Things will no doubt change over the summer and it could be then that Alan Pardew tries to put his stamp on the squad and tries to alter the way that the team plays. Most of us have already read that Pardew wants to play Hatem Ben Arfa down the middle next season in a ‘number 10 role’. If you haven’t read it, this is what Pardew had to say on the matter;
“He will play a central role in our attacking line. I want to use him as a playmaker, a number 10, just behind one forward. I am convinced he is able to score between 10 and 15 goals a season.”
The big thing in there is that he says he wants Ben Arfa behind just ONE forward, and with 4-4-2 seemingly outdated these days it can only really mean a 4-4-1-1 formation is on the cards.
Now I know Toonsy for one doesn’t like the concept of playing with just one upfront because sometimes you can become narrow, like we did at times when we had Kevin Nolan off Andy Carroll, and the front man can become easy to mark which of course can happen.
For me though you just have to look at Tottenham. They play a 4-4-1-1 and their wingers are their best asset although granted they are Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon. Occupying these positions for us at the minute are Jonas Gutierrez and Joey Barton, and I think it’s safe to say with these two playing on the wings playing just one up front wouldn’t work.
If we were to buy the right players for the formation in say Balazs Dzsudzsak and Jeremain Lens from PSV, both of whom are players who we will more than likely be targeting but more importantly are young, natural wide players, for me that would be a great investment at around say £15 million pounds.
It would mean in Dzsudzsak we’d have a pacey left-footed, left-sided winger with a superb eye for goal and who can whip a great ball in and on the other side Lens who is very pacey and probably more direct than Dzsudzsak but nonetheless effective and is one of those players that defenders hate playing against.
I am not saying that we should go copying Spurs man for man, but we could do a lot worse than follow their blueprint. With Dzsudzsak and Lens we would have our very own Bale and Lennon, and in Ben Arfa we would have our own Van der Vaart, which for me added with the likes Nolan, Barton, Tiote etc would give us some of the best midfield options in the Premier League.
So if 4-4-1-1 is the way were going to go then it can be done well, really well in fact. It just needs the right personnel to fit into it, plus we could do it all without breaking the bank which I’m sure would keep Mike Ashley happy.
All we would have to do after this is find a striker to fit into the formation….
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