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Breaching Disciplined Defences

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Hi All,

I'm in my second season at Arsenal and things are going fantastically well against top sides, I won the Champions League in the first season beating Barcelona, Dortmund & Juventus in the run and also fared well against the top English sides with a 4-1 win over Chelsea and 6-1 over Man City being the highlights but it seems we can only do it against teams that give us space to do it, if we come up against Burnley, Hull and the likes that just sit and defend we just can't win, no matter how much we dominate! I'm looking to start training the team in an additional tactic & style to combat this issue so wanted to seek some advice first. 

So, I generally change the teams mentality between Standard & Control and change shape between Flexible and Fluid,  depending on the difficulty of the upcoming match. In terms of our style we are attacking and possession based as promised to the board when I took over, so we play out of defence, mixed passing with retain possession selected, play fairly wide to stretch the pitch, close down more in attempt to win the ball back as quickly and as high up the pitch as possible and change between normal and high tempo depending on the circumstances.

Best XI, Formation, Player Roles & Duties:

                                                              GK - D


FB - S                             CD - D                                             CD - D                                      FB - S

Zappacosta                  Koscielny                                        Rugani / Mustafi                    Zeca / Coentrao

                                                               BWM - S


                                      AP - S                                               CM - D

                                      Xhaka / Ramsey                            Adrien Silva

W - S                                                                                                                                      IF - A

Chamberlain                                                                                                                        Sanchez

                                                                 AF - A



In terms of player instructions I don't change much, generally ask my defence (and Camacho) to pass shorter so we retain possession better, Donnaruma to roll it out, Silva to hold position against good opposition and Sanchez to roam and pretty much do what he likes!

I've experimented while Sanchez was out playing Cavani as a Raumdeuter from the left and Lucas as a False Nine through the middle which worked out well on occasion but doesn't suit when Sanchez is fit. The way I see things is that when we move forward the full backs provide extra width around the halfway line so there are always passing options, the AP has to try and unlock the defence by picking out the movement of my wide players or Cavani and a big source of assists should be crosses from the right as Cavani loves getting on the end of them, but obviously that doesn't work well against tight defensive units.

Should I change Silva to a box to box so he gets forward more against weaker sides? maybe make my left back attacking so he moves beyond Sanchez when he drifts inside?

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Retain possession probably blunts your attack too much. The TI reduces width, passing length and ask players to refrain from making risky passes.

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Was a little surprised to see you use Retain Possession when on Counter/Standard with those roles/duties,  I would imagine the dribbling and crosses will be major source of penetration and crossing with only a AP-S playing Risky Passes Often, especially with his midfield partner being a defend duty.  I prefer to use it on a "as needed" basis rather than having it on all the time.

Looking at the roles and duties I wouldn't do anything to drastic since its clearly got you some good results.  

I wouldn't do both of your suggested changes together:

  1. If you want more width I would change the LB to a WB-S.  I would keep the CM-D covering that flank.
  2. If you want more running from midfield I would move the AP-S to LCM behind Sanchez keeping the LB  as a FB-S.  The CM-D moves to RCM and can become a CM-S, BBM-S, CM-A etc.  I think they should be swapped as the IF-A will come inside whilst the W-S should hold his width more often and create space for the RCM.  Depending how adventurous you make your RCM and what you see happening you may need to make the DM to become a defend duty to stick to covering more often.
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Sorry I meant control not counter, I've edited it now.


I think it would be sensible to ask for more out of the left back going forward and getting beyond Sanchez. Potentially think losing the ball winner and slotting in Ozil behind Cavani but don't wanna overload and make it too crowded.

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