West Ham United have to ditch 4-4-2 when they face Chelsea on Monday.
The Hammers played the archaic formation at the weekend as Everton beat them 2-0 at the London Stadium.
The Hammers were left remarkably weak on the wings against the Toffees.
Both Robert Snodgrass and Manuel Lanzini roundly failed to offer any kind of defensive solidity, with the Argentine particularly at fault.
While the Scot attempted three tackles, Lanzini did not even try one, per WhoScored.
Indeed, Lanzini touched the ball 56 times, but completed just one dribble and left his full-back, Aaron Cresswell, isolated against the rampaging Seamus Coleman. However, this is not the player’s fault but rather a tactical mistake from the boss.
Against Chelsea, Manuel Pellegrini should not necessarily ditch his widemen – both Lanzini and Snodgrass are able to provide a significant threat in the final third – but placing three players in midfield would significantly limit the threat posed by the Blues.
Declan Rice thrives in defensive midfield and he could sit behind both Pedro Obiang and Mark Noble. That triumvirate should be enough protect the defence against a misfiring Blues side, with Lanzini and Snodgrass on the flanks further forward and either Marko Arnautovic or Javier Hernandez through the middle.
It is a move to 4-3-3 in name only – while a more attacking formation, in theory, it offers more solidity through the middle and would allow West Ham to squeeze up against Chelsea and throttle their space in midfield.
West Ham played 4-3-3 against Chelsea at the London Stadium earlier this season and earned a 0-0 draw, successfully nullifying the threat posed by Eden Hazard on the left flank.
That day, Noble, Rice and Obiang played in midfield and worked themselves into the ground.
The same is needed on Monday at Stamford Bridge as West Ham look to continue an impressive record.
This season, already, the Hammers have beaten Manchester United and Arsenal and taken points off both Liverpool and Chelsea.
Ditching 4-4-2, an experiment that did not work against Marco Silva’s Toffees, is the first step to another potential scalp.