For the first time in a long time, it looks as if we may have an attacking dilemma on our hands, but it’s not what you think!
Manuel Lanzini looks set to return for the upcoming clash against Liverpool, which would leave David Moyes with plenty of attacking options at his disposal; the problem is fitting them all in.
Since Moyes’ arrival, we have often set up in a 5-3-2 formation, which you could say has worked rather well so far, lifting us away from the relegation zone and aspiring to a top 10 finish.
Joao Mario, Marko Arnautovic, Manuel Lanzini and Chicharito. Playing this formation, is there really a scenario where all of these start? Not to mention the fact that we all know Michail Antonio is not going to be happy playing right wing-back for too much longer.
Below is an example of how I would expect us to line-up against Liverpool, which does take into consideration the current absentees:
Playing 5-3-2, this is as attacking as I can see us lining up, which means either Lanzini or Mario does not start.
Arnautovic is no doubt the person who makes this formation tick. He hassles defenders, but also has the talent to scare defences and bring others into play.
Lots of fans have been excited to see the partnership of Lanzini and Mario, but I just do not see how they would both play in this system, unless Moyes decided to drop Hernandez again, but let’s face it nobody wants that.
Playing away to Liverpool, setting up like this is fine, but I truly believe that we have the quality to work this group of players into a 4-back formation.
The football played under Slaven Bilic in his first season was as exciting and free flowing I have ever seen West Ham play, and that is because we had two creative midfielders pulling the strings, Dimitri Payet and Lanzini.
Lanzini would often drop deep, bring the ball forward into the next phase of the pitch, where he and Payet would link up and unlock pretty much any defence. We now have Mario, and I would love to see us give this a go. To explain what I mean, here is how I would like us to set up when playing the teams around us ( image left)
I know the problems you will instantly see. Firstly, Hernandez cannot play as a lone striker, which is very true. Also, why would I put Arnautovic out wide when he has excelled playing as a striker? Well, below is an insight to my thinking. When going forward from front to back, this is the transition I want to see.
Mario is the person who can go and pick the ball up from a defender, turn, and start to get us on the attack by bringing the ball forward. You have Antonio as your wide option, and I would see Arnie tuck in and play close to Hernandez.
Mario and Lanzini should always be looking for each other and moving between the lines to create space and shift our defensive phase into an attacking one.
As a manager, I would want them two players to be at the heart of our attack, and once we move into the final third, look to get Antonio or Arnautovic in behind the full back, where the other joins Hernandez as a second striker.
I get that this is difficult to do, and would take some time to adjust to, but if Moyes is to stay on as manager, I would not want to see another season of the 5-3-2 formation as a fan.
To get my point across, I do not feel that all of these attacking options will play under Moyes as he has a certain style and plays a certain way. Unless we see a change of formation, I would expect Chicharito or Mario to drop to the bench.
Written by Frankie Levin – @FrankWHUFC