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I'm a big fan of 4-2-3-1, dunno why, maybe because it's one of the most used formation in real football, probably alongside 4-3-3 and 4-4-2.But I find 4-2-3-1 very difficult to be implemented in FM.

I tried a lot of versions of 4-2-3-1 in my FM save which I started from unemplyed and in few years I am the Arsenal London manager.Changed two teams before Arsenal and i tried to play a lot of 4-2-3-1 at these teams, but I never had the satisfaction finding the right tactic.

I consider my self a veteran of this game.Playing since CM series, reading lots of guides, and never had such big problems like in FM21 in terms of tactics.

4-2-3-1 used to work very well following the principle of Cleon about the 4-2-3-1 which i consider the most accurate about this formula.But not in FM21 anymore.

Some people will say : "4-2-3-1 it's not for you mate, just leave it alone and try something else", but yea, I use other formulas too, the problem is that it has become an obsession to make 4-2-3-1 work fine.

So, long story short.Let's show you how my 4-2-3-1 look like and then I am waiting for your advices and how you use 4-2-3-1 in your saves.

I have two tactics for Arsenal.

The first one I named "pass and move" and I want my team to play some kind of tiki taka football, based on the fact that the players allow me to implement this kind of tactic, considering their technicall and mental attributtes.

So i want to play a cautios type of atacking, be patient, building our attack slow, lots of passes, lot of movement on the pitch from my players.Tiki take comes with an aggresive defending, so i tried to do that with a higher DL + LOE + more urgent pressing.

The second tactic, it's a direct counter attack one.Used against teams that are better than mine.

I started with an positive mentality, cuz i want my team to get the ball fast to the oponents goal with quick transition.I use LOE cuz I want to drawn my opponents in my half with a medium-low kind of defensive block, but aggresive with more urgent pressing.Told them to regroup when we lose the ball, because i want my defensive block to be formed in a short time.

I leave you the pictures with the tactics and waiting for your answers.

Thanks,

 

 

 

 

passandmove.png

counter.png

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You're third with Arsenal and it's not as if that squad really is anything amazing, looks to me like your tactics are working fine?

Anyway, your first tactic basically looks like a possession for the sake of possession tactic. No risk just pinging around the ball. You also push up high on the pitch, leaving little space, which you already have little off as Arsenal is a big club. How do you expect your team to attack when you tell them to take no risks, while putting them in a position where they must take big risks to try and pull something off since there is no space? Your roles are also rather cautious, with the two attacking roles up front being the DLF and AM, who even on attack duty are by no means out and out attackers, sure it can work, but with a cautious mentality these players will tend to look to maintain possession.

As for the second tactic... I mean you set the counter TI and lower LoE. That's basically it? Quite frankly, I would argue those two tactics should be used the other way around! Just cautiously sit on possession against big teams and then hit them when they give away too much space at the back and use the tactic that's actually allowed to take risks against the small teams that will require you to take risks as they just sit behind the ball. Currently you're basically trying to not lose the ball with your attacking tactic, but then on your "defensive" tactics, you use the exact same roles across the board, but tell the entire team to take way more risks (and everything else that comes positive vs cautious mentality change), due to that the second tactic is way more aggressive than the first actually.

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1 hour ago, BoGdy said:

Tiki take comes with an aggresive defending, so i tried to do that with a higher DL + LOE + more urgent pressing

This is the first mistake. You are trying to defend aggressively - high pressing + hard tackling - within a defensive block with a relatively low level of compactness (the distance between D-line and LOE). On top of that, you are doing this in a top-heavy formation with no DM, which can only make things even worse. 

Attacking-wise, both roles on your right flank - the winger and FB on attack duty - are crossing-heavy, which does not go hand in hand with a possession-minded short-passing play (even if the overall balance of your setup is good). So your tactic contains one clear contradiction. 

Plus, your first tactic looks too conservative for a top team like Arsenal. Because even if you want to play a patient possession style, it does not need to be that much slow (referring to the combination of PoD + short passing + hold shape + low team mentality). 

When it comes to your second tactic, the problem is not the tactic itself, because it looks okay. Rather, the problem is that it's too different from your first tactic in terms of playing style, which is really unnecessary, especially when managing a strong team.

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4-2-3-1 is quite tricky to set up sometimes, though a very good formation for high pressing teams. 

especially when looking for a more patient approach of play, the formation shows its weakness. With no DM, it usually is much harder to let your Wingbacks move of the pitch without loosing defensive solidity. The overlapping runs on the flanks tho are key when comes to that particular style of play. That’s why most teams IRL play with a double 6 / two defensive midfielders which cover for the wing backs.

DMs will also help your team to build up from the back more safely and with a generally more patient approach there will be enough time to move up the pitch and support your attacks.

So while the ZM version of 4-2-3-1 is better suited to more direct approaches as it allows you to transition quicker, I would highly suggest the DM version when you are looking for a tiki taka style of football 

Just one thing to add, cautious mentality might look as the best choice, as it implements slow and patient passing. Despite that it has nothing in it that suits the style of play you are looking for when trying to play patiently / tiki taka with a top side.

You want your players to move up the pitch and defend aggressively, just to name a few which all comes with higher mentalities. 

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