Paul Clement opts for two up front in Swansea’s loss to Stoke. Alan Pardew rolls out a 4-3-3 in his first match in charge of West Brom, Charlie Austin returns to the Southampton line-up with another goal, while Michail Antonio starts up front in West Ham’s narrow loss to Man City.
Here’s the second of our Line-up Lessons articles – the first is here– assessing the teamsheets and formations from Gameweek 15, with one eye on what’s to come over the midweek European matches and the weekend.
Starting XI: Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Mangala, Danilo (Jesus 46); Delph, De Bruyne, D Silva; Sterling, Aguero (Fernandinho 85), Sane (B Silva 90). Subs not used: Bravo, Toure, Gundogan, Kompany.
- What we saw: Pep Guardiola turned to his usual 4-1-2-3 formation for the home clash against West Ham United, although he did make a couple of personnel changes. Danilo started at left-back, seeing Fabian Delph replace Fernandinho in central midfield. Eliaquim Mangala got the nod in place of Vincent Kompany in central defence, while David Silva and Leroy Sane returned at the expense of Ilkay Gundogan and Gabriel Jesus. After falling a goal behind on the stroke of half-time, Guardiola introduced Jesus from the bench. That saw Delph move to left-back, leaving Silva and Kevin De Bruyne in central midfield, while Sergio Aguero operated just behind the Brazilian in the lone striker role. Man City ended the match back in the 4-1-2-3, with Fernandinho entering the fray late on to take up the defensive midfield role.
- What we learned: Man City travel to Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday night having already won their group, so Guardiola is likely to rest some of his leading players. Those who are left out in midweek should have a greater chance of featuring more heavily over the next three league fixtures, which come over a six-day period. The first choice starting XI should certainly line up against Manchester United on Sunday, with either Sergio Aguero or Jesus being flanked by Sane and Raheem Sterling in attack. Kompany and Fernandinho will be expected to return to the side in place of Mangala and Danilo, with Guardiola protecting them from possible suspension by leaving them out against the Hammers.
Current Status: Settled
Risk Areas: Central striker
Starting XI: De Gea; Lindelof, Smalling, Rojo; Valencia, Pogba, Matic, Young (Rashford 90); Lingard (Darmian 76), Lukaku, Martial (Herrera 67). Subs not used: Romero; Mata, Blind, McTominay.
- What we saw: Jose Mourinho kept faith in the 3-4-1-2 formation that yielded a 4-2 win at Watford for the trip to Arsenal. Nemanja Matic was fit to start against the Gunners, while Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial were again preferred to Marcus Rashford. Lingard operated in a No 10 role, with Martial partnering Romelu Lukaku up front. Mourinho initially switched to a more solid 3-5-1-1 when he brought on Ander Herrera for Martial, and following the sending off of Paul Pogba, he introduced Matteo Darmian for Lingard, seeing United line up in more of a 6-2-1 system.
- What we learned: Pogba will now miss the next three league matches due to suspension, starting with Sunday’s Manchester derby. Herrera could replace the Frenchman in central midfield, with Marouane Fellaini another alternative should he recover from a knock. Indeed, Matic, Herrera and Fellaini could start together if Mourinho turns to another formation in order to attempt to nullify high-flying City. Matic has been ruled out of tonight’s Champions League clash at home to CSKA Moscow, but is expected to be in contention for the weekend given the enormity of the match, and the fact he got through 90 minutes last weekend. Lingard’s form means he may retain his start, although Rashford presents a possible alternative to both he and Martial. Phil Jones is back in training and should he or Eric Bailly be available, they will be expected to slot back into the defence, with Victor Lindelof’s place perhaps the most at risk. With United only having to avoid a heavy defeat tonight to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League, Mourinho may rest some key individuals. That could have a factor as we look forward to Gameweeks 17 and 18 when rotation is likely to come into play.
