Talking Tactics: 2-3-1-2-2

Up until now, we’ve barely discussed tactics. We dabbled a bit in the Ajax save, but here on it’s always been about the pre-loaded tactics. I’ve always naively felt they were better. Also, I don’t like when the top left changes to “custom formation.” But that’s just me being picky.

Anyway, in a twist of fate a few people tweeted me over the summer asking for my suggestions of the best formation. I stuck to my guns, 532 this, 3-1-3-3 blah, but what if I’m wrong? So, I opened the floor to Twitter, and over the next few weeks I’ll be trying out your formations and bringing you the results. The barometer? Trying to beat Man Utd in the first season. A nigh on impossibility. So who do we have first?

A gent by the name of Antonio contacted me via the comments section on the final Ajax blog:


The best tactic you say? Let’s put that to the test. I asked Antonio if there was anything else I should know, but the gist was that it had worked very well for him in Spain and the attacking midfielders should have good positioning. But who to be? Antonio suggested Chelsea…


More from Antonio:

Some more thoughts:

– the postions 2, 3 are hard to find.

2 and 3 normal left and right defenders dont perform there they need to have at least one in defender midfield (check data base), or miedfield defenders with one at right (like gulit) or left (you understand what I am saying?)

– 8 and 11 also somewhat tricky.

If a Player are only Left or right they will not perform they need to be center atacking midfields, if they are bout great. (at leads having 1 at one of the positions).

Interesting, as Poyet meets the AMC criteria but Mark Hughes/Zola do not. With Bakayoko unavailable, Matt Le Tissier would be my next choice but he has a broken arm. So instead I get the Brazilian Matt Le Tissier and future record transfer fee


A 2-1 win over Man Utd in the Charity Shield gets us off to a good start, but Man Utd’s side is a shadow of what they will play week in, week out.

The first game of the season is at home to Spurs and should be a more accurate depiction of what we are.

chelsea 4 - 2 spurs

Dear God, he’s found a formation that makes Tore Andre Flo unstoppable

Off to Anfield next, a further test of the formations credentials

Liverpool 1 - 2 Chelsea

Seems legit. Worryingly Eddie Newton is our only defensive midfielder, and as he’s now out for 6 weeks, I spend £3.3m on his replacement

mark ford signs

Who would have thought he would be so sought after? He’ll fit in nicely.

He makes his debut at home to Leeds in a 3-1 win, Poyet twice and Mark Hughes from the bench. After the match, Flo is ruled out for 6 weeks too. For goodness sake.

The trip to Barnsley is normally a guarantee of 3 points but at 2-0 down with 15 minutes to go, I consider packing the whole thing in. Luckily for me, Denilson and substitute Laurent Charvet score two quickfire goals to salvage a point and our pride, but it is very apparent that Flo’s absence is going to kill us. With that, rookie goalkeeper Nick Colgan is given his P45 to free up a space in the squad and it’s time for that old Chelsea adage: When in doubt, spend.

More dropped points at unfancied Bolton highlight the formations fragility away from home – you are going to concede chances so you need strikers who are ruthless. That said, when it works, it really works


With the Cup Winners Cup a Thursday night pain in the arse, I decide to spend the money on a striker seeing as Hughes is getting on and we need to rotate.

heskey signs

Don’t judge me, he’s a talent back in 1997.

Anyway I’m sure it’s a coincidence that our next match is our first loss.

first defeat

I’m not going to play out the whole season, as I’m not made of time, but here are some things I’ve noticed about the tactic up to the half way point in the season.

  • You score an awful lot of goals with this formation. As well as the 8-4, here are some highlights
    liverpool cup
  • Emile Heskey is an unstoppable freight train from hell.

heskey form

With the formation being direct, physical strikers are the order of the day. Heskey, Flo & Hughes all boast better than a 1 in 2 record

mark hughesFlo

Oh if only Flo didn’t get that big injury. Even Zola’s return is pretty decent despite not being big or pacey


  • You get plenty of red cards and injuries

Unfortunately because you only have two centre halves they get exposed from time to time. Expect a lot of “professional foul” red cards – or that could just be because Chelsea are a bit filthy. Likewise with injuries, it might just be coincidence rather than a result of being direct.

  • Some games incorporate all of the above and more


Send help.

To summarise, this formation is a lot of fun. I have had to shoehorn certain players into it but I think given the time to build a squad, it will be brilliant. Sometimes on this game the “superkeepers” come out to play but I’ve rarely seen that here, you just keep battering them with long balls until you score.

At the half way stage, Chelsea are 4th. Would we be 4th anyway? I’m not sure, but we wouldn’t be the top scorers by a mile (though the defence might be a bit tighter!)

half way table

Have a go of Antonio’s formation and let me know how you get on. It’s getting 8 Bakayoko’s out of 10 from me, we’ll be back next week to see if we can better that. Toodles for now.





12 thoughts on “Talking Tactics: 2-3-1-2-2

  1. Tried this tactic in Season 10 of my save with Real Madrid to try and break the Barcelona stranglehold. My team had a lot of young regens including Schmeichel, Luis Enrique, Robert Jarni, N’Doram, Gascoigne, Gudjonsson, Shearer, Litmanen and Batistuta who weren’t fully redeveloped but we won the treble. Noticed my strikers would get 1 in 2 but most goals were scored by the two attacking midfielders. Added regens of Keane, Zidane, Figo and Rui Costa for this season and will see how it goes


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