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Possible tactics for top EPL teams (pt. 3 - Tottenham)

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Those of you who may already have read the first two parts of this series - on Chelsea and Arsenal respectively - will know what this thread will be about. For others, here is a brief explanation: the idea is to help people who intend to manage (or are already managing) one of the top six English clubs create a well-balanced tactic by providing a concrete example. Now it's time for the third London heavyweight - the Tottenham Hotspurs!

One thing that I always look to emphasize is that none of my tactics is a plug-and-play tactic. They are meant to be just a solid starting point for you to build upon - and around - it by making appropriate tweaks when and where it's needed.

My Chelsea tactic utilized a 4213DM Wide system coupled with the Attacking team mentality. With Arsenal it was a 4141DM Wide on Positive. For the Spurs, it will again be a 4141DM Wide with Positive mentality. Actually pretty similar to Arsenal's, with just a few (rather small) adjustments. The reason for these similarities is very simple - all these teams possess similar levels of quality in their respective squads. I could have gone with a different formation - e.g. 4231 - but the key reason I tend to opt for 4141DM Wide is its balance. The system is neither top-heavy nor bottom-heavy, but just right - because it allows enough room for being creative and adventurous with roles and duties while preserving good overall balance and defensive stability.

While for Chelsea I created just one tactic, for Arsenal I did two. The Spurs will now be "treated" to as many as three! One may think that's because I like them more than the other two London clubs - which, in all honesty, is true - but that really was not my motive in this case. It's just a mere coincidence. In fact, I just want(ed) to show how you can tweak a tactic when different types of players are used in certain positions.

So let's get started...

The first thing I noticed analyzing the Spurs squad is that they possess a bit less speed on average than other top 6 EPL sides. On the other hand, they have a very hard-working and intelligent bunch of players (though that can be also said for other top teams in England). But overall, there is nothing that jumps out to an extent that it would require the Spurs (primary) tactic to be significantly different from the ones I devise(d) for other top teams. In fact, the most notable difference pertains to a couple of defense-related player instructions.

So, what would be my preferred setup of roles and duties in the first Spurs tactic? Here it is:

DLFsu

APsu                                 IFat

MEZat     BWMsu

HB

IWBsu    CDde    CDde    WBsu

SKde

When you see which starting 11 I would play within this particular setup – or for which starting 11 the setup was created, if you will - you will probably understand the reasoning behind the selection and distribution of roles and duties.

GK/SKde – Lloris (as with Arsenal, I would prefer a SK on support, but Lloris’ relevant attributes aren’t good enough)

DL/IWBsu – Rose (alternatively Davies)

DR/WBsu – Trippier

DCL/CDde – Vertonghen

DCR/CDde – Alderweireld (both CBs are capable of playing a BPD role, but my personal preference is to keep it simple in the backline; and even if I occasionally used a BPD, it would certainly be only one of them)

DM/HB – Dier (the most obvious choice for both the position and role)

MCL/MEZat – Ali (just look at his attributes and traits)

MCR/BWMsu – Wanyama (no doubt, the most suitable Spurs player for the role)

AML/APsu – Eriksen (a perfect choice for a playmaker, plus can create very nice interplay with the attacking mezzala)

AMR/IFat – Son or Moura (having an attacking mezzala who attacks the box on the left, I want the AMR to do that from the right wing)

ST/DLFsu – Kane (a complete forward that can play any striker role, but in this system I want him to drop slightly deeper, both to link up play and create space for the mezzala and the IF in the first place)

Which player instructions would I use for this players/roles?

GK/SKde – take fewer risks (because of the already mentioned poor passing and vision; good rushing out and one-on-ones are key reasons to play him as a SK, rather than standard GK)

DR/WBsu – cross more often (to utilize his very good crossing ability, especially as there would be enough teammates both within and near the box at the time he is likely to deliver a cross, partly due to the Overlap right instruction, which will be part of the TIs).

DM/HB – mark tighter, close down less (the latter is there to make him keep his position in defense as much as possible, rather than rushing to press and thus leave the back-line potentially exposed to quick counters)

MCR/BWMsu – hold position, mark tighter, take fewer risks (his primary responsibility is to protect the right side in defense and keep it simple in attack)

MCL/MEZat – mark tighter (my preference is to use the tight marking PI for the midfielders as a safer way of thwarting opposition build-ups than high pressing and/or hard tackling)

AMR/IFat – sit narrower (to encourage him to act as much of a potential goal-threat as possible)

ST/DLFsu – roam from position (to make him be as active as possible in the build-up phase and thus act as a sort of “hybrid” between a DLF and CF)

The optional instruction for both centre-backsclose down less (they are top defenders, but their speed – while decent – is not extraordinary, so there is some risk that they could have issues against pacy and highly mobile forwards)

Others’ player instructions would be left on default (at least initially).

