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StriderHiryu

343 - Leicester City's New Tactic takes them Top of the League

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5 hours ago, DeepSouthFOX said:

Imagine that back line of Fofana-Evans-Soyuncu.

 

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Agree this is such an exciting prospect. Evans' brain and covering skills will allow Little Wes and Cags to do what they do best, which is take the risk of getting in front of the striker and nicking the ball. It will also give us 2 very fast and mobile wide CBs, which will allow our full backs even more freedom to get forward. And on top of all this all 3 are very comfortable on the ball. Happy days indeed.

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I think if nothing else these last few weeks should have shown the doubters that our manager and coaching staff do know what they are doing and we should therefore avoid the knee jerk reactions when the starting 11 is announced. Lets just enjoy the ride this wonderful club continues to provide.

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54 minutes ago, dayday said:

Can’t wait to see this sort of team, Quality all the way through.

 

1.  Kasper

2   Ricardo

3.  Fofana

4.  Evans

5.  Cags

6.  Castagne

7.  Wilf/ Mendy

8.  Under

9.  Barnes

10 Maddison/Tielemans 

11. Vardy

 

personaly think out of that its more likely Youri would be the starter compared to Under, with it being Barnes/Under since both can be incredibly good coming off the bench and stretching teams late on,

 

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11 minutes ago, mazarron fox said:

I think if nothing else these last few weeks should have shown the doubters that our manager and coaching staff do know what they are doing and we should therefore avoid the knee jerk reactions when the starting 11 is announced. Lets just enjoy the ride this wonderful club continues to provide.

The world needs people like you @mazarron fox, never stop dreaming!!

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11 hours ago, StriderHiryu said:

After 8 games, Leicester City sit top of the league! An incredible achievement given our end of season collapse last tine round and the general pessimism it brought out in many fans (myself included!) on the forums. And whilst there are many factors in this turnaround, one of the most obvious ones is the use of a new system from Brendan Rodgers, a 343 system. Here are two examples of lineups using the system, on the left the game against Wolves, and on the right against Braga:

 

image.png.724f4dff3864bd47f62458b0bca3bdea.png image.png.dad230617d474a6d4c23fb722ab26fa2.png

 

The hallmarks of this system are:

  • Three centre backs.
  • Two wingbacks that provide the width in the team.
  • A central midfield duo that work together to provide options for one another and to control the game.
  • Two attacking midfielders that operate behind the striker. These players and their purpose changes from game to game, which I will cover a bit later.

 

Now just as important, if not more important than the shape of the team is the style the team plays in this system. Here are some very interesting statistics that sum up our new approach to the game this season:

 

  • Last season, Leicester allowed the opponents 7.95 passes before making an attempt to win the ball back. That was the fewest in the league, whereas this season that figure has almost doubled to 14.78, the seventh most in England‚Äôs top flight. We are very content to sit back in a deep block for long periods and hit the opposition on the break.
  • Our xG (expected goals) difference per game is up 0.61 compared to last season. Quite staggering when you consider that this time last season we beat Southampton 9-0 away from home.
  • Our average possession this season is 50.4%, the 12th "highest" in the league. Last season we averaged 55.1% possession, the 4th highest in the division.

 

So this means that despite having less possession and pressing the game less frequently as we did last season, we are making more high quality opportunities on goal and have taken more points. Does this sound familiar? I wonder if any other teams in Premier League history have outperformed expectations without playing possession football? :whistle:

 

In fact our 343 system is very similar to another team who used the formation to win the Premier League title, Antonio Conte's Chelsea team of 16/17:

 

How Chelsea Won The 2016-17 Premier League Title Playing 3-4-2-1 ‚Äď The  Mastermind

 

Defensive Shape

 

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When we defend, we drop back into a 541 system, playing a compact deep block. Here we can see similarities to our legendary 15/16 team:

  • The gap between our back line and our furthest forward player is around 25 yards.
  • You can almost draw a straight line between our midfield 4 and our back 5. Our two attacking midfielders have dropped back to make a narrow midfield 4, and we see our wingbacks are slightly further forward than our back three but also operating on the same horizontal line.¬†
  • No Leicester player is more than 10 yards away from a team mate.
  • We are prepared to allow the opposition a wide option if they want it, in this example Ayling of Leeds in in acres out on the right hand side.

