Arsenal / Guides / Tactics

The 2010-2011 Arsenal 4-2-3-1

New year and new season – it’s time to once again try and analyse the real Arsenal tactic, and figure out how to implement it into Football Manager so it:

1. Looks like the real deal in the 3D match engine
2. Gives us similar match stats in comparison to real statistics
3. Provides us with results and individual performances that match reality

This is done by comparing real life match analysis with the in game match analysis tool, tweaking every position until they correspond to each other. When they match, we start comparing the 3D match engine with real life videos of games played, to see if it looks convincing. Lastly, we play longer saves to see how players performances and ratings stack up. If they perform too different to reality, we either alter their positions/individual instructions slightly, or we alter them in the database.

The goal is to create the most realistic Arsenal experience in Football Manager 2011 possible, and this article is the first in a series of Arsenal-centric puzzle pieces that will eventually form the massive Arsenal Simulation Compendium – the most in-depth simulation guide for playing a realistic Arsenal save in Football Manager.

Continually Updated
This article will be updated every 10 Premier League games, so that we always have the latest averages to work with. Players and tactics evolve during the span of a season, so the Real Arsenal 4-2-3-1 tactic will also change over time to reflect these changes.

Differences From Last Year’s 4-3-3

At the beginning of last season, Arsene Wenger moved away from his trusted 4-4-2 he’d been using and tweaking since the late 90′s. This was a tactic that had won him two doubles, and had allowed his team to go unbeaten for 49 domestic games and coming within 20 minutes of winning the club’s first ever Champions League trophy. The most important key to the success of Wenger’s 4-4-2 was the wide forward positions that allowed wingers to cut inside and play as high (or, at times, higher) up the pitch than the two central forwards. Players like Overmars, Ljungberg and Pires thrived in these positions.

After the 2008/2009 season, Wenger decided to try something new. One reason was to finally conquer Europe, where Wenger tried a more exotic 4-5-1 to adapt more to continental tactics. Another reason was to create more freedom for Cesc Fabregas, letting him roam more without compromising on the numbers in midfield.

He took the best elements from the trusted 4-4-2 -> positional fluidity, inside cutting wide forwards, highly attacking full backs and a clever possession-based short passing approach, and created a 4-3-3 that worked quite well at first. The players definitely enjoyed it more, as it allowed them greater creative freedom and more passing options.

This first version of the 4-3-3 had a fairly flat midfield, with Song as the only defensive-minded midfielder in the middle, while Cesc and Diaby where attacking midfielders. Cesc started out in the right MC slot and was the most attack-minded. Diaby started out in the left MC slot and was the link between Song and Cesc – creating a skewed midfield.

This tactic had a couple of problems, especially defensive ones. The defensive line pushed very high up, due to the full backs replacing wingers on the flanks when they cut inside, and also due to our defenders not being physically blessed enough to fully control opposition players further down the pitch. Instead, they tried pressing high to reduce any threats early on.

You can view the analysis of last years 4-3-3 here.

This year, Wenger has tweaked his 4-3-3 into a 4-2-3-1, and it now features a couple of key differences to the previous tactic:

1. The midfield is now a 2-1 instead of a 1-2. Instead of having Song centrally as the only holding midfielder, Wenger has essentially skewed the midfield even more, finally turning Cesc into a proper AMC.

2. Defensive line has been pushed down, as Arsenal now have defenders better equipped to battle in the air closer to goal.

These changes (and some good signings for once) makes this years Arsenal formation a little bit more rigid, and as a result; better defensively.

Match Analysis Comparisons

So here is the first step; making sure the players move and behave like in reality, and the best way to do this is by comparing real match analytics with the in-game ones.

New for this season is that instead of showing you three example games for each player, I’ve combined the first ten Premier League games of the season and superimposed each and every position so you have a good overview of how they move over a prolonged period. I’ve also included both passing arrows and heatmaps that shows activity percentage.

Update January 2011

Chalkboards and statistics are now reflecting all 20 Premier League matches Arsenal has played at the time when this article was updated. To see comparisons between the first and the last 10 games, see the ‘Halfway Season Update!’ section further down the page.

