VIDEO: The 4-3-3 explained

Andre Villas-Boas has indicated that we will be playing 4-3-3 for most of the season, although it often looks like 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1. It is easy for the basic 4-3-3 to morph into these so I have sourced a video rather than created one to explain it.

The video at the end of this article by Michael Jolley, who is a High Performance Football Coach currently with Crewe Alexandra, explains very well the 4-3-3 system, the player movement and ball distribution.

It breaks down the system and looks at player and ball movement. You may want to stop the video from time to time to read the notes that come on screen as these will help your understanding and you'll miss some of them otherwise. Having watched the video you will have a greater understanding of what is trying to be achieved within each phase, which is to get he ball into an attacking area as quickly as possible.

As you watch a game you'll start to be able to read the play and anticipate what might happen next, what the player on the ball is looking for, what the players off the ball might do. It will give clarity for instance to the holding midfielder role and the passes he makes and the triangle concept of players and passes to beat opponents.

The speed of forward movement is something we are currently struggling with as a host of new players learn our system. Think back to last season and we had the same problem, remember the home game against Wigan for instance when all we seemed to do was pass the ball sideways and lacked ideas of what to do against a packed defence. As the season wore on and the players understood more instinctively what off the ball movement they should be making, our performances improved. I am expecting exactly the same to happen this season.

If we are to shift the point of attack then a slow passing across field make it easy for the opponents defence to shuffle across, if however we switch in two passes, the wide man then has a small window of time to attack the isolated full-back before the defence has time to shuffle across. Once you have the opposition out of synch like this (not moving as one) that is when players start reacting to situations as individuals and you can pull them about to create openings.

Whilst you have the two banks of four acting as if they are tied together with string and moving sideways together defending is easier. Think about it, four players in a line tied by string, what movements do you need them to make to break that string?

Rose, Chiriches, Capoue, Paulinho, Townsend, Chadli, Lamela, Eriksen, Soldado all now have to learn the AVB system. Eriksen played the 4-3-3 at Ajax and Soldado is used to playing as the lone striker (poacher) so it will be more the speed of the others learning that will determine how quickly we improve this season.
Playing two games a week leaves little chance to work in training on it, so expect to see strong teams in the Europa League as we learn as we go in competitive matches.

The video lasts five minutes, take your time, pause it and you'll enhance your viewing the next time we play.

In the next article on Monday evening at 21.46 (9.46pm) UK time, we'll look at the much maligned Kyle Walker and the full-back role. We'll look at how the full-back has to work with the winger as a unit and not as two individuals. We'll also see the Rose/Chadli error that led to the Arsenal goal.

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