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[FM14] Arsenal tinkering

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This thread is my attempt to document my delving deep into Football Manager for the first time. I've been playing the series for years but have never really utilized all the features that are now available and after getting stagnated in my long-term Newcastle game I decided to really try and fully immerse myself into a new game.

The main feature I need to get my head around is the training. I've always just left this to my assistant but after reading some of the threads in the training forum and seeing the results you can get with the proper training I'm keen to give it a go.

In terms of tactics I've always chosen how I want to play and blindly tried to force the team I have taken over to play that way even if it doesn't suit them. On top of this, I've always played two ways, a home strategy and an away strategy and not really ever looked at an opposition scout report. Nor do I ever really react to things that are happening in-game aside from deciding to go overload when I need a goal in the final minutes :lol: It is possible to have success playing like this but I think I will enjoy it much more with a much better understanding of the game.

This game, I hope, will be played very slowly and in a lot of detail. I plan to be completely hands on and take charge of all aspects of the club: individual training, general training, match preparation, development of youth, hiring and firing of staff and tactical analysis of the opposition and our own play before, during and after games.

OK, so the introduction is almost over :lol: I hope some of you are still reading. I have decided to start with Arsenal. They already have a good setup at the beginning of the game with mostly good staff and facilities, a good squad so I won't finish bottom of the league and give up and most importantly a great history of developing youngsters and some good youth players already in the under-18's. This is a way of documenting my game but also of learning so would really appreciate any feedback people can give. I will try and explain every decision I make so people can see why I think I am doing certain things and hopefully tell me I'm right!

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Started off with the usual meetings etc. Nothing much to report from them, we are expected to qualify for the Champions League with a wage budget of £1.8 million p/w with the following philosophies: Play possession football, play attacking football, develop youth. The staff didn’t have much to say just advising on set piece takers etc and my team meeting managed to boost morale a bit.

First thing I did was have a look at the squad and try and develop the tactics.

Initial tactical thoughts...

Looking at the team report, we have the second weakest squad and we are among the least aggressive sides as well. However our decision making, first touch, passing, work rate and teamwork are towards the upper end of the league’s range.

We’ve got a pacy defence who are good at tackling but not great in the air. The midfield is very creative as you would expect with high creativity, passing, teamwork, technique and decisions. Finally the strikers have a lot of pace and are good finishers

So, first things first - the board want me to play attacking, possession football so we are set up attacking and with our first team instruction:

- “retain possession”

Due to the pace and creativity we have in the side I’ve also decided to go with:

- “pass into space”

- “push higher up”

- “be more expressive”

That will do for now. I’m going to be watching the games in full and pausing a lot to analyse things so can change things on the fly if I need to. Obviously any thoughts on this is greatly appreciated.


Arsenal have so many good midfielders you need to play as many as possible of them so the formation really picks itself - we will be going 4-2-3-1.

The striker role will be taken by Giroud, Bendtner and Sanogo. Giroud is a good target man with good heading, strength and the PPM “Plays with back to goal”, Sanogo is a similar player but not as good really. Bendtner is a bit more creative and likes to come deep to get the ball so will be lining up as a deep lying forward. They will all be on the support duty. Walcott and Podolski can obviously play up front as well and may have to if we get injuries but for now they will be considered for the midfield.

Özil is the star of the side and I want him in a position where he can play his best. He’ll play in the hole as an advanced playmaker. Tomas Rosicky will play there too. On the left of them I’m going to play an inside forward who can cut in and help out the striker. Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski will play here, both with support roles. On the right we have two classic wingers in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott who will play as attacking wingers.

On the left of the central midfield pair will be Arteta and Flamini. Both will play as central midfielders, Arteta on support duty, Flamini on defend. Jack Wilshire and Aaron Ramsey will play on the right side as deep-lying playmakers on support duty.

Sagna and Jenkinson will play right back as fullbacks, Sagna on defend due to his poor crossing and dribbling, Jenkinson is a good crosser so is on support. The left backs, Gibbs and Monreal will be attacking wingbacks, looking to overlap the inside forward. They both have good stamina so should be able to get up and down all game. Per Mertesacker will play on the left of the centre backs with a cover duty – has great positioning and anticipation so should be able to sweep everything up. Koscielney will play next to him as a stopper.

Obviously things will get changed a bit depending on opposition and who is actually available. The main switches will be in central midfield. Against tougher opposition, Flamini is likely to start with a deep-lying playmaker alongside but against easier opposition Arteta will probably come in and Wilshire/Ramsey will push up into an attacking central midfielder.


Individual instructions...

All GK: Pass it shorter, distribute to defenders.

Nice and simple, we wanna keep possession, not hoof it away.

Jenkinson DR: Cross more often, cross aim target man.

His crossing is good and with Giroud in the box I want as many crosses coming from him as possible. Aiming at the target man should stop the wild crosses going out of play on the far side.

All DL: Run wide with ball, cross aim target man.

I want them overlapping the inside forward and hugging the touchline before whipping the ball in. Again Giroud will hopefully benefit from this.

Aaron Ramsey MC: Close down more

Jack Wilshire MC: Close down more, ease off tackles, dribble more.

I want these guys to be my engine; both are set to chase the ball down due to their good stamina. Always likely to have one on the bench as well so can replace them if they get tired. Wilshire is quite aggressive and not a great tackler so told him to ease of the tackles in an attempt to cut down on fouls. He’s also a good dribbler so looking to use that to break the opposition’s midfield line.

All MCL: Shoot less often

I hate long shots, enough said.

All AML: Shoot more often

Maybe I should change that to I hate long shots from holding midfielders, Podolski and Cazorla are more than capable of scoring some long range crackers.

Oooook, so that was long and hopefully not too much of it is wrong. This is just my initial tactical thoughts on loading up the game so things will certainly change throughout the season and with some excellent advice from you guys :cool:

Next post will concern my coaching staff, training and youth development.

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Will look forward to following your progress here, particularly with players like Gnabry, who the AI consistently ruin! As one little bit of constructive criticism, I do feel the thread could use a few screenshots :)

Also, are you keeping Bendtner?!

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Will look forward to following your progress here, particularly with players like Gnabry, who the AI consistently ruin! As one little bit of constructive criticism, I do feel the thread could use a few screenshots :)

Also, are you keeping Bendtner?!

Yeah I agree I need some screenshots, don't think anyone wants to listen to me ramble on for ages without any pretty pictures to look at. Some of the keys on my computer don't work :lol: so I can't take screenshots normally but I've just discovered that FM uses a different button so I can. I'll edit them into the first post.

I'm very excited about Gnabry, have a random soft spot for him so looking forward to see what he can do. Bendtner will be staying for the time being, I always like to start off with transfer budgets turned off so he'll stay until at least January and get some chances to prove his worth!

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Well this update was going to be all about the staff, the training and youth development but its taken me ages to just sort the staff out but I’ve finally got there. I’d never even seen the under-18 training page before – shows how little I get involved normally!

I kinda wanted to get one thing done at a time and my first priority was sorting the staff. To that end, I cancelled our first friendly of the season just to give me time to get everything done. Instead I have arranged three more home games throughout pre-season against Cheltenham, Antwerp and Ensfield.



So first off we waved goodbye to three members of staff. Fitness coach Marcus Svensson left after three years at the club, agreeing a mutual termination package of £110k. He was joined out the door by under-18 coaches Steve Leonard and David Court who depart with ten years at Arsenal between them. Both men leave rich however with £100k payoffs each.

Internal jiggling...

There was a little bit of internal shuffling of staff as I had to make room for incoming staff who would only accept certain positions. Firstly Craig Gant has been given a £1000 p/w pay rise to move from his under-18 fitness coach role to a role with the first team. Under-18 manager Steve Gatting joins the under-21 squad as Terry Burton’s assistant.


There were two additions to the first team coaching staff. Everybody’s favourite FM coach Mike Rigg joins to take control of tactics while Italian Andrea Bergamo joins as an attacking coach.


Most of the changes were in the under-18s. Eric Black takes the newly vacated manager’s position, he will be in charge of shooting. Carmine Gautieri comes in as his assistant and will look after attack training. Dave Billows and Wally Downes join Black’s team as coaches for tactics and defence respectively and Tomasso Furlan comes in as a coach for the under-21 side but will work with the under-18s on their ball control.


Very pleased with the staff I have brought in. Was a bit limited as I could only sign unattached staff but at least 4* in every category for all my squads is pretty pleasing. The Italians can't speak English which annoys me, not sure if it will make a difference in the game but I would prefer them to. Hopefully they will pick it up soon! Wanted Billows in the first team coaches but couldn't get Rigg to agree a deal as an under-18 coach so it had to be this way round.

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Arsenal start off with pretty good scouts, so not much change is needed. There’s three scouts who don’t really make the grade – Martin Keown, Ty Gooden and Everton Gushiken. Keown will stay, he’s a former Arsenal player and I’ll use him to report on my players out on loan. I don’t know if a scout’s attributes really make a difference in this role, I just use it so I can see their appearances, ratings and goals etc. The other two are outta here.

