In my last post I discussed the possibility of Bolton playing a new formation this season, and gave my opinion on who would make up our best deep-lying midfield two. Today I am going to address the lone striker in the 4-2-3-1 formation.
The 1 is a straight choice between Kevin Davies and Johann Elmander, and I think most Wanderers supporters would say there is no doubt who should be chosen. An interesting option coming off the bench late in matches could be Riga, whose pace and movement would give tired defenders a lot to worry about.
There are 2 distinct ways to manage the attacking 4 in this formation, and both involve a lot of movement to create space. Under Joechim Loew, Germany used a 4-2-3-1 with a traditional centre-forward in Miroslav Klose. In this system, there is a lot of movement and interchange between the three attacking midfielders, as well as overlapping runs by the full-backs, but the striker remains relatively stationary in the middle of the park, hopefully near the opponents 12-yard box. This is the first way to manage this formation, and probably the most appropriate for use with Kevin Davies. And Owen Coyle's signing of attacking left-back Marcus Alonso from Real Madrid seems to point towards this tactical attack.
The second tactical option is to use the lone striker as more of a playmaker, scoring goals himself, but also bringing the midfield into play and allowing them to contribute to the goal tally. It almost removes the centre-forward designation and makes the 4 attacking positions entirely interchangeable. This is best displayed at AS Roma, where Francesco Totti pulls the strings from the front of the attack. Kevin Davies is not suited for this role. Johann Elmander might be, but there is very little patience for him in Bolton at this point.
So, unless another striker is on the way to the Reebok, it will be Kevin Davies up top, and he will need to do a lot not just in holding the ball up, but in quickly bringing the midfielders into the attack.