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FM21 Arsenal - Gunning back to the top


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It's that time again. Taking control of the club I love so much and started supporting after the legendary Nwankwo Kanu moved to Arsenal back in 1999. After the glory years it has been hard, we all know it. I truly believe we could perform so much better if managed well - or at least managed better than previous years.

Not sure what to expect of season 1, in previous editions always had a mediocre first season and the squad hasn't really improved to my opinion. Aiming for a top 4 spot and I want to win the Europa League. We are true cup fighters, so every season we should aim at bringing home the FA Cup.

 

Transfers

Key target is a ball playing central defender. Not a big fan of Luiz, neither in real life nor FM. For the rest I really want to deepen the squad, which will be a big challenge given the limited budget of 29m. Not a fan of loan transfers, but I guess I just have to. When doing so I always try to negotiate an optional future fee. The results of my first transfer window:

Luiz Felipe

Very pleased to be able to sign Luiz Felipe from Lazio. Great stats, only 23 years old and happy with the deal: 30.5m (18.5m now and 12m in installments). Only downside is that he's injured still for 2 months.

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Aaron Ramsey

He's back home. Desperately needed an extra CM as Ceballos was the only alternative to Partey and Xhaka. Loan transfer with an optional future fee of 20m.

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Vinícius Júnior

I wanted an additional left winger that could perform from day 1. Martinelli is still injured for a while so ESR is the only one left but still young and somebody I prefer to play at #10 as an advanced playmaker. Willian is not my type of FM winger (much too slow) and I wanted to loan out Reiss Nelson. Besides, Vinícius performed really well in the 1st season of my Ajax save so it's a no-brainer. No optional future fee unfortunately.

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Danny Rose

I agree. Not a top shot. But how can a top club only have 1 LB? Real life frustrations. Cédric at LB is not an option for me. So it's Rose. And tbh, buying him for 1.7m (can be 3.4m in total in the future) is a real bargain. He's also English of course so handy for  the squad rules and I simply don't have the money to spend more. It's a short term solution.

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I also signed a couple of future wonderkids on a free: Collins (Dortmund), Gnonto (Zürich), Devine (Spurs :) ) and Oddei (Sassuolo).

Players that left the Emirates:

- Elneny (Ajax - 26.5m)

- Balogun, Nelson, Martinelli, Rúnarsson, Illiev, Oddei and Rekik - all loaned out

 

Tactics

Here's my preferred XI in a 4-2-3-1 wide. I've tried Auba successfully as a right winger before, so will start him there again as I want Starboy Saka on the left with his pace and good crossing. Laca has always performed for me but his stats have been decreased a bit in FM21, so hope he will still score lots of goals.

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Pre-season and Community Shield

Very inconsistent pre-season. Of course Starboy Saka scoring the first goal of my save. But an unconvincing 1-0 win at Shrewsbury and a loss against Hannover 96 and Lazio at home is quite weak. Didn't expect to win the Community Shield tbh. Although Saka pulled one back after being 2-0 down in just 30 mins, we didn't stand a chance (shots: 3 vs. 20 for Liverpool). Pre-season conclusion: lots of work to do..

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Edited by bart__goes
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September & October

Really pleased with our start of the season! After a weak pre-season and loss in the Community Shield I organized a friendly vs. Chesterfield to build the morale. Maybe it helped as I had a very convincing PL debut at The Hawthorns with Auba and Laca on fire and a debut goal of Gabriel (0-5). Back-to-back wins in the Carabao Cup 3rd and 4th round in which the subs impressed, esp. Pépé with a hattrick agains Brentford. In between those matches a decent win at the King Power Stadium, we absolutely dominated but still conceded 2 goals. For some reason Leicester is always disappointing in my saves..

Also October went really well with 2 wins in the PL. Dropping the first points at St. Mary's - very unnecessary - due to a late equalizer of Redmond. We're in 3rd position atm, just 2 points behind leaders Man Utd who haven't dropped a single point yet. Auba is really on fire as a right winger scoring 8 goals in 6 matches, he's the current PL top scorer with Laca in 2nd position.

Good old Ciro Ferrara send us to group I of the Europa League where we're facing Wolfsberger, Sociedad and Molde. After my subs smashed Wolfsberger with Pépé again on fire scoring a brace, we won the most difficult group stage match in Spain via some Brazilian samba from Vinícius. Let's keep it going like this! Although the first real test has yet to come..

 

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November & December

What a season so far! Nov started with winning the NLD at ***** Hart Lane (0-1) followed by a very convincing performance of the subs against Molde before Pépé and Saka fired up the Emirates in the finals mins of the game against Chelsea (2-0). London is Red! After back-to-back wins vs. Villa and Molde we lost for the first time in the PL against City. I slightly changed tactics playing direct counter attack style with Partey as DM and Ødegaard next to Xhaka. We were unlucky to get behind after conceding a penalty after which Torres ended my hopes on a point 10 mins before the final whistle.