Pat Rice has a good scouting ability and reasonable tactical knowledge so he’ll take over the scouting of next opposition. Bobby Bennett and Tony Banfield will be scouting under-18 players around the world, both have good scouting player potential.

This left me with six scouts and Steve Rowley, my chief scout. I’m going to keep him free to go provide reports on specific players I ask him to. Decided to concentrate my scouting efforts on six regions:

- Central Europe

- Southern Europe

- North Africa

- East Africa

- East Asia

- South America

I’ve got leagues loaded from France, Italy and Spain so wanted to focus on them. North and East Africa have the “bigger” football nations such as Ghana and Ivory Coast so want to look at them. East Asia is a lucrative market to tap into so if we can pick up some quality players there might give us some financial boosts. South America is pretty obvious really.


I just gave scouts random assignments really. I’ve found if I give someone an assignment in an area they are knowledgeable about they finish it one day so I tend to send them places they know nothing about!

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OK this is an area I have never touched on any iteration of Football Manager of Championship Manager before then. I’ve always left training to my assistant to sort so this is a bit new to me and I don’t really know what I am doing! I’ve read Cleon’s Ajax and Santos threads so I feel a little less ignorant now. Cleon suggests pre-season is broken down into four parts:

- Morale

- Fitness

- Tactic familiarity

- Team cohesion


Achieved by winning all our friendly games. We have ten set up between now and the beginning of the season, all bar one – a clash with Schalke – are against much lower quality opposition so we should be nice and happy at the end.


Again I think this is achieved by everyone playing friendly games, we have ten so hopefully that will get the fitness levels to a good level.

Tactic familiarity


This is where we stand with no training at the beginning of pre-season, as you can see – a lot of work to be done.

Team cohesion

Transfer budgets have been turned off in the first window so I haven’t brought in any players myself but of course we have Mesut Ozil, Yaya Sanogo, Mathieu Flamini and Emiliano Viviano who joined so there will be a little settling in time.

Team Training

Wacked the scheduling bar all the way to the left, by my understanding we now have a 50-50 mix of general and match training which is set to Tactics Only. I missed the deadline to change the general training this week, got distracted getting my coaches in order. I’ve changed the focus to Fitness and Intensity to Very High for the upcoming weeks. Once fitness levels are up, I’ll change the focus to Team Cohesion. Is there anywhere I can see what my Team Cohesion is? I can see a squad harmony level on my board confidence but not much else...

Individual Training

Here’s how I set up my individual training for the first team squad...


I’m not going to go into detail on each player. My strategy was to look at the key attributes for the positions and role they will play and see what they are behind in. If there wasn’t an area I could see that really stood out in need of improvement I got them to focus on their position to get a general improvement.

I went through the under-21 and under-18 squad and using the assistant reports and my own judgement decided on what players I thought would make it at the top level. I don’t think all will make it as Arsenal players but I hope I can get most of them playing in the top flight.

These are the under-21 players:


These are the under-18s:


I sorted out all the individual training for these players in the same way as I did with the first team. The ones who have no hope I didn’t bother with and have added them all to the unwanted list. No sides have transfer budgets so they’ll probably hang around until January.

I got all the under-21 and under-18 players with balanced personalities to be tutored by senior players with more appropriate personalities. My shining light in the under-18’s is Gedion Zelalem, I got him to learn from Mikel Arteta as I want him to develop the same PPMs.

On all my players, from the first team down to the under-18's I'll be rotating the individual instructions every two months.

I think I might finally be ready to move into the second week of my Arsenal career, I can't think of anything else I really need to get set up! So next update should see me finally play some games! Even though it is taking a while I am actually enjoying playing the game slowly and really thinking about what I am doing.

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OK so I've just played my first friendly, a disappointing 2-2 draw with Ligue 2 side Stade Lavallois MFC. Luckily morale hasn't really been affected and I got them motivated with a good post-game team talk. Giroud and Monreal got my goals.


Looking at the stats it looks a good performance and there were some positives for sure. The wide play was good with crosses coming in from both sides, we also had some good attacking play through the middle, our first goal coming through a nice through ball from Ozil. In terms of defensive line we had a good shape and there were no instances of us being caught out by quick balls over the top etc.

The disappointments really came in the goals we conceded, both came from players running down the wings and crossing for a finish inside the box.

First goal

So the first goal came from a pretty harmless looking freekick in the center of the park. I paused at this point and was worried about the two wide players who seem unmarked.


The ball eventually came to one of them, Tiberi, on the left wing.


He just ran forward with the ball (Sagna just running backwards next to him) and swung in a cross.


The cross came in between where Koscielny (RCB) is and the goal so really Sane had no right to get there but he just ran past the defender and volleyed home.

After this the natural thing to do was to mark Tiberi a bit tighter so I added that opposition instruction. Not quite sure it worked.

Second goal

Gibbs gives the ball away here, as you can see Tiberi on the left wing is completely open.


As the winger gets to the byline to cross, Tiberi is completely free outside the box, the cross comes in and he volleys home from the edge of the area.


Anyone have any tips on what I should have done. I started the game with no opposition instructions as I don't really understand them yet - I need to read a guide on them somewhere. I think there seems to be a problem in the structure of the team however...

On the right side of my team we have a fullback (D) and a winger (A). That obviously leaves a big gap between them which would explain why there is so much space. Should I push up the fullback to a S role?

Both goals came from the winger running with a fullback in close proximity but making no tackles...Sagna and Monreal (the fullbacks in each case) both have tackling of at least 15 which I would say is pretty good. Should I be upping the ante with hard tackling?

I was playing the formation and tactics posted earlier in the thread, if there's any other info people wanna see let me know!

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The rest of the pre-season was a bit up and down, followed up that result with three wins:

Cheltenham (H) 4-1 Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mertesacker, Cazorla

Celtic (A) 2-1 Wilshire, Oxlade-Chamberlain

Exeter (A) 3-0 Mertesacker, O.G., Cazorla

Disappointed to be conceding goals against teams like those, but the attacking and possession play was good. The big spanner in the works was the next game, a 6-0 loss at home to Schalke. This was a big eye opener to me and forced me to change things around. After asking in the tactics thread I made the following changes:

- removed "Push Higher Up"

- added "Hassle Opponents"

- changed the right back to a support role

Things have looked better in all the other friendly games, admittedly against weak opposition but the space the opposition had was cut down much better and we really controlled the game. We did concede some goals from set pieces though, I'll need to work on our set piece defending. The rest of pre-season went like this:

Antwerp (H) 5-1 Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mertesacker, Sanogo, Jenkinson, O.G.

Enfield (H) 3-1 Sanogo, Cazorla, Ozil

Genclerbirligi (A) 1-0 O.G.

PAOK (A) 3-1 Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilshire, Ramsey

Windsor (H) 4-0 Ozil, Cazorla, Akpom 2

In terms of tactical familiarity we're nearly there. It can still improve a bit but we should have enough for the season's start. Fitness levels are very good, everyone is match fit before our season opener. Theo Walcott and Emiliano Viviano were injured for a while (Walcott missed all of pre-season) so they will take a bit more time. Will get them in some reserve games to get them to catch up. Bendtner and Vermaelen are still injured. Not sure how to check team cohesion but it should have improved. Despite that defeat to Schalke the morale of the squad is very good as well.

Had some contracts expiring next summer so sorted those, talks broke down with Sagna and Gnabry unfortunately. Not bothered about Sagna so will try and get a sale agreed before January. Hopefully I can get Gnabry to change his mind as he's a great prospect. Sam Galindo was denied a work permit so couldn't get a new contract.

All in all a productive pre-season for us. Next we embark on the Premier League campaign, starting with a trip to local rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

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tottenham-hotspur.pngTOTTENHAM HOTSPUR vs ARSENAL arsenal.png

Sunday 18th August 2013 16:00 // White Hart Lane

Other Premier League results:

Chelsea 2-0 Stoke City; Crystal Palace 0-3 Liverpool; Everton 1-0 Cardiff City; Hull City Tigers 0-0 Sunderland; West Bromwich Albion 1-2 Fulham; West Ham United 2-1 Aston Villa; Manchester City 2-1 Southampton; Norwich City 1-2 Manchester United; Newcastle United 2-3 Swansea City.

Pre-match thoughts:

Pat Rice delivered his scouting report on Tottenham a few days before the game. Unfortunately being the first season on the game and their first game there wasn’t much to go on :lol: They only played three friendly games – a 2-0 win over Valenciennes, a goalless draw with Lille and a 3-2 defeat by PSG. In these games, most of their goals came from their own half, presumably on the counter attack. They only conceded the three goals – one down each flank and 1 from the opposition half.

Danny Rose looks the weak link of the side at left back and with Chadli and Lamela likely to play ahead of him both with average work rates I feel we can take advantage down our right flank, especially with AOC’s impressive performances in pre-season. As they have only played three friendly games most of their squad are severely lacking in match fitness, I hope to take advantage of this by playing with a high tempo.