Also, in case you were adding the numbers together and noticing that they don’t all add up to 100% – I have purposely left out any values below 2.5%, as it’s easier to get an overview of the player movements, and to eliminate clutter.

Hover over the images to switch between arrows/percentage.

Gael Clichy & Bacary Sagna (WBL & WBR)

True wing backs, covering the whole span of the flanks. Defending, attacking, assisting, crossing…the wing backs have a key role in the Arsenal 4-2-3-1.

Key Facts:
• Clichy spends 37.5% passing in the opponents half, Sagna 52.3%.
• Sagna passes (crosses) almost twice as much in the top zone than Clichy.
• Sagna covers the whole length of the pitch, Clichy plays slightly wider.

Passing Stats:
• Clichy – 59.1 average passes per game, 81% completion rate.
• Sagna – 63.9 average passes per game, 83% completion rate.

The biggest difference between the two is that Sagna gets further up the field. In the first 10 games of the season, this seemed to be because of Walcott cutting inside and opening up space for Sagna to move forward, but in match 11-20 Arshavin and Walcott have inverted their roles. This changes nothing for Clichy and Sagna though, so the reason for Sagna moving further up the pitch is probably not a tactical reason – Sagna is just more attack-minded han Clichy.

Substitutes: Kieran Gibbs is pushing Clichy for a first team place, and is the definite option if Clichy is out. If Sagna is unavailable, Eboué usually plays here, as there aren’t any other natural replacements for the DR slot. Havard Nordtveit has been playing the DR slot in the U18 team, so in the worst injury crisis he could be used there.

Thomas Vermaelen & Laurent Koscielny (DLC & DRC)

No matter who is playing in central defence, there is a small difference between the DLC and the DRC positions. The DLC position is the more advanced one, pushing forward and trying to press higher up, while the DRC position is covering behind him. Normally this behaviour would be controlled by the type of player in the position, but as evidenced by the chalkboards (they take both Vermaelen, Djorou and Koscielny into account for the DLC slot), it’s purely position based.

Key Facts:
• DRC spends about double the amount of time in the wing back slot than the DLC.
• DLC plays narrower.

Passing Stats:
• Vermaelen – 28.3 average passes per game, 99% completion rate.
• Squillaci – 37.2 average passes per game, 90% completion rate.
• Koscielny – 32.6 average passes per game, 89% completion rate.
• Djorou – 34.7 average passes per game, 92% completion rate.

When the wing backs push up, the central defenders stretch wide to cover both the DC and DL/R positions. Squillaci (DRC) is spending more than 20% in Sagna’s defensive space (DR/WBR), and Vermaelen/Koscielny (DLC) is spending around 10% in Clichy’s defensive space (DL/WBL).

The DRC position is better suited for slower and taller players (Koscielny, Squillaci), while the DLC position is better for short, quick and more creative players (Vermaelen being the only one in the squad fitting this description at the moment).

Substitutes: If Vermaelen is unavailable, Koscielny takes his place, and Squillaci takes the DRC position. So far, Squillaci has always played in the DRC position. Mobile and creative defenders go in the DLC slot, while solid defenders go in the DRC slot. Players are preferred in the following order: Vermaelen, Koscielny, Squillaci, Djorou and lastly Song if there are no other alternatives available.

Jack Wilshere & Alex Song (MLC & MRC)

Wilshere and Song are regarded as first choice in the MC slots. Diaby is still highly regarded by Wenger, and Denilson has been getting some action lately.

Key Facts:
• In the first 10 matches, Wilshere was more advanced, Song pulled back.
• In the latest 10 matches, they have switched roles, and Song is now more advanced.

Passing Stats:
• Song – 57.4 average passes per game, 87% completion rate.
• Wilshere – 43.3 average passes per game, 88% completion rate.
• Denilson – 76.0 average passes per game, 92% completion rate.
• Diaby – 37.5 average passes per game, 92% completion rate.

Song is still regarded as the defensive anchor, even though he has travelled higher up the pitch all season, and now finds himself more advanced than Wilshere. These two positions do swap around a lot with each other, filling in when needed. More about this in the ‘Connections to Total Football’ section below.

