Midfields in a mess as Mikel Arteta and Erik ten Hag struggle with upgrades | Jonathan Wilson

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Kai Havertz at Arsenal and Mason Mount at Manchester United are yet to fit in – but this is not a simple issue of personnel

Afew years ago, the future seemed a world in which football teams would comprise 11 midfielders. Then it became 11 full-backs, at which it became apparent that nobody quite knew the difference any more. Then Pep Guardiola found his inner Tony Pulis and started fielding four centre-backs and it turned out that, while the present may be very much possession-driven, the future may not. The composition of the midfield is suddenly up for debate again.

The most common setup among the Premier League’s elite remains 4-3-3 – even the 4-2-3-1 with which Manchester City have started the season is a minor variation on that. Most of those midfield threes feature a holder, a creator and a balancing player who links the two adjusting his role according to circumstance (a 6, a 10 and an 8, if you want to use the Dutch designations that have become increasingly pervasive).

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Written by Jonathan Wilson
This news first appeared on https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2023/sep/02/midfield-mikel-arteta-erik-ten-hag-struggle-with-upgrades-arsenal-manchester-united under the title “Midfields in a mess as Mikel Arteta and Erik ten Hag struggle with upgrades | Jonathan Wilson”. Bolchha Nepal is not responsible or affiliated towards the opinion expressed in this news article.