Team news:

Tottenham will be without Hugo Lloris, Paulinho and Lewis Holtby for this clash, Younes Kaboul could play but he is very unfit (73% condition, 57% match fitness) so we can take advantage of that if he plays.

Bendtner and Vermaelen are yet to return to training for us, Walcott and Viviano have but won’t make this game.


Opposition instructions:

Kyle Walker – close down always, show onto left foot

Danny Rose – close down always, show onto right foot

Dawson – close down never, show onto left foot

Vertonghen – close down always, show onto right foot, tackle normal

Sandro – close down never, show onto left foot

Dembele – close down always, show onto right foot, tackle hard

Lamela – close down always, tackle normal

Eriksen – tight mark always, close down always, tackle hard

Townsend – close down always, show onto right foot, tackle normal

Soldado – close down always, tackle normal

Half time: Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Arsenal

Things got off to a bad start really, Spurs grabbed the lead in the 6th minute. We got caught out by a long ball over the top which is disappointing as I had identified that pre-match. We were set up attacking so that would probably explain that. However after the goal we seemed more solid and Mertesacker especially won a lot of headers.

We grabbed the equaliser in scrappy fashion, Mertesacker heading across goal from a corner and Townsend diverting Koscielny’s header past Fridel after 31 minutes. Six minute’s later we grabbed the lead – AOC smoking Rose and crossing for Giroud to head home.

Very happy to see my opposition instructions really working, Wilshire is really snapping into the tackles in midfield especially and Eriksen has been anonymous (really scared to write that as he might come back to bite me in the second half!). We haven’t been passing very well, so going to remove the pass into space instruction to see if we retain possession a bit better. Steve Bould reckons we should mark Soldado tightly as well so I’ll give that a go.

Full time: Tottenham Hotspur 1-3 Arsenal

First of all, obviously very pleased to have come away with a big win against the rivals in the first game. We grabbed the third in the 55th minute, Kyle Walker getting in the way of Giroud’s header but knocking it into the back of the net. So Mr OG is my top scorer so far :lol: After the goal I changed down to control so we would be less vulnerable to the counter and with ten minutes to go we went to counter ourselves to see out the remainder of the game.

Jack Wilshire made way on the hour mark to be replaced by Arteta, he was playing well but was worried he might pick up a second yellow. Arteta was solid when he came on. Cazorla was pretty poor, had some goal scoring chances where he should have done better so brought Podolski on after 74 minutes, the German didn’t really have much impact but didn’t do much wrong either. Two minutes later Jenkinson replaced Sagna as he was booked also. He made some good runs and set up some chances so impressed me in the short time he had.

Tactically I am very pleased with how the game went. I watched the game in full, something I have never done before, and was really pleased to see how my opposition instructions were affecting the game. Eriksen didn’t have a kick and hardly got forward at all, similarly Lamela was pretty ineffective, only really passing the ball sideways.


Eriksen's average position (L) and Lamela's completed passes ®

As I mentioned in the second half I instructed the lads to mark Soldado tightly and it really worked (thanks Steve Bould). Tottenham really had no ideas apart from long balls forward which came to nothing.


Tottenham's wasted passes

That most certainly is my most pleasing victory on a FM game as I feel I actually know why I won the game!

Tottenham Hotspur 1: Soldado 6

Arsenal 3: Townsend og 31, Giroud 37, Walker og 55

MoM: Olivier Giroud

League Position: 2nd – 3 points.

Next up we face Spanish side Real Sociadad in the 1st leg of the Champions League Playoff.

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arsenal.png ARSENAL vs REAL SOCIEDAD 1166.png

Wednesday 24th August 2013 19:45 // Emirates Stadium

Pre-match thoughts:

Again the scouting reports weren’t much use with only one league game played, however it became clear that they are dangerous down the wings with Prieto and Griezmann there. It said they had scored a few from throw ins which was worrying as I don’t really know how to counter this :lol: The right flank looked weak and they have conceded goals from there, so we will try and exploit the right flank again.

They seem to play 4411 so hopefully we can isolate the striker and attacking midfielder by pegging back the wide midfielders.

Team news:

Vermaelen has returned to training for us but still a long way before he is ready for any action. Viviano still needs to catch up. Some good news is Theo Walcott is on the bench, condiction wise he is OK but in terms of match fitness he isn’t really ready but if we are comfortable I might throw him on to improve that.

Sociedad have a bit of an injury problem with Mark Gonzalez, Markel, Liassine Cadamuro, Marko Sangalli and Diego Ifran all missing out.


Opposition instructions:

Carlos Martinez – close down always

Alberto De la Bella – close down always, show onto right foot

Ion Ansotegi – close down never, show onto left foot

Inigo Martinez – close down always, show onto right foot, tackle normal

Xabi Prieto – close down always, show onto left foot, tackle hard

David Zurutuza – close down always

Jon Gaztanaga – close down always, show onto left foot

Antoine Griezmann – close down always, show onto right foot, tackle normal

Carlos Vela – close down always, show onto right foot, tackle hard, tight marking always

Imanol Agirretxe – close down always, tackle normal

Half time: Arsenal 1-0 Real Sociedad

We look very solid defensively and they are not getting any luck down the wings. A few through balls broke our line but we recovered and got back to tackle. Sagna and Flamini looking very good especially, Flamini is really bossing the midfield but has picked up a yellow card so we will have to watch that.

Attacking wise we aren’t really creating too much, our first touch and final ball has let us down really. The goal came from a shot that hit the post before Giroud poked it home. Still we are winning and haven’t conceded a goal. Gonna drop to a control mentality to try and create more space.

Full time: Arsenal 4-1 Real Sociedad

A very solid performance but not the best attacking despite scoring 4 goals! Giroud headed in Rosicky’s freekick before AOC drove into the box and fired home. Granero pulled one back on the counter following our corner but Sagna headed home from a corner a few minutes later.

Obviously disappointed to concede a goal but with four of our own I feel we are comfortable and I should be able to rest players in the next leg.

Very pleased with the defensive side of things, again we reduced the AMC to nothing and succeeded in pegging back the wingers, their average position was well inside their own half.


Average positions for Griezmann (L), Vela ©, and Prieto ®

Rosicky picked up a bit of a knock in the second half and was replaced on 54 minutes by Cazorla. Flamini was pushing his luck with fouls so brought on Arteta on the hour mark. With 15 minutes to go I was able to bring on Theo Walcott for a run out. He came on for Giroud as an advanced forward and we switched to counter. His pace definitely caused them problems and he could have grabbed a goal but for a fine save

Arsenal 4: Giroud 33, 54, Oxlade-Chamberlain 76, Sagna 89

Real Sociedad 1: Granero 84

MoM: Olivier Giroud

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A really good read so far, surprised it hasn't really caught anyone else's attention. Personally I think you're using too many OIs, but hey - it seems to be working! Will follow closely :thup:

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A really good read so far, surprised it hasn't really caught anyone else's attention. Personally I think you're using too many OIs, but hey - it seems to be working! Will follow closely :thup:

Cheers, glad you are enjoying it. I'm definately enjoying playing the game a lot in this style and actually thinking about each match a lot more.

Thanks for the input, I'm here to learn! I was thinking that about the OIs, I'm worried I'm affecting my own play by worrying too much about the opposition. I might try reducing them on certain players such as the center backs unless they are actually a dangerous player. The thread I was reading was by a guy talking about a game against Real Madrid so all the players were a danger. I don't think I need to worry too much about Hull's center backs :lol:

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A really good read so far, surprised it hasn't really caught anyone else's attention. Personally I think you're using too many OIs, but hey - it seems to be working! Will follow closely :thup:

Great read. Loving how you micromanage in your game! I learnt in my own game that results turn for the better when I tried to keep things simple. Hope you can prove me wrong as I used to micromanage like you (but to no success :()

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Great read. Loving how you micromanage in your game! I learnt in my own game that results turn for the better when I tried to keep things simple. Hope you can prove me wrong as I used to micromanage like you (but to no success :()

Thanks for reading and your comments. Yeah I am thinking of trying to simplify things a bit, especially opposition instructions. I had a poor result (see next update) and might be partly because the players were too busy focussing on the opposition to do their own thing!!

I have the return leg of the Champions League playoff up next and we have a 3 goal advantage so gives me some leeway to experiment a bit.

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arsenal.pngARSENAL vs HULL CITY TIGERS hull-city.png

Saturday 24th August 2013 15:00 // Emirates Stadium

Other Premier League results:

Aston Villa 2-1 Chelsea; Cardiff City 3-0 Manchester City; Southampton 0-3 Newcastle United; Stoke City 1-2 West Bromwich Albion; Sunderland 0-0 Norwich City; Manchester United 3-0 Crystal Palace; Fulham 1-2 Everton; Liverpool 3-1 West Ham United; Swansea City 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur.

Pre-match thoughts:

Hull look pretty bad all over the shop, especially their defence centrally and on the right side. Most of the goals they scored in pre-season came from the wide positions and their strikers have better heading attributes on average than my defenders so I’ll be looking to cut down on their crosses. They will likely play with a single front man so will look to isolate him again. Tom Huddlestone is the danger man so we will aim to cut him out of the came.