Substitutes: There are three players currently competing for the MLC slot – Wilshere, Diaby and Denilson – and they seem to be preferred in that order at the moment. In the MRC slot, the only “natural” replacement for Song is Denilson, but he’s not a defensive midfielder. In pre-season, Emmanuel Frimpong really showed some class, and was regarded as the backup for Song before he tore his cruciate ligaments in mid-August.

Andrey Arshavin & Theo Walcott / Samir Nasri (AML & AMR)

As previously mentioned, Walcott covers more ground, due to his tenacious nature. When Nasri plays the AMR slot, he gets more passes, and behaves more like Arshavin on the left flank. In these chalkboards you can clearly see how the wide forward positions work – the wide forwards start from an AML/R position, but moves up and cut inside to become central forwards. This behaviour is also tactically encouraged by having a “false 9″ – a central striker that drops down to a FC position to draw central defenders from their positions.

Key Facts:
• As corners are counted as passes, Arshavin’s stats in the top left zone are misleading.
• Almost 1/3 of Arshavin’s passes come from an AML/AMLC position.
• Overall, both flanks have very similar distribution, Arshavin cutting inside and playing wider.

Passing Stats:
• Arshavin – 37.0 average passes per game, 72% completion rate.
• Nasri – 53.6 average passes per game, 81% completion rate.
• Walcott – 19.2 average passes per game, 72% completion rate.
• Rosicky – 49.2 average passes per game, 87% completion rate.

In FM terms, the players usually operate somewhere between the AML/R and AMLC/RC positions, but push forward and generally play as high (or higher) up as the FC.

Also worth noting is that both Walcott and Nasri are seeking a more central position this year. They’re moving into channels and often end up in a FC position, forcing the actual FC to replace them on the right flank. We mimic this behaviour through the swap instruction. Once again there is more info about this in the ‘Connections to Total Football’ section below.

Substitutes: Both Nasri and Walcott are most comfortable in the AMR slot, but Nasri has been played in the AML slot lately. Nasri, Arshavin and Walcott all compete for the AMR/L positions.

Cesc Fabregas & Robin Van Persie / Marouane Chamakh (AMC & FC)

This year, Cesc has been moved from a MRC position to an AMC position, probably because he had such an impact at the end of last season when he started playing in a more advanced role. The AMC position enables him to roam around, and as you can see in the chalkboard, he is the player with the widest cover of the field, playing everywhere from DMC to AMR to AML to AMC.

Key Facts:
• Fabregas covers the whole width of the pitch, in both the AMC and MC line.
• Both Fabregas and the FC have very similar distribution patterns in the AMC line.

Passing Stats:
• Cesc – 64.3 average passes per game, 79% completion rate.
• Chamakh – 26.4 average passes per game, 81% completion rate.
• Nasri – 53.6 average passes per game, 81% completion rate.
• Diaby – 37.5 average passes per game, 92% completion rate.
• Van Persie – 43.5 average passes per game, 71% completion rate.

Cesc just has a 100% free role, and the key to making this work is that other players in the team replace his position if he moves into theirs. That’s why Song and Wilshere often end up close to goal – it’s usually because Cesc has come deep to get the ball, so either Song or Wilshere has replaced Cesc in the AMC slot to keep the structure of the formation intact. Once again an attribute of total football.

Robin Van Persie and Marouane Chamakh are similar in their movements, but Van Persie behaves more like an AMC in his movements. The FC position is so important for Wenger’s tactic to work, as the false 9 role is designed to allow for the wide forwards to push up and offer attacking options at the same level as the FC.

In essence, the AMC and FC play fairly level in terms of position on the pitch, forming what could be perceived as an attacking bank of four in a 4-2-4.

Another interesting thing to note is how the FC position follows the same pattern as the wide forwards – on the left side the position is more withdrawn and on the right side it’s more advanced. A clear indication that the FC covers for the AML/R positions when they cut inside.

Substitutes: Preferred substitute for Cesc is Diaby, Rosicky or Aaron Ramsey. In the FC slot, Chamakh replaces Van Persie, but if both of them are out, the best bet to fill this slot would be Bendtner.


