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Implementing THE Arsenal Philosophy in FM21

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***So sorry, I had to reload as I accidentally deleted initial post.***





(...also how I feel watching Arsenal these days.)

Arsenal is a club that, in my opinion, lost its soul when Gunners legend Arsene Wenger left back in 2017. A series of failed restructures, an inability to transition club legends into influential club roles, average players on big salaries to name but a few. Though perhaps most profoundly; Arsenal’s biggest mistake was a failure to implement a philosophy that fed off of all the values that Arsene Wenger instilled in not only Arsenal fans, but football people around the world.



This is a FM21 series that will focus on the rebuild of Arsenal’s on-pitch philosophy and will also obviously explore the mechanics of the FM21 match engine to see how we can implement a coach's idea of how football should be played. Done through the main vehicles of creating an aggressive, free-flowing and expressive attacking system. It will focus on the pillar of Wenger's legacy - developing a young team. With individual training practices to perfect everyone’s role within our team philosophy, we will still allow the players creative freedom up the pitch. We will need to support this at a world class level in all elements of our coaching setups, we will need to build the best footballing network in the world to ensure the best coaches & players continue to come in and - most importantly - develop at this club. It’s going to look like how Arsene would have wanted Arsenal to continue to be, just with slightly different people.






PART 1:  

To create my version of Arsenal, we first need to identify the philosophies we want to implement at the club. I’ll be basing my principles on what I believe made them a great club, even during the “banter” era.

Core values (all are direct quotes from Wenger):

  • “Play progressive, possession orientated football.” This means that when we move the ball around, we do it at a tempo to disrupt our opponents defensive shape. It also means that we support the ball carrier deeper on the pitch, whilst making positive runs designed to stretch the opposition's defence (think a hybrid between the flair of fluid counter-attacking football with the technicals of vertical tiki-taka)

  • “We develop stars, we don’t buy stars”. Now that we have our idea, we start to develop a world class backroom that is able to a) identify world class potential and b) develop world class footballers.

  • “If you do not believe you can do it, then you have no chance at all” develop a winning mentality at the club which develops high level professionals, model citizens and future role models to help with transitions between generations of players.

  • "If you have a child who is a good musician, what is your first reaction? It is to put them into a good music school, not in an average one. So why should that not happen in football?" identify top young talent and bring them into our setup as early as possible to influence their development and tailor it towards our outcomes. Arsenal has to earn the reputation as a world class destination for young talent again.

At the start of any major change at a club it’s difficult to have instant change, so we need to manage the transition of all staff (playing/backroom) at the club to ensure we can get the best out of our philosophy, whilst constantly developing it.

In terms of players in our setup, we want to start looking at players that made millions of young football fans fall in love with Arsenal. This quote describing our greatest ever player seems a great place to start.


Where a lot of people would say that Henry was a generational talent (he was) and that basing a philosophy on having world class players all over the pitch is a dangerous assumption, we have to go into our culture change wanting to drive excellence. So we will set up to try and suffocate teams and play the beautiful game, regardless of who is on the pitch. 

So what are the key things we look at for players? It really comes down to what area of the pitch the player is responsible for. For my Arsenal save, we are fortunate because we have relatively good player profiles in the current squad to match what I want in different areas of the pitch. We will have different types of players come in to our squad, but we have core non-negotiables that our players need (in game stats):

Composure, Decision Making, Determination, Teamwork, Work Rate, Off-the-Ball, Technique, Vision, Passing, First Touch, Strength, Stamina, Pace

However, when players age, or we have certain players that are world class but lack (for example) pace, we are able to accommodate their weaknesses with a strong team unit. Make no mistake, however, our entire recruitment setup is designed to bring in players of this mould - and no one else.

