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5 Noticeable Tactical Shifts in the Premier League This Season


By Sam Tighe


The 2014-15 Premier League season may be in its infancy, but there's still plenty to digest early on from a tactical perspective.

Top-tier managers never stop looking for ways to find the edge, and the summer transfer window gives them the chance to refresh their XI with a new shape, philosophy or approach.

Here, we chart five early tactical shifts—not all of them positive. However, getting the latest Guts sports bonus codes is always positive. 


Jose Mourinho's attacking delights?

Jose Mourinho's Chelsea were the stingiest team in the Premier League last season, with their 27 goals conceded a clear 10 less than the next best defence (Manchester City, 37).

This year round, however, the Portuguese boss has gone all-out attack in his approach—perhaps a reflex to his side's habit of dropping points against "lesser" teams last season—and in the process, has only kept one clean sheet from five games.

The second half against Swansea City saw the Blues switch from 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3, signalling a potential change in thought-process, but it's been very un-Mourinho-like so far.


Hull move away from three-at-the-back just as others move toward it

Steve Bruce played a 3-5-2 formation for almost the entirety of the 2013-14 season, and in doing so led them to safety with a good "goals against" record and lost to Arsenal in the FA Cup final.

Ahmed Elmohamady, Curtis Davies and Tom Huddlestone were perfect for the formation, and retaining both Shane Long and  Nikica Jelavic ensured they scored enough goals to worry defences.

The addition of Michael Dawson this summer only seemed to reinforce the idea that Hull are a three-at-the-back team, but a questionable start to the season—including a dreadful performance at Villa Park—has seen Bruce switch back to a four.

Luckily for the neutrals, it looks like the Tigers may be looking favourably at the...

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Midfield diamond!

England is diamond-crazy right now, with many taking inspiration from Liverpool's incredible run last season in the Premier League under Brendan Rodgers.

The 4-4-2 setup he created not only got the best from Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge as linkup forwards, but also unleashed Raheem Sterling as a No. 10, Jordan Henderson as a box-to-box beast and Steven Gerrard as a regista-esque playmaker from deep.

The copying has started in record fashion; Louis van Gaal's Manchester United have done it, West Ham United have done it and even Roy Hodgson's had a tinker. The effectiveness of it, provided you have the right type of players, is spelled out irrepressibly in front of our very eyes.



Villa's Versatility

Paul Lambert is at his best as a tactician when he's reacting and changing formations to suit each fixture. It's one of his strongest assets, and it makes Aston Villa very, very difficult to gameplan for.

The club fell into a bit of a rut last season and there's no doubt his "settling" on a 4-3-3 formation played a huge part. Injuries dictated the stability, but Villa lost some of their edge in the process.

This season, though, he's back with a bang. A replenished, more experienced squad has given him all the tools he needs to chop and change, moving fluidly between the 4-3-3, the 4-2-3-1 and the 4-4-2 diamond when necessary.

This has played a large part in their very strong start to the campaign.


Arsenal's Dire 4-3-3

Arsene Wenger has, for some reason, switched from a standard 4-2-3-1 to a more asinine, clunky 4-3-3 (4-1-4-1). While that suits Jack Wilshere and Alexis Sanchez down to the ground, it hit Mesut Ozil hard and also lessens the already-limited effectiveness of Mikel Arteta.

If Ozil isn't playing as a No. 10 there's no point playing him, and in a league where physicality and energy can reign supreme, the fact that the German is stuck out on the wing makes him look silly. He's simply not an athlete; he can't track and he can't help his full-back.

In placing Ozil on the flank, you weaken your attacking output and create a target for the opposing team to attack. It really is fruitless on all counts. Ozil had arguably his best game of the season when operating in his natural position against Villa; but will Wenger adjust the team around him?


You can find Sam on twitter at @stighefootball.


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Categories: Premier League , soccer