Now that we have all the individual positions analysed, the Arsenal tactic can be described as many things. It can easily be a 4-5-1, 4-2-4, 4-2-3-1, 4-2-1-3, or even some more exotic shapes like 2-4-1-3 or 3-3-1-3. But if we just take the raw data and position the players in their average positions, the formation looks like this:


It’s a tie between a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-2-1-3, but for simplicity’s sake we’ll just call it a 4-2-3-1. The right flank is the more advanced, and the left flank is more compact.

Core Of The Formation

When trying to emulate a real life tactic, I usually try to figure out the core of a formation to better understand it. The “core” are the players who makes the most passes in the game. Most football teams today are broadly divided into two groups – the distributors and the receivers – and it’s usually balanced evenly (5-5).

To figure out the core, we take a look at where the most frequent passes are made, and from which positions. This is important for two reasons, and by figuring out where most of the passes come from, we can:

1. Draw conclusions on what player instructions and preferred moves we need to apply.

2. Better understand how the tactic works. Example: if most passes come from the wide forwards, we know that in FM terms, we need to set the passing instruction to “Down Both Flanks” in order to have the wingers more active.

In the Arsenal 4-2-3-1, most passes come from Clichy, Sagna, Song, Wilshere and Cesc, and if we take a look at it like this…


…we see that at the core, Arsenal are distributing passes from a fairly flat midfield five, sacrificing some defensive stability by pushing the full backs up to form a 2-4-1-3 at times. The reasoning behind it is to have the benefits of a 5-man midfield – being able to outnumber the opposition in midfield increases your possession…but also have the benefits of a 3-man forward line – creating triangles and balancing the numbers in attack vs defence.

The way it works is that by distributing passes from a width of a 5-man midfield, Arsenal are able to bring versatility to their passing. The full backs offer more direct passing and one-two’s on the flanks, and the midfield can switch play from flank to flank and serve through balls for the front three.

For comparison purposes, we can take a look what the core of Manchester City looks like:


A completely different approach. Arsenal are trying to distribute the bulk of their passes through width, while Man City are trying to distribute their passes from a defensive center. More about the Man City tactic in another article, coming soon.

Possession Much?

Another thing we have to do in order to re-create Arsenal’s style of play in FM is to figure out how and why Arsenal have so much ball possession. There are a couple of reasons:

1. Positional awareness – making yourself available for a pass. According to Wenger himself, a player should always have at least three clear passing options, at all times. The result is that Arsenal can keep possession for a long time (on a good day), since there is always an option to pass. Keyword being triangles.

2. Probing play – patience is key. Contrary to popular belief, Arsenal plays a short passing game, with some players allowed to be more direct if they think it’s necessary. They’d rather keep possession than take a gamble.

If we draw lines between every players short pass options, we get a whole lot of triangles:


By creating lines like this, we can see why the core have the most passes = they have the most options available, both to receive and distribute. The midfield trio all have at least 5-6 short passing options at any given time, and that makes it easier for them to distribute passes. It also allows them to move more freely, since even if one midfielder is out of position, the other midfielders have at least 4-5 clear options.

Real life passing stats:
• Liverpool 1-1 Arsenal = 511 passes in total, 88% pass completion, 64% possession
• Arsenal 6-0 Blackpool = 554 passes in total, 89% pass completion, 54% possession
• Blackburn 1-2 Arsenal = 458 passes in total, 84% pass completion, 65% possession
• Arsenal 4-1 Bolton = 523 passes in total, 89% pass completion, 65% possession
• Sunderland 1-1 Arsenal = 305 passes in total, 84% pass completion, 46% possession
• Arsenal 2-3 West Bromwich Albion = 545 passes in total, 83% pass completion, 65% possession
• Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal = 398 passes in total, 86% pass completion, 53% possession
• Arsenal 2-1 Birmingham = 534 passes in total, 88% pass completion, 58% possession
• Man City 0-3 Arsenal = 612 passes in total, 90% pass completion, 65% possession
• Arsenal 1-0 West Ham = 501 passes in total, 87% pass completion, 66% possession
• Arsenal 0-1 Newcastle = 589 passes in total, 79% pass completion, 57% possession
• Wolves 0-2 Arsenal = 502 passes in total, 70% pass completion, 48% possession
• Everton 1-2 Arsenal = 495 passes in total, 77% pass completion, 51% possession
• Arsenal 2-3 Tottenham = 564 passes in total, 78% pass completion, 61% possession
• Aston Villa 2-4 Arsenal = 650 passes in total, 81% pass completion, 60% possession
• Arsenal 2-1 Fulham = 558 passes in total, 75% pass completion, 55% possession
• Man Utd 1-0 Arsenal = 563 passes in total, 74% pass completion, 54% possession
• Arsenal 3-1 Chelsea = 579 passes in total, 83% pass completion, 55% possession
• Wigan 2-2 Arsenal = 651 passes in total, 84% pass completion, 61% possession
• Birmingham 0-3 Arsenal = 463 passes in total, 76% pass completion, 50% possession

