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Park the bus

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Hi all,

I try to come out of my comfort zone of 4-2-3-1 Wide with Arsenal and try to create something differently and defensively from my limited knowledge of FM tactic. Many times I do not want to lose a game which the result matters, like in the Champions League. I have tried to tweak the 4-2-3-1 Wide to play more defensive with TIs, Roles, etc. But a lot of time it fails. So, I've decided to park the bus, and not to care about scoring a goal. Sometimes I called it 'Anti-Football'. This is what it looks like:

Arsenal_  Overview.png

The only PIs I set is for the keeper. I tell him to do fewer risky passes, distribute over opposition defence, and slow pace down. And around 75/80 mins mark, I go contain - highly structured, and play even safer.

The very first match in which this 'Anti-Football' got a chance to show the world is against PSG in the last match of CL group stage. We beat them 2:0 in London; this time we flew to Paris, stood on the 1st place with 1 point ahead of them. I couldn't risk playing my usual 4-2-3-1 Wide and lose. And this is the result:

PSG v Arsenal_ Overview Overview.png

Next match we travelled to Manchester to play against the in-form Mourinho's lads. This is the result:

Man Utd v Arsenal_ Overview Overview.png

I think we did pretty well defensively and my goal of not losing the match which we couldn't afford to lose is achieved.

I'd like to know what do you guys think about this way of parking the bus/anti-football, and how you guys park the bus.

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1 hour ago, JWVG said:

11 defensive duties lol

When I think of Anti-Football it would be more like a 5-4-1 or something. I still would like to have some sort of counter-attacking.

Agreed. At least the center forward has to hold the ball to someone to arrive, which will never happen LOL


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That's a bit extreme with the duties and all that, but in parts you're giving the AI managers their own medicine. :o) Whilst I never went this extreme, I used similar thinking before when trying to hold onto leads. On FM 2016 I went four to five months with but one goal conceded past the 75 minutes mark (edit: months of in-game time, mind!). What's oft forgotten is attacking set pieces, there's separate options here for additional players to say "stay back" and counter attacks from attacking set pieces can happy quite regularly. What makes the stubbornly defensive AI so hard to break down is in large parts that they simply park additional men against the ball on d-duty. Outside of set pieces or counter attacking opportunity gifted, they never push up and thus never are caught out of position. Contrary to any more attacking team.

However, you wouldn't necessarily need to be THAT extreme. :D Be aware that say a full back actually stepping up to support is also a player that makes your side keeping the ball longer in the OP's half / final third, and that at least trying to attack some keeps the ball in the ops half in general. Also when that lone forward gets the ball, he quickly loses it again likely as there seems not one player stepping up to support him neither centrally nor wide. This has defensive ramifications naturally as well, as a ball is dropped is a ball dropped, and when that happens, they attack again (hence likely the many shots against). Still curios to see this. :D

Those guys actually have a lot of shots actually on target still, but if you'll watch, you'll likely find a lot of those were simply from set pieces with thus your boxes packed a) from the few shots off open play as you keep all your guys back anyway plus b) set pieces. As soon as a side has most of its on target Shots from set piece play, you can throw the game's expectation to convert in between 1-3 and 1-5 out of the window. Some players never notice this as there isn't a stats for this which should be picked up both in the stats as well as the post-match reports. There is no way a team could have been "all over" an opponent when they basically never stretched them from open play barely once no matter how highly the shot count and the silly ccc racks up. That's one reason why such a huge amount of players who play purely off match stats are in for added frustration every year. All the feedback they pick up on suggest they would be right in there, when actually, they often aren't. This isn't purely about the shots that are harder to convert from packed boxes. The set pieces come about in the first place typically because defenders have it easy to clear, foul or deflect. You're still relying on some good fortunes with such stats against though, if they happen regularly.

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