Normally Dec is a very tough month with loads of games and injuries but this time it has been absolutely great. We've won 8 out of 9 matches, although I can't deny we've had quite a favorable schedule. But a win is a win. Very strong first half of the season! ESR had a very good run in Dec (I played him as inverted winger whereas before he played more as advanced playmaker at #10) which got him the young player of the month award while Auba is player of the month and I'm manager of the month. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Outside of the PL we've finished as group leaders in the Europa League where we've drawn Krasnodar in the second round. A 3-0 win at Forest brings us closer to first silverware, although a tough match against City awaits us in the Carabao semi finals. We'll start Jan with matches against Liverpool (H) and City away twice in a row (Carabao Cup semi final and FA Cup 3rd round)..

 

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January - March

Started Jan with some free signings (Draxler and Otávio), who will both arrive in summer. As I currently have 4 players on loan and am not sure what my budget will be next season, it's good to deepen the squad with them. Chambers and Martinelli both left on loan (to Everton and Schalke).

We opened the new year with an absolute cracker against Liverpool; 4-3. Pépé once again showed his skills when coming off the bench, scoring 2 goals. If there's one team in FM I don't want to have back-to-back away matches against it's City, but after a 2-0 loss in the Carabao semi's we took revenge and knocked them out of the FA Cup (1-2)!  Dropped some points against Fulham and Leicester but in Feb we won all PL matches, incl. Spurs at home with a hattrick from Laca who has been magnificent. He's definitely my No. 9. Feb's amazing results got us even at the top of the table! Next, in March, we won at Stamford Bridge but lost against City at home, which means we're heading into April still as leaders with 2 points ahead of City, who are 2nd. Man Utd and Liverpool both follow on 4 points.

Wins against Krasnodar and Lazio mean we are in the quarter final of the Europa League, where we'll face AC Milan. Due to a lot of players being tired we had to play Krasnodar away (1-1) and Lazio at home with the subs (3-2), so really happy with the results. Esp. Nketiah impressed with his pace, scoring a brace against Lazio. In the FA Cup semi final we'll face Chelsea. Really happy with the season so far, still lots to play for and we're even a candidate for the PL title. Some though matches still to play however, esp. in April.

 

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Posted (edited)

April - May

After starting April with 3 points at Villa Park we dropped 3 expensive points at Brighton (2-0). Due to back-to-back winst against Newcastle and Leeds and the competition dropping some points too, we finished April still at the top of the table. 2 tough matches against AC Milan saw us getting through to the Europa League semi's. However, Saka and Lacazette picked up injuries and were practically both out until the end of the season, a huge blow. In the meantime we had an absolute crazy FA Cup semi final against Chelsea; 2-0 up with just 2 mins to go before Pulisic levelled in the 90+4th minute. Luckily we won on penalties!

After losing 2-1 in the first leg of the Europa League semi-final against Leicester City we absolutely smashed them at home (4-0). But here's where the trouble started. We didn't win any of our remaining 4 Premier League matches; draws against Liverpool and Wolves (both away) followed by a very painful 4-1 loss at Old Trafford. We started our final game of the season against Fulham at home in 3rd position (Man City already won the league), which was also a very disappointing match with Ceballos equalising in the 88th min (1-1). Not all ended on a negative as we did win the FA Cup, really happy with at least some silverware in the 1st season. 2 classic goals of Aubameyang resulted in a 2-1 win against a good Liverpool side and got got us lifting the trophy at Wembley. It's back home! The season ended however with an absolute anti-climax as we lost the Europa League final against Benfica on penalties after dominating for 120 mins..

Overall a very good season, we were even playing for the title until gameweek 35 which was above my (and the board's) expectations. We were fighting for 3 trophies, however, the season was just a couple of weeks too long. Playing a match every 2-3 days impacted the team's fitness a lot, which meant I had to rotate too often. The depth of the squad is not good enough and we couldn't replace Saka and Lacazette, the latter being the absolute star of the season with 35 goals in 46 matches in all competitions. Aubameyang also had an amazing season as right winger (35 goals and 11 assists in 49 matches) and Ødegaard's assists were finger-licking good (15 in 43 matches). Really want him to stay..

 

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Transfer rumours

Transfer target #1 is Ødegaard, I'll do anything to buy him but not sure if Real Madrid is willing to sell. Next to that my key transfer strategy will be to deepen the squad, we need a much better bench. Due to Lacazette's crazy performance I'm likely throwing initial plans to buy a world class striker away. We have a budget of 140m with Draxler and Otávio already arriving on a free. Ramsey, Ceballos and Vinícius Júnior will return to their clubs after their loan spells and I'm planning to sell some of the famous dead wood. Below some names who're singing around the Emirates.

