By Stevie Grieve, Author of Coaching the 4-2-3-1, Modern Soccer Tactics and Winning Soccer Tactics.
In the recent Arsenal v West Ham United match, the score was 1-1 at half time. Santi Cazorla was playing at the top of the midfield triangle in a 4-2-3-1, and was being followed almost everywhere across the line between midfield and defence by Mark Noble. In the 2nd half, Arsenal changed shape slightly, with Cazorla dropping into a midfield 3 with Wilshere and Ramsey, in theory, allowing himself to drop deep and play without Noble. In effect, Noble continued to follow Cazorla as he moved even deeper, and this allowed lots of space to open between the lines and opened up passing lanes that Noble had previously covered playing in the defensive midfield role. In one instance, Cazorla’s goal, Noble followed him around the field but once Cazorla passed and moved to the blindside, Noble never recovered into position, and Arsenal exploited this via good movement from Podolski, Gibbs, Giroud and Cazorla.
Cazorla inside his own half in possession
Cazorla has dropped almost into a defensive midfield position to receive and distribute, but Noble has