Steven Gerrard has issued a terse denial over Scott Arfield, stating categorically that the midfielder’s unique apparent slot on the right of a three-man trident at the front is not on the wing or out wide.
There has been much debate over exactly how Arfield is being used, and it looks, positionally at least, like Arfield very much is over on the flank, given how tight he gets to the touchline, how much he and Tavernier combine and how much he and Steven Davis link up at angles.
But the manager has suggested that is not where or how Arfield is playing:
“We haven’t pushed him out wide. No.”
Naturally the manager knows far better than us how he is setting up and deploying his team, and there has been an argument from many that Arfield is not playing as a winger. But it’s a curious placement for a player who is not being deployed as a winger.
So, let’s have a look at the evidence:
Above, and early on in the first half v Hibs and Scotty is clearly on the right of the three. He’s not hugging the touchline but then Ryan Kent, an obvious winger, while wider, still isn’t quite on the edge himself.
Now we move on deeper into the half above. Right on the touchline as the play drags over to that side of the pitch. Classic flank position.
And here above we have a switch, where Ryan Kent now goes to the right and Arfield takes over on the left.
We suspect Gerrard is, rightly, being a little canny with his testimony. Arfield and Kent are, going by the evidence, two flankers who swap position and come central when the play migrates there.
And while Arfield probably has a little free roam license, his position on the pitch clearly, unless we’re reading it all wrong (not impossible) is that of a traditional winger with concession to roam.
But however he’s set up, whatever instructions Stevie gave him, it clearly works and he is thriving under the new system like so many of his colleagues.