On the flip side Giroud is much better in the air then their defenders so we can take advantage of that. I’ve added the Float Crosses instruction and told them to exploit our left flank.

Team news:

Vermaelen and Viviano still aren’t ready for first team action and Walcott is still lacking match fitness. Bendtner is still out injured.

Hull are without Abdoulaye Faye, Stephen Quinn, Gedo and Yannick Sagbo.


Opposition instructions:

Liam Rosenior - Close down always, show onto left foot

Maynor Figueroa - Close down always, show onto right foot

Curtis Davies - Close down never, show onto left foot

James Chester - Close down always, show onto left foot, tackle normal

David Meyler - Close down always, show onto left foot

Ahmed Elmohamady - Close down always, show onto left foot

Jake Livermore - Close down always, show onto left foot

Danny Graham - close down always, tackle normal

Tom Huddlestone - Close down always, mark tightly always, tackle hard

Sone Aluko - Close down always, show onto right foot, tackle normal

Half time: Arsenal 0-1 Hull City Tigers

Awful, just awful. Not quite sure how we are losing, they have created nothing. The goal came from some ping pong inside the box following a corner, other then that I don't think they have passed the ball into my penalty area. Still means we are still to keep a clean sheet this season after three games.

Attacking wise we look like scoring when hell freezes over, not quite sure what to change! Its like watching children play football, we drill freekicks into the back of a player standing two yards away and Mezut "first touch 20" Ozil couldn't trap a sloth at the moment.

Full time: Arsenal 1-1 Hull City Tigers

Same again, just shocking. Hull came to defend, they sat deep and narrow and we couldn't break them down. I should have really noticed this earlier but I forgot to look at their position map at half time! Arteta's long range freekick saved us major embarrassment however.


Hull's average positions

In hindsight I should have maybe dropped back to a counter attack mentality to try and draw them out a bit. I think I panicked because we were a goal down though so went on the attack but there was just no space to operate in! As has been discussed in the posts above I think I need to drop some of these opposition instructions as a) they aren't all working and b) I feel we are getting distracted too much by stopping the opposition play. We are playing Hull at home, we should be the proactive side, not reacting to them! Gonna try and set up some set piece tactics as well to try and cut out the goals from there, just using the default at present.

Arsenal 1: Arteta 78

Hull City Tigers 1: Graham 26

MoM: Mikel Arteta

League Position: 5th - 4 points

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Had a little tweak of my corner and freekick defending...


Corner tactic

Read a lot of people saying to take the fullbacks off the posts, felt bad doing this as marking the posts is football 101 but we will see what happens. I like having a player marking the six yard box as they can head whatever comes in to that area. Sagna is a good header of the ball so he can do that job well. Didn't have anyone staying forward before so the ball kept coming back at us. Oxlade-Chamberlain's (or Walcott's) pace should provide us with some chances on the break and Ozil can support him from the edge of the box.


Freekick tactic

Similar train of thought here, all I really did was leave the winger forward again and moved my big striker into the wall.

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1166.pngREAL SOCIEDAD vs ARSENAL arsenal.png

Tuesday 27th August 2013 19:45 // Anoeta

Pre-match thoughts:

We’ve already played these so I kinda know what I’m going to be up against. We were very successful against the forward players, especially Vela and the widemen so we will aim to do that again. Not sure if they will line up the same way or try and push a few more men forward.

Looking forward to the game as it’s the first chance to throw some youngsters into the squad. I’ve removed the Pass into Space team instruction as it’s not really working, decided to play on the counter as well as they should be pushing forward and it will allow us to take advantage of that.

Gonna reduce the amount of opposition instructions as well and try and keep things a bit simpler.

Team news:

Decided to give a few of the lads stuggling with match fitness a game so Walcott makes his first start of the season. There are also starts for Yaya Sanogo, Serge Gnabry and Emmanuel Frimpong. Thomas Vermaelen, Kristoffer Olsson and Chuba Akpom make the bench.

Sociedad are still without Mark Gonzalez, Markel, Liassine Cadamuro, Marko Sangalli and Diego Ifran.


Opposition instructions:

Inigo Martinez – close down always, show onto right foot, tackle normal

Xabi Prieto – close down always, show onto left food, tackle hard

Javi Ros – close down always

Jon Gaztanaga – close down always, show onto left foot

Antoine Griezmann – close down always, show onto right foot, tackle normal

Carlos Vela – close down always, tackle hard

Imanol Agirretxe – close down always, tackle normal

Half time: Real Sociedad 0(1)-0(4) Arsenal

Same old story really, we look very comfortable at the back and they are not really creating anything but at the same time we aren’t doing much either. Just can’t create anything! Had to make two changes in the first half due to injuries – Rosicky had to be replaced after 12 minutes, Kristoffer Olsson came on for his debut. Sanogo’s debut ended quickly as well after only half an hour, Podolski came on for him.

I’ve removed the close down always instruction on Javi Ros and told Olsson to move in channels and roam to try and create some space. Also going to drop into counter attack and tell the wide men to stay wide to try and stretch the play.

Gnabry has also picked up a knock so Akpom comes on to replace him. Sociedad have switched to a 442 so also brought Frimpong back into a DM position and Olsson back into CM, playing a 4-1-2-2-1 formation

Full time: Real Sociedad 2(3)-0(4) Arsenal

A pretty poor performance but we’ve made it through. In terms of the bare stats we dominated the possession and shots but in reality the home side created the better goalscoring chances as indicated by the fact they won!

They got both goals from down the flanks, disappointing as I was aiming (and achieved in the last game) to peg them back in their own half. I think dropping back to a counter attacking mentality was a mistake as it dropped the pressure on them and allowed them to come forward more. I am enjoying using the attacking mentality as an almost defensive tool, forcing the opposition to defend.


Real Sociedad average positions - much further forward than the last match

I’ve not really been impressed by my AMC in any of the opening games. I think I’ll make a switch here. On my other previous game on this version of FM I also struggled to make the Advanced Playmaker work but did have success with an Attacking Midfielder so am going to try this I think. This will remove a “Specialist Role” so I’ll change to fluid as well.

Real Sociedad 2(3): Prieto 71; Agirretxe 89

Arsenal 0(4): -

MoM: Xabi Prieto

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Just a small little update on happenings behind the match day scenes...

First up was the release of Jack Jebb. I'd identified him as not needed and added him to the unwanted list. Bould tried to get rid of him and he threw a strop, not turning up to training. Slapped him with a fine and he got angry so terminated his contract. Not taking crap from anyone. In more positive news after talks broke down with Gnabry earlier in the season we have agreed a contract extension for him after asking him to leave his agent a few weeks ago.

After we snuck past Real Sociedad into the Champions League Group Stage we have been drawn in Group H along with Schalke (who smashed us 6-0 in pre-season), Galatasary and Anderlecht. First up is Galatasary on 18th September.


In the Capital One Cup we have been drawn against fellow Premier League side Crystal Palace. The game will be played at the Emirates on 24th September.

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You say that b101 but I saw an AI Galatasary win the CL in season 1 in one game.

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This is a really interesting read - very different to pretty much every other thread out there, love the tactical focus. Not sure I could actually play the game this way (my attention span is way too limited), but really informative!

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Thanks for all the comments guys, glad you are enjoying it. Just been snowboarding in Spain so haven't had a chance to update this for a while...


norwich-city.pngNORWICH CITY vs ARSENAL arsenal.png

Saturday 31st August 2013 17:30 // Carrow Road

Other Premier League results: Manchester City 1-1 Fulham; Aston Villa 0-2 Stoke City; Crystal Palace 1-0 Sunderland; Everton 0-0 West Bromwich Albion; Newcastle United 3-0 Cardiff City; Hull City Tigers 1-1 Swansea City; Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Southampton.

Pre-match thoughts:

Norwich have stuggled against good sides playing the 4-2-3-1 we are playing so thats good news for us. They do look dangerous down the flanks, scoring goals down both sides albeit a lot of those goals coming in friendly games.

The squad doesn’t look great so in theory we should be winning this game, their best player looks like Snodgrass who has been playing on the right of midfield. In their opening game of the season against Manchester United they played a flat 451 at home so expecting a similar line up. Imagine they might try and sit and play narrow so we will have to try and stretch them a bit.

Comparison wise we beat them for pace all over the shop so will bring back “Pass into space”. Going to play on control and push the line up a bit. Try and just wear them down with constant pressure then if it’s not working, I’ll drop back a bit and try and stretch the game.

Team news:

We lost Tomas Rosicky and Yaya Sanogo to injury in the last game and both will miss this one. Rosicky will be out for two weeks with a twisted ankle, Sanogo for four with damaged knee cartilage. Bendtner is still out so South Korean striker Park Chu-Young comes onto the bench.

