Results for 4-3-3

Walker - understanding the maligned full-back role

9:46 pm

Over the last few articles we have looked at a tactical analysis of our game, seen a video of the basic 4-3-3 concept, what it's trying to achieve, established player roles within the system and looked specifically at our own game and how our Head Coach (Manager) Andre Villas-Boas has us operating his version of the 4-3-3 system.

The greatest area of confusion and misunderstanding is over inverted wingers and full-backs which polarises opinion about certain players, Walker being a prime example.

Traditionally full-backs played alongside centre-backs in a flat back four but that is generally no longer the case. Now the full-back starting position is well in advance of the centre-back. Next time the ball is with Hugo Lloris look at the starting positions Rose and Walker take. During the game have a quick look where they are, you'll see them much further forward than you'd expect.

In today's game the full-back is an attacking weapon who needs sprinting speed to get back and defend. Where it is usual within the system for one to attack and one to hold back, alternating depending upon which side the ball is, under AVB's version of the system they both go forward at the same time to join the attack giving us seven attackers. If we lose the ball we can initially look to hunt the ball back in numbers.

Spurs defensive positions

AVB likes to play with one winger who can play as a winger or cut in inside and one more traditional winger, that's the approach he adopted with his treble winning Porto side and the approach so far adopted with us. We get into problems if both wide men want to come inside all the time as we lose the element of surprise and are asking the full-back to do an immense amount of work. Constantly overlapping and constantly having to get back is tiring, fitness is key.

Let's look at defending. The full-back tucks in when defending so as not to leave a big gap between them and the centre-half the attacking team can exploit. If the ball goes to a wide man he has to rush out to them, that is his role, Walker does it well, yet fans amazingly complain that he's doing it, thinking he is out of position and not tight on his man, man marking him as it were. What he mustn't do is get to close to his central defender so that if the ball is played to the wide man there is nothing he can do about it.

It is his role, along with the wide forward to patrol the area outside the penalty area to the sideline so when defending Chadli against Arsenal should be helping Rose out when Arsenal scored, however he and Dembele don't get back in time and Capoue has to come across. Rose shouldn't have been the one to close down the player on the ball but Arsenal had worked a two-on-one situation. Had Capoue covering taken that role on Rose could have drifted wider to cover Walcott. I highlight and show a video of this not to blame Rose (he has almost been forced into this) but to demonstrate a point how one lapse can be costly.

Play the video below and stop it after just 3 seconds.

Look at the defence, Rose goes to the ball when the player inside him, which I think is Capoue, should be the one doing that so Rose can cover the wide man. Ideally it should be Dembele or Chadi there undertaking that role but they hadn't made it back yet.

Moving back to attacking, playing with advanced full-backs we then have options. The full back can stay behind the wide winger, he can come inside ready to play the ball in behind the opponents full back (Walker looks for this pass a lot with Lennon, Townsend isn't reading this pass yet) or he can overlap the winger when they come inside. The example below against Crystal Palace shows Walker about to play the ball in behind the full-back and Lennon you will notice has already set off for the pass to beat the defender to it.

Kyle Walker passes to Aaron Lennon

Lennon is proactive, he has read the game, knows what is going to happen, Townsend understandably is still developing that understanding with Walker and is currently more reactive, he goes when the pass has been played. Many fans when they see Walker play this ball and when nobody gets on the end of it knock him calling it a bad pass, but it's not, it's the right pass, it's a defence penetrating pass, exactly what we want, so unless he over hits it it's down to the winger if he watches and doesn't get on the end of it.

By the full-back being heavily involved with attacking play when we lose the ball again the same fans complain Walker is out of position, well quite frankly he's not because that's where AVB wants him to be. I use Walker as an example here but equally the same can be said for Rose.

The three man defence, two centre-backs and holding midfield player, are tasked with holding up play until the full-back can get back. It's disappointing when Walker has to shut his Twitter account because of abuse from fans who simply don't understand the role of the modern day full-back. Let's hope Rose doesn't have to suffer the same fate.

Now with an attacking full-back overlapping the winger has an unseen role to play here.

Think about this, if you want Walker and Rose to be putting in a lot of crosses from near the byline for you, they have a long way to keep sprinting back. Now that's OK but how many times a game do you want them to do that and how long before they get tired?

