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Guardiola and Arteta inspired 4-4-2 strikerless (FM21)


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The theory 

Over the last few years, both Pep and Arteta have often pressed in a 442 shape off the ball. T Pep famously implemented the system with man city against PSG and Real Madrid. Arteta’s go-to shape is a 442, yet he has recently moved Thomas partey into the single-pivot role becoming a 433 in possession (although it’s really a 325/316).

The goal is three-fold:

  • Positional play using all 5 five channels

  • Create a 442 press 

  • Achieve a 316/325/235 shape with a single pivot

The full tactic:

 

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Player Roles and Instructions 

GK - SK(S) - I want a modern keeper capable of playing more risky balls and sweeping behind the high defensive line. A replication of Ederson and Ramsdale

RB - IWB (s) - Want him to tuck in narrowly and form triangles with the winger and amcr whilst helping in the build-up phase. Think Tomiyasu and Kyle Waler. 

CDs CD & BPD (D) - One ball player, One pure defender. Perfectly balanced.PI: LCB - stay wide

LB - WB(S) Want him to form the 6th man in the attack. PI: Stay Wider 

DMDM(D) - Ball recycler. Don’t want him to be to aggressive in his pass selection. SHould be feeding both my number 8s. Rodri and Partey role 

LCM - CM(S) -  Want him to occupy the left half-space whilst being responsible defensively. Felt the mezzala was too wide and too aggressive in and out of possession. Essentially I wanted to emulate how Gundogan plays for city. CM being fully customisable was perfect. PI: Get further forward roam from position, move into channels. Optional PI of mark tighter and take more risks

RM -W(S) .I wanted someone to hug the touchline and provide crosses. The ml/mr strata is the only way that i’ve been able to replicate the width aspect of pep’s wingers. However, if both wingers were in the ml/mr, I’d be far too deep to press.

AMCR - AM(S)- Needed in the am strata rather than cm strata to press in a 442 and I prefer the position of an offset am to exploit the right half-space in comparison to a mezzala who im my opinion stays too far wide in the build-up phase.  PI: Take More risks, move into channels, roam from position 

AML - IW (A)- I wanted a runner in behind for penetration, but someone who wasn’t too aggressive and still utilised his other teammates for combination play. He should (along with my shadow striker be my primary goal scorer)

AMC - SS (A) - I wanted a runner in behind, so did not want a support role, but also someone that links up the play, drops deep and plays in his teammates. Shadow striker is the most aggressive am role and it fits perfectly. Much better than a false nine who in my opinion doesn't drop deep enough, nor offer enough of a goal threat. Plus, it’s easier to achieve the 442 shape when the striker is in the amc strata. 

 

The crown jewel

The best new-gen I’ve ever had attributes wise and he influenced my decision to use this formation to utilise his 20 off the ball and incredible stats. He is perfect for the shadow striker role:

 

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Team instructions.

I want to dominate the ball and sustain pressure on the opposition. Positive mentality is perfect for these intentions.

In possession 

  • Shorter passing 

  • Play out of defence 

  • Low crosses - Doesn't really matter but I was  sick and tired of seeing headers fly over the bar

  • Overlap left - Reduces mentality of my Lw and increases the mentality of my left back. Perfect for creating the 326 and ensuring combination play 

 

In Transition 

  • Take short kicks - I want to build from the back and keep the ball 

  • Distribute to centre backs - Same as above

  • Counter press - I want to win the ball back as soon as I lose it to maintain dominance and sustain pressure

Out of possession 

  • High line - I want to squeeze the pitch to control the game and I have excellent defenders.  

  • Higher line of engagement - I want to play in the opposition half. I want to press starting as high as possible and win the ball as high up the pitch as possible 

  • More Urgent - As is normal with a high pressing game 

 

Off the ball Shape

I am somewhat limited by the ME limitations, but as you can see there is a lopsided 442. I have the winger (#7) on tight marking and mark specific player hence why is so high up the field 

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On the ball shape

Build up phase

As you can see we have a 3 -1/ 2-3 build-up structure. Ideally, it would be a perfect 3-1 with the full back tucking in as a 3 but it’s not possible on this match engine.

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Attacking phase 

image.png.92da7a9b416fa26cf6b3fa9d13b9e209.png

The results

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Possible tweaks

  • Offsetting the dm to dmcr (possibly changing to dm (support) with hold position pi and fb on support with hold position and stay narrower instruction to more closely replicate a 442 off the ball. The problem is you will no longer single pivot position which is a fundamental feature of both Pep and Arteta’s football currently.

  • Translate into a 235/325 by having iW- stay wide and inverting the left wing back. This probably gets you as close as possible to an actual man city/ pep recreation. 

  • Opposition instructions to press the oppo centre backs and wing backs. FM 21 I am more limited, but with fm22 you are more easily able to set up pressing traps. Would be interested to see what pressing options can be used. 

  • Halfback when facing two or even three strikers. 

 

Problems

  • Some games you will lose the possession battle because you are unable to press high enough and the opponent will keep the ball between the back four. It does not concern me as the results against these teams are fantastic.

  • Less than ideal vertical compactness due to the necessity to have a much higher line of engagement to press high.