I’ve had a little tweak with the tactics as well just to try something new. As mentioned before the AMC is now an Advanced Midfielder and we have switched to fluid. I’ve swapped round the roles of the left and right flanks as well – i.e. I now have the inside forward on attack and the winger on support. This means that most of the positions and roles in midfield and defence has switched sides as well.

Norwich will be without striker Gary Hooper and midfielder Anthony Pilkington.


Opposition instructions:

Russell Martin – Show onto left foot

Javier Garrido – Show onto right foot

Jonny Howson – Close down always, show onto left foot

Alexander Tetty – Show onto left foot

Wes Hoolahan – Close down always, show onto right foot, tackle normal

Ricky van Wolfswinkel – Close down always, tackle normal

Leroy Fer – Close down always, show onto left foot

Robert Snodgrass – Close down always, show onto right foot, tackle normal, tight marking always

Half time: Norwich City 0-4 Arsenal

Finally, some good attacking play! Norwich are trying to make a game of it to be fair which gave Ozil a bit more space and he took advantage to slide a nice ball through for Giroud to score. We are giving the ball away a lot though, especially through our centre backs so I made an early change, removing the pass into space instruction and telling the lads to play it short instead.

This seemed to have an immediate impact with Sagna playing a nice ball into the area to AOC who blasted home. The third goal was a bit scrappy but they all count – Ozil struck a shot from the edge of the area which was parried by Ruddy only for Cazorla to tuck home the rebound. We grabbed a 4th on the stroke of half-time when AOC poked home his second following a scramble from a corner.

A very satisfying half and we have been very dominant. Norwich have had a couple of chances though, the three playing behind the striker are very narrow and we aren’t picking them up. Decided to drop Flamini and Wilshire back into the DM line to try and cover them. I’ve also decided to go to an attacking mentality and get my wingers to press the fullbacks to try and squeeze things, not sure how this will work out :lol:

Full time: Norwich City 3-4 Arsenal

OMFG I nearly killed myself during this half! We completely crumbled! Definitely failed in my midfield tactics here, dropping the two men back and going attacking just left so much space for their central midfield two so I switched back to how I started the first half which left the attacking three open! In hindsight I should have just dropped Flamini back I feel and stayed on control or counter, keeping Wilshire further forward so both lines were covered.


Too much space between my midfield lines!!

One thing that is really frustrating me is my players’ first touch...I have players like Ozil who has a first touch of 20 yet when he is played a simple pass in lots of space his first touch kicks it two feet away from him where the opposition easily nabs it! Their third goal came from a similar incident when Mertesacker’s crap first touch let Elmander in one on one.

Still we managed to not completely throw away the three points and it has given me more to think about when defending leads in future games! Hopefully I don’t come up against this narrow 4-2-3-1 too much as I just don’t really know how to deal with it!

Norwich 3: Hoolahan 50; Van Wolfswinkel 54; Elmander 85

Arsenal 4: Giroud 11; Oxlade-Chamberlain 22, 45; Cazorla 33

MoM: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

League Position: 1st - 7 points

End of the first month of the season and it's been successful I would say. Unbeaten in the league and top after three games (although others may overtake us if they win games in hand) and safely negotiated our way into the Champions League Group Stages.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was rewarded for his fine form with the Premier League Young Player of the Month award while I came 2nd in the Manager of the Month award. International break coming up before we welcome Crystal Palace to the Emirates.

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arsenal.pngARSENAL vs CRYSTAL PALACE crystal-palace.png

Saturday 14th Septermber 2013 15:00 // Emirates Stadium

Other Premier League results: Manchester United 2-0 Chelsea; Southampton 4-2 Hull City Tigers; Stoke City 0-1 Everton; Sunderland 0-1 West Ham United; Swansea City 2-1 Norwich City; West Bromwich Albion 0-0 Manchester City;

Pre-match thoughts:

Palace’s squad looks weak, especially their defence - there will be no excuses for not winning this game! Their wide players and Chamakh look their most dangerous players but that isn’t saying much. They have scored most of their goals from the wide areas and deep so looks like counter attacking and whipping in crosses for a big man up front.

Since we are the better side, looking to stamp our authority on the game and not worry too much about opposition instructions. Only aiming to show the wingers inside and not give Chamakh and Williams anytime on the ball.

Team news:

Rosicky and Sanogo are still out for us, Vermaelen joins them on the sidelines after picking up an injury on international duty. Bendtner has resumed training but is still lacking match fitness as is Theo Walcott. Ryo Miyaichi is on the bench and could make his debut. Last week’s bench warmer Park Chu-Young has left on loan to Sampdoria.

Palace are without Jerome Thomas, Yannick Bolasie, Jonathan Parr, Jason Puncheon (their best winger so a plus for us) and Adiene Guedioura.


Opposition instructions:

Elliot Grandin – show onto left foot, close down always

Jimmy Kebe – show onto right foot, close down always

Marouane Chamakh – close down always, tackle hard

Jon Williams – show onto weaker foot, close down always, tackle hard

Half time: Arsenal 5-0 Crystal Palace

BOOM we got off to a great start and took the lead in the 36th second :lol: Palace kicked off and smacked it down the field, we worked the ball up to Sagna on the right flank and his cross was flicked on by Giroud for Cazorla to fire home.

Palace continued to give us space to play in and we got a second when Ozil played in Chamberlain and he was chopped down for a penalty. Captain Mikel Arteta stepped up to convert from the spot. Giroud added his fifth goal of the season soon after, controlling Cazorla’s cross before rounding the ‘keeper and firing home.

Like the Norwich game we went 4-0 up before halftime, Chamakh forgetting which team he played for and heading home Ozil’s corner into his own net. Cazorla put a dampener on the half when he limped off in the 43rd minute, Lukas Podolski coming on to replace him, but Giroud lightened the mood with his second goal in injury time, heading home another freekick – this time from Arteta.

So a very good half, couldn’t really ask for more! Switched back to a counter in the last five minutes to keep things solid and looking at Palace’s average position it looks like they are narrow and deep so will keep it as it is and try and draw them out.

Full time: Arsenal 6-0 Crystal Palace

Looked like it could be a whitewash really, soon after half time we had scored again. Giroud was pushed trying to get on the end of AOC’s cross and the Frenchman got up to complete his hattrick from the spot.

Ryo Miyaichi came on for his debut in the second half, Aaron Ramsey also coming on with twenty minutes to go. Palace tried to push forward a bit more after our sixth goal so we switched to a control mentality to try and push them back a bit. Seemed to work and we managed to keep our first clean sheet of the season which is very pleasing.

Only two of the goals were from open play which might not look so great but I’m pleased we are converting our set pieces. It’s also noticeable how much our players get fouled which definitely reduces our creativity!


Average position of Crystal Palace (L) and Arsenal ®

Our shape looked really good, pleased to see Giroud leading the line more rather than coming too deep as he has in previous games, gave more space for Ozil to operate in. Palace were so deep, the number 28 was Kebe who was subbed after about 20 minutes so they really got no-one forward at all!!

Arsenal 6: Cazorla 1; Arteta pen 16; Giroud 20, 45+3, pen 51; Chamakh og 44.

Crystal Palace 0: -

MoM: Olivier Giroud

League Position: 2nd – 10 points.

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5029759_gs_logo_1279542741,66x66,r:1.jpgGALATASARY vs ARSENAL arsenal.png

Wednesday 18th September 2013 19:45 // Ali Sami Yen Spor Kompleksi Turk Telecom Arena

Other Group H result: Anderlecht 1-2 Schalke

Pre-match thoughts:

Gala have three main dangermen I can identify – Didier Drogba, Wesley Sneijder and Selcuk Inan. I’ll focus on them and the widemen as I don’t want crosses coming in for Drogba. I don’t have the Turkish league loaded so no games for my scouts to report on. Looks like they will play 4231 with Sneijder behind Drogba. We’re pretty good at nullifying dangerous players in those positions though so not too worried.

Their defence looks weak, especially the left back so we will probably concentrate down the right flank.

Team news:

Cazorla misses out with a stubbed toe but he shouldn’t be out for too long after this game. Yaya Sanogo is still out and Rosicky and Vermaelen are not fit enough. We’ve made six changes from the side that beat Palace – Viviano, Jenkinson, Monreal, Flamini, Walcott and Podolski come in, Bendtner, Eisfeld and Frimpong are among the subs.

No injury worries for the home side.


Opposition instructions:

Selcuk Inan – Close down always, show onto weaker foot

Burak Yilmaz – Close down always, show onto left foot

Didier Drogba – Close down always, tackle hard

Wesley Sneijder – Close down always, show onto weaker foot, tackle hard, tight mark always

Nordin Amrabet – Close down always, show onto right foot

Half time: Galatasary 1-0 Arsenal

Bit of a dull half really, we don’t deserve to be behind though. Podolski should have given us the lead after being played in by Ozil mid way through the half.

Galatasary grabbed the lead following a corner scramble which is disappointing. We miss Sagna marking the six yard box, Jenkinson doesn’t really have the same aerial presence. I brought Ramsey on for Wilshire at half time, Wilshire is on a yellow and wanted something different in the middle so we will see what Ramsey can bring.