 

Just like in 15/16 the net result is it makes the team extremely well protected and hard to break down. Opposition teams have to work really hard to make something happen because there isn't much space for the opposition to operate in.

 

image.thumb.png.1a9877ac5b05661f4d6361ddab96748e.png

 

^ But there are also some other nuances to our shape too. Playing 3 at the back means we can have a spare man. This means we have a number of good options available to use when we defend:

  • Teams that play 3 men up front as is very fashionable these days can be matched up 1v1.
  • One of our two centrebacks on either side of the middle man can step out to deny the opposition space without over committing. In the example above Fofana can step out to double up with Justin because Fuchs can cover any danger if the opposition get through.
  • We have more options at the back to pass between when trying to play our way out of trouble. Most teams in the Premier League counter press from the front now, so having opportunities to beat the press is very important.

 

image.thumb.png.ce96aee550e18e5ac89fa7c4b9eec7e3.png

 

^ Finally whilst our pressing is way down, that's not to say we don't press. We very much still do! The difference is that we press in our own half but the opposition have it in theirs. Here we see against Braga that from a throw in, we've pressed the opposition 1v1 with Tielemans forcing a turnover. From this pressure we play the ball out of trouble, Under finds Nacho who scored the second of this game.

 

giphy.gif

 

Offensive Shape

 

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  • Offensively we push our wingbacks on really high up the field. We also split our centre halves so we have lots of options to play the ball too. Look at how wide Fofana and Fuchs are in the above example.
  • Our midfield two work as a tandem, with one player genrally dropping further back than the other. Usually it's Mendy who can even service as a third centre back on the turnover if required.

 

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^ Playing three at the back isn't rigid. If the opposition sits back, we can use our spare man to push forwards and support the attack. Against Leeds it was Fuchs, and in the example above against Braga, Justin pushed up very high at times to support the attack.

 

CmoSLU6.png

 

^ Offensively our two attacking midfielders drift between the lines. Here Maddison drops deep to receive and then turn on the ball, whilst Praet drifts between Podence and Neves into the half space. This provides room for Leicester to create something thanks to our highly technical players:

 

giphy.gif

 

^ Maddison finds Praet who interchanges with JJ, allowing Praet to make it to the byline and whip in a cross. We get a fortunate penalty here, but it's the attacking principal to pay attention to here, which is the deliberate way we've setup and which is very hard to defend against. Wolves are a fanstically setup team defensively, so it's encouraging to see us able to cut through them like this.

 

Pass and Move or The Blue RAF?

 

giphy.gif

 

Claudio Ranieri once famously likened the Leicester City attack to the RAF given how rapid our breaks were on the transition. And despite that being 4 years ago, we still have that capability in our team. The beautiful thing about the 343 is that it's adaptable. Against teams that play a deep block, we can play our technical players to create opportunities in tight spaces. But against teams that play a high line and aggressive counter press like Man City, Leeds and Liverpool, we can deploy our pace merchants to take advantage of the gaps that are left in behind. In this example we see that Leeds push up a lot more compared to Wolves, which creates chances in behind them. In this case Under exposes that frailty but Harvey Barnes is also extremely adept at taking advantage of teams that play this way.

 

Not Long Ball Merchants

 

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^In 15/16 there was one stat that defined out season more than any other. The time it took to move the ball from the defensive third into the attacking third. We were the best in the division at it, with Danny Drinkwater often operating as a "Quarterback" spraying passes into space for our team to get on the end of.

 

giphy.gif

 

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^ But the 20/21 team is different. Though we are capable of a longer pass, we are also capable of technical football to play our way out of trouble. Both these examples I have already shared from the Man City game, but they deserve to be shared again! This for me is the final piece of the jigsaw in terms of being a truly top team. Even in 15/16 a weakness we had was that sometimes we couldn't retain the ball for long enough because we punted the ball outfield and lost it very quickly. This was more evident in 16/17 with the loss of Kante but there were certainly examples in 15/16 too. But with our new and improved midfield, we can now play football if we need to, buying us time and space and allowing the team a breather. Ironically one of the key members of this new style is Nampalys Mendy who was originally signed to be Kante's replacement! Perhaps Ranieri knew what he was doing after all and perhaps that's why he envisaged a midfield trio of Mendy / Drinkwater / Adrien Silva as a way to evolve the team, even if things didn't work out that way. (Silva would not sign for another year, but we were linked with him in 15/16 too).

