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Does anyone else struggle against the top six in the premiership?

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I have started a save with West Ham and I am in my second season in February. Last season I finished 8th and so far this season I am seventh but unlike previous FM's everytime I play one of the top six (Chelsea, Man City etc) the Game is so one sided. I do not expect to beat these sides just because it's FM but I can't get anywhere near them. It normally ends up with me having about four shots and them about thirty shots. All the other games against the other teams are quite even, sometimes I dominate, sometimes I don't but the gap with this year's FM between the bigger teams seems to have grown.

Is anyone else experiencing this?

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Yes, playing against 6 of the best football teams in the entire world is pretty difficult. Your post suggests to me a tactical issue though: how do you adjust your match plan to play against these sides?

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Yes, playing against 6 of the best football teams in the entire world is pretty difficult. Your post suggests to me a tactical issue though: how do you adjust your match plan to play against these sides?

I will normally play counter as where I normally start with standard and move up to control. Everything I keep the same.

I know they are the top six and I don't expect just to beat them but compared to other FM's it seems harder just to scrape a draw. The premiership is the most competitive league in Europe and as with palace beating Man City the other day as an example.

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I had this and started a thread on the tactics forum- in the end I ended up having a more defensive formation ready for the top 6. I was playing 4-2-3-1 on control and then set up and saved a 4-1-4-1 formation set to counter which worked for me. Long story short- have a second, more defensive tactic set up and learnt by your squad.

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I had this and started a thread on the tactics forum- in the end I ended up having a more defensive formation ready for the top 6. I was playing 4-2-3-1 on control and then set up and saved a 4-1-4-1 formation set to counter which worked for me. Long story short- have a second, more defensive tactic set up and learnt by your squad.

Thanks for this I will give it a try.

Nice to know i am not the only one having this issue.

I had visited the tactics forum but was under the impression that playing counter or defensive invites too much pressure from the bigger teams.

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It can do- but you need to assess your own squad and how you can make it work. For me I had two really fast wingers, a midfielder who could carry the ball from deep and a solid target man who could play hold up well. Without those a 4-1-4-1 on counter would not work.

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Also worth mentioning that you can play a defensive formation without switching to "defensive" mentality. I had a similar problem against the top teams, playing an attacking 4231. I've since switched to 4141, still with an "attacking" mentality. My players still look to get forward plenty, but the overall shape defensively is much better now, leaving far less gaps for the big teams to exploit on the counter.

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Have you tried your normal tactics against the bigger sides when your at home? sometimes sitting back means inviting on pressure and resulting in them scoring in my experience.

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Have you tried your normal tactics against the bigger sides when your at home? sometimes sitting back means inviting on pressure and resulting in them scoring in my experience.

I did start off like that but after the first season when I was losing 3/4/5 - nils that I had to change. The second season I have managed a couple of lucky draws at home but still getting smashed quite easily. Like I said before I know they are the top six, so I don't expect it to be easy but I thought I would of managed one close game where I got more than 5 or 6 shots at goal to their 30.

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I've had luck against the bigger teams without really changing much. I usually go for 4-4-2 in attacking and fluid and they usually struggle to deal with it. I usually get my worst defeats against team who are actually much weaker than mine!

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I will normally play counter as where I normally start with standard and move up to control. Everything I keep the same.

I know they are the top six and I don't expect just to beat them but compared to other FM's it seems harder just to scrape a draw. The premiership is the most competitive league in Europe and as with palace beating Man City the other day as an example.

It sounds like you're inviting quite a lot of pressure that your defence is struggling to cope with. You need to take a look at what's actually going wrong and allowing all these shots. Are you giving the ball away in silly positions, or just failing to win it back? Are you inviting so much pressure and sitting so deep that they regularly advance into your penalty box, or are you suffering from long-range efforts? What do your players do when they win the ball back - do your counter attacks put any pressure on the opposition and cause them to think about leaving a couple of more players back when they're on the attack?

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It sounds like you're inviting quite a lot of pressure that your defence is struggling to cope with. You need to take a look at what's actually going wrong and allowing all these shots. Are you giving the ball away in silly positions, or just failing to win it back? Are you inviting so much pressure and sitting so deep that they regularly advance into your penalty box, or are you suffering from long-range efforts? What do your players do when they win the ball back - do your counter attacks put any pressure on the opposition and cause them to think about leaving a couple of more players back when they're on the attack?

This is where I am at a loss, everytime I play the top six ALL my players automatically can't pass a ball 5 yards, can't dribble and have the worst first touch in footballing history. I have tried analysing like I do for the other teams in the league but my players suddenly go from premiership quality to conference level just cause they are playing a big team and it affects all the player, so it hard to work out what's wrong as when I play the other teams I can see what needs changing or spot mine or an oppositions weakness.

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This is where I am at a loss, everytime I play the top six ALL my players automatically can't pass a ball 5 yards, can't dribble and have the worst first touch in footballing history. I have tried analysing like I do for the other teams in the league but my players suddenly go from premiership quality to conference level just cause they are playing a big team and it affects all the player, so it hard to work out what's wrong as when I play the other teams I can see what needs changing or spot mine or an oppositions weakness.

Have you tried perhaps going defensive and lowering the tempo? It sounds like your plays are panicking and rushing things a bit. The other thing to look at is the motivational side of the game - are the players feeling under pressure against these opponents?

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This is where I am at a loss, everytime I play the top six ALL my players automatically can't pass a ball 5 yards, can't dribble and have the worst first touch in footballing history. I have tried analysing like I do for the other teams in the league but my players suddenly go from premiership quality to conference level just cause they are playing a big team and it affects all the player, so it hard to work out what's wrong as when I play the other teams I can see what needs changing or spot mine or an oppositions weakness.