What happens when a player get tired, usually late in the game, he has lapses in concentration which lead to mistakes. As a winger you can't simply cut in all the time and expect your full-back to have super human qualities and be overlapping every time. The winger has to manage the full-back if you like. If Walker or Rose has just sprinted back from the byline they need a minute or two to recover. This may simply be a thumbs up between them or the winger appreciating that next time he gets the ball he'll attack on the outside instead of cutting in to give the full-back some recovery time.

There was a prime example of this in the England game against Moldova at Wembley. Walker was beside the opposition penalty area with an England attack, however we lost the ball. He was then in picture sprinting back the full length of the pitch and caught his man before our penalty area, we won the ball back, he played it inside and obviously he needed a little breather. The ball came back over to Theo Walcott who had tucked in a third of the way into the opposition half and he simply back flicked the ball without looking and it went out for a throw in to Moldova. Walker was standing on the half way line, not expecting the flick and quite frankly not wanting it, he wanted, needed a breather. It's something simple, a piece of game management, player management, but it immediately gave the opposition the ball.

Lennon and Walker operate very well together, they have developed an understanding, they are both very quick and can help each other out defensively. Townsend on the other hand, if playing on the right, simply wants to cut in and have an eye catching shot. Great for the cameras but it puts Walker under an enormous amount of pressure to be supporting the attack overlapping to stretch the defence all the time.

For those of you shouting Bale did it, I'll remind you once again of the stats. Bale's shooting accuracy from outside the box last season was the best in Europe, 44%, Townsend's was 18% and he created nothing for his teammates either. It has it's place but greater game awareness is needed otherwise Walker is effectively playing as a winger and a full-back and has the physical effort of being in two places a t once almost.

It's end product that counts and at the moment we are not getting an end product from our wide men. They are not feeding Soldado who scores goals from inside the box. One blocked shot from a cut back in the first 80 minutes against Arsenal should tell you all you need to know. Erik Lamela will quickly need to form an understanding with Walker and be the team player Lennon is, interlaced with moments of individuality.

For Townsend to flourish as an inverted winger he has to learn when to come inside, when to go outside and to use his right foot, which Les Ferdinand tells us he is doing. Our winger options are Lennon as a traditional winger on the right, Lamela, who can use both feet, as a traditional winger who can also play like an inverted winger, Chadli, who can also use both feet, can perform the same on the left and Townsend who can play traditional on the left or inverted on the right.

Quite a few options and Rose and Walker have to form an understanding with all of them. Tough job being a full-back. Fortunately we have a set system and players come in to fill a role within that system, in their individual way, so we don't change our basic game simply because someone is injured or suspended.

Chadli and Rose seem to have struck up a working relationship very quickly, they have started to work as an attacking unit well together with Rose looking for the flicks that sets him free. I've not looked at them as a defensive unit much yet, apart from the video example of the Arsenal goal in Monday's article, only Rose in isolation so that's one for the future.

Across on the right hand side Walker and now Lamela one expects, haven't yet played together so will have to learn each others game and develop an understanding. Townsend will continue to develop his game and that will put Lennon under pressure for probably the first time.

Previous articles:
Tottenham - A Tactical Analysis
Video - The 4-3-3 explained
Player roles within a 4-3-3
Players attacking roles within a 4-3-3 system
AVB Formula for Success

Think about the system we are playing, watch the 4-3-3 video again and you'll be watching our games in a new light.

Walker - understanding the maligned full-back role Walker - understanding the maligned full-back role Reviewed by THBlogNews on 9:46 pm Rating: 5

Players attacking roles within a 4-3-3 system

9:41 pm
We have looked at the player roles in a 4-3-3 in defence, prior to that a video explaining player movement and basic idea plus a tactical look at the way we play it.

Before we look at positions here are the players attacking roles which I was going to tackle later but a post comment rightly shows it's relevance now.

I'll put off looking at the full-backs play until Wednesday evening after the Ukraine vs England game is out of the way.

1) Accurate distribution – diagonal distribution
2) Support defenders for balls back.
3) First thought to play short. If not on to play short play long and wide (taller winger if kicking increases chance of success).

1) Provide outlet support for goalkeeper and central defenders.
2) Quick and accurate distribution to target forwards, both in the wide and central channels.
3) Pass either directly into the forwards or beyond them and the opponents’ back line forcing both the forwards and the defenders to turn and engage in a foot race to establish ball possession (i.e. ball inside a full-back for winger).
4) Think like an outside midfielder to provide width, overlap and the option for switching attack.
5) Think like a winger in the final third.
6) Push up on offensive restart opportunities (high pressure to ideally win the ball back in opponents half).