 

Final Thoughts

 

  • The biggest change to our play this season is that rather than bossing possession and passing it sideways for 90 minutes, we control the game so it takes place in front of us, and counter press at opportune times. This has made us more efficient and effective.
  • We press the ball when in it's our half, but let the opposition pass it sideways when in theirs.
  • We make higher quality chances as a result, despite not having as much possession. It's not quite the counter attack from 15/16 because we don't play the ball forwards as quickly and are content to get the ball down and actually play.
  • The system represents a watershed moment in the evolution of Brendan Rodgers. Leicester are able to compete without heavy midfield possession. In fact if I had to pinpoint exactly why this system is so good it's because we have greater control over games despite have lower possession, just like in 15/16.

 

Football is always evolving. With so many teams now playing a high counter press in the Premier League, the 343 tactic is a counter to that strategy because we can play out of the first press and then have the players with pace and quality to turn that press into a 1v1 or 2v2 opportunity. With one of those players being Jamie Vardy, this makes us lethal. Additionally with the high technical quality of players like Mendy, Tielemans, Maddison and Praet we don't just have to kick it long, and with players like Under and Barnes also in the team / squad, we also have players whom kicking it long on the break is effective with.

 

For how long this formation remains effective for we don't know. Our next game is Liverpool away, which is probably the hardest fixture we have left in the entire season, so that will be an interesting test of the system. But it's safe to say that the initial signs are very encouraging!

 

What do you think? Do you like the new system? Have you spotted anything I've missed out on here? (Hint, there's lots I haven't mentioned and am looking for the other tactical aficionado's to fill in for me).

 

I've been very impressed! I think the system suits our current squad to a tee and it's allowed some former fringe players to flourish. Justin, Albrighton, Mendy and Praet have all gone from being "OK" players to having a major impact whenever they play. And well, being top of the Premier League and our Europa League group takes some beating! I had us down to finish 9th this campaign, so this start has blown me away. Bravo you brilliant blues! And I'll very much enjoy being

 

Leicester City on Twitter: "Happy birthday to our Vice-Chairman Khun Top!  #lcfc… "

 

of the Premier League!

 

 

 

 

Very impressive. Thank you. I completely agree.  I was having a conversation with my Dad about this. Last season, we were playing a typical Brendan Rodgers style of football and this season is more of a bespoke style. Bringing out the best in BR as a coach and the team as a result. 

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9 minutes ago, mazarron fox said:

Being a supporter over 50 years and in the darkest days still dreaming of success when it arrives it tastes so so sweet. ūüėÄ

I'm more talking about the "can we avoid knee-jerk reactions when the starting 11 is announced" ūüėČ

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44 minutes ago, Stuntman_Mike said:

And with Ricardo and Castagne as the wing backs :surrender:

It's truly mind boggling that we are top of two leagues without having our first choice wingbacks available. If Ricardo hadn't got injured last season, I am sure he would have been our player of the season again such was his form and consistency.  An ACL is a tough injury to recover from so I think it will take him a while to hit top form but if he comes back as good as he was, he is going to have so much fun in this new system. It will mean he can be more offensive!

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12 hours ago, StriderHiryu said:

 

What do you think? Do you like the new system? Have you spotted anything I've missed out on here? (Hint, there's lots I haven't mentioned and am looking for the other tactical aficionado's to fill in for me).

Finnegan

 

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17 minutes ago, StriderHiryu said:

It's truly mind boggling that we are top of two leagues without having our first choice wingbacks available. If Ricardo hadn't got injured last season, I am sure he would have been our player of the season again such was his form and consistency.  An ACL is a tough injury to recover from so I think it will take him a while to hit top form but if he comes back as good as he was, he is going to have so much fun in this new system. It will mean he can be more offensive!

It's going to be exciting to watch if he can come back in similar form to where he left off. Although it might take a few games for him to settle again. 

