Thoughts for Mauricio: Fulham

Regarding formations

Are we are more effective team with a three centre-back formation?  With the likes of Toby Alderwiereld on the bench, it is certainly a question worth asking.  There are a few things to consider in the argument between a three and four back system.  Obviously the three center-backs would allow for three of the best halfbacks to work in tandem.  Additionally, it would allow players like Juan Foyth to find first-team minutes alongside of Alderweireld, Vertonghen and Sanchez – also allowing the three incumbents to find rest.

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Consideration should be made with the likes of Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose in mind as well.  Trippier clearly excelled in a more forward positioning in the World Cup playing as one of England’s most in-form players.  His service from the right wing was excellent.  Additionally, his cover of Walker, when Walker would maraud forward was fluid.  This would allow Alderweireld to make forward runs and his presence to be influential in the box.  Rose (although he may be on the move to allow for Walker-Peters development) is also most effective moving forward.  But Rose can also allow for Verthonghen to build on his Golden Bot campaign moving forward on the left side of the pitch.  Movement forward from multiple positions fits Pochettino’s style of coaching, and all of our backs are capable defenders (Aurier and his flagrant tackles notwithstanding – that is a separate post altogether).

Regarding personnel and positioning

Who plays in the centre of the park?  It is so obvious that Eriksen is his best at the #10 – being one of the few people giving Harry Kane a run for his money in the Golden Boot at the World Cup, and carrying Denmark single-handedly into the knockout rounds.  His presence cannot be understated here.  While his ability to pick out a pass, I think that his pace, ball handling, and his underrated shooting (is anyone more precise and powerful?) are all best utilized in a central position.  With that said, Dele’s movement and creative runs (both lacking in Eriksen’s central play, but present in his wide play) are exceptional – and exceptionally dangerous.  Also, part of Poch’s consideration has to be Dele’s pace –or better said, his lack of pace.  Dele has been less effective in recent campaigns on the ball because he has a tendency to hold the ball too long allowing players to double down on him.  His creativity is otherworldly, but his penchant for the nutmeg is beginning to hurt him.  It is far more difficult to suffocate his dribbling in the center of the pitch, and his pace is less of a factor there.

Regarding rest for Harry Kane

I propose that while the hope has been to find a quality forward to sit behind Harry Kane and rest him occasionally, we are just not a big enough club to think that way.  Kane is prolific, and no high volume scorer wants to find the apex of their career squarely on the bench keeping the backup goalkeepers company.  Would it behoove us to consider deploying two forwards in Kane’s absence?  I know it’s a departure from Pochettino’s beloved 4-2-3-1 but it might be a necessity to find Kane some days off.  A pairing of Dele and Llorente might lack Pace, but an Eriksen, Sonny, Moura, or Lamela pairing with the Spaniard might find a yin-yang effect on the attack.  Pace and creativity alongside of power and aerial play in the box might be the needed combination to find success.

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