1) Spread the width of the penalty area to receive and give quick, accurate distribution to full-backs, midfielders or attackers as situation demands (Dawson is designated to have the diagonal ball option to a tall winger under AVB - less room for error than to a short winger).
2) Provide depth support for midfield.
3) Switch attacking sides of play when situation demands.
4) Come out of defence with the ball if sufficient cover, otherwise don't.
5) Provide a scoring threat from dead ball situations.

1) Dictating the speed of the game.
2) The link from defense through midfield to forwards. Find space to receive ball from defenders.
3) Switch side of attack when possible, through midfield (give-and-go passes) or pass from central defenders.
4) Stay available to attack to redistribute the ball forwards and start another attacking probe/scoring opportunity.
5) Take shots from outside of the box (30 yards or closer).

1) Provide immediate support for midfielders to establish possession dominance.
2) Provide accurate forward passing to teammates.
3) Use combination play (give-and-go passes) to create space in center of the field.
4) Switch side of attack when possible.
5) Stay available to attack providing a pass outlet.
6) Make penetrating runs with (receive cut back from wide player) or without the ball.
7) Take shots from outside of the box (30 yards or closer), score goals.
8) Provide creative defence splitting through balls (make chances).
9) Understand that ball retention in the final third allows time for penetrating runs from forwards having moved the opposition out of position.

1) Play deep, off-shoulder to check back and receive as the ball as the primary target.
2) Look to spin and get in behind.
3) Look for penetrating through runs for balls into space, look for quick switches to wings.
4) Make penetrating runs to drag defensers out of position and create space for others.
4) Take outside shots to high corners to catch keeper off their line.
5) Go strong to the box to finish crosses and through balls.
6) Create scoring opportunities and score goals.
7) Be mobile in the penalty area whenever crosses are imminent (movement is difficult to mark so attack the space the ball is likely to go).

1) Near side support and runs off target player; far side runs for quick switches.
2) Provide outlet opportunity from the full backs.
3) Look to switch play if solid defensive set-up.
4) Attack the space for through balls, overlaps and corner runs, avoid running in straight lines.
5) Attack the space behind defenders by dribbling past them.
6) Attack in the box to finish crosses and follow-up opportunities when the ball is on the opposite side.
7) Provide width and off the ball running to stretch the defence or pull defender out of position.
8) Provide crosses (forward or cut back) for attacker and attacking midfielders arriving in the box.
9) Make chances, score goals.

Previous articles:
Player roles within a 4-3-3
Video: The 4-3-3 Explained
Tottenham: A Tactical Analysis

Next installment in the series Wednesday 9.46pm (21.46hrs) UK time.

Players attacking roles within a 4-3-3 system Players attacking roles within a 4-3-3 system Reviewed by THBlogNews on 9:41 pm Rating: 5

VIDEO: The 4-3-3 explained

10:01 pm
Andre Villas-Boas has indicated that we will be playing 4-3-3 for most of the season, although it often looks like 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1. It is easy for the basic 4-3-3 to morph into these so I have sourced a video rather than created one to explain it.

The video at the end of this article by Michael Jolley, who is a High Performance Football Coach currently with Crewe Alexandra, explains very well the 4-3-3 system, the player movement and ball distribution.

It breaks down the system and looks at player and ball movement. You may want to stop the video from time to time to read the notes that come on screen as these will help your understanding and you'll miss some of them otherwise. Having watched the video you will have a greater understanding of what is trying to be achieved within each phase, which is to get he ball into an attacking area as quickly as possible.

As you watch a game you'll start to be able to read the play and anticipate what might happen next, what the player on the ball is looking for, what the players off the ball might do. It will give clarity for instance to the holding midfielder role and the passes he makes and the triangle concept of players and passes to beat opponents.

The speed of forward movement is something we are currently struggling with as a host of new players learn our system. Think back to last season and we had the same problem, remember the home game against Wigan for instance when all we seemed to do was pass the ball sideways and lacked ideas of what to do against a packed defence. As the season wore on and the players understood more instinctively what off the ball movement they should be making, our performances improved. I am expecting exactly the same to happen this season.

If we are to shift the point of attack then a slow passing across field make it easy for the opponents defence to shuffle across, if however we switch in two passes, the wide man then has a small window of time to attack the isolated full-back before the defence has time to shuffle across. Once you have the opposition out of synch like this (not moving as one) that is when players start reacting to situations as individuals and you can pull them about to create openings.

Whilst you have the two banks of four acting as if they are tied together with string and moving sideways together defending is easier. Think about it, four players in a line tied by string, what movements do you need them to make to break that string?

Rose, Chiriches, Capoue, Paulinho, Townsend, Chadli, Lamela, Eriksen, Soldado all now have to learn the AVB system. Eriksen played the 4-3-3 at Ajax and Soldado is used to playing as the lone striker (poacher) so it will be more the speed of the others learning that will determine how quickly we improve this season.
Playing two games a week leaves little chance to work in training on it, so expect to see strong teams in the Europa League as we learn as we go in competitive matches.

The video lasts five minutes, take your time, pause it and you'll enhance your viewing the next time we play.

In the next article on Monday evening at 21.46 (9.46pm) UK time, we'll look at the much maligned Kyle Walker and the full-back role. We'll look at how the full-back has to work with the winger as a unit and not as two individuals. We'll also see the Rose/Chadli error that led to the Arsenal goal.

VIDEO: The 4-3-3 explained VIDEO: The 4-3-3 explained Reviewed by THBlogNews on 10:01 pm Rating: 5

New Season New System 4-3-3 The Basics

9:21 pm
I thought it might be a good idea to give everyone a quick insight into the system of football we will be playing next season as many of the sides I see put forward by fans are in my view, not how we will play.

Before I get into it, for all of you wanting your Bale fix here is this mornings 5am article:
Gareth Bale and the ring of truth.

The system Tottenham are expected to play this season is a tactically flexible 4-3-3 system. It is the system that Andre Villas-Boas used well and had success with at Porto. It takes only minor adjustments to transform it into a defensive 4-5-1 or an attacking 4-2-4.

It is a system of triangles and can be played with two defensive midfielders or as Spurs will play it this season with one defensive midfielder.

Walker Kaboul Vertonghen BAE
Paulinho Sandro
Bale Soldado Chadli

Walker Kaboul Vertonghen BAE
Paulinho Dembele
Bale Soldado Chadli

Playing with two defensive midfielders is a very defensive method and that is and will not be our way, the more attacking formation will be our framework to start from. You can immediately see a triangle in midfield, a triangle with a midfielder and two attacker two central defenders. With full-backs slightly in advance of centre-backs you get further triangles with a central defender and a midfielder or with a midfielder and a wide attacker.

Why triangles, well triangles make it easy to pass round opposition players. Whoever has the ball should always have a triangle of players giving him options of where to pass the ball. He can easily play the ball backwards or forwards.

Tottenham evolved last season from a static Parker to a flexible Sandro, until he was injured of course. The role now requires the player playing that role to have the technical ability to join his two fellow midfielders to move the oppositions midfield and pass around them. This is achieved by awareness and movement off the ball which aids creativity and fluidity.

Off the ball running is crucial to the system, crucial to how AVB used the system at Porto and how he wants to use it at Tottenham.

Imagine for a moment a midfielder make a move/run to take an opposition midfielder with him. That leaves a gap for one of his teammates to exploit. In Paulinho, Sandro and Dembele we have three players who can all make forward runs as well as defend. Our variations are therefore increased and the opposition problems multiplied.

At Porto AVB used a simple formula. One player drifted narrow, one player drifted wide, one midfielder defended, one attacked. Drifting wide and narrow you are pulling an opposition player out of position to create a hole. Now imagine this happening all over the pitch at the same time and you'll find plenty of holes with the opposition being constantly pulled out of position. They have to mentally work hard trying to figure out where they should be and what shape they are supposed to be in. This player movement to was central to Porto winning the treble so I think we can safely say, it worked.

The Spurs players have a season under their belt, a season of practicing in training. Our performances in the player movement aspect improved as the season went on, players were learning where they needed to be and what was expected of them.

Now instead of me drawing lots of arrows for you I've grabbed a You Tube video to give a quick overview of the system. In due course I'll bring you some more detailed ones.

New Season New System 4-3-3 The Basics New Season New System 4-3-3 The Basics Reviewed by THBlogNews on 9:21 pm Rating: 5
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