 

Playing the system you mention would put an end to the debate that seemed to keep cropping up about him playing as just an out and out winger. I was all for it at one point because he's so good going forward, I almost felt like it was worth the gamble but since the recruitment has been quality in other positions it means we can simply play our best players in their best positions. 

 

I feel we'd get the best out of his all round game in that position without effecting the balance of the team. It's win win. 

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r/lcfc - Leicester Passmap: Leicester 1 - 0 Wolves

 

Anyone want to take a guess as to who our most influential player in recent weeks has been? :whistle:. I keep calling him the Belgian Xavi for a reason!

 

Some other interesting learnings from this pass map:

 

- Fuchs and Fofana's average positions are really far advanced compared to previous games. This is because Wolves played such a deep block that they didn't need to sit back as much. Fofana in particular impressed with his forward runs and passes.

- Maddison operates more centrally than Praet, who drifts wide more often. 

- Justin has a very unusual average position, whish is probably influenced by the fact that he played on both sides during the match. But that said his average position matches Dendoncker's quite closely. But I don't think he was asked to mark Dendoncker in this game. In some games we have man marked the opposition's building midfielder, e.g. Vardy on Rodri against Man City, Barnes on Partey / Klich against Arsenal / Leeds. 

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I still dont like 3atb personally, in the 5 PL games we've started with it this season we've had 14 non penalty shots on target, 7 of which came against leeds. Our chance creation from open play is through the floor and we're not going to keep winning penalties at a rate of one per game like we have. Our results arent sustainable with the way we're playing at the moment, as we saw post lockdown we wont always be as clinical as we have been recently.

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Wonder if this tactic will cause another CB to be targeted at the next opportunity? Whilst I get that JJ seems pretty damn flexible, and arguably plays best  as part of a back 3, he will always be required as a least cover at LB/RB.

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Understandable though the previous 2 entries are, perhaps it's worth a) suspending judgement until all our players are fit b) noting that despite your reasonable concerns, we ARE winning matches, have changed things since last season, and seem to be much more pragmatic about how we set up - we now have more points against Wolves than last year, for example and c) wondering whether 'what suits home/away games' is (for the time being) a bit misleading, because circumstances are so very different currently.

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13 minutes ago, honeybradger said:

I still dont like 3atb personally, in the 5 PL games we've started with it this season we've had 14 non penalty shots on target, 7 of which came against leeds. Our chance creation from open play is through the floor and we're not going to keep winning penalties at a rate of one per game like we have. Our results arent sustainable with the way we're playing at the moment, as we saw post lockdown we wont always be as clinical as we have been recently.

 

8 minutes ago, Mark said:

I'm still not sure the formation is suited to home games (especially when the attacking mids are Maddison and Praet) but the beast in Fofana has given everyone a lift the same as what Kante did for us.

These are definitely valid points, our away form is better than our home form. That said we are missing one of our most creative players in Ricardo and without Ndidi it's hard to justify playing the 4141 because no one else in the team is as good as him in terms of winning the ball back.

 

We are top of the league despite playing two games a week and without Soyuncu, Ndidi and Ricardo who were all first team players last season. That's a phenomenal job any way you slice it.

 

If we persevere with 343 we may also get significantly better if we have Ricardo and Castagne as both wing backs. In the last few games we've been playing Albrighton who has never got an international cap, 19 year old Luke Thomas and 22 year old James Justin in those roles. 

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1 minute ago, HighPeakFox said:

Understandable though the previous 2 entries are, perhaps it's worth a) suspending judgement until all our players are fit b) noting that despite your reasonable concerns, we ARE winning matches, have changed things since last season, and seem to be much more pragmatic about how we set up - we now have more points against Wolves than last year, for example and c) wondering whether 'what suits home/away games' is (for the time being) a bit misleading, because circumstances are so very different currently.

I wasnt active on this forum but i had the same worries last year where vardy was scoring everytime the ball landed at his feet in the first half of the season which made us look better than we were and we saw what happened when he stopped being so clinical, now it's opposition players giving away stupid penalties everytime we enter the box. We need to change something before the results start going south otherwise we're just going to see a repeat of last year, in terms of injuries i think we have the personnel in our squad currently to be secure at the back and also create more chances.