Current Status: Slightly Unsettled
Risk Areas: Central defenders, central midfield, forwards
Starting XI: Darlow; Mbemba, Lejeune, Clark, Manquillo, Diame (Shelvey 75), Merino (Yedlin 85), Ritchie; Murphy, Perez (Hayden 61); Gayle. Subs not used: Elliot, Aarons, Joselu, Mitrovic.
- What we saw: Rafa Benitez opted to change formation for the trip to Chelsea, opting for a 3-4-2-1 system. Chancel Mbemba moved into central defence alongside Florian Lejeune and Ciaran Clark, while Javier Manquillo and Matt Ritchie were used as wing-backs. Jacob Murphy and Ayoze Perez were stationed in the attacking midfield spots behind lone striker Dwight Gayle, while Karl Darlow was again preferred to Rob Elliot in goal.
- What we learned: Benitez demonstrated his tactical flexibility, but with Leicester City visiting St James’ Park on Saturday, he may revert back to his favoured 4-2-3-1 system. Mbemba could drop to the bench unless he gets the nod over DeAndre Yedlin for one of the full-back positions. Jonjo Shelvey will push for a recall in central midfield, while the change in formation would see Ritchie returning out wide. After scoring at Stamford Bridge, Gayle should retain his start, with Perez perhaps lining up as the support striker. Joselu is the main alternative in attack while – should they be available – Paul Dummett and Christian Atsu could both be involved with Benitez optimistic on their chances. Jamaal Lascelles could also be a factor, though the weekend could come too soon.
Current Status: Unsettled
Risk Areas: Goalkeeper, full-backs, central defenders, central midfield, flanks, attacking midfield
Starting XI: Forster; Pied, van Dijk, Hoedt, Bertrand; Romeu, Davis (Gabbiadini 85); Ward-Prowse (Redmond 46), Tadic (Lemina 74), Boufal; Austin. Subs not used: McCarthy, Yoshida, Redmond, Hojbjerg, Targett.
- What we saw: After using a five-man defence against Manchester City, Mauricio Pellegrino switched back to his favoured 4-2-3-1 for the trip to Bournemouth. James Ward-Prowse, Dusan Tadic and Sofiane Boufal were preferred in the attacking midfield trio, while Charlie Austin was recalled as the lone striker. Steven Davis was used at the base of midfield, forcing Mario Lemina to settle for a place on the bench, while Jeremy Pied replaced the injured Cedric Soares at right-back. Saints ended the match in a 4-4-2 system, with Manolo Gabbiadini joining Austin up front.
- What we learned: While Arsenal provide the opposition for Southampton at St Mary’s in Gameweek 16, it’s likely that Pellegrino will keep faith in the 4-2-3-1. After his strong contribution from the bench, Redmond should push for a start, most likely in place of Ward-Prowse. He is also an option to replace Boufal if Davis is pushed forward into the No 10 role, allowing Lemina to start in central midfield. If he can recover from a hamstring injury, Cedric should return at right-back in place of Pied, while Maya Yoshida is an alternative to Wesley Hoedt in central defence. After getting on the scoresheet, Austin should retain his start in attack, unless saved for the Leicester City clash three days later. Gabbiadini and Shane Long are the alternatives, although the latter did miss out against the Cherries due to a calf problem.
Current Status: Unsettled
Risk Areas: Right-back, central defenders, central midfield, flanks, attacking midfield, lone striker
Starting XI: Butland; Zouma, Shawcross, Martins-Indi (Wimmer 53), Pieters; Shaqiri, Fletcher (Afellay 70), Allen, Choupo-Moting (Sobhi 70); Diouf, Crouch. Subs not used: Grant, Berahino, Jese, Adam.
- What we saw: Potters boss Mark Hughes decided to use the 4-4-2 formation that he turned to during the latter stages of the 3-0 defeat to Liverpool for the home clash against Swansea City. Mame Biram Diouf joined Peter Crouch up front, while Kurt Zouma moved to right-back. Jack Butland returned from a broken finger to replace Lee Grant in goal.
- What we learned: After being forced off with a groin injury, Bruno Martins Indi looks set for a spell on the sidelines. He is likely to be replaced by Kevin Wimmer, while should Geoff Cameron could be available following a head injury, there would be the option to revert back to a three-man defence for Saturday’s trip to Wembley. Were that to be the case, Diouf could revert to right wing-back, while that match may not be suited to the strengths of Crouch, making either Ramadan Sobhi or Jese Rodriguez potential starters, with Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting returning to the lone striker role. But if Hughes does stick with a 4-4-2, the only change is likely to come in central defence.
Current Status: Slightly Unsettled
Risk Areas: Right-back/right wing-back, central defenders, flanks, lone striker
Starting XI: Fabianski; Naughton, Van der Hoorn, Mawson, Olsson; Ki Sung-yeung; Fer (Sanches 85), Clucas (Carroll 73); Ayew (McBurnie 73); Bony, Abraham. Subs not used: Nordfeldt, Dyer, Routledge, Rangel.
- What we saw: Paul Clement kept faith in the midfield diamond for the trip to Stoke City but handed a recall to Tammy Abraham up front after the forward was ineligible to face his parent club Chelsea. That saw Jordan Ayew move to the tip of the diamond, while Leroy Fer and Sam Clucas were preferred on the right and left respectively. Clement moved to more of a 4-3-3 once Oliver McBurnie was introduced for Ayew, while Tom Carroll and Renato Sanches provided fresh legs in central midfield late on.
- What we learned: With Saturday’s home meeting with West Bromwich Albion looking a must win match, Clement is likely to deploy Ayew, Abraham and Wilfried Bony once again in attack. Carroll, Sanches and Roque Mesa are possible options to return in central midfield, with Fer and Clucas perhaps making way. Federico Fernandez has missed the last two matches following the death of his father but could return to replace Mike van der Hoorn in central defence.
Current Status: Fairly Settled
Risk Areas: Central defenders, central midfield
Starting XI: Lloris; Trippier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies; Dier, Dembele; Eriksen (Sissoko 64), Alli (Winks 86), Son Heung-min (Lamela 77); Kane. Subs not used: Vorm, Aurier, Rose, Llorente.
- What we saw: Mauricio Pochettino decided to change to a 4-2-3-1 formation for the trip to Watford, with Eric Dier utilised alongside Mousa Dembele at the base of midfield. Kieran Tripper and Ben Davies returned to the side in the full-back positions, while Christian Eriksen (right), Dele Alli (No 10) and Son Heung-min (left) formed the attacking midfield trio. Following the dismissal of Davinson Sanchez, Dier slotted into central defence. That saw Alli operate slightly deeper in midfield alongside substitute Moussa Sissoko, with Eriksen taken off. Erik Lamela was a late replacement for Son.
- What we learned: With just one win in their last six, Pochettino may continue to change systems until the results start to improve. With Stoke City visiting Wembley on Saturday, the Spurs boss could stick with the more attacking 4-2-3-1, however, making changes unlikely. Having already won their Champions League group, Pochettino is expected to rest several of his regular starters against Apoel Nicosia tomorrow night, though he has confirmed that Alli – who missed the first three through suspension – will definitely start. So if Serge Aurier and Danny Rose start in that match, Tripper and Davies appear probable starters at the weekend. Harry Winks could be an option to start alongside Dembele in central midfield, given that Dier will be needed in central defence to replace the suspended Sanchez. Lamela should start in midweek as he continues to build up his match fitness, so Son appears a likely starter against the Potters.
Current Status: Fairly Settled
Risk Areas: Full-backs, central midfield
Starting XI: Gomes; Mariappa, Kabasele (Capoue 64), Prodl; Femenia, Cleverley (Gray 88), Doucoure, Zeegelaar; Pereyra (Carrillo 67), Richarlison; Deeney. Subs not used: Karnezis, Wagué, Janmaat, Watson.
- What we saw: With Will Hughes sidelined due to the hamstring injury he picked up in the 4-2 defeat to Manchester United, Marco Silva handed a recall to Roberto Pereyra in the attacking midfield positions. Troy Deeney, meanwhile, replaced Andre Gray as the lone striker in the 3-4-2-1 formation. Soon after Spurs defender Davinson Sanchez was dismissed, Silva switched to a 4-3-3, with Etienne Capoue brought on in central midfield, while Andre Carrillo replaced Pereyra, and played wide on the right. The Hornets ended the match in a 4-4-2, with Gray joining Deeney up front.
- What we learned: Silva perhaps only changed to a back four due to Spurs being reduced to 10 men and is more likely to stick with the 3-4-2-1 system for the trip to Burnley. In that formation, Carrillo is a possible alternative to Pereyra, while should either Miguel Britos or Younes Kaboul, who are both nursing leg injuries, be fit to return, they could challenge Adrian Mariappa for a start in central defence. Gray may also be preferred to Deeney as the lone striker, as he faces his former club for the first time.
Current Status: Fairly Settled
Risk Areas: Central defenders, attacking midfield, lone striker
West Bromwich Albion
Starting XI: Foster; Nyom, Hegazi, Evans, Gibbs; Livermore, Barry (Yacob 29), Field; Robson-Kanu (McClean 72), Rondon, Rodriguez (Burke 90). Subs not used: Myhill, Krychowiak, McAuley, Melbourne.
- What we saw: In his first match in charge as West Brom head coach, Alan Pardew opted for a 4-3-3 formation, with Hal Robson-Kanu (right) and Jay Rodriguez (left) flanking central striker Salomon Rondon. Second half substitutes James McClean and Oliver Burke ended the match on the flanks.
- What we learned: As expected, Pardew opted for a more attacking approach than his predecessor Tony Pulis. He may stick with a similar starting XI for Saturday’s trip to Swansea, although Gareth Barry is a doubt after being forced off with a knock, making Claudio Yacob a possible starter. Grzegorz Krychowiak is another alternative in the middle of the park. Matt Phillips missed out last weekend due to a hamstring injury, but if he’s available, could be a viable alternative to Robson-Kanu. McClean and Burke provides further options out wide.
Current Status: Settled
Risk Areas: Central midfielders, flanks
West Ham United
Starting XI: Adrian; Zabaleta, Rice, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Masuaku; Fernandes, Obiang, Kouyate (Sakho 43); Lanzini (Arnautovic 69); Antonio (Ayew 88). Subs not used: Trott, Martinez, Quina, Johnson.
- What we saw: David Moyes opted for a 5-3-1-1 formation for the trip to Man City, with Declan Rice and Aaron Cresswell used in central defence, seeing Arthur Masuaku play at left-back. Edimilson Fernandes came into the side in central midfield, while Manuel Lanzini was deployed in a central support role behind Michail Antonio, who played as a lone striker. Adrian started in goal, with Joe Hart ineligible to face his parent club. Moyes changed to a 5-4-1 after Cheikhou Kouyate was forced off with a hamstring problem. Diafra Sakho played as the lone striker, with Antonio (right) and Lanzini (left) stationed out wide.
- What we learned: Given the improved performance and the fact that the Hammers host Chelsea next on Saturday, Moyes may stick with a similar formation. The five-man defence could certainly be retained, with Winston Reid perhaps an option to replace either Rice or Cresswell in central defence if he recovers from a hamstring problem. Should Kouyate miss out due to his injury, a 5-4-1 looks more likely, with Marko Arnautovic perhaps an option out wide should Moyes prefer to start Antonio ahead of Sakho up front. Chicharito (hamstring) and Andy Carroll (knee) will be options to return if they’re fit, with the Mexican now back in training. Antonio and Lanzini seem starters out wide if Moyes opts for a defensive formation. Adrian’s performance may have provided food for thought in goal, with Hart available to return this weekend.
Current Status: Very Unsettled
Risk Areas: Goalkeeper, central defenders, left wing-back, central midfield, flanks, lone striker