Up the pitch, we will need to add agility and presence in order to finish our chances regularly. Deeper in the pitch, our centre backs… well we basically need Sol Campbell and Kolo Toure. Our full-backs need to be absolute engines that want to get high and wide. Our double-pivot in deep midfield needs to have vision, the ability to dictate the game, and be able to hit angled long balls and switch the play. Our absolutely ideal number 10 is Mesut Ozil when he was 23. Our idea of a striker is that he is well rounded, very intelligent and decisive in his movement.

Both our wingers need to be unbelievably aggressive in their forward runs and will know when to provide width, and when to get very narrow to open up space for our fullbacks. Our goalkeeper is a brave shot stopper who can distribute anywhere, but most importantly makes quick decisions on what to do in possession.


We always set out to be an expansive attacking side, full stop. We don’t ever go into a game with a defensive mentality. We go out to win and entertain. But we also control the game, and let the intelligence of our players dictate the speed of the game. But when we attack, we commit numbers forward with extremely aggressive central attacking runs. Our transitional defensive setup is still strong, and high up the pitch. We hold a high line and have a strong central press, allowing our wide players time to recover into their shape. When the right runs present themselves, we turn the dial from 0 to 100 and overload the opposition flanks with relentless pace and aggressive movement.

All the while a certain German will dictate the middle of the pitch.

When we lose the ball our initial reaction is to counter-press, however individuals will have very specific defensive instructions. When we win the ball, our main objective in the transition is to spring a counter that very fluidly leads to a goal scoring chance. We do this by distributing quickly when good opportunities are at hand. We don’t really care where, just that we make the decision quickly. 

Defensively we defend with a high line, probably in between half way and the 18-yard line. But we have a lower line of engagement in transition - so basically, if we lose the ball high up the pitch we will try and win it back quickly. If we lose the ball in the middle third, our first defensive decision is to press centrally, and allow our wide players to get back behind the ball. Effectively we should be harder to break down if we do this correctly.

Our team is aggressive, so tackle that way. Foul them if you need to, but put good tacklers in positions that really need it - down the spine of our team, and even out wide. We obviously still want our wide players to counter-press if they are in a good situation to do so, but we also do want to be behind the ball.

Our front three should be fluid and narrow when we are high up the pitch, i’m looking to get around 5 or 6 players in the box regularly to be incredibly difficult to defend.




The system defends as a 4-3-3. In transition we press centrally to force teams to either go wide, or direct. In order for this to be successful, we play a narrow front free with the number 10 sweeping up behind to put pressure on any deep lying midfielders. Our central players tackle hard. In our attacking build up play, these three players are all able and responsible for stretching the opposition defence, continuously trying to find space, and taking on defenders to commit them, thus creating space for other players.

Our two central midfielders act as a deep lying playmaker and a traditional athletic, creative midfielder. Of these two, the deep lying playmaker is conservative in their runs forward, but is the heart and soul of this attacking unit deeper in the pitch. I want this player to be able to see things in front of them (vision) and I want them to be able to dictate the tempo of the game and be a bully against other midfielders. This player is then partnered with Thomas Partey. Partey traditionally is considered a box-to-box midfielder, or potentially a deep lying ball-winner. I’ll be looking for Thomas to do… everything. Good luck Thomas lol. It’s important to have an athletic, but intelligent and creative midfielder in that role. There will be a point where I'd like this role to be more of a Mezzala type half-wide channel playmaker on the left-hand side, but for now this will be our engine (b2b/s).

Supplemented on either of those midfielders are our two wing backs. These roles will pretty much never change, regardless of opposition. They have the same principles defensively and offensively, regardless of what role we play. Their defensive instructions are two recover back into our team defensive shape as quickly as possible, and then defend behind the ball. If an obvious opportunity to counter-press high up the pitch presents itself, they can do so. 

Attacking wise, they are expected to be aggressive. Run with the ball often, cross often, take players on often, and get high and wide up the pitch whenever possible. There will be times this role will be fulfilled by a traditional “wingback” and times where we will utilise an inverted wingback, to provide more central build up options to a more traditional winger that holds width. But predominantly, we will use wingbacks, and recruit wingbacks.




