Kagawa, Rooney, Welbeck: Who should play behind Robin van Persie?

Blog by: Shayne

Manchester United v Chelsea - Premier League

Robin van Persie (l) seen here training with Shinji Kagawa

David Moyes has begun his time at Manchester United rather comfortably, beating Swansea with a three-goal margin while drawing against a much-fancied side Chelsea. There haven’t been any major additions to United, but their current squad is full of quality players.

However, one of the more key selection dilemmas that Moyes currently has on his head is who he should select to play alongside or behind their star striker Robin van Persie.

Robin van Persie is currently Manchester United’s best striker, and last season featured in most matches for the Red Devils, only getting rested whenever it was absolutely necessary.

So far this season, he has started both of United’s matches. Given the kind of form he’s been in over the past two-and-a-half seasons, it’s not surprising that he’s a regular for United. However, the same can’t be said about the player who operate behind him.

United currently use a 4-2-3-1 formation, which includes the use of an attacking midfielder behind the striker along with two attacking wingers. Wayne Rooney usually starts in the #10 position, which isn’t exactly much of a variation from the way he normally plays; he prefers to drop deep, sometime even spray around passes to all ends of the field instead of staying around the opposition penalty area. He can in operate either as a proper attacking midfielder or a slightly more attack-minded second striker, so he can offer a lot to the team from that position.

Danny Welbeck has played in that position on occasions. His pace and work-rate means he can do a job in that position, but he doesn’t have the creativity to excel in that position. Welbeck has also been deployed as a left winger on occasion, although it’s safe to say he’s better off being played as a proper striker.

Shinji Kagawa is the only real attacking midfielder United possess. Fast, tricky and with the ability to both create and take chances, Kagawa was a key player in Borussia Dortmund.

However, since his arrival at United he’s struggled both with form and injuries. A lack of game time in his preferred position (he was largely deployed as a left winger during his first season at United) didn’t exactly help his cause.

The obvious answer to the question I posed right in the beginning is Shinji Kagawa. The Japanese international is an excellent player in his own right, but is best used as an attacking midfielder. Playing him anywhere else on the field is a waste of time because he simply won’t influence the game as much as he is supposed to.

Welbeck should primarily be deployed as a striker, because he isn’t as effective anywhere else on the field. Given that it’s nearly impossible to displace RVP at the moment, Moyes should consider changing his formation slightly on occasions. Instead of playing Welbeck behind the Dutchman, play them both together by slightly modifying the formation to a 4-2-2-2 instead of sticking to the traditional 4-2-3-1. This could be applied even when he wants to use Rooney, given that the Englishman is traditionally a striker, albeit not an out-an-out, fox-in-the-box type poacher.

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