Now come the team instructions, which will for the most part be identical to those in the Arsenal tactics. That’s because my preferred style of play with top teams is basically same – the one I call “progressive possession football” (as opposed to slow and overly patient styles).

Mentality also remains Positive.

In possession – shorter passing, play out of defence, work ball into box, be more expressive, overlap right (optional/occasional TIoverlap left)

In transition – counter, roll it out, distribute to CBs and FBs (and counter-press against weak sides)

Out of possession – higher d-line, standard LOE, use tighter marking, prevent short GKD, use offside trap

NOTE: When counter-press is off, the striker and more attacking of the 2 CMs (the mezzala in this setup) can be told to close down more in their player instructions).

The other two tactics I devised for the Spurs aren’t actually entirely different tactics, but rather variants of the first one. Mentality and team instructions remain the same. The changes are minor and pertain solely to a couple of roles played by players other than the aforementioned starting 11 when they are used instead of someone played in the primary tactic.

So for example, when Winks replaces Wanyama in MCR, he should be played as a DLP on support, rather than a BWM. His only PI would be “Mark tighter”. Everything else remains unchanged. This change means some more creativity in the midfield, but a bit less aggression (which is not necessarily bad, and could moreover contribute to more solid defending).

Or, when Alli is replaced by Sissoko in MCL, the latter can be played as a standard CM on attack duty (instead of mezzala). The only player instruction – mark tighter.

Thus, the setup involving Winks (MCR) and Sissoko (MCL) would be this:

DLFsu

APsu                                  IFat

CMat     DLPsu

HB

IWBsu    CDde    CDde    WBsu

SKde

Finally, when you play Aurier as the right back instead of Trippier, he could be occasionally used as an IWB on attack. In that case, the AMR becomes a winger on support (instead of IF on attack). So the setup now looks like this:

DLFsu

APsu                                Wsu

CM/MEZat   DLPsu

HB

IWBsu    CDde    CDde    IWBat

SKde

In terms of team instructions, the only change is removing the Overlap right. It’s simply not needed now that the right back is on attack duty.

And that’s it! Once again - this is not a plug-and-play tactic. It has been devised solely based on my analysis of the Spurs squad, and haven’t been tested.

So if you want to use it – keep in mind that some tweaking will most likely be needed in certain situations.

P.S: If you are possibly interested in how I would transform this Spurs tactic into a bit more conservative and counter-attacking version of itself, please let me know :thup:

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Interesting how you've set them up. Been waiting for this ever since my thread about them. Ended up getting 6th and getting sacked, so didn't bother playing with them anymore.

What exactly is the difference between CMa and MEZa? Don't they behave like each other?

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While I appreciate your posts and this series it kinda is a pity that there is not much insights on how that team actually plays irl and how you try to replicate it on FM. This would be really interesting as I (and I think many others) don’t follow EPL too much but like to start a save there. 

Especially if it is as you said basicly the same as your tactical approach on Arsenal was. 

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i know they arent an EPL team, but is there any chance you could extend this series to show how youd set Napoli up? id love to get them going and can never seem to. Nor can the AI on my game.

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15 hours ago, CARRERA said:

While I appreciate your posts and this series it kinda is a pity that there is not much insights on how that team actually plays irl and how you try to replicate it on FM

This series is not about replicating real-life tactics. It's just about how I would set up my primary tactic for a particular team in FM19 if I managed them.

In order to replicate someone's RL tactics/style appropriately, I would need to specifically follow that particular team's matches over an extended period, so that I could get familiar enough with all aspects of their play. Otherwise, the replication would likely be erroneous. 

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16 hours ago, Yisz said:

Interesting how you've set them up. Been waiting for this ever since my thread about them. Ended up getting 6th and getting sacked, so didn't bother playing with them anymore

Didn't quite understand. You got sacked playing with this tactic(s), or you got sacked even before this thread was published?

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15 hours ago, FMunderachiever said:

i know they arent an EPL team, but is there any chance you could extend this series to show how youd set Napoli up

I like the idea! As soon as I find enough time, I'll do it :thup:

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18 hours ago, Yisz said:

What exactly is the difference between CMa and MEZa? Don't they behave like each other?

Just read the in-game descriptions of both respective roles and you'll see the difference is obvious.

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