Finally we have my sexy attacking trio, who in theory will be the ones that reap all the rewards of our system. Luckily, at Arsenal we do still have some world class options to fill these three specific roles for my system to thrive. Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang plays on the left side of our trio exploiting space and utilising his supreme speed, off-the-ball movement and his ability to open up the right hand side of the goal, much like a certain legendary predecessor…

On the right hand side of our trio we would ideally mimic the left-side approach with Aubameyang, however, we want a more “half channel” operator that is able to contribute to the build up and still be a goal threat, but intelligently make decisions on whether to play high and wide as a winger, or come narrow and be a goal threat.

In the middle we have a “complete” centre forward as mentioned earlier. In order for our system to be successful, you are wanting a player that can contribute to build up, but also be lethal in front of goal, a physical presence, and an aggressive striker. This role must be a complete forward.


“I believe, the most important thing that people never talk about, is to believe in human beings. Despite all this, when you’re such a long time in the job, you’re not naïve. You know all the strengths and weaknesses, and how sometimes people can be selfish or mean. But you still have to believe that there is a light in every human being that you can get out.” - Guess Who.


The rose of our Arsenal team in our early stages will be one of my favourite Arsenal players of all time, Mesut Ozil. Mesut is an artist, who doesn’t really like to run. Ozil will play as a 10 behind a very quick front three. Ozil will sweep defensively behind the front free, but only a smaller portion of horizontal space, as in theory the wide players should cover the widths of the pitch. Even vertically could be an issue for Ozil, so we have ensured that players instructions around him help with this. It will allow him to be a little freer in his defensive obligations - something we aren’t being naive about. We know he doesn’t like it, and I am willing to facilitate my team’s system to integrate his unmatched creative ability into my team.

In the transition, Mesut will float to create space out wide, or come deep to drag defenders with him, essentially creating space for our other forwards to run into. 

In case you haven't noticed, I am determined to bring Ozil to life in this save.


...because who doesn't want to see more of Mesut?!

So now we begin our journey to implement all of these words on paper in FM21 to create an identity at a club. I’ll be updating how we initially go about creating a foundation at a club with these principles, but then also how we adapt, progress and mould our club to reflect our values going forward. Hope to see you along!

Adios and...


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11 hours ago, jdubsnz said:

very excited about this!

As am I! Hope to continue to see you along. Keep an eye out for the full release of FM21 where ill be doing another series exploring the murderball philosophy with the two Uniteds...

8 hours ago, EnigMattic1 said:

Love threads like this. You mentioned Arsenal losing their identity when Wenger left, much like United when Fergie left. 

Both clubs had a disgusting failure in leadership after the departures of their respective managers.

8 hours ago, JoOSTAR said:

This is a VERY promising thread! Looking forward to the next episode & how you are going to achieve all of this

Looking forward to having you along! Next part out soon which focuses on making player role decisions within a system, and basic training regimes.

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53 minutes ago, PRO PIROT said:

Both clubs had a disgusting failure in leadership after the departures of their respective managers. 

The hugest probem was the fact that, with their respective managers being in that role for so long, even the youth setup was tailored to each managers respective system of play. The managers that followed however, didn't share the same philosophies and, as a result, the system crumbled. 

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Interested to see results here. I'm trying a few things out on Beta with Arsenal before starting a full save. Found a nice balance (so far) of good combination play, possession and aggression.

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I'll be writing up part two today all, after we continue to implement our structure on today's playthrough.

Feel free to come and watch the progress if you're that way inclined, otherwise the write up will be later.