Feel free to share any thoughts, opinions or experiences!

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Edited by bart__goes
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Unlucky to lose on penalties to Benfica :( Good season overall, will be intersting to see who you bring in the summer :thup: 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 07/05/2021 at 22:26, john1 said:

Unlucky to lose on penalties to Benfica :( Good season overall, will be intersting to see who you bring in the summer :thup: 

Thanks mate! I agree, it could've been worse. It was a busy summer, will share an update asap 👍

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Posted (edited)

A Busy Summer

While the boys were enjoying the beaches, visiting the Burj Khalifa and private zoos in Dubai I had to re-shape our squad. With a huge focus on the depth of the squad. It was hard to remain patient as there are always interesting players transfer listed for cheap prices throughout the summer. And after Fabrizio Romano confirmed the here-we-go for Ødegaard (€104m), our top priority, we had to sell first. And the majority I wanted to sell would only arrive in July after finishing their loan spells..

IN:

- Martin Ødegaard - Real Madrid - €104m

- Ousmane Dembélé - Barcelona - €66m

- James Ward-Prowse - Southampton - €44m

- Ricardo Pereira - Leicester City - €21.5m (€30m + add-ons)

- John Stones - Man City - €26.5m

- Gianluigi Donnarumma - AC Milan - Free

- Loris Karius - Liverpool - Free

(Otávio, Julian Draxler and a couple of youngsters were already arriving on a free transfer)

 

Quite satisfied with the reinforcements. Stones, JWP and Ricardo Pereira are very strong back-ups and I can see Stones and JWP fighting themselves in the first XI throughout the season. Dembélé is a bit of an emotional transfer; he was magnificent in previous FMs and I always wanted to buy him, I really love these kind of wingers on FM, but I never succeeded in buying him. Hope he's - together with Pépé - a good stand-in for Saka and Auba and can make an impact from the bench. I've doubted a lot about Donnarumma, but I couldn't resist signing him on a free. Moreover, he's young and will only develop further while Leno's stats will remain as they are. And yes, I saw you were blinking your eyes when reading the name of Karius. I understand, although I have to say his stats are really decent. But I was able to get him on a very cheap contract (only €50k p/m) for the reason that if I wanted to make some money on Leno, I already had a cheap replacement. Leno however stayed as he accepted his new role as cup goalkeeper and Karius has been loaned out so I can hopefully get some money for him next year.

 

OUT:

- Lucas Torreira - Hertha BSC - €33.5m

- Cédric - Wolves - €21.5m

- Pablo Marí - Crystal Palace - €21.5m

- Matteo Guendouzi - Sporting (POR) - €19.5m

- Willian - West Ham - €15.5m

- Callum Chambers - Fulham - €15.5m

- Salah Oulad M'Hand - Wolves - €12m

- Konstantinos Mavropanos - Ulsan - €9.25m

- Sead Kolasinac - Galatasaray - €5m

- Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson - SC Freiburg - €4.8m

- Ben Sheaf - WBA - €4m

- Daniel Ballard - Burnley - €2m

- Noticeable loan spells: Matinelli (Porto), Willock (Valencia), Nelson (Ajax), Balogun (Basel), Oddei (Stuttgart) and Karius (PAOK)

 

Also quite happy with the players gone. In total we received €132m for a lot of players who in real life I'd personally drive to any club without receiving a fee..

 

Pre-Season

We've had a very strong pre-season winning all 5 friendlies and only conceding in 1 of them. Esp. the final friendly against Inter Milan was very satisfying, leading with 4-0 at half time already. New players Draxler and Otávio also at the scoresheet which is always nice. We took our creativity and solid defence from pre-season with us to the Community Shield, of course the big test. We didn't allow City to create any big chance while 2 of Hale End's finest, Saka and ESR, got us lifting our 2nd trophy.

Curious what this season will bring us. With Liverpool away as season opener and Man City away as 3rd match, we'll soon find out where we really stand.

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Edited by bart__goes
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  • 2 weeks later...

2021-2022 H1

With the confidence gained from pre-season and already some silverware in the pocket, we kicked off the '21-22 season with a tough opener at Anfield. A very mature performance from us and it looked like Starboy Saka would be the matchwinner, until we conceded a penalty in the 86th minute and 90+6 min. Luckily Donnarumma stopped the 2nd one; 1-1. A little disappointed as we could've win it, but in the end I can live with the result esp. after the chaotic end of the game. After a convincing opening of the season at the Emirates against Fulham (4-1, incl. a debut goal from Draxler and another amazing impact from the bench from Pépé) we unfortunately didn't stand a change away at City. Some first doubts started to grow in my head if we really could be a serious title contender. Winning 6-0 against Southampton did move away these thoughts quickly, but then we dropped 2 expensive points at Molineaux (4-4). A crazy game with the neutral fan being the big winner and me getting 10 years older in just 90 mins, my hair as grey as Wenger after thát equaliser from Tioté 10 years ago. 

