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Wales need to try something new

Thursday 30th March 2017
Wales' goalless draw with the Republic of Ireland last Friday night was its fourth during the World Cup qualifying campaign. Four draws in five matches is not the return many Welsh fans hoped for after their side's remarkable success in the Euros. But, it is this very success that has blemished the Dragons' World Cup campaign. The 5-3-2 system that wrought so much joy in France has been found out. Where it brought defensive solidity, it now yields attacking stagnancy. Opposition teams are wise to Chris Coleman's style. He must adjust if Wales is to gain entry to the world's biggest tournament in Russia.

Coleman should start by throwing five at the back out the window. In this campaign, the formation simply clusters the midfield. The wing-backs, Neil Taylor and Chris Gunter, are loyal servants but hardly immense going forward. The boss should deploy a back four comprising Jazz Richards, Cardiff City's buccaneering right-back, Ashley Williams, James Chester, and Ben Davies against Serbia.

Joe Allen should always front the back four as Wales' play-maker, tempo dictator, and conductor. Whom Coleman pairs alongside Stoke City's midfield maestro, however, is now up for contention. Joe Ledley has long been outstanding for Wales but his form has dipped lately. There have been calls for the dynamic Emyr Huws to marry with Allen's panache. Perhaps Huws is more suited to remaining games against Georgia, Moldova, Austria, and Ireland, all must-wins. Serbia away, by contrast, is a must-not-lose. Wales will be happy with a point. Therefore, Ledley's combative approach will be key in a tough Serbian environment.
The front three will be crucial to any success. Charged with attacking responsibilities, Wales' forward line need to produce. Aaron Ramsey must play the no. 10 role which saw him unlock defences with ease in France. There is simply no doubting this is his best position.

Flanking Ramsey, Wales' need pace and endeavour. Tom Lawrence missing the Ireland match was a massive blow. He might have been the difference. In scintillating form for current club, Ipswich Town, Lawrence should be given the freedom to run at the Serbia defence and cause havoc.

Hopefully, Johnny Williams will be fit for the Serbia match. His craft, guile, and neat footwork would complement this forward line. Lawrence, Ramsey, and Williams would be a clever front three, capable of inventing chance after chance.
No Gareth Bale means Coleman has a serious headache up-front. Wales don't particularly have a natural finisher, apart from the Real Madrid star. Sam Vokes impressed when he came on against Ireland but is hardly a born goal-scorer. Hal Robson-Kanu failed to make a discernible impact in Dublin. It is likely Vokes will start in Serbia, understandable, given his physical presence and ability to deal with Serbia's aggressive nature..

In my opinion, this is the shape and lineup with which Wales should finish out the qualifying campaign:
Michael Jones

Football & political writer with a predictable love of everything retro. English Literature undergraduate at the University of Exeter, looking to pursue a career in sports journalism. For a collection of my work, visit. http://mikejonesmedia.wordpress.com

Follow me on twitter: @jonesmichael_97

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