Can also follow through the google doc, where it's best to read: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1mMsQn59UjPZPQ2q8GWAqKaYxfj630fQNiljzhklNU0o/edit?usp=sharing 

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PART 2:  

To create our system in the football manager engine, we start to look at the core-attributes (stats) required to be effective in the way we want our team to be - the main things that are non negotiables in our system are: 

Composure, decision making, determination, teamwork, work rate, off the ball, vision, technique, passing, first touch, strength, stamina

In central defense and deep lying midfield positions, we need strong athletes that read the game well. They also need to be able to maintain comfortable possession in our build up play. When we press high up the pitch, I need them to be able to aggressively mark their opponents that invade their space, tightly, and tackle hard. Our deep lying midfielder needs to be able to be comfortable dictating the tempo of our game, being able to switch the play and intelligently join the attacking third when required, but mainly sticks to the deeper half of the pitch. Key stats: aggression, anticipation, pace, marking, tackling, concentration. Key traits: comes deep to get ball, switch play, mark tighter.

Our box to box midfielder is meant to defend everywhere on the pitch, wherever he was when the ball was lost. He is our most aggressive tackler in the team, but needs to be comfortable joining the attacking third and contributing with late runs into the box. As you can see in our non negotiables, they need to be able to pass as well. Key stats: work rate, stamina, strength, teamwork, anticipation. Key traits: comes deep to get ball, gets forward whenever possible, runs with ball through centre.

Number 10 is Mesut. For now. He’s announced he wants to leave the club already (RIP). But the club and my position is, we keep him. Anyway, subjective aside, this position: Advanced playmaker that supports the build up play as well, but is instructed to find space and move between their defensive lines where possible. When they get the ball, their job is to control the game while our wide players can get in to their attacking positions. They are our quarterback, but in the final third. They have to be our talisman! Key stats: vision, passing, anticipation, off the ball, decision making, and because we love to see it… flair. Key traits: comes deep to get ball, moves in to channels, switch play, killer balls.

Width is provided by two absolute running machines. I don’t really know how else to describe them. Wingbacks on attack, that are expected to recover in to their shape if they aren’t able to counter press and win the ball up high up the pitch. You will need two of these players on both sides or they will burn out. They are instructed to stay wide, run with ball down the flanks and to take riskier passing options - they should be able to cross early if the opportunity presents itself. Key stats: crossing, tackling, anticipation, concentration, decision making, positioning, work rate, stamina. Key traits: gets forward whenever possible, runs with ball down x/y flank, knocks ball past opponent.

Our front three utilises the positioning the AML/CF/AMR positions, but we behave as a slightly- weighted-to-the-left attack which is designed to get the AML as a second striker that sits between the channels left between the defenses right sided centre back and their right fullback. They sit narrow, are trained to move into channels, and are also trained to cut inside from their left wing. 

The AMR operates as an inverted winger, who’s told to roam the vertical channels between the edge of the 18 yard line and the touch line, always making runs in between the lines of defense, with the objective to turn and dribble and cause chaos for the opposition markers. This player needs be the trequartista of the team, someone who finds space and utilises that space to either score goals, or get in to positions to deliver a key pass. Key stats: flair, off the ball, acceleration, agility, dribbling, technique, composure. Key traits: cuts inside from x/y wing, runs with ball often, moves into channels, tries killer balls often… also don’t mind gets the crowd going here and tries tricks here, not gonna lie.

Both these two “flank” players are expected to defender the opposition teams players in the wide areas in the final third, counter pressing in that space, but if the opportunity isn’t there to win the ball quickly, they will fall in to their middle third positions.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic in his prime. That’s your ideal striker. But since we can’t just drag and drop Zlatan in there… wait… hang on… we can? No - I digress. The centre forward is someone who is physical and intelligent, those are the two main things. They are physical so they can bully CBs, and occupy two of them. They are intelligent, so they know when they need to contribute to the build up play, but also when to stay as an advanced forward to stretch the game. Key stats: strength, teamwork, anticipation, composure, off the ball, work rate, technique, finishing. Key traits: moves into channels. Ideally you want a very well rounded, physical striker. Lacazette is genuinely a good option.

