4-4-2 Formation

The most common and adaptable formation in modern football, the weakness of 4-4-2 is the gaps between the central defenders, midfielders and the strikers. As such, a huge burden is placed on the central midfield to augment defense and attack.

4-4-2 Formation

Precisely because of this all-round contribution, the wings play a vital role in spurring on attacks and supporting the strikers. This was evident in the approach of Manchester United and Arsenal during the late 1990s and early 2000s. The former utilised David Beckham and Gary Neville’s ability to deliver crosses from deep positions (as well as Beckham’s abilities from set-pieces), while the latter relied heavily on the goalscoring contributions both of right-winger Freddie Ljungberg and left-winger Robert Pires.

However, the two sides’ contrasting attitudes in central midfield reflects the subtle variations in the 4-4-2. Whereas Manchester United’s first-choice midfield of Paul Scholes and Roy Keane married a powerful but diminutive mixture of a goal-scoring attacking midfielder and a box-to-box tough-tackler, Arsenal emphasised a tall, powerful combination with their own tough-tackling box-to-box midfielder, Patrick Vieira, and a strict holding midfielder in Gilberto Silva.

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