Full time: Galatasary 1-0 Arsenal

Meh – not really sure what to make of that to be honest, obviously disappointed to lose. We were never threatened by Galatasary and successfully nullified Drogba and Sneijder but we couldn’t break them down. They kept a very good shape throughout and there just wasn’t any space, only managed one shot on target which is shocking.


Found it really hard to break down this side, very solid shape but not really sitting deep or narrow so wasn't really sure what to do!

Bendtner and Gibbs (playing left wing) came on in second half but were largely ineffective. Gibbs later left the field injured and was followed to the treatment room soon after by Walcott, leaving us with 9 men for the last few minutes.

That’s two away games out of two we have lost, not really sure how to approach them! Maybe I should have started on the counter and tried to grab a goal on the break. Next Champions League game sees Anderlecht come to the Emirates so we should get our campaign back on track then.

Galatasary 1: Chedjou 24

Arsenal 0: -

MoM: Aurelien Chedjou

League Position: 4th – 0 points

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west-ham-united.pngWEST HAM UNITED vs ARSENAL arsenal.png

Saturday 21st September 2013 15:00 // The Boleyn Ground

Other Premier League results: Manchester City 0-1 Everton; Chelsea 1-0 Sunderland; Hull City Tigers 2-2 Cardiff City; Liverpool 0-1 Stoke City; Newcastle Unitd 3-2 West Bromwich Albion; Norwich City 1-3 Southampton; Aston Villa 2-3 Manchester United; Crystal Palace 1-2 Swansea City; Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Fulham

Pre-match thoughts:

Should be winning this game really, West Ham’s squad looks weak, particularly the defence. Hopefully Giroud can carry on his league form and rip them apart. Diame in midfield looks their best player but he’s more of a defensive midfielder. Expecting them to line up with a 41221, so again we will concentrate on nullifying the wide players and isolating the lone striker.

They have conceded the most goals from the opposition’s half and down the flanks. Suggests their defensive line is a bit high so will look to hit them on the counter down the wings.

Team news:

Kieron Gibbs broke his foot in the Champions League loss in Turkey and will be out for 4 months, Sanogo is still out as well. Walcott and Cazorla aren’t fit enough while I need to make a decision over Bendtner, Monreal and Rosicky.

The Hammers are without Andy Carroll, Guy Demel, Alou Diarra and Stewart Downing.


Opposition instructions:

Joe Cole – Closing down always, show onto right foot, tight marking always

Mark Noble – Closing down always, show onto weaker foot

Mladen Petric – Closing down always, tackle hard

Kevin Nolan – Closing down always, show onto right foot, tight marking always, tackle hard

Matt Jarvis – Closing down always, show onto left foot

Half Time: West Ham United 0:1 Arsenal

We seem to like early goals and we grabbed another here, a bit bizarre this one. Ozil, playing on the left flank today sent a cross over, AOC challenged the keeper who seemed to catch it but Winston Reid somehow headed the ball into his own net, not quite sure what happened :lol:

Rest of the half nothing really happened, West Ham have pushed forward but not really caused a problem for us. Ozil is looking good down the left and is finding lots more space than in the centre. Ramsey hasn’t really impressed, going to swap him and Wilshire around to give Jack more freedom. Arteta has a knock he can probably continue but I’m gonna play it safe so Flamini will replace him. We are playing on the counter attack now and its allowing West Ham to come forward. I’m going to try going on the attack to try and pin them back a bit. It might not work at all so bit of a risk :lol:

Full Time: West Ham United 0:1 Arsenal

Slightly disappointing after our 6-0 win over Palace but it’s another three points and another clean sheet. Not much really happened in the second half, West Ham hit a lot of long balls forward which we dealt with pretty easily but at the same time we didn’t create much, although we did have a couple of chances to add a second. I do struggle to get Giroud into scoring positions a lot of the time, I want him to lead the line but not get isolated. He doesn’t have the pace or the dribbling skills to make his own way into the box and we don’t really play any through balls for him.


The Hammers' hoofball

Struggling to get the best out of Podolski as well, he came on as a second half substitute for AOC but didn’t really do much on the left wing. 20 year old Thomas Eisfeld came on for his debut in the second half as well but didn’t really have any influence.

West Ham United 0: -

Arsenal 1: Reid og 6

MoM: Joey O’Brien

League Position: 1st – 13 points

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arsenal.pngARSENAL vs CRYSTAL PALACE crystal-palace.png

Tuesday 24th Septermber 2013 19:45 // Emirates Stadium

Pre-match thoughts:

Well, we beat them 6-0 a couple of weeks ago so we have to be confident! We’ll play the same game plan as we did last time but I will be throwing in a few youngsters in as it’s the Capital One Cup. Might not be as comfortable but we should still be going through here.

Team news:

Well I wanted to play a few youngsters but none of them were fit, all at about 70% condition so none of them could really play! Most of my first team squad had low fitness as well so ended up having to piece together a match day squad.

Palace are without Jimmy Kebe and Adlene Guedioura for this clash.


Opposition instructions:

Elliot Grandin – show onto left foot, close down always

Dwight Gayle – close down always, tackle normal

Barry Bannan – close down always, show onto right foot

Owen Garvan – show onto weaker foot, close down always, tackle hard.

Half time: Arsenal 0:0 Crystal Palace

YAAAAWWWN. Absolutely nothing has happened, so easy to defend against these sides that just come and sit but really struggle to break them down, we look absolutely toothless in attack! According to the stats we managed a few shots on target (well, 5) but non could beat the ‘keeper and I don’t remember their being a moment where I thought we were really going to score! This is becoming a bit of a problem, even when we beat these 6-0 the other week, two were penalties, two from freekicks or corners and the other two were from crosses. Really want to be playing through balls into the box for Giroud to finish off.

I’m trying to play on the counter and play wide to draw them out a bit but it doesn’t seem to be working very well. Will keep at it though but might have to start throwing bodies forward, don’t really want a replay.

Full Time: Arsenal 0:1 Crystal Palace

Well, that was ****. We beat them 6-0 a few weeks ago and now we are losing 1-0 to them at home. Shocking. Goal was disappointing to concede as its the kind of goal I want to be scoring, they just cut through us so easily in midfield before Puncheon squared for substitute Jerome to fire home. After the goal piled forward on overload and tried to go a bit more direct but had no affect at all. Cazorla, AOC and Monreal came on in the second half to try and change things but they all were suffering from **** first touch disease like the rest of the squad so made no difference.

Arsenal 0: -

Crystal Palace 1: Jerome 76

MoM: Jerome Williams

Right I definitely need to change something in this team. I am just getting nothing out of the likes of Ozil and Cazorla really, certainly much less than you would expect from players of that calibre. Giroud has scored goals but not the type I want and is just not getting the service he needs. I’ve read a lot of people saying that a lone striker needs to be on the support duty with the AMC on attack but I find all this does is put them in each other’s way and there’s no-one leading the line.

Going to try pushing Giroud further forward as a Target Man (Attack). He’s strong and good at holding the ball up so should be able to cope on his own. Will keep the Inside Forward (Attack) and Winger (Support) the same but will change the AMC to Attacking Midfielder (Support). This should hopefully give him much more space to operate in as Giroud will draw the centre backs away.

We have Chelsea at home next match, not really sure if it’s the type of game to be experimenting in but we will give it a go!

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Yeah, if you have an AMC, you don't need the striker on a Support duty as it'll just clog up the space for the AMC to work in. Maybe for home games consider playing Ozil as a Trequartista and just let him do as he likes?

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arsenal.pngARSENAL VS CHELSEA chelsea.png

Saturday 28th September 2013 12:45 // Emirates Stadium

Other Premier League results: Cardiff City 1-1 Norwich City; Fulham 3-1 Hull City Tigers; Southampton 2-1 Crystal Palace; Stoke City 1-0 Manchester City; Swansea 1-2 West Ham United; Manchester United 2-3 Liverpool

Pre match thoughts:

Right...Chelsea at home. Biggest test of the season so far, their squad is full of talent and not really a weak point in their side. They look like they will line up to match us with a wide 4231 formation. The main dangermen have to be Juan Mata and Eden Hazard but then there’s also Lampard, Oscar, Eto’o, Willian etc. Their goals come from all over the park as well so going to be a tough game for sure.

I’m probably going to play this how I did the Spurs game on the opening day – attacking mentality and closing down on all areas of the pitch to really give them no time on the ball. It doesn’t work so well against the smaller sides but against the top teams it seems to work.

As mentioned in the previous match, I’m gonna experiment with Giroud more attacking and Ozil on support role to free him up a bit.

Team news:

Kieron Gibbs and Sanogo remain on the sidelines through injury, the latter should return to training in the next couple of days however. Bendtner, Rosicky and Walcott need a rest after playing in the Capital One Cup while Cazorla might make it, I haven’t decided yet.

Chelsea are without David Luiz through injury and Andre Schurlle who they haven’t registered for the Premier League.


Opposition Instructions:

César Azpilicueta – Close down always, show onto left foot

Ashley Cole – Close down always, show onto right foot

Branislav Ivanović – Close down never, show onto left foot

John Terry – Close down always, tackle normal

Ramires – Close down never, show onto weaker foot

Frank Lampard – Close down always, show onto weaker foot

Oscar – Close down always, show onto left foot, tackle normal

Juan Mata – Close down always, show onto weaker foot, tackle normal, tight mark always

Eden Hazard - Close down always, show onto right foot, tackle normal

Samual Eto'o - Close down always, tackle normal

Half time: Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea

A good solid half there, very pleased with how things are going so far. Yet again we are looking very strong against the lone striker and the three creative guys behind, really haven’t looked in danger at all. The pressing all over the pitch is looking good as well - Ivanovic, Cech and Terry literally have no-one to pass to so hoofing it away all the time. Made a couple of tweaks to the OI after five minutes, removing the tackle instructions for Oscar and Hazard as they were leaving our fullbacks on their asses

The attacking play is looking better as well, much more space for Giroud and Ozil have much more space. Not created loads of chances but looks much better and against worse opposition we will do better I feel. Made a slight change at the break, telling Ozil, Cazorla and AOC to play more direct and try and get the ball forward quicker in the final third.

Full time: Arsenal 2-0 Chelsea

Chelsea started the second half well and looked like they were trying to push forward a bit more and had a couple of chances in the first few minutes. Resisted the temptation to drop back a bit and stuck to our guns and we were rewarded when we took the lead on the hour, Ivanovic failing to deal with Giroud’s flick on and, under pressure from Wilshire, gave the ball away to Ozil who fired home from the edge of the box.


Chelsea's completed passes, very little coming into the box

We remained comfortable in the game and the incoming Torres couldn’t add anything to the game. With twenty minutes to go I removed the OI on the defenders and dropped to counter to try and hit them on the break as they chased the equaliser.

Podolski, Arteta and Ramsey all came on for Giroud, Wilshire and Cazorla respectively in the second half. Giroud’s lack of pace was annoying me as he wasn’t chasing balls I thought he could reach and Wilshire was giving the ball away too much so they both had to come off.

We grabbed a second on the break, Ozil (now playing on the left), skipping past the right back and crossing for Podolski to volley home his first goal of the season. Podolski impressed me coming on, will give him a start in the next match at home against Anderlecht.

Very pleasing performance, really good to get wins over the big teams and nice to keep another clean sheet. Six games in and still unbeaten and only dropped points in one game so far. Not really much to learn from this game apart from keep it going really, excited to see how the front combo works against the weaker sides.

Arsenal 2: Ozil 56; Podolski 84

Chelsea 0: -

MoM: Mesut Ozil

League Position: 1st – 16 points

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Wednesday 1st October 2013 19:45 // Emirates Stadium

Pre-match thoughts:

Bit of awards news first, we’ve done well in the monthly awards this time around. I won manager of the month, AOC retained his young player on the month with Wilshire claiming runner up. Mertesacker and Giroud came 2nd and 3rd in the main award respectively. OK onto the game...

First things first we really need to be winning this to get our Champions League campaign back on track. We are the much better side and at home so should be a routine win but as I have seen we can sometimes struggle in these games! Going to play on Control and see how things go.

First thing I noticed is that the visitors only have four real players in their squad! So makes the scout report a bit useless :lol: As they are weaker though, we should just be able to beat them playing our own game and not really worry about them too much! I’ve made that mistake before. They look like they will play a deep 442. Haven’t come up against 2 strikers yet so not really sure how to deal with this...

Team news:

Kieron Gibbs is the only real injury we have, although Sanogo still isn’t fit. Made a lot of changes from the win over Chelsea – Fabianski, Jenkinson, Vermaelen, Frimpong, Ramsey, Walcott, Gnabry and Podolski all come in.

All four of Anderlecht’s players are fit :lol:


Opposition instructions:

Sebastian de **** – close down always, show onto weaker foot

Theo Aerts – close down always, show onto left foot

Demy de Zeeuw – close down always, show onto weaker foot

Aleksandar Mitrovic – close down always, tackle normal

Ghislain Mertens – close down always, show onto right foot.

Half time: Arsenal 3:0 Anderlechet

Lukas Podolski is rewarding my faith in him, the German striker taking just 9 minutes to fire home and give us the lead. Ozil played a nice through ball for Walcott and the wingers shot was parried out to Podolski who blasted home.

We have really been dominating the half and been threatening to get another. The visitors caved in following a succession of corners, Vermaelen’s shot deflected home after a poor punch from the ‘keeper.

Wrapped up the half in great style, Ozil again the creator, playing in Walcott with a brilliant ball. The Englishman beat the last man with pace before blasting home into the top corner. An excellent end to an excellent half.

The visitors have changed formation just at the end of the half, going to a 4-2-1-2-1 formation with wide midfielders, doesn’t really affect my OI too much, just gonna tell the lads to close down the CM always. Their right winger has a knock so told the lads to get stuck into him, bit evil but meh.

Full time: Arsenal 3:0 Anderlecht

Made a some changes on the hour mark, Monreal replaced Mertesacker to give the German a rest, Sagna will move into the center and Jenkinson to the right. Ozil was also rested with Rosicky coming on to replace him. Also dropped to counter as they are starting to push on a bit and want to hit them on the break.

Big Nick came on ten minutes later and the Dane could have added to our score but he headed wide from Podolski’s cross. Podolski could have added another as well but their keeper saved well. Happy with the performance though, the AM position is looking better and finding space, even with two CDMs to play against so bodes well. Good to get the Group progress back on track as well!


Arsenal 3: Podolski 9; Peiremans og 29; Walcott 45+3

Anderlecht 0: -

MoM: Mesut Ozil

League Position: 3rd – 3 points

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aston-villa.png ASTON VILLA vs ARSENAL arsenal.png

Saturday 5th October 2013 17:30 // Villa Park

Other Premier League results: Manchester United 2-0 Stoke City; Crystal Palace 2-0 Cardiff City; Hull City Tigers 1-3 West Bromwich Albion; Liverpool 2-0 Sunderland; Norwich City 1-1 Fulham; West Ham United 2-0 Southampton; Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 Everton; Chelsea 4-1 Swansea City; Newcastle 3-0 Manchester City.

Pre-match thoughts:

Villa are having a tough season, losing five out of the first six games of the season. The only game they have won was a home clash with Chelsea so they can mix it with the big teams. Since we are unbeaten so far this is probably the laws of FM mean this is a game we will probably lose :lol:

Looking at the squad, obviously the dangerman is Benteke and Gabby’s pace could cause problems but the rest of the side shouldn’t be too threatening. We are normally pretty comfortable against lone strikers and wingers so confident of controlling the game again. We’ll start the game on control and see how things go. Can change to counter if we need to stretch them a bit.

Team news:

Gibbs remains on the sidelines, other than that we have a full complement of players. Walcott and Podolski keep their places after scoring in the win over Anderlecht.

Shay Given, Antonio Luna, Matt Lowton, Brad Guzan and Yacouba Sylla all miss out for Villa.


Opposition instructions:

Gabby Agbonlahor – Close down always, show onto left foot

Fabian Delph – Close down always, show onto weaker foot

Christian Benteke – Close down always, tackle normal

Karim El Ahmadi – Close down always, show onto weaker foot

Aleksandar Tonev – Close down always, show onto left foot

Half time Aston Villa 0:1 Arsenal

Things went in our favour pretty quickly, Fabian Delph seeing red in only the second minute. From then on in I think they have managed to have possession in our half once, we are looking very solid as expected.

We took a while to get the lead, but finally we did after 20 minutes. Flamini found Walcott in the box and he squared for Ozil to bend it into the top corner for the German’s second goal of the season. Things kinda petered out after the goal, we didn’t really create much else although there were a couple of half chances. Not really under threat at all from the 10 men of Villa, they are sitting deep and narrow so going to switch to the counter, play wider and play at a higher tempo to try and drag them all around the pitch. Walcott has a knock so I’ll monitor his fitness throughout the half.


Villa's average first half position

Full time Aston Villa 0:4 Arsenal

It only took nine minutes to extend our lead, good pressure on their wingers forced an awful back pass that went for a corner. Giroud headed the resulting cross back across the goal for Mertesacker to sweep home. Walcott was withdrawn following the goal, replaced by AOC. A few minutes later and it was 3-0. Podolski has had a great game against Bennett and he smoked him one more time, whipping in a cross for Giroud to fire home at the second attempt after his initial header was parried.

Worryingly we watched Ozil limp off soon after to be replaced by Cazorla. Arteta made an appearance off the bench as well replacing Wilshire before centre back Laurent Koscielny volleyed home goal number four from a corner.

Played out the rest of the game with Villa sitting deeper and deeper. Didn’t get any more goals but very pleased with that. We were pretty much camped in their half and peppered the goal whereas they made nothing, just two shots all game. Another clean sheet, 4 in a row in the league now and our sixth win out of seven.


Our average position and shots on target


Villa's average position and total shots

Aston Villa 0: -

Arsenal 4: Ozil 20; Mertesacker 54; Giroud 58; Koscielny 78

MoM: Laurent Koscielny

League Position: 1st - 19 points

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arsenal.pngARSENAL vs SCHALKE 13p1uwdmg16hnw8cq4cut4u9z.gif

Tuesday 22nd October 2013 // Emirates Stadium

Other Group H result: Galatasary 3-0 Anderlecht.

Pre match thoughts:

A tough game to follow on for our first defeat in the league, Schalke absolutely smashed us in pre-season. However a lot has changed tactically since that match and we should be in a better position this time around. Huntelaar is a slower style of striker so I’m happier facing them! Farfan ripped us a new one in the last match, scoring 5 :lol: so he’s marked out as a dangerman. There’s also Draxler and Boateng to keep an eye out for. Will go for an attacking, pressing tactic like the Chelsea and Tottenham games.

Made a small tweak in the tactics as well – told my lone striker to move into the channels, hopefully this will free him up a bit to receive through balls more easily. Changed my AM back to an Advanced Playmaker and set him to roam more and play more direct passes to try and get the ball to the striker quicker. Means my fluidity has dropped to rigid as well.

Team news:

Nothing new here - Gibbs is still out, everyone else fit. Made a few changes from the Liverpool game, Vermaelen, Ramsey, AOC, Cazorla and Podolski come in.

Schalke are without a few players, Neustadter, Goretzka, Obasi, Huntelaar and Szalai all miss out.


Opposition instructions:

Atsuto Uchida – close down always, show onto left foot

Dennis Aogo – close down always, show onto right foot

Julian Draxler – close down always, show onto right foot, tackle normal

Karlheinz Ehrmann – close down always, tackle normal

Kevin-Prince Boateng – close down always, show onto weaker foot

Christian Fuchs – close down always, show onto right foot

First half: Arsenal 2:0 Schalke

Another early goal set us on its way, scored by our favourite striker Mr Own Goal. AOC got free down the right flank and whipped in a cross which Cazorla controlled but couldn’t get out from under his feet. Schalke made the tackle but the centre back’s clearance rebounded off Uchida and across the line.

AOC was proving a problem for the visitors and his pace drew a dangerous freekick from Papadopoulos which Ozil floated into the box. Vermaelen headed the ball down for Podolski to volley home.

After the second goal I brought back the retain possession instruction as we were just hoofing it around (apparently that’s short passing) and things inevitably went to Yawnsville. Not sure if that’s really down to my tactics or the embarrassment of a match engine they have somehow seen as fit for release.

I know a lot of people moan in the tactics forum about how the game is crap and are always shown how its their tactics...but unless there are team instructions that say “Misplace 5 yard passes to unmarked teammates” “stand completely still and wait for the ball to come to you as the opposition easily intercepts” “sprint past the opposition then leave the ball behind and keep running” “run into your teammate in possession so you block his pass” “kick the ball three meters away on your first touch” and “oh, you’ve beaten your man and through on goal? Slow down to walking pace to let them catch up” that I’ve accidently selected I don’t really know whats going wrong.

I’m watching these games in full on 3D and it actually makes me feel ill doing this, it’s like watching children try and play football.

Full time: Arsenal 4:1 Schalke

Took off the retain possession instruction at the start of the second half and then a few minutes in, removed the OI on the defenders and went to a counter attacking philosophy. Seemed to work as Ramsey intercepted a Schalke attack, found Ozil who fed Cazorla to blast home number three.

Made a change on the hour mark with Bendtner and Arteta coming on for Podolski and Ozil. Bendtner needs to get match fit and I wanted to rest Ozil with this game pretty much won. The visitors pulled one back a few minutes later, Howedes headed home following some ping pong in the box. Any chance of a comeback was quashed however when Ramsey was felled in the box and Arteta stepped up to fire home the penalty 76. Monreal was looking a bit tired so brought him off for Jenkinson but there was no real impact on the game.

So 4-1 winners in the Champions League yet I am still seething. So many pointless mistakes and crap physics are ruining this. Bendtner was played through beautifully and it would finally have been the goal I have been trying to score but instead of shooting he leaves the ball behind, I just don’t understand this.

There’s also the issue with tackling, in my opinion it is ridiculously overpowered. I have yet to see any player, for me or the opposition, dribble past a player with the exception of wingers (and the full back ALWAYS gets back, no matter how fast the winger is). There is also an insane amount of incredible last gasp tackles from a defender two meters behind your striker who somehow stretches a leg and nicks the ball before he can shoot. My players are doing this too so it does go in my favour as well but it’s so frustrating when the likes of Ozil and Cazorla and Giroud can’t get shots away inside the box because some no-mark defender can go all Bobby Moore on their ass.


Looking through the post-match analysis I noticed this, the left image is all of our successful passes - as you can see, virtually none into the box. The right image is our playmaker in chief, Mesut Ozil's, successful passes in the game. As you can see its just shocking! For a man who is meant to create most of our goals, ONE pass into the penalty area! I really don't know how to improve this, any tips?

Arsenal 4: Uchida og 3; Podolski 9; Cazorla 57; Arteta pen 76.

Schalke 1: Howedes 66

MoM: Santi Cazorla

League Position: 1st – 6 points

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manchester-united.png MANCHESTER UNITED vs ARSENAL arsenal.png

Saturday 2nd November 2013 // Old Trafford

Pre match thoughts:

Went on a little scouting mission of my own to watch United play Swansea before our clash. I was looking for and learnt a few things...

Defenders: Rio and Vidic don’t really stride out of defence with the ball and don’t look a danger in that regard, they just play it short. I’m happy for them to keep the ball. Smalling on the right doesn’t really get forward either.

Wide men: they swap positions so we will have to watch out for that. Having said that they both had little success when shown inside we will force them into the middle. Also saw Wayne Rooney go off injured so we will see if he makes it.

Going to change things a bit in our side. Want to try Ozil as a Trequartista (Attack) so will be changing Giroud’s duty back to support. Having looked through our previous games, we created more of what I would say are the “correct” chances with that set up so gonna give it another go.

We’ll go for our attacking pressing play that has been successful against the top sides.

Team news:

We name an unchanged squad from the win over Sunderland, Kieron Gibbs our only absentee.

United have a few injuries: Januzaj, Vidic, Rooney, Nani, Rafael and Lindegaard. Van Persie is fit and will probably start but his condition is a bit low. We’ll crunch him a few times and see what happens!


Opposition instructions:

I forgot to write these down when I did them, but they were basically the same as how we face up against the top sides, pressing all over the pitch. Let the centre backs have the ball as they don’t really create much.

First half: Manchester United 0-0 Arsenal

Well this has been awful, absolutely awful. Again, I forgot to write this as I was going so I can’t really remember the details but we didn’t have a single shot, not even a stray long shot, not one shot. Pathetic. United haven’t threatened much either to be honest but they don’t look pathetically toothless like us and have had a few chances.

Full time: Manchester United 3-0 Arsenal

I don’t even wanna talk about it! We improved in term of the fact we had one shot, it went well wide and never threatened to go in but it was a shot. The score flattered United’s attacking play really, they took the lead from a penalty and got a second when Szczesny collected the ball wide of the area and passed it centrally to a United player to score in an open goal. Got pissed off and went overload after that and got hit on the break for a third.

My main struggle is trying to get Mesut Ozil looking like a footballer. I had a big moan in the tactics thread about his embarrassing first touch and it seems this is an issue which is to be fixed in the next patch so in terms of games I might take a little break from this until the patch is out. Will do a lot of transfer scouting and thinking though so this thread won’t die.

Here is an example of what is driving me crazy...


Here is Ozil in plenty of space, perfect for him to turn and run at the defense before slotting in a striker


The only problem is that Ozil's first touch of 20 means he is uncapable of trapping the ball and he kicks it 3m away from him and the chance is gone

Manchester United 3: Giggs pen 66, 77; Kagawa 84.

Arsenal 0: -

MoM: Ryan Giggs

League Position: 2nd – 22 points.

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Great read so far and it's nice to see you setting up your Arsenal in a similar way to mine, very reassuring!

One small thing, I noticed you said you were scouting East Africa, I was wondering whether you meant to scout West Africa however as you mentioned Ghana and Ivory Coast?

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Great read so far and it's nice to see you setting up your Arsenal in a similar way to mine, very reassuring!

One small thing, I noticed you said you were scouting East Africa, I was wondering whether you meant to scout West Africa however as you mentioned Ghana and Ivory Coast?

Thanks for your post :)

Hmm I might have got the sides mixed up, my geography isn't great :lol: unfortunately my scouts haven't recommended a single player from those regions (I guess there aren't leagues from those countries so looking back it's probably impossible!!). So I stopped scouting them.

This is kinda on hold for now until the next patch comes out. I'm just not enjoying the game and even when we win 4-0 it's horrific to watch and I can't put myself through that anymore!

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