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New Formation & Tactical Ideas for Struggling Everton

The season so far as been long, boring and painful and the Everton fans have been constantly seeing the same style of play, the same boring formation and often come out with the same result. The 4-2-3-1 formation is statically the most used formation in the Premier League and it has been used by Everton even before Roberto Martinez walked into Goodison Park. Although he has actually started to use the 4-3-3 formation (which is frustrating me even more), it has made no effect whatsoever. However, there are so many other formations that Roberto Martinez can use – if he decides to use them. Here are some ideas that the Spaniard can do that can lift Everton back into ‘last season form’.

Option 1: 3-5-2

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I feel like that this formation could possibly help as out massively, in attack and defending. Roberto Martinez used ‘three at the back’ formations at Wigan so he obviously knows how they work. In defence, Leighton Baines and James McCarthy drop deeper than defensive midfielders would usually do, whilst Phil Jagielka and John Stones spread out to cover the wings. This allows Everton’s defence to get organised quickly when there is an opposition breaking. This also gives us more people in the penalty area to make clearances and challenge in aerial duels. The attacking midfielders can also drop back for us to defend with nine players whilst also having two strikers upfront so when a clearance is made they can chase the defenders down.

Meanwhile in attack, there would always be two upfront which allows us to have more options in the box. Ross Barkley would always be in his attacking midfield role and wouldn’t need to drift left or right as the two wingers would be pressuring high on the full-backs. Jags, Besic and Stones would have a high line, which can allow Leighton Baines and James McCarthy (or whoever is in those two areas) to overlap with the wingers and the two wingers can move more central to allow them to have more to aim at. All players in the team have some experience in these positions. Mo Besic played centre-back for Ferencvaros whilst Seamus Coleman started right-midfield in his early days at Everton.

The only disadvantage to this formation is Phil Jagielka needs to be in the centre when crosses come in, however if Phil Jagielka and John Stones cut off the crosses coming in then there is nothing to worry about. Plus Leighton Baines can go back into the left role, whilst Jagielka goes central and the attacking midfielder can drop back with James McCarthy.

Option 2: 4-1-2-1-2

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I like this formation as it still allows the full-backs to push forward but still has the cover for them. As Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines push forward, you still have the cover from the two defensive midfielders and even have one left over to defend just in front of the defence. I feel like this is the best formation we can use at this moment in time, as when we counter from the defensive third, we still have Ross Barkley and Mo Besic as support. Playing Kevin Mirallas in attacking midfield allows him to pressure on the defence is well and with his pace he is hard to catch once he has broke. Also, the two strikers will still be in there supporting him.

Arouna Kone and Romelu Lukaku both provide good strength and both have good hold-up play, whilst Kevin Mirallas can give us the pace to make runs. You can also move Mirallas upfront with Lukaku and having Naismith in the attacking midfield role. This allows Kevin Mirallas to run much more at the opposition centre-backs.

The only disadvantage of this is Ross Barkley is a player you want in an offensive role and having three defensive midfielders simply hasn’t worked all season for us. Ross Barkley can still push forward, however the left side would be easy to expose.

Option 3: 4-2-2-2

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This formation isn’t used by many but has great potential when we move forward. The two wingers move slightly closer, so in between the line of the full-backs and the strikers. This allows them two to either move onto the wing or move more central. When Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman move forward, Kevin Mirallas and Ross Barkley would have them as options on them sides and once again you have two strikers, which gives them more options.

When the full-backs move forward, Muhamed Besic and James McCarthy can move more defensively whilst John Stones and Phil Jagielka move to cover Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines.

Despite having many options upfront, it’s very short in numbers at the back and has no defensive midfielders if Baines and Coleman are caught out. All it would need is an overlap around Phil Jagielka and they’re through on goal on one of the side. It could be useful if we need a goal but for the whole 90 it would be a risk.

Option 4: 3-3-2-2

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I know it looks a complete mess on the picture but if I explain it you should understand a little more. The midfield adjusts a lot when we are defending. James McCarthy would move deeper with Mo Besic in going behind the defensive line so he is a sweeper, whilst John Stones shifts more to the right. Seamus Coleman then moves back into the right-back position whilst Ross Barkley moves into the position Coleman was at. Leighton Baines moves into the left back role to cover that are. This means we have six at the back with four attacking players to aim so they can break.

The two strikers are already there to challenge for the clearance and Kevin Mirallas and Ross Barkley are already in support. We counter-attack very well (judging by Europa League matches), so if we use this formation our defence is much tighter and we have a strong attack.

The only disadvantage is in the midfield, we wouldn’t have one. Although Stones and Jagielka can move into the full-back roles, whilst James McCarthy supports Muhamed Besic and Leighton Baines and Ross Barkley would be there.

Option 5: 4-2-1-2-1

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Another formation which allows us to move forward with pace and options. Mo and James will still be in the holding midfield positions, whilst Ross Barkley is in the centre which allows him not only to drop back and defend but also help the team attack. The formation involves Kevin Mirallas and Steven Naismith sitting just behind Romelu Lukaku, so the Belgian striker has options if they decide to make runs or pass it back to them. This also allows Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines push up without any problems.

This means Besic and McCarthy must cover the two full-back positions, otherwise we can be exposed very easily at the back (which we don’t want).

A disadvantage of this is the fact there is hardly any width. The only width coming from this formation is Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman driving forward when attacking. We aren’t very strong physically in midfield, apart from Mo Besic so teams like Stoke would be comfortable against this.


We need to change now. If it is one of these formations or if it’s something wacky and new, it needs to put points on the board as soon as possible. Despite the options, it’ll be very difficult to get Roberto Martinez to change his mind and his style of play. It’s like he is being controlled to only use one specific formation and style of play which everyone has figured out. He needs to change it. Which option would you prefer Everton to use?

Up the toffees.

Joel Parker
Joel Parker
Big Evertonian and love writing about Football!!
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