So, with the recent signing of Pablo Fornals adding to our high-quality midfield, how will we set up this season?
There’s plenty of opinions and suggestions flying around. Should we play the standard 4-4-2, should we match up other teams in a 4-2-3-1 or should we go with a 4-3-3, or even switch to a back three.
With the current squad that we have assembled, you would assume it is going to be an attack-minded line-up.
Here is an idea of what formations Manuel Pellegrini could choose from.
4-4-2 was favoured by many clubs years ago. Some teams still use it now, but how will Pellegrini use this to benefit the team on the pitch.
With the midfield options we have at our disposal, Pellegrini will have to leave out high-quality players and with competition for places in almost every position, I feel the team may possibly change every week as I think it will be based on performances and not reputation this season.
The centre-half pairing of Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena should stay the same throughout most of the season bar any injuries. I think the full-backs will be rotated on performances with Ryan Fredericks and Aaron Cresswell first choice, and the two central midfielders will be Declan Rice and Pablo Fornals, With Felipe Anderson on the left and Andriy Yarmolenko on the right, completed with Marko Arnautovic and Michail Antonio up front.
I feel the back four would stay the same as the 4-4-2. I think Fornals would be pushed up in the number 10 role with Jack Wilshere coming in to partner Rice, Anderson staying on the left, Yarmolenko on the right with Arnautovic the lone striker.
Should Pellegrini choose to go with a 4-3-3 formation, he has the option of choosing three different alternatives for the midfield three.
If he goes with the solid three you can expect Rice, Wilshere and Fornals to complete the midfield, while the front three stay the same with Anderson, Arnautovic and Yarmolenko.
If he decides to start a defensive three, you will likely see Rice drop back to protect the defence with Wilshere and Fornals as a two in front of him.
If he goes for an attacking line up, you’ll most likely see Fornals pushed forward with Rice and Wilshere sitting just in behind.
Obviously now with a back three, Pellegrini will choose three centre halves, with Diop and Balbuena set to be the two for definite, with Angelo Ogbonna and Winston Reid battling it out for the third place, unless another centre half is signed to partner Diop and Balbuena.
Now the tough choice is, who will be the three through the middle and who will be the wing backs. My opinion would be Wilshere, Rice and Fornals as the three but it will be tough choosing the left wing back as it’s known Anderson can switch off when defending down the left. Fredericks would likely be the right wing back with Antonio and Arnautovic as front two.
I feel if Pellegrini was to choose a three at the back, this formation would be the one he uses.
The back three would stay the same as the 3-5-2. Now the Chilean would have a decision to make regarding the two through the middle and the two out wide. Arthur Masuaku would then come in to left midfield, Rice and Fornals through the middle and Fredericks or Antonio right midfield. The front three would consist of Anderson, Arnautovic and Yarmolenko. With the signing of Fornals, he could play right wing which would then allow Wilshere or Noble to come into the centre next to Rice.
With many places up for grabs and plenty of pre-season games coming up, it is anyone’s position. It only takes a good pre-season to start that first league game. I think Pellegrini will definitely toy with the idea of different formations throughout the friendly matches this summer. It will be interesting to see how we line up against Manchester City for our first Premier League match of the season.
By Caulay Howell (@Caulay__)