Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl should stick with 4-2-2-2 vs Sheffield Utd

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This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…

In just four Premier League games so far this season, Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has already used three different tactical systems, and with differing results.

The former RB Leipzig boss used a 3-4-2-1 formation in the 3-0 loss to Burnley on the opening day, before opting for a 3-5-2 against Liverpool – both games ended in defeat for the Saints.

For the following games against Brighton and Manchester United, Hasenhuttl went with a 4-2-2-2 formation and managed to grab four points from the two matches, which serves to suggest that this system works best.

However, this weekend’s opponents Sheffield United use a revolutionary 3-5-2 formation with overlapping centre-backs (weird, but effective), so Hasenhuttl would be forgiven for being tempted to revert to three-at-the-back in a bid to combat that.

Having said that, here’s why he shouldn’t.

4-2-2-2 will penetrate the empty space

After watching this brilliant analysis from Football DNA, it must be said that Chris Wilder’s overlapping centre-back system is nothing short of genius and is a real unique tactic in the footballing world.

However, one thing that does become apparent after watching a few minutes of the video is the fact that the gaps between the backline and the central midfield positions become quite large when the centre-backs do their thing.

By using a 4-2-2-2 formation, Hasenhuttl will give his side the best chance of punishing the vacant space, as the two attacking midfielders and two strikers should be buzzing around those areas while the likes of Oriol Romeu and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg screen the backline.

Taking full effect of Wilder’s system 

Obviously, the Blades won’t look as open when the Saints are in possession.

To combat that, playing four men in midfield will give the South Coast side the best chance of pressing the ball in the right areas when Sheffield United are in possession, where if they do manage to win it, the space available to them should be too much for Wilder’s side to recover.

Hasenhuttl must stick to his guns in this real battle of wits.

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