But perhaps most importantly, all our players in the attacking spaces need to have flair and vision. They need to be able to produce moments that make you go… wow, now THAT’S footy. 


Wingback traits are important and do not change ever. Take more risks and tackle harder should also be selected here:


Inside Forward are also important to the attacking balance of the side, and do not change. Also, in order for this role to be sufficient in acting as an aggressive second striker, it must be within a narrow team shape


Your centre forward should always be a complete forward on either attack, or support. I tend to have an attacking spine (CAM/CF) of one being more aggressive and one being more in support. So if you’re looking to have your centre forward come deeper and contribute more in that manner, put him on support.












Liverpool went from conceding 50 goals a season in 2015/16 to where they are today… probably going to concede 50 again, hahahaha, just kidding..

Well, I mean... in theory if we train our players down to the detail on what we want to do in the defensive phase, the attacking phase… and even the transition, we should be pretty damn hard to beat.






Ideally we need to be able to fill 11 coaching slots in order to give our first team players what they need - specialist coaches that are dedicated to being responsible advisors for their area of expertise. They are in charge of designing the sessions in order to get the best of the system I have set out to achieve. Ideally all coaches would be model citizens, highly professional coaches, but we don’t mind a bit of a joker thrown in there too, though that tends to be me, the manager’s job:

Key stats for all are: motivating, level of discipline, determination, working with youngsters, and one of either (or both) tactical or technical.

  • Assistant manager (high man management, high motivating, high discipline, high judging)

  • Attacking, technical coach (high motivating, attacking, technical)

  • Attacking, tactical coach (high discipline, motivating, attacking, tactical)

  • Defensive, technical coach (high determination, discipline, defence, technical)

  • Defensive, tactical coach (high determination, discipline, defence, tactical)

  • Technical, possession coach (high discipline, determination, technical, possession, attacking)

  • Technical, tactical coach (high discipline, determination, tactical, possession, attacking)

  • GK coaches (x2) (high shot stopping, motivation, discipline)

  • Fitness coaches. (x2) (high discipline, motivating, determination)

Most clubs don’t have that many coaching slots available, as sure enough Arsenal don’t in this save. So I have made use with only one goalkeeping coach, only one defensive coach, and only one attacking coach - as I will take the tactical sessions for both defending and attacking.


We always want to develop well rounded footballers that work hard at training and build work ethic from an early age. It’s normal to train hard, but also important for the manager to know when the team needs a rest day (or two) as reward for tough games, or in busy periods.

I need to recruit and be bringing up young players that have that work ethic in their veins - so all players have double training intensity turned on, unless injured. If they are tired, give them a break, but when anyone trains here at Arsenal, they train hard.

All players playing centre back need to develop as a ball playing defenders. They need to be confident in marking their opponents tightly.

Both wing backs should train as complete wing backs. They don’t play that way, but again, we want well rounded players.

All central midfield positions should train as roaming playmakers, or box to box midfielders. They should all be confident coming deep to get ball, switching the play, moving into channels. The box to box midfielders should also have get forward whenever possible.

Most strikers should develop as complete forwards on attack. They should be comfortable moving in to channels. Depending on the style of centre forward i’m working on, i’ll add either a supporting CF with: comes deep to get ball, dribbles more OR an advanced forward with: tries to break offside trap, places shots.

Wide players, I tend to train as either inverted wingers or trequartistas. If I want a floating playmaker, i’ll do treq - if I want a pacy, aggressive winger, i’ll do inverted winger. All wide players should be: getting forward whenever possible, dribbling more, cut inside from wings, move in to channels.

All players you’re wanting to develop as a number 10 should be as either a trequartista or an advanced playmaker on attack. You’ll want them: moving into channels, tries killer balls often, dribbles more, gets forward whenever possible. If you want more of a Santi Cazorla quarterback, like I do, you’ll want: switch the ball, comes deep to get ball, moves into channels, tries killer balls often.

