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 without the ball.

Defensive Midfielders in the 4-2-3-1 Formation

It is imperative that the two players have positional sense in order to protect the back four properly. One of these two is generally more of a tackler, with the other concentrating on distribution - a so-called ball-playing centre half.

This is especially so when the opponents also play with a solitary striker. Having two players in front of the back four provides a platform on which the team’s more attacking players can create chances and the full backs can bomb on as required


Full-backs in the 4-2-3-1 Formation

It is the job of full-backs to defend against opposition attackers, particularly wingers but potentially they are the most dynamic runners in the team - as in a 4-3-3. It is important that they have covering pace and can read the game well. They have to be comfortable defending in wide areas and they must also be attack-minded (or at least one of them should be), able to get up and back on the line.

Pace is key if they are up against a speedy winger, while they will also be expected to help defend against opposition set-pieces so good heading ability is also desirable. A team's full-backs can also be a primary attacking asset. A full-back with pace, power and good crossing ability is a real asset on the flank as they can push back the other team's wide players and provide ammunition for strikers from wide areas, crossing and with through passes and combinations.

Central Defenders in the 4-2-3-1 Formation

The job of the central defenders is consistent with other formations such as 4-4-2 and 4-5-1. They are there to repel opposition attacks by tacking, heading and marking players (employing either zonal or man-marking tactics). Centre-backs should be physically dominant in attacking and defensive set piece situations. Strength and concentration are two important attributes when playing in this position - especially so against opponents that look to exploit attacking overloads from midfield runners.

Analysis of the Brighton line-up and performance

#LCFC have a pacey striker in #Vardy but no target man who can hold the ball up and play with his back to goal so if teams sit deep like #Brighton there is little or no space for #Vardy to run into and no plan B and he become ineffective and isolated and we carried little threat from an offensive perspective.

We have quick full backs in #Justin and #Chillwell but their crossing ability is still suspect with more crosses hit in hope than measured. Our best full back by far is injured for the rest of the season and will be a huge loss.

In terms of defensive midfield, #Ndidi is a wonderful tackler and more of a box to box player but he needs to drive the ball forward more. #Mendy is a reliable passer but they are simple short passes, often side wards or backwards and will not split a defence or set up an attack.

When looking at our attacking midfielders #Maddison is by far our most creative player and should always play in the number 10 role behind our striker not wide. He in my opinion is ineffective in a wide position and comes too deep to receive the ball. He should play higher up the pitch where his quick turns and clever through balls can really hurt teams.

#Gray and #Iheanacho should in my opinion have provided the width, one is right footed the other left, both have pace so they should be able to swop flanks intermittently and cut into the box as well as deliver quality balls from wide positions and the bye line into the box.

Finally, our central defenders rarely dominated when attacking, they provided little goal threat, although the quality of some of our corner kicks, lofted rather than whipped in left a lot to be desired. . . . .

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