The inconsistent opening of the season was continued by a goalless draw against Lokomotiv Mosow at home, a very bad return to the Champions League. But, as things can change quickly in football, this was the start of a very good run. We won 9 matches in a row incl. another win in the North-London Derby (1-2), 2 wins away from home in the CL and surviving 2 rounds in the Carabao Cup.

At Stamford Bridge I experienced one of the most painful matches ever, losing 5-0. We refunded all fans who visited the match and a couple of harsh words followed in the dressing room. What a turning point this would be. After the Chelsea disaster, we won 13 matches in a row without conceding a single goal! What an unbelievable sequence. Donnarumma, Gabriel and Luiz Felipe were magnificent, forming an absolute block. Also Aubama-Blood-Clat-Yang revived and scored some important winners, e.g. against the leaders Man Utd (1-0) and a hattrick at Bramall Lane. We finished the 2021 year in style, adding a 3-0 win against Liverpool as latest result to our historic run. Luiz Felipe scoring the opener might be symbolic for the run we're on. Only 1 point behind Man Utd got me changing our goals for the season, informing the American bastard called Kroenke we are playing for the championship, and nothing less.

Curious how long we can continue our winning streak without conceding and if we can win the Premier League for the first time since '03-04..

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Premier League

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Champions League - Group Stage

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Posted (edited)

Sorry for the late update. Took me a while to recover from this season and urgently needed to avoid FM for some weeks. Here is why..

2021-2022 H2

We were building something special. We immediately came on top of the table after our first PL game in Jan '22 (0-2 at Fulham). We conceded in the first game of Jan '22 (3-1 win against Luton in the FA Cup) but extended our run of consecutive clean sheets in the PL until 14 matches (winning 13 of them) equalling Edwin van der Sar's record from '07-08.

We stayed on top of the table until the very last game. We again completely ruined our very good season in May, winning only 1 game. We were still #1 before the final game of the season at Elland Road, but we had to win. Lacazette equalised 5 mins before time (1-1) while Liverpool won and thus became champions. So much drama. Never been more frustrated.

Also because we got knocked out by RB Leipzig in the CL semi-final, which was completely unnecessary. 44 shots vs. 11, we dominated, but lost 3-1 away and it was goalless at the Emirates. Very frustrated. We also got knocked out of the FA Cup semi-final. Against Liverpool we were 2-0 up after 75 mins, but it was 2-3 Liverpool after 90 mins. Literally everything went wrong in all competitions at the end of the season. No luck at all.

Time to re-structure the team, I want to make a lot of changes and buy some world class players. But with a transfer budget of only 95m it will not be easy.. Will drop an update on transfers soon.

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Edited by bart__goes
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On 10/07/2021 at 15:00, john1 said:

Still a decent season regardless what happened in May :thup: 

Thanks mate. Still much better than in real life, but I guess everyone will do! Time to win the PL in the 3rd season..

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  • 2 weeks later...

Transfers Season 3

It took me a while as the 95m starting budget wasn't really allowing me to go all out straightaway, but I'm very happy with the transfer window. Raised €252m with outgoing transfers, managed to sign some world class players and also improved the bench.

IN: Haaland (€95m, + add-ons €131m), Aouar (€89m), Hakimi (€85m, + add-ons €92m + add-ons), Luis Alberto (€37.5m, + add-ons €47m ), B. Mendy (€10.75m), Rui Patrício (€6.25m,  + add-ons €14.75m) and Ronaldo Camará (free). Moukoko will arrive in January

OUT: Bellerin (Atlético Madrid - €45.5m), Draxler (Dinamo Kiev - €37.5m), Leno (Dortmund - €33.5m), Nelson (Hertha BSC - €30m), Nketiah (Roma - €29.5m), Xhaka (Derby County - €28.5m), Rodrigo Márquez (Everton - €10.25m), Labila (Watford - €7.5m), Rose (Olympiacos - €6.5m), John-Jules (Stoke - €4.7m), Karius (Fenerbahçe - €4.4m, + add-ons €5.75m), Osei-Tutu (Brentford - €3.2m), Medley (Stoke - €3m), Cox (Chelsea - €1.3m). Most noticeable loan transfer is Lacazette to Napoli for €3.8m + 100% of wages (just nobody interested in buying him!)

 

Tactics Season 3

It's all or nothing for my Arsenal too, only without Amazon cameras. This is the team that needs to deliver us the first PL title since '03-04. COYG!

Other first team players are Holding, Saliba, Ricardo Pereira, Willock, Ronaldo Camará, Otávio and ESR. Tierney has taken over the captain's armband from Auba.

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