Example, we are training Nketiah to operate as a complete forward, that moves into channels and aggressively tries to break the offside trap on the left channels of our attack, we are getting him to work on his attacking movement - though don’t expect to see too much development on that. Eddie would be a very limited striker in our system. An advanced forward that does his powerful running off-the-ball, but is lethal in front of goal:















PART 3:  


I’m writing it right now!

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PART 3:  

Full disclosure, the start of the save wasn’t pretty. At that time, I wanted to explore this system but with three defenders. That’s all i’ll say about that for now, because eventually our system of Wengerball will evolve to that point. But we weren’t there at the start, and it cost us a lot of goals!


Conceding 8 goals in our first two games was brutal, but the game at Liverpool was a truck load of fun. Once we reverted back to our more conventional shape, we started getting some pleasing results...But I didn’t expect our football to be this good.



Let’s look at a couple of games here. First, Home to Sheffield United.

Our personnel reflects everything we’ve discussed in the earlier parts of the Doc - pace, power and flair up the pitch, with creativity down the spine of our team, with athleticism in positions that require it. 


Our front three in games against teams that have three central defenders need to constantly drag those guys high and narrow to try and exploit space on the flanks for our wingbacks - we also see there’s a juicy space for Mesut to operate in.


This is a goal in the Sheffield game, our centre three hold a incredibly high and narrow attacking position, which occupies all five United defenders. This allows Mesut to have a free roam, where he comes and one-twos with Bellerin, who has a completely free flank. He thens aggressively crosses, and our “arrive late into the opposition box” B2B midfielder smashes it home. They arrive late to create that area - highlighted immaculately (lol) - of uncertainty, where if we commit numbers, we create a goalscoring chance.

Video: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1gX0OtrmXFjGZasWrmcbJ3lf0TPLMDtCm/view?usp=sharing 

Our next example comes against Everton - one of our attacking performances of the season thus far.


Everton employ Allan as a defensive midfielder to try and nullify the space for Ozil. Allan actually has a decent game, but we run riot.



This look familiar? Set pieces are actually our friend as it allows our team to implement our aggressive structure without transitional pressure. Notice that Aubameyang and Lacazette are both in active goal scoring positions. Partey and Tierney hold the space (purple line). Ceballos, who heads towards the blue line, sweeps up our play and instantly plays progressive, rather than safe. Enjoy all of these goals. They are well worth the watch.

Videos: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1TL-ti_Fn6U3ATxT6GcmuYsu2AY55NLE7/view?usp=sharing 





Perhaps most pleasingly is how difficult any team is finding it to get out of their own halves against us. We are stifling a lot of our opposition, and you can see in two games, we conceded four goals but other than that, immaculate. Palace left two up front (Zaha and Ayew) and hit us a couple of times towards the end of the game. The Wolves game was Adama Traore just rinsing Gabriel, twice.

Most of our goals come from very slick and intricate play around the 18 yard box. Because we put so many bodies around the area, most defensive teams collapse into the box, giving our wing backs the space to produce quality, and make good decisions based on where our team mates are.

Video: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1dLiuBwuE9HZV6MwisS6Rj1xilErIR40j/view?usp=sharing






It’s still early days, but we are already seeing the youngsters already at Arsenal creating moments for themselves. My favourite game of the season was the win against Wolves in the League Cup semi-final, where we played (as close as we could) XI of Arsenal academy graduates:



Trailing 1-0 at half time, the youngsters could have put their heads down and struggled to a loss or draw. But we revved up the lads at half time, switch back to our 4-2-3-1 and absolute chaos ensued.

