What Tactical Changes to Expect from All 20 Premier League Clubs Next Season

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJune 17, 2013

What Tactical Changes to Expect from All 20 Premier League Clubs Next Season

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    Four English Premier League clubs have changed managers ahead of the new season, while two other managers are facing their first full campaign with their respective teams.

    It takes much effort and initiative to change and evolve, and fans are eagerly awaiting how their sides will turn out for the 2013-14 season.

    Here, B/R previews what to expect in terms of tactical change, or stability, from each EPL side.


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    Arsene Wenger doesn't tinker an awful lot.

    His templates, philosophy and formations have all remained largely the same over the past two decades, and it's difficult to predict landslide changes this time around.

    Arsenal should be in the market for a true holding midfielder, and if they do secure one, a subtle "righting" in shape will occur; at the moment they're a little wonky due to Mikel Arteta's positional issues.

    The Spaniard has done an admirable job but cannot anchor a midfield that wins a title on his own.

Aston Villa

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    The plan is to keep Christian Benteke, obviously, but the plan is to rely on him less and less, too.

    A 19-goal striker is always going to be an integral part of any game plan, but the extent to which Aston Villa relied upon the Belgian's presence was alarming last season.

    If Villa can recruit the right players, or use preseason to sharpen up, they can play out from the back with more regularity and use the wings to move forward more often.

    A new recruit at left-back, too, should see the side's tactical imbalance righted so it isn't so heavily focused on building up down the right.

Cardiff City

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    Malky Mackay loves to mix it up, and that simply won't change as he vies to retain his club's English Premier League status.

    He's tried 4-4-2, 4-1-3-2, 4-3-3 and 4-5-1 this past season, and always encourages his side to build from the back and use the quality wide players on show. Craig Bellamy and Kim Bo-Kyung in particular are ones to watch out for.

    The side lacks a No. 10, and that could be something Mackay addresses in the transfer window. The recruitment of a player who can drop in behind the striker could add another tactical dimension to Cardiff's bow.


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    As with every Jose Mourinho side, safety will be the first principle considered when the Chelsea formation is laid out.

    We're expecting him to continue with the 4-2-3-1 that served him so well at both Internazionale and Real Madrid—a formation that favours compact defensive football and explosive counterattacks through direct wingers.

    Despite the technically unnecessary signing of Andre Schurrle, it makes sense for Mou's game plan: It appears he will use Schurrle opposite Eden Hazard in potentially one of the most explosive attacks in Europe.

Crystal Palace

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    The biggest tactical switch you can expect from Crystal Palace is to move away from being Wilfried Zaha-dependent.

    Why? Because he's moving to Manchester United and won't be around any longer.

    Palace showed relegation form in the final few months of the season, but stumbled into the English Premier League via the playoffs courtesy of Zaha dragging them there. We're happy to have them, but an overhaul in strategy awaits.

    Ian Holloway needs to bolster his squad considerably to survive.


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    If any club is going to revert in on itself tactically, it's Everton.

    David Moyes focused on switches of play, holding onto leads and direct buildup through key outlets.

    Robert Martinez favours slow, patient, pretty football designed to exhaust the opponent and probe until an avenue for success is found or a weakness is exposed.

    We could see a change in formation, most likely to the 3-4-3 or 4-3-3, and a reworking of most player tendencies. While Martinez won't wish to rock the ship too much, there's no way he'll send his team out protecting one-goal leads.


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    Martin Jol has a certain M.O., and Fulham fans will know their side is one creative, deep central playmaker from changing its skin entirely.

    The Cottagers have been busy in the transfer market this summer, but no player of that ilk has been found as of yet. Derek Boateng is a nice option, while Fernando Amorebieta comes in to aid an aging defensive line.

    Currently, it appears this team won't change, but a quality addition in the central midfield area could rip up the way they play.

Hull City

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    Hull City are a difficult side to clock, with Steve Bruce taking a surprisingly innovative turn in tactics since taking charge at the KC Stadium.

    He alternates between standard formations and a three-man defence, truly unlocking the best in Ahmed Elmohamady. Sunderland fans enjoyed the Egyptian's direct, exciting performances but felt he was never used right.

    The BBC have reported that Hull are signing the wing-back on a permanent basis, and that signals faith in the 3-5-2 philosophy.

    Upgrades and experience are being added, but, tactically, expect more of the same.


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    In speaking to B/R's resident Liverpool expert Karl Matchett, he believes we'll see a Reds side akin to that of the first half of the 2012-13 season once again.

    Controlling games with heavy possession rather than direct attacks, a more forceful, driving No. 10 will be in place to spearhead attacks if need be, however.

    A higher defensive line is expected, and as such, high pressure starting from the front.