No, they can, but those teams are probably just quite aggressive, defensively speaking, against you. The tactics forum is there if you need advice, as long as you supply as much info as you can.

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This is where I am at a loss, everytime I play the top six ALL my players automatically can't pass a ball 5 yards, can't dribble and have the worst first touch in footballing history.

In most cases, this is because the big sides will take up an aggressive approach against lower reputation opponents. This means they will begin applying pressure high up the pitch and make it very difficult for you to play out of your own half. If you don't have technically exceptional players, you should think about looking to play more direct and have fast attackers who can exploit space behind their high line.

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In most cases, this is because the big sides will take up an aggressive approach against lower reputation opponents. This means they will begin applying pressure high up the pitch and make it very difficult for you to play out of your own half. If you don't have technically exceptional players, you should think about looking to play more direct and have fast attackers who can exploit space behind their high line.

I understand what you mean but in my second season I have managed to sign M.Carrick, S.Gerrard and J.Clasie (feynoord), so they are all technically good players but become useless when playing against a top six team.

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No, they can, but those teams are probably just quite aggressive, defensively speaking, against you. The tactics forum is there if you need advice, as long as you supply as much info as you can.

Thanks I will give that a go.

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I understand what you mean but in my second season I have managed to sign M.Carrick, S.Gerrard and J.Clasie (feynoord), so they are all technically good players but become useless when playing against a top six team.

The technique is there, yes, but are a 34 year-old and 35 year-old ideal when your opponent is trying to force the game to play at a high tempo?

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I play as West Ham and in previous saves I always struggled against the bigger teams because I thought it was best to play defensive. On my new save I was 3rd first season and am 3rd again in the second season. I play a standard 4132 and that can be fine at home against the big boys but away it was giving me problems. Experimented and came up with a 4222 with two DM's, two CM's and two strikers still playing standard. It looks odd on the tactics screen but with a few TI's it can be very solid through the middle and yet you can get decent cover on the wings. Three games ago I played Man United in the FA Cup Semi Final. Started with the 4132 and hit them on the break three times and that is with a standard mentality and was three up after 20 minutes. They got one back and I changed to the 4222 and ended up winning 5-1 and that is all with just a standard mentality but with TI's. I never use anything less than standard as I think the defensive mentalities absorb too much pressure and in Sakho and Valencia I have strikers who can score goals so why defend when I have that outlet?!

I find the key can be the defensive line as well. For instance if Man City are playing Dzeko up on his own I will push up as balls into the box he can eat up with his aerial prowess but he hasn't got any real pace so with a higher line he doesn't get too many opportunities. However with Aguero it's a different proposition. You have to remember as well that the likes of City and Chelsea have some great technical players so camping on the edge of your area is a green light for all these little through balls. I find more aggressive is better than cautious.

I still lose to the big teams but I always have a chance these days by trying to score rather than just avoid defeat.

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I play as West Ham and in previous saves I always struggled against the bigger teams because I thought it was best to play defensive. On my new save I was 3rd first season and am 3rd again in the second season. I play a standard 4132 and that can be fine at home against the big boys but away it was giving me problems. Experimented and came up with a 4222 with two DM's, two CM's and two strikers still playing standard. It looks odd on the tactics screen but with a few TI's it can be very solid through the middle and yet you can get decent cover on the wings. Three games ago I played Man United in the FA Cup Semi Final. Started with the 4132 and hit them on the break three times and that is with a standard mentality and was three up after 20 minutes. They got one back and I changed to the 4222 and ended up winning 5-1 and that is all with just a standard mentality but with TI's. I never use anything less than standard as I think the defensive mentalities absorb too much pressure and in Sakho and Valencia I have strikers who can score goals so why defend when I have that outlet?!

I find the key can be the defensive line as well. For instance if Man City are playing Dzeko up on his own I will push up as balls into the box he can eat up with his aerial prowess but he hasn't got any real pace so with a higher line he doesn't get too many opportunities. However with Aguero it's a different proposition. You have to remember as well that the likes of City and Chelsea have some great technical players so camping on the edge of your area is a green light for all these little through balls. I find more aggressive is better than cautious.

I still lose to the big teams but I always have a chance these days by trying to score rather than just avoid defeat.

Funny you should mention 4132 on standard because that is what I adopted against Arsenal at home and for the first time I have had more shots than them (only by two!) and it finished 1-1. I followed WITW's advise and a few other tips from this thread. Lets see how I get on playing the others as Arsenal are lying 6th, so not their best season so far!

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I have this problem in general too, especially when playing away. I use a more defensive formation (a 4-5-1 wide), but I also struggle because top teams usually press heavily and my players seem to be pretty nervous -- not being able to pass at all coherently. My defense is solid and I usually lose 0-1 or thereabouts, but I can't figure out a good way to mount a serious attack. My general strategy dealing with heavy, high pressing is to increase tempo to move the ball around more and wear out the opposition, waiting for the heavy press to leave one of their defenders out of position. But higher tempo seems to exacerbate our bad-passing problems.

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It also ignores that those unexpected results happen in every league & is nothing more that an entry on the Premier League myths bingo card, Parma beat Juventus last weekend which was a much bigger shock.

If any ever did a comparison across the main leagues in Europe my expectation is that the results would show a fairly comparable percentage of matches where a team heavily fancied (odds-on favourites) to win actually lost or at a minimum drew.

EDIT:

*Rant Alert*

In at least one metric the Premier league is one of the least competitive leagues in Europe. Over the last decade there has been very little change in the Champions League entrants whereas the only ever presents from Italy & Germany have been Juvetus & Bayern, in Spain it's only ever been Real Madrid & Barcelona & in the last decade France has never had an ever present entrant in the Champions League. By this comparison the Premier League is about as competitive as the Eredivise & Portuguese top division.

*Rant Over*

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