Tighe's Tactics: 4 EPL Teams Who Could Try a Three-Man Defence

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterNovember 12, 2012

Tighe's Tactics: 4 EPL Teams Who Could Try a Three-Man Defence

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    The three-man defence is no longer an absurd notion to English Premier League managers.

    Wigan and Roberto Martinez have been using a 3-4-3 for just over three seasons now, while Roberto Mancini and Brendan Rodgers are the latest to take a leaf out of the Serie A book of tactics.

    So which other squads in the EPL could handle the transition to the three-man system?

Everton (3-4-3)

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    There's nothing wrong with Everton's 4-4-1-1 with David Moyes, but it if there's a certifiable weakness in it, it's central midfield.

    Phil Neville is tiring and can't be relied on. If the Toffees can't afford to buy a quality midfield playmaker in January to plug the only gap in an otherwise star-studded team, a simple switch in formation could negate the problem.

    Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines were born wing-backs, not full-backs, and Everton have three top-tier central defenders.

    Phil Jagielka could anchor the line, while Sylvain Distin and Johnny Heitinga are ideal for the outside centre-back roles as they are quick and versatile.

    With Leon Osman and Marouane Fellaini doing the hard work in midfield, Nikica Jelavic is the ideal man to support Kevin Mirallas and Steven Pienaar.

Tottenham (3-5-2)

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    Tottenham, too, are blessed with quality centre-backs in abundance (when fit). Injuries permitting, Andre Villas-Boas could feel safe in fielding Younes Kaboul, Steven Caulker and Jan Vertonghen.

    The Belgian seems tailor-made for modern football, as his versatility, mobility and skill set enable to him play several positions. Left-centre-back is his forte.

    There's also an argument to suggest Gareth Bale was better in his old-school, chalk-on-your-boots position as a genuine winger—remember how he torched Maicon?

    At left-wing-back Bale is once again released, and Kyle Walker likewise on the right. You can get Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermain Defoe on the same pitch too, with the former an important target for the wide men's crosses.

    Sandro, Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey can still retain their midfield trio.

Manchester United (3-5-2)

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    Manchester United don't need to change a thing right now, but the formation of the team remains an incredibly popular topic of discussion among fans.

    The 3-5-2 has been mooted as an option all season long and still looks viable. Most are in agreement that Antonio Valencia would make a fine wing-back, and Alexander Buttner would be more at home here than strictly as a full-back.

    United have mobile centre-backs in Phil Jones and Chris Smalling who look a perfect fit in this system on either side of Nemanja Vidic, and Shinji Kagawa can be granted his free-role in the attacking midfield position.

    Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie partner up, and Sir Alex Ferguson can pick between Paul Scholes, Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher, Anderson and Tom Cleverley for the central midfield pivot.

Newcastle United (3-5-2 or 3-4-3)

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    Newcastle have the personnel to pull off either a 3-5-2 or a 3-4-3 at their own leisure, and with the Magpies currently looking a little stale, this could be a much-needed change.

    Fabricio Coloccini can lead a line of three, while Davide Santon could see the light at his actual position on the right. Jonas Gutierrez played left-wing-back for Argentina under Diego Maradona and looks a good fit there on this team.

    Newcastle can retain their engine room midfield while allowing Hatem Ben Arfa a completely free role behind Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse.