Holding midfielders the way forward for Norwich City boss Chris Hughton

Wes Hoolahan is a key figure in the system adopted to fine effect by Chris Hughton in the game against Arsenal. Wes Hoolahan is a key figure in the system adopted to fine effect by Chris Hughton in the game against Arsenal.

Saturday, October 27, 2012
9:00 AM

Diamonds once upon a time were the currency of choice in these parts. Chris Hughton masterminded City’s first Premier League win over Arsenal using the fashionable trait of two holding midfielders.

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City were one of nine league rivals last weekend to deploy the current must-have coaching accessory. Yet the Norwich City manager insists the success of such a model hinges on the ability to link back to front. And in that regard Wes Hoolahan remains the jewel in the crown.

Hughton and Paul Lambert before him were not averse to an evolution in tactics and personnel borne of pragmatism, but both came to swiftly appreciate the unique Dubliner’s talent in their midst.

The Irishman may well be given free licence again from his new boss at Villa Park this lunchtime to try and ratchet up the pressure on his old mentor and fellow Hall of Famer.

“Some teams will play that system with different types of players in there,” said Hughton. “Look at Tottenham, they have two and when (Mousa) Dembele was fit he was one of them so you know with him he is going to break forward from there. I think teams who use that system have a little bit more defensive structure in the centre of midfield, but also it is about the player who will play off the front.

“It is getting the right type of player. Some play with a withdrawn striker in that position; others play what they regard a midfield player. There are lots of different options and it can depend on the type of game you are playing, but certainly the player in that number 10 is important. You can talk about formations but it is about doing well enough on the day. You have to make sure you are an attacking threat.

“Can you be that with two up front or one off the front? If you can get enough balls into that position there is no reason why you can’t be as effective with one. It is about keeping possession and how you can get into those good areas.”

Alex Tettey’s blossoming emergence as a formidable defensive shield alongside Bradley Johnson was a key factor in a reassuringly composed display against the Gunners which lamentably will forever be portrayed nationally as fresh evidence of Arsenal’s perceived weaknesses.

“We probably didn’t get the credit we deserved,” said Hughton. “But that is something that is quite normal. When the bigger teams are on the back of a defeat sometimes it is looked upon as their failings rather than the opposition.

“Certainly from within we felt we got a lot of things right on the day. It was about nullifying their threat and causing some problems of our own. We will certainly need that on more occasions to get similar results. I’ve been delighted with Alex. It took a little while for him.

“The circumstances with which he came to us were perhaps not the best because he missed a few games with Rennes. He came here and then went off on international duty.

“I was absolutely delighted with his progress and I haven’t been surprised. I knew his abilities but it is about producing it on a regular basis and producing it on the football field. We know the type of player he is and right now he is playing with a lot of confidence. I think there were signs even in the defeat at Chelsea.”

Hughton had always maintained after a second consecutive Premier League pummelling at Stamford Bridge the mood within the camp was buoyant. Victory over the Gunners has made Colney an even better workplace this week.

“Generally the morale has been very good anyway. Of course there is always a better feeling after a win, and a well-deserved win for us,” said the Canaries’ chief.

“However, very quickly it gets back down to doing the business again, trying to learn all we can from the last game and remembering perhaps what we hadn’t done so well in the previous games. Arsenal was a stiff test and this will be no different.

“You can only ask them to do the same things, which is to work hard and be as disciplined as possible to cause a threat at the opposite end.

“So much of what happens on a match day itself can be fortune and luck and getting the rub of the green but what comes before that is you have to have a work ethic that gives you a chance.

“If you have the quality on top of that then of course you have a better opportunity to get a result. We need to keep the basics rights and we did that in the last game. Villa are the team at home and there is always a bit more pressure in that sense, but it is about the pressure you put on yourself. I want them to maintain the same levels and not fall behind that – we know it will be tough.”

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5 comments

  • According to the BBC it's 4-2-3-1. I'll call it "The Christmas Tree".... ;)

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    danpez

    Friday, November 2, 2012

  • ....and that 1 in the middle is Wesley Hoolahan!

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    Pa Snipps

    Saturday, October 27, 2012

  • Like danpez, I thought it was 4-2-2-1-1, Pa. Or is that the Concord?? Not like Divot to eschew the opportunity of plagiarising the choicer comments of we "Keyboard Warriors". ;-)

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    Mad Brewer

    Monday, October 29, 2012

  • It's called "The Chevron" Mr Davitt (4-2-1-2-1). You read it on here first!.

    Report this comment

    Pa Snipps

    Saturday, October 27, 2012

  • I thought it was 4-2-2-1-1 or 4-2-3-1 ?

    Report this comment

    danpez

    Sunday, October 28, 2012

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