On average, Arsenal has 57.6% possession, 80.6% pass completion and 581 passes per game. We won't get that amount of passes per game in FM2011, due to it counting passes slightly different than the Guardian Chalkboards, but with the custom database you should definitely come close to the 58/42 possession and 81% pass completion numbers.

Passing The Ball Into The Net

If we analyze how and when Arsenal tends to shoot, we see that few long shots are attempted. Usually a team would have a 50/50 distribution between shots from outside and inside the box.

In Arsenal's case it's a 62.2% distribution in favour of shots made from inside or close to the box. Last year this distribution was close to 70/30, so apparently the team has tried bringing some versatility to the shooting department in the 2010/2011 season. They still prefer to shoot closer to goal though. Here are some match-by-match shooting statistics:

• Liverpool 1-1 Arsenal = 18 shots, 3 on target (16.6%)
• Arsenal 6-0 Blackpool = 30 shots, 6 on target (20%)
• Blackburn 1-2 Arsenal = 14 shots, 2 on target (14.2%)
• Arsenal 4-1 Bolton = 21 shots, 6 on target (28.5%)
• Sunderland 1-1 Arsenal = 17 shots, 3 on target (17.6%)
• Arsenal 2-3 West Bromwich Albion = 28 shots, 4 on target (14.2%)
• Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal = 16 shots, 4 on target (25%)
• Arsenal 2-1 Birmingham = 20 shots, 6 on target (30%)
• Man City 0-3 Arsenal = 15 shots, 4 on target (26.6%)
• Arsenal 1-0 West Ham = 23 shots, 9 on target (39.1%)
• Arsenal 0-1 Newcastle = 14 shots, 3 on target (21.4%)
• Wolves 0-2 Arsenal = 14 shots, 2 on target (14.2%)
• Everton 1-2 Arsenal = 13 shots, 3 on target (23%)
• Arsenal 2-3 Tottenham = 15 shots, 2 on target (13.3%)
• Aston Villa 2-4 Arsenal = 20 shots, 3 on target (15%)
• Arsenal 2-1 Fulham = 16 shots, 5 on target (31.2%)
• Man Utd 1-0 Arsenal = 11 shots, 4 on target (36.3%)
• Arsenal 3-1 Chelsea = 10 shots, 3 on target (30%)
• Wigan 2-2 Arsenal = 17 shots, 4 on target (23.5%)
• Birmingham 0-3 Arsenal = 20 shots, 9 on target (45%)

Learning from these shooting statistics, it's clear that Arsenal are lacking an option in midfield that can take some shots at goal if it's too crowded in the box. Someone like Essien/Lampard/Gerrard that will add one more dimension to the attacking play.

Halfway Season Update!

This article was written based on the first 10 matches of the season. Every 10 matches I will collect new statistics and present them here, highlighting the differences from the last 10 games.

This season was the first time Wenger has used the 4-2-3-1 formation as a base, so the tactic will change naturally as the season progress and the players learn and get comfortable with their new positions. Some players have made drastic changes to their positional behaviour, others have stayed almost exactly the same.

In general, Arsenal has performed slightly below what they did in the first 10 matches, in which they had 20 points (out of 30), scored 22 goals and conceded 10. In matches 11-20, they earned 19 points, scored 20 goals and conceded 12.