And so we finish off part three with a goal fest, all the goals from Arsenal’s home boys versus Wolves for a spot in the Carabao Cup Final. See you next time:


PART 4:  


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8 hours ago, OleGunnarSolscharl said:

Wasn't Wenger-ball all about possession, passing triangles, pretty through balls and classy goals? Results look good, but doesn't show a style of play at all. Be nice to see a breakdown of assist areas, possession average in the league etc

That was definitely the result of that particular Wenger team, Wenger ultimate philosophy (in my opinion) was that he gave his teams the ability to express themselves on the field. You saw that present itself in different ways depending on the era, I guess you could say!

Most of Wengers iconic teams played differently, the 97-98 team eventually evolved into the invincibles of 03-04 which were aggressive counter attacking teams, which again was completely different to 08-12 where we again completely shifted our playstyle to accommodate young, creative playmakers such as Fabregas, Nasri, Wilshere.

Ive tried to mould these playstyles together, but the ultimate principles remain the same - so yes, there's plenty of triangles and plenty of pretty football, but we also let our players express themselves in their own ways.

Good shout on the possession stats etc, ive found it difficult using the analysis window in FM21 so far, hoping that its just because its in BETA - but I'm happy to share those - i will update some content with stats based on our use of the ball!

Also, feel free to read the first three posts where we clearly examine our styles of play and how we look to achieve that - we aren't at a reflective phase yet, we are still implementing.



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On 19/11/2020 at 03:10, jdubsnz said:

@PRO PIROT quick question - the formation in 'game of the season' looks quite different to that in the 'implementing the idea' section.  Which is the one you used?

Hey mate, no worries thanks for the question. Because our team philosophy abs individual responsibilities on the pitch dont change drastically, it enables us to be more flexible with where we put players on the pitch.

The 442 shown in the "game of the season" saw me play two players further up the pitch, with a strong central press to keep Wolves 3 centre halves honest. However, in order to keep our progressional play down the middle of the park, we use a false nine so they drop in to the space in front of the three.

To be honest, the false nine didn't behave how I liked, so we reverted fairly quickly. But I guess the point is (and a few people have asked on stream) we are fluid in our team shape, because regardless of where our players are on the pitch, we have the same "roles" in order to fulfill our playstyle.

Ill cover a bit more in detail in part four, which I'll write over this weekend!

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PART 4:  

Something that has been a real enjoyment from this project so far has been the development of the youngsters we have at Arsenal thus far in our first season. To be transparent with you guys, initially I wanted to sign certain young players in FM21 and develop them into Arsenal players. I now no longer want to do this, and recognise the immense talent that we currently have at the club.

So now we have to change our ideas - something that will commonly happen with me, as I get a million ideas in a day. Something I have immensely enjoyed from playing through with other FM fans, is the ability to discuss things that we think would be appropriate for the vision we have for Arsenal - it’s been like having my own advisors, and they have influenced my decisions on what we want to do going forward.

Arsenal are fortunate to have some great youngsters coming through the ranks. Let’s take a look at some of them now briefly, and identify areas that we want to develop (also look at their determination…)








So as you can see, some serious talent to work with here - and all at an age where they can be hugely influenced by a strong structure, and strong influencers around them.



Next is the cream of the crop. Putting in place a strong scouting network and an emphasis on recruiting and developing world class young talent… leads to players like this:


Tom Henry (pronounced just like Thierry Henry of course) is going to be the lynchpin of our midfield in the future. A perfectionist with 20 determination, 16 teamwork and 16 work rate at 15 is unbelievable. Yes, he has already started for Arsenal in the EPL, because… look at him!!



Next is Neal Donaldson, who we all agreed during our broadcast of this playthrough that he is the next Ashley Cole for us. There are definitely some growing pains that need to be had, but i’m so excited to see this guy develop. Oh by the way, he’s already scored a winning goal, an assist and a man-of-the-match performance in the EPL. He’s 15.


