Sunderland manager Dick Advocaat has explained in the Chronicle what the club’s recent 1-1 draw against Stoke City helped him to realise.
The Black Cats went into that game with a 4-4-2 style formation, where the two central midfielders struggled to cope with the onslaught thrown at them by Stoke’s middle three.
It prompted a change in formation for Sunderland to a more contemporary 4-3-3, which the Dutchman has confirmed he’ll be using for the rest of the campaign.
“Yes, we will stick with the 4-3-3 now because we realised at Stoke we could not handle the three midfielders they had,” he said.
“The majority of the teams in England are playing 4-3-3 now but that does not necessarily make it the easiest way! - You can control a game if you control midfield.”
Sunderland are under massive pressure because their Premier League future is under threat.
They have a game in hand on their rivals and need to win every game between now and the end of the season to be sure of staying in the top flight.
Controlling the midfield allows Sunderland to dictate the pace of games and turn the screw on their rivals, as they go hunting openings for goals.
The problem is that two of their final four games come against Arsenal and Chelsea, both away from home.
Both of those London clubs like to dominate the midfield areas, which makes it important for Sunderland to have a setup and formation where they can be competitive.
They have to go for broke and if Advocaat feels the key to that is dominating in the middle of the pitch, the players have to quickly adjust to that.