Clichy & Sagna (WBL & WBR)
Both wing backs have been more reserved in comparison to the first 10 matches, dropping deeper to try and add more defensive stability. Which clearly hasn't worked, as the team has conceded more goals (2) in match 11-20.

Clichy spends much less time in the opponents half, almost 13% less than in 1-10. Sagna also spent less time in the opponents half, but only by 6-7% in total. The biggest difference from the fist 10 matches is that Sagna spends double the amount of time in the DR slot now, indicating that he's been instructed not to be as high up the pitch.

Djorou, Koscielny & Squillaci (DLC & DRC)
The DRC slot, most often occupied by Squillaci during match 11-20, has been pulled back a little, and made slightly wider - probably an instruction to cover better for Sagna when he goes forward. Overall the DRC slot is fairly similar to how it was in the first 10 matches.

The DLC slot has had a similar treatment, being pulled back slightly and better cover for the left wing back...but is by large pretty much the same as it was in the first 10 matches.

Wilshere & Song (MLC & MRC)
Wilshere is showing better positional discipline by narrowing his field and dropping slightly deeper to add more stability to the defensive side of things. He spends almost 12% less time in the AMC line, and 7% more in his starting MLC position.

Song, on the other hand, has been doing the opposite - going forward more and playing wider than in the first 10 matches. But he has also stopped coming into Wilshere's MLC territory, showing that the pair have started to trust each other more. Song now spends more time covering his MRC position and the right hand sideline, instead of trying to help Wilshere out and venturing into the left side of midfield.

Arshavin, Nasri & Walcott (AML & AMR)
The AMR slot has such small differences from the first 10 matches that it's basically still the exact same position and instructions that go with it.

Instead, it's the AML slot that has changed quite a bit. Arshavin and Nasri has transformed the AML slot into a very free roaming position, covering lots of width. There is almost a 20% increase in passes made from the right hand side of the pitch, in comparison to the first 10 matches.

Arshavin/Nasri have clearly been told that playing the AML slot means roaming all over the pitch, almost acting as a second AMC. The reason for this might be that Fabregas/AMC have been dropping deeper lately, so the AML slot might be compensating by covering the AMC position at times.

Fabregas, Chamakh & Van Persie (AMC & FC)
The AMC slot has been pulled back slightly, not as advanced as it was in the first 10 matches. Personally I think that the reason for this is that Fabregas has been injured/out of form, so the natural behaviour is to play it 'safe' by dropping a little deeper. However, it's just a 3.8% decrease in time spent in the AMC line, so it's not a massive difference in the offensive side. Instead, the biggest difference is that the position has been better centered, as the right flank is occupied by Sagna and Walcott/Nasri at a better standard than in the first 10 matches.

The FC slot is probably the biggest change from the first 10 matches. With Van Persie getting more games, he is making the overall position drop much deeper, and the FC actually spends almost half of his time in the AMC area. It's also even more obvious now that the FC and AMR positions do swap, as roughly 20% of the FC's passes come from the right flank.

Average Positions
Every single position except the MRC has been pulled back in comparison to matches 1-10. This could explain why the amount of goals (both scored and conceded) has been worse in matches 11-20. It's also a natural progression as players settle more into their positions. The average positions of matches 1-10 are faded in so you can compare:


Wilshere and Song have pivoted, making Song the more advanced midfielder of the two. The AML slot is the most drastic difference, probably because Nasri has been playing there, and his behaviour has influenced the average position. If it was only Arshavin, he would have the same average position as in match 1-10.

Other Statistics
The biggest difference between the first and the last 10 matches, is that Arsenal's passing completion average has dropped by almost 10%, from 86.8% down to 78.7%. Their average possession has also dropped, from 60% to 55.2%. The amount of passes have increased though, from 494 passes per game to 561 passes per game.

Conclusion & Analysis
The fact that the whole team has been pulled back is interesting, and probably a big part of the reason as to why Arsenal has performed slightly below what they did in matches 1-10. And even though Arsenal only conceded and scored 2 more goals both ways, those 4 goals scored/conceded in total could have given Arsenal 6 more points, which would put them on 45 points instead of 39.

