7 Tactical Observations from the Premier League Season So Far
The English Premier League is just a few weeks young, yet tactical patterns are starting to become noticeable.
Why is Papiss Cisse misfiring, why do Chelsea look disjointed despite carrying a perfect record and how can Marko Marin possibly hope to break into this side?
Read on to find seven tactical observations in the EPL so far.
Wigan's Left-Winger Is the Playmaker
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In Wigan Athletic's unorthodox 3-4-3, the surprising choice of playmaker is the left-winger Shaun Maloney.
He's almost certainly nailed down the job now Victor Moses has moved on, and he makes Roberto Martinez's strange system even stranger.
The midfield duo, James McArthur and James McCarthy, fulfill a simple role in the centre of the park—receive the ball from the centre-back, spread it wide to the wing-back or playmaker.
Maloney has made the most key passes for his side so far this season (6), and if you take his sides's 2-2 draw against Stoke as an example, he received a whopping 50 passes from his team mates in an advanced position.
His team mates are always looking to bring him into play.
Aston Villa Are Finally Pass-Orientated
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After one horrendous season with Alex McLeish and his 9-0-1 formation, Aston Villa are finally looking to pass the ball.
Even under Martin O'Neill they utilised a traditional target man in Emile Heskey or John Carew and often hit 25-yard passes vertically to their big man on the field.
In the season's opener against West Ham, midfielder Karim El Ahmadi attempted 91 passes, a feat bettered only by Jean Makoun at Old Trafford in the last decade.
In the same game, Fabian Delph completed 72 of 79 passes.
Marouane Fellaini Is Strikingly Versatile
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Maroune Fellaini will never again be thought of as "just a defensive midfielder."
His performance last season at Old Trafford showed how destructive he can be when moving forward in conjunction with Steven Pienaar and Leighton Baines, while the season's opener against the same team showed he's progressed even further.
While it's a masterstroke of David Moyes' to pair the Belgian up against deputy defender Michael Carrick, it still requires the player to strut his stuff.
He battered United all over the pitch then went to Villa Park and ruined Paul Lambert's home debut.
What's his limit?
Papiss Cisse Suffering from a Change in Emphasis
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Papiss Cisse hasn't scored yet. Que?
Alan Pardew has adjusted his team's style in an effort to make sure he isn't "figured out." The full-backs are no longer pinging as many balls into the chests of their Senegalese target men, opting instead to play through the middle.
It is arguable that Yohan Cabaye has been underperforming, and Vurnon Anita will obviously need some time to adapt.
The idea is right, but it's just not quite coming to fruition yet. Until it does, Newcastle's front line will suffer.
Marko Marin Should Fit Like a Glove
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Chelsea's 4-2-3-1 is engineered perfectly for the introduction for German international Marko Marin.
Despite winning three from three, it's clear the team is struggling in parts. There's a clear defensive six and an obvious attacking four. But what about the 15-yard gap between these two partitions?
Eden Hazard's brilliance has masked the issue thus far, but I believe Marin has the biggest chance to link the two together.
He drops visibly deep to help his full-back, and likes to carry the ball up the pitch himself. He will effectively "drag" his team up the field. Ramires is excellent at this too, so a Chelsea midfield three of Marin-Hazard-Ramires would be one of the most dynamic football has ever seen.
City Have Struggled with the 3-5-2 so Far
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Roberto Mancini has been experimenting with a 3-5-2 this season and looks likely to use it in the perceived "bigger games."
While the offense is clicking and the wing-backs are excelling, the defensive line and the holding midfielder's role going backwards appears to be a concern.
It's impossible to say how the new signings will cope—Matija Nastasic has never played in this formation and Javi García is accustomed to a 4-2-3-1.
A more in-depth view on the concern can be found here.
Sam Will Be Sam
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Sam Allardyce hasn't changed a bit.
As if he wasn't direct enough already, Ricardo Vaz Te is now an orthodox right-winger, Matt Jarvis has been acquired for the left and he's bought more big guys to put in the penalty area.
It appears West Ham will likely have the lowest average possession statistic in the league this season as their boss will continue with his traditional methods.
Still, two wins out of three so far, right?