Great post and very thought provoking. The Alonso/Gerrard/Masch midfield issue is one I am sure many managers would love to have, truth be told. For mine it is pretty simple. When we play Chelsea, Arsenal and Man U I think we NEED the two holding midfielders. Look at the quality of their potential midfields - fatty, bollocks, deco, jcole on one hand, fabregas and the whole arsenal game plan on the other and then a choice of scholes, giggs, ronaldo, carrick, anderson, nanny, dare I say Hargreaves and even rooney at the reds. Quality midfields that actually get used, not bypassed. When we play anyone else we have a back four to take care of the searching balls over the top or through the middle and then Alonso and Gerrard to create for us. Everyone except Ch, Ars and ManU should fear our midfield and be thinking of ways to stop us, not the other way around. We should be going out to beat all the others and save the complex tactical maneuvering for the other 3 games. Should we go 4-3-3 at home? I thought having Riera on the left with Keane/Torres in the middle was 433. Riera gives us that width on the left and drags defenders away from the middle, like he should. Last week Benny played right side and plowed a furrow about 20 yards in from the touch line when he wasn't actually in the penalty area. Often he had the ball and looked out wide right for someone to pass to and guess what...? I thought Arbeloa did a great job last week giving us some width on the right but I would rather see a proper right wing out there, giving us a 424, never mind 433. Remember how our first goal came? SG on the right touch line, where our winger SHOULD have been. With a 424 shape it wouldn't matter how big the bus was. Just a pity we don't still have the big guy to throw on when needed. Maybe Ngog will develop and do that job eventually. Another thought, having just reread your post. If the opposition are likely to park the bus with one lone striker maybe we should be thinking of 334 right from the start with Agger/Sami(or Skertl when fit again)/Carra as the back three, Riera/Alonso/Gerrard/Pennant in midfield and Keane/Torres/Kuyt out and out strikers. We know Carra can play full back and I fancy Agger could do likewise. Of course we would have backup on the bench if needed and could revert to 4 at the back pretty easily.