Edited by _mxrky
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Posted (edited)

Tactical adjustment vs Back 5

Theory

Playing against a back 5 on football manager has always presented difficulties, due to the difficulty in breaking them down and how hard it is to press effectively in the game. In real life, pressing against a back 5 is relatively simple. Managers like klopp and pep typically press in narrow 433 structures where the wingers press the wide centre backs, whilst the wing backs press the opposition full backs:

image.thumb.png.1d89a06e84e80e2566f2d9dd36a433e1.png

In fm (at least up until 21) at least from my testing this is virtually impossible to recreate as your full backs do not consistently press the opposition, so another solution must be found. 

In the below pressing structure, the central midfielders who have been instructed to  press the centre backs, whilst the wingers press the full backs:

image.thumb.png.fa7a7a45478cabae54d3749938f1be90.png

This creates a similar, although not quite as good pressing structure. 

Execution 

So how do I recreate this pressing shape on football manager? I've decided to try the following shape 

image.png.79a102095125a44cfc57f620714c9947.png

The two attacking midfielders are tasked with pressing the wide centrebacks of the opposition in order to recreate the pressing structure above. To offset the very attacking nature of this formation, I've changed to a 325 on the ball shape, with the right full back with hold position and sit narrower to form an offset 3rd cb, the inverted winger on stay wider,  whilst the left back joins midfield pivot in possession:

image.png.6521917c16505cba264b73f902cd058a.png

Note: the inverted wing back is on defend as the specific player has get further forward whenever possible PI. Usually it would be inverted wing back on support.

Opposition instructions have been used to ensure the pressing structure has been followed. Namely, pressing intensity/trigger press always on the three cbs, whilst the lb/rb/ wbl/wbr has tight marking always. 

Result

So does the theory work in practice?

Sheffield united lined up with a very defensive 541 low block 

image.png.6978deaf3bc3f745c77fa098c23654ba.png

 

image.png.d6b7e2e4852890a92fb7093c783b6741.png

An emphatic result. Total domination. The opposition limited to not even a single shot (scored from a fluke own goal). 

 

 

 

 

Edited by _mxrky
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  • 3 weeks later...

Hey there.

I have tried one with 4-4-2 strikerless with the intention of replicating City's 4-4-2 in defend. But my focus was to get my wingers wide and to get my left back play as third centerback.

I did this almost 6 months ago(?) so I may have made a mistake.

                    SS       SS

WM-At    CM-S                          WP-S

                                     BWM-S

FB-D       CB-D            CB-D      WB-S

The result itself is fairly good. Both SS terrorize defenders. The left back tho, still remain a problem which I guess is limited by the ME.

You might wonder why WP. That's because I read about how great WP could be and I was shock to see how he performs with this tactic. He mainly plays in the AMCR position when the team have possession. BWM in DM strata and the right SS is in centre to make sure there's space in that area for WP to operate on.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, soft tofu said:

Hey there.

I have tried one with 4-4-2 strikerless with the intention of replicating City's 4-4-2 in defend. But my focus was to get my wingers wide and to get my left back play as third centerback.

I did this almost 6 months ago(?) so I may have made a mistake.

                    SS       SS

WM-At    CM-S                          WP-S

                                     BWM-S

FB-D       CB-D            CB-D      WB-S

The result itself is fairly good. Both SS terrorize defenders. The left back tho, still remain a problem which I guess is limited by the ME.

You might wonder why WP. That's because I read about how great WP could be and I was shock to see how he performs with this tactic. He mainly plays in the AMCR position when the team have possession. BWM in DM strata and the right SS is in centre to make sure there's space in that area for WP to operate on.

Yep I used to have a 442 tact with the wide playmaker on attack. That actually what I would go with but I needed someone in the am strata to help with press.

I’ve also changed my tactic quite a bit since and I am using a wm on attack. I’ll possibly write an up date when I can

Edited by _mxrky
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1 hour ago, _mxrky said:

Yep I used to have a 442 tact with the wide playmaker on attack. That actually what I would go with but I needed someone in the am strata to help with press.

I’ve also changed my tactic quite a bit since and I am using a wm on attack. I’ll possibly write an up date when I can

How's that double AM doing for you? Last I tried, both AM plays on same space even with hold position on and stay wider. I was trying to make them play in the half space like a mezzala but they kept moving into the middle. To make things worse, I'm playing DLF up top so 3 men in the middle.

Edit : Tried playing with double DM-S too. Same thing happen. They didn't exactly stays in their own half space but just stays in the middle.

Edited by soft tofu
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42 minutes ago, soft tofu said:

How's that double AM doing for you? Last I tried, both AM plays on same space even with hold position on and stay wider. I was trying to make them play in the half space like a mezzala but they kept moving into the middle. To make things worse, I'm playing DLF up top so 3 men in the middle.

Edit : Tried playing with double DM-S too. Same thing happen. They didn't exactly stays in their own half space but just stays in the middle.

I’ve got another tactic where I actually use a triple am with wingers. You have to use move into channels rather than Tay wider imo Works pretty well tbh. I’ll update it when I’m on fm next

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  • 2 weeks later...

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