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1 minute ago, honeybradger said:

I wasnt active on this forum but i had the same worries last year where vardy was scoring everytime the ball landed at his feet in the first half of the season which made us look better than we were and we saw what happened when he stopped being so clinical, now it's opposition players giving away stupid penalties everytime we enter the box. We need to change something before the results start going south otherwise we're just going to see a repeat of last year, in terms of injuries i think we have the personnel in our squad currently to be secure at the back and also create more chances.

You've made an entirely understandable correlation, but so many changes have already been made. The team has just played 6 games in 17 days (and won the bloody lot), missing key players, and with almost everyone convinced pre-season that we'd be in difficulties at this stage. I know why you're anxious, so I'm at pains to not put you down about it, but I find it hard to ask much more right now. I hope you're able to enjoy it, despite your concerns.

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25 minutes ago, HighPeakFox said:

Understandable though the previous 2 entries are, perhaps it's worth a) suspending judgement until all our players are fit b) noting that despite your reasonable concerns, we ARE winning matches, have changed things since last season, and seem to be much more pragmatic about how we set up - we now have more points against Wolves than last year, for example and c) wondering whether 'what suits home/away games' is (for the time being) a bit misleading, because circumstances are so very different currently.

Suggest we should add a further point, specifically that upon our return from the International break we should show patience, especially as it is against Liverpool and we could be introducing players returning from injury. 

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35 minutes ago, Mark said:

I'm still not sure the formation is suited to home games (especially when the attacking mids are Maddison and Praet) but the beast in Fofana has given everyone a lift the same as what Kante did for us.

Most certainly against the general dross that we have coming up, but what a system he has conjured up with our depleted squad against tough opponents who we seldom get a positive result against. Let's not forget Braga are an excellent team and we fcukin obliterated them.

 

At the very least it has proven Rodgers is open to swallowing his pride and adapting.

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46 minutes ago, honeybradger said:

I still dont like 3atb personally, in the 5 PL games we've started with it this season we've had 14 non penalty shots on target, 7 of which came against leeds. Our chance creation from open play is through the floor and we're not going to keep winning penalties at a rate of one per game like we have. Our results arent sustainable with the way we're playing at the moment, as we saw post lockdown we wont always be as clinical as we have been recently.

It's a fair point but out of interest how many non penalty shots on target did we create away at Man City and Arsenal and home to Wolves last season? Might be the system but it's also the opposition whom there are a number we were clueless against last season.

 

Edited to say we were pretty horrific playing 4-1-4-1 with 2 attacking full backs, 2 number 8's and 2 wingers vs West Ham and Villa at home. Without Ndidi it's been an erratic system IMO.

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34 minutes ago, Ric Flair said:

Full credit to Rodgers for tweaking his principles in order to make us more effective. He has done this due to our slump last season, our general mediocre results and performances against the supposed top 6 and because of key injuries. 

 

Ndidi is integral to us playing 4-1-4-1 with 2 attacking full backs, 2 number 8's and 2 attacking wingers either side of Vardy. At times I'm sure we will go back to this or at least play 3-4-3 with Barnes and √únder either side of Vardy and one of Maddison or Tielemans alongside Ndidi or Mendy, the downside there is that we sacrifice one of our number 8's for an extra centre half but right now this system seems to be excellent, especially to set traps against opponents we have in the past struggled against like Man City, Arsenal and Wolves.

 

Rodgers is learning to adapt and change, the whole squad seem to have bought in to it being a squad effort and to hit the ground running whenever they get a chance. Part of me is nervous problems don't arise when we have more options with Soyuncu, Ricardo and Ndidi's impending returns but I back the management to get it right as this is exciting times for us and we are in great hands.

Nailed it.

 

And massive credit where's it due, it's worked!

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4 hours ago, StriderHiryu said:

It's truly mind boggling that we are top of two leagues without having our first choice wingbacks available. If Ricardo hadn't got injured last season, I am sure he would have been our player of the season again such was his form and consistency.  An ACL is a tough injury to recover from so I think it will take him a while to hit top form but if he comes back as good as he was, he is going to have so much fun in this new system. It will mean he can be more offensive!

..how dare you!!!

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