THE ROLE of a traditional No 10 is fast fading, with Eden Hazard and Christian Eriksen typifying the shift.
Most big teams in the Premier League have changed from playing 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3.
AFP or licensors5 Eden Hazard has been in scintillating form this season for Chelsea
Reuters5 Christian Eriksen remains an integral part of Tottenham's team
The role of the playmaker off the lone striker has gone, but that space in between the midfield and defence is as important as ever.
Today, attacking midfielders all end up in that area but arrive there from completely different places.
In a 4-2-3-1 the No 10 is often marked and waiting, but in a 4-3-3 they receive the ball facing goal, on the front foot.
In Chelsea’s case, Alvaro Morata leads the line and stretches the game, dragging the defence with him.
With the opposition midfield pushing high to stop Jorginho, a huge void is created in between for Hazard to drift into from the left and cause havoc.
And when Olivier Giroud plays, the opposite is true.
The Sun5 AS our graphic shows the key Premier League playmakers start from different positions, but they all end up in the same area where they cause damage.
Getty – Contributor5 David Silva now starts on the left of a midfield three for Manchester City, whereas he used to start more central
The space opens up in behind for Hazard and Willian to burst into as the Frenchman drops deep and takes up the role of the No 10.
Spurs tend to play 4-2-3-1 but they still have players arriving into that No 10 space rather than just sitting there.
Eriksen has played as one of the two sitting midfielders, with Dele Alli playing off Harry Kane.
But with Kane and Lucas Moura offering a threat in behind, and Alli drifting left taking defenders with him, the space is vacated for the Dane to get into and dictate.
It is not just Spurs and Chelsea highlighting this tactical change though — all the top teams are doing something different to get their difference makers into that area.
David Silva now starts on the left of a midfield three for Manchester City, whereas he used to start more central.
Getty – Contributor5 Like Silva, when Paul Pogba is operated in the same role he has more license to burst forward
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But in a 4-3-3 he drifts into that area as Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling pin the defence back high and wide.
Liverpool have played 4-2-3-1 recently but when they play 4-3-3 Roberto Firmino drops into the No 10 position, with the pace of Mo Salah and Sadio Mane in behind.
At Manchester United it is more often than not Paul Pogba who gets into that role.
Starting on the left in midfield, like Silva, Pogba is given license to burst forward with two sitters alongside him.
And as we have seen at times recently, Pogba flourishes with Anthony Martial keeping his width on the left, allowing the World Cup winner to push up on his inside.
But it’s not just the big teams doing it.