So, we definitely have some fantastic young talent coming through the club - but unfortunately our senior squad doesn’t have the sorts of characters that are going to positively influence these players' development. You’ll notice a lot of our young players’ determination is actually decreasing! I’ve highlighted the particular traits that I don’t mind in a player - but mostly I want our players to be model citizens, perfectionists, professional or loyal. Loyal not so much, but I don’t mind that. Loyalty is grouse. But a key focus for us is to raise the determination and also influence the personality of our young players. Currently, our balanced and conservative senior players don’t allow this.


So now we need to look at how we can help these young players become the best they can be, in personal development, but also in the way that they can help the club and our idea of football. We’re fortunate to have a lot of “fairly” players. I feel like with the right mentoring and right senior professionals at the club, we can fine tune these players to become absolute animals for us.

We don’t want to over-saturate our senior squad, nor do we want to be spending copious amounts of money on wages for senior players that aren’t going to contribute positively to our ethos. I have identified some key targets for us to bring in to help mentor our youngsters. Key attributes we focus on: determination, personality, work rate, teamwork, leadership, and to be honest just generally being mentally strong - these guys aren’t going to play much, they are here to be influential and inspire our youth to become the best we can be.

Goalkeeping - Pepe Reina:


Professional, good determination and leadership, also has a great ability to start counter attacks with a long throw - will be great as a backup, but also as a mentor for any young goalkeepers coming through in the next two-to-three years.


Defensive - Phil Jagielka and Dani Alves


Model citizen, determined, aggressive and intelligent. Great mentor for our young, hungry and aggressive centre backs.



Look at Dani Alves lads. Yes. Yes and YES!


Midfielders - Lucas Leiva, Santi Cazorla and…?


Lucas was the first mentor we bought in as he was available for only 3 million. Fantastic, well rounded mentally and still offers us a great backup option as a ball winning midfielder. Also, on the day he joined the club he became a highly influential player. 



Arsenal icon Santi Cazorla will also (hopefully) come in (he’s keen) to help our deep lying creative midfielders develop as a player. Need I say more? Look at the state of Santi! What a player.


Finally considering bringing in former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas, but I will explore better options soon:



Attackers - Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Arjen Robben


Two perfectionists that can drive our youngsters to train extremely hard, motivate them to develop into perfectionists themselves… Robben carries some serious injury concerns so we have to rethink our “wide creative” influencer in our squad.


What can you say about Zlatan?! He’s still genuinely unbelievable and can (even at the age of 39) still compete with our CF options to provide competition - but more importantly, be the leader in our dressing room. I am determined to bring in Zlatan to fulfill this role.


So this is how I recruit for “sustainability” in the playing department. Once these younger players have been positively influenced by these senior players, the mantle gets handed over. We then start the next part of our save (long ways away in the future) where we begin to recruit our next batch of Arsenal youngsters to come in and start a new generation of Gunners legends.

The final part of this Arsenal project will be Part 5 “If you don’t believe you can do it, you have no chance at all.” This is where I discuss how we develop a winning mentality at the club which develops high level professionals, model citizens and future role models to help with transitions between generations of players. As we’ve discussed the mentoring section of this in a previous part, we will focus more on my role as a manager in keeping expectations high, morale high, and keeping players fit, firing and motivated. Hope to see you all there, until then, adios!


But until then, I'll leave you with this. We’ve achieved a significant goal of the project - creating a dynamic duo between our striking partnership… cheers fellas!



Oh... and here's the result of our work... in season one:




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I didn’t think that mentoring worked like that anymore? Santi might get some influence and Cesc probably would have as well being former players. But the others might not have the influence you’re looking for.

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2 hours ago, craiigman said:

I didn’t think that mentoring worked like that anymore? Santi might get some influence and Cesc probably would have as well being former players. But the others might not have the influence you’re looking for.

You may be right- I genuinely don't know. What I'm accepting as I go is that there will be changes in the game, so need to learn as I go. I try to avoid looking at updated game features etc as I want the game to feel a little less... like a game 🤣 ill certainly be keeping readers updated as to what happens with our players development.

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