One of the big questions that Roberto Martinez may be asked after his appointment as Everton manager is the choice of formation he will employ next season – the fairly narrow 4-4-1-1 that David Moyes mainly utilised or a switch to three central defenders that was a feature of his last season at Wigan.
On paper, the switch to a 3-4-3 may suit Everton, especially in the wide areas where Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman are both perhaps more recognised for their attacking involvement than their defensive work.
After all, Baines did complete more key passes than any other player across Europe’s top five leagues last season and that was from a starting position of left-back.
However, there is no guarantee that a new formation which should in theory help Baines by reducing his defensive contribution will further utilise his attacking talents.
Firstly, the change in formation will result in a new starting position for Steven Pienaar, whether it be in a central midfield role or as one of two narrow attacking midfielders off a lone striker.
Under Moyes, Pienaar’s position was more left midfielder than left winger, often drifting inside to influence play rather than taking players on down the outside and getting crosses in from the byline.
But his starting position meant that he was the responsibility of the opposing right-back, who was in turn forced narrower by Pienaar’s movements, which then created space on the overlap for Baines to exploit.
Without Pienaar performing this role, it is unlikely that Baines would have presented the same threat, as he wouldn’t have had the space to.
In a 3-4-3, Baines will technically be forced to patrol the whole of the left flank and the fact there is no winger ahead of him will make him easier to pick up.
Dani Alves also provides proof of how a switch to a 3-4-3 or similar formation can hinder the impact of an attacking full-back, as he never really flourished in this role when Pep Guardiola changed formation as his plan B at Barcelona.
Everton are 20/1 to finish in the top four in the Premier League next season.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.