The Premier League in 2023 saw an array of tactical innovations and adaptations, reflecting the dynamic and competitive nature of the league. Here’s an overview of the top tactical trends, most of them were continuation from the previous seasons.
- High Pressing Continues: Teams have continued to employ high pressing strategies, aiming to win the ball back quickly in the opponent’s half. This tactic requires high levels of fitness and coordination among players. A standout example is Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp. They consistently apply intense pressure high up the pitch, forcing opponents into errors, a hallmark of Klopp’s “Gegenpressing” philosophy.
- Fluid Attacking Formations: There’s been an increase in fluidity in attacking formations, with teams often switching formations dynamically during a match. This adaptability makes it harder for opponents to defend against. Manchester City under Pep Guardiola exemplifies this trend. They often shift from a 4-3-3 to a 3-2-5 in attack, creating fluidity and unpredictability. This is achieved by one full-back tucking into midfield while the other pushes high, morphing the formation seamlessly.
- Focus on Full-Backs in Attack: Full-backs have played increasingly important roles in attack, often acting as additional wingers. This has led to a rise in full-backs who are as skilled in offensive play as they are in defense. Players like Trent Alexander-Arnold at Liverpool have redefined the full-back role. They contribute significantly to their teams’ offense, not just with defensive work but also through crosses, key passes, and goals.
- Use of Inverted Wingers: The trend of using inverted wingers, where players play on the opposite side of their dominant foot, has become more prominent. This allows for cutting inside and shooting or creating opportunities. The use of inverted wingers like Mohamed Salah at Liverpool, who plays on the right but is left-footed, allows for cutting inside and shooting with the stronger foot, adding a new dimension to attacking plays.
- Adaptation to Rule Changes: Tactical adjustments have also been influenced by rule changes, such as the alteration to the offside rule and the introduction of additional substitutions. Teams like Brighton have adapted well to the offside rule changes, playing a higher defensive line and effectively using the new interpretation to their advantage.