There has been some talk this week that Rafa Benitez may change things up for tonight’s clash with Nottingham Forest, but what exactly could Benitez do differently?
The first, and probably most unlikely scenario is that he could play a 4-4-2 formation with Dwight Gayle and Aleksandar Mitrovic up front and play a far more direct style.
However, since Benitez’s arrival, he has played a style of football that is very dependant on ball possession and taking control of the pace of the game. When playing 4-4-2, you are often left short in midfield, making ball retention much more difficult.
If Benitez did want to play two up front, a far more likely scenario is that he could change to three at the back.
This would still allow for what is essentially a five man midfield and an extra centre-back, meaning that the side would not be outnumbered in midfield.
The thing with that is, 3-5-2 is usually a formation that has to be worked a lot on and late December does not seem the time for experimentation of that level.
Meaning that is far more likely that Benitez will stick with his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation and instead of relying on Shelvey, he will rely on the vision and flair of the three behind the striker.