    Many Liverpool fans want to see Brendan Rodgers do a little more than flirt with a three-man defensive line, too.

Manchester City

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    The possibilities for Manchester City are endless, as Manuel Pellegrini is a tactical magician.

    Any number of formations could come to the fore—4-2-3-1, 4-2-2-2, 4-4-2—and City will be a competitive force, meticulously drilled and trained to perfection.

    One constant you can expect to see, particularly against the smaller sides, is a two-man strike partnership. The Chilean prefers to field two dedicated forwards when possible, and the strength of City's side will allow that against 60 percent of the league.

Manchester United

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    David Moyes could be set to "Everton-ise" Manchester United, or he could be set to abandon his former principles completely.

    The truth is, we don't know. Early preseason games should shape his playing philosophy, but until then, United appear both as a free-flowing 4-4-2 and as a rigid 4-4-1-1.

    The Scot would be foolish to revamp a side that eased to the Premier League title last season, but at the same time he knows he'll need to make them more defensively solid ahead of new challenges from Chelsea and Manchester City.

Newcastle United

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    Whether Newcastle United lose a tonne of players or fend off potential suitors, Alan Pardew won't change his skin.

    Uncertainty looms over almost every section of the playing squad, and it's entirely difficult to foresee what sort of shape the Magpies will start the new season in.

    Even still, Pardew has his template and he'll stick to it, whatever happens.

Norwich City

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    Signings often dictate a change in emphasis, and no signing embodies that principle more than Ricky van Wolfswinkel.

    The £8.5 million man is a big gamble from Chris Hughton, and it reshapes how the side will play football. Formerly reliant on the wings, the Canaries will now be required to control the game in central areas and dictate the tempo.

    The 4-4-1-1 formation looks set to return, and Hughton must secure the players to complement van Wolfswinkel. It is, if anything, an early indicator that the club are moving away from the Grant Holt era.


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    Mauricio Pochettino is only just getting started, and his blueprint for success became clear during his half season in charge at Southampton.

    Don't expect anything to change. Relentless pressing and positive passing in a 4-2-3-1 formation is the Argentine's hallmark, and players are being purchased to upgrade—not change—the philosophy.

    Saints struggled with depth, so they should be on the lookout for more of the same.

Stoke City

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    Stoke City fans, prepare yourselves for that long-awaited change.

    Mark Hughes may not have been effective at Queens Park Rangers, but he did ask his side to play a nice, varied blend of football. The results were absent, but the intent was there.

    The soft underbelly QPR had didn't help his cause, nor did the reckless spree of signings. At the Britannia, where he is required to be more conservative in building a team, he could succeed.

    He tried to install a passing philosophy at QPR but was let down by his full-backs. He may encounter the same problems at Stoke.


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    Who knows whats going on inside Paolo Di Canio's brain?

    In speaking with B/R's Sunderland expert Tom Sunderland, even he had no idea which way the Italian was going to go. His analysis was part optimistic, part genuinely fearful.

    New signings are aplenty, but none signal a drastic change in the way Sunderland play. Stephane Sessegnon will remain the focal point, while a fit and healthy Steven Fletcher will be welcomed back.

Swansea City

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    With Swansea City, it's as much about rediscovering their style as changing it.

    After the Capital One Cup victory, they fell apart—lost in mid-table mediocrity with objectives for the season complete.

    If they can return to their dominant selves, they can have another fantastic season, and that requires finding the simplistic, direct touch they utilised in 2012. Their ability to switch between incisive attacks and possession-based frustration techniques is enviable.

Tottenham Hotspur

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    Much of Tottenham's hopes for next season, tactically, are founded upon the futures of Andre Villas-Boas and Gareth Bale.

    Should both stick around, AVB will continue to try and find innovative ways to use Bale, create mismatches and target weak points in opposing formations.

    If they can add a left-back—The Metro believe Benoit Assou-Ekotto is up for sale—that can provide the same presence Kyle Walker does on the right, they will become significantly less...lopsided.

West Bromwich Albion

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    West Bromwich Albion's simplistic, direct method worked a treat last season.

    That's not direct as in lumping it—despite the presence of Romelu Lukaku—but direct as in, within five touches, you've created a shooting chance on goal.

    Many Premier League teams failed to come to terms with that, and Steve Clarke would be wise to continue what he's started. He needs to find an offensive presence to make up for the loss of Lukaku, but fans should rest assured knowing their squad is solid in every other aspect.

West Ham

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    Sam Allardyce plays football one way.

    Anyone expecting West Ham to change this summer should reevaluate, and Big Sam's signings so far this season only point toward a continued, direct method.

    The presence of Andy Carroll dictates how a team plays, and Allardyce has added an excellent accompanying left-back in the form of Razvan Rat to help him become a club legend.

    Get ready for more long balls!