The reduction in passing accuracy is probably because of the increase in amount of passes, indicating that the team has been trying more complicated passes, taking more chances in speculative distribution. If that is the case, a reduction in passing completion is only natural and nothing to worry to much about. However, as the team haven't improved, maybe they would be better off having the same cautious passing approach as in the first 10 matches of the season - they scored more, got more points and conceded less that way.

Connections to Total Football

The philosophy behind total football is to have a 100% fluid team. That's the simple explanation. The more detailed explanation is that in total football, every player is expected to make positional decisions on his own, roaming into attacking or defensive positions as he wish.

However, in total football it's extremely important to keep the structure of the formation intact as well. So whenever a player decides to roam, another player has to fill that position to keep the structure intact. Otherwise there would just be 10 forwards on the pitch, and this actually happened at times with the 1974 Holland team (there are videos on Youtube showing the team starting attacks with 8 players lunging forward).

Wenger has always been interested in total football, and has been using parts of the philosophy in all his tactics - most notably in the wide forward positions. Last year he experimented with a 'floating core', where almost half the team had license to roam, and the other half rigid.

This year he has abandoned the floating/solid core idea and gone for another approach that is more vague. Fabregas is the most obvious example of a player with full roaming instructions. He comes deep to get balls, he goes wide, he often ends up in FC positions, etc. The connection to total football here is that Wilshere and Song both covers for Fabregas to keep the formation intact, so when Cesc comes deep to get the ball, one of the midfielders will push up to the AMC slot.

This makes the midfield trio very fluid, and as evidenced by the season so far, both Song and Wilshere are frequently ending up in advanced positions. And when they do, you'll often find Cesc outside the penalty area, arriving from a deeper position.

The midfield trio aren't the only players exercising this behaviour though. Theo Walcott has always said he regards himself as a striker, and this year Wenger has allowed him freedom to seek a central position throughout games. And to keep the structure intact, the FC (either Van Persie or Chamakh) fills that position.

Those two examples happen lots of times, but the whole team are instructed to fill position and keep the structure if someone ventures forward. The latest example is when Clichy lunged forward in the Man City game - Arshavin immediately fell back to the DL slot.

In FM we'll have to emulate this behaviour by swapping instructions. The new match engine actually is more intelligent - players WILL replace each other in extreme situations, but not as much as in reality of course.

Using in FM: Formation

Finally it's time to fire up the game and start transferring what we learned from all those statistics and notes. The formation is pretty straightforward:

Wing backs are pushed up a notch to emulate their real life behaviour of being very attacking. As previously mentioned, they are slightly different, but not enough to push Clichy back to a more traditional DL position.

Central defenders are in traditional positions.

The holding midfielders are also in traditional 4-2-3-1 positions (the formation called '4-2-3-1 Denmark' in the FM editor), and one might argue that Song should be placed in the absolute MC slot, as he does play very central...but placing him there created some negative behaviours in the match engine, so he's stuck in the MRC slot.

Wide forwards start out from wide positions, but cut inside and usually occupy the AML/RC slots. I had some issues with getting the AMR slot to behave as intended for a while, and I even tried putting him in the AMRC slot instead...but I finally got him right, and the AMR slot is now acting correctly.

It is essentially just a classic 4-2-3-1, with full backs pushed up to wing backs, and AML/R's instead of AML/RC's. I don't really know why a standard 4-2-3-1 in FM has AML/RC's instead of AML/R's, usually when teams play a 4-2-3-1 they use wide/inverted wingers.

Using in FM: Team Instructions

Here's just an explanation of the general team instructions. For individual instructions questions, check the tactic in-game and post a question in the commentary section at the bottom of this page.

Starting from the top: very fluid philosophy, as all players are expected to perform both attacking and defensive duties. Control as a starting strategy, as that's what possession football is all about: control.

Passing is shorter, as Arsenal play a short passing game. Creative freedom had to be pulled down to default, as the higher setting just made all players ignore much of the tactical instructions. Arsenal plays a pretty good pressing game this year, so closing down is set to 'press more'.

Tackling is just default, or 'normal'. Marking is always zonal, Wenger has always said that he don't believe in man marking anyone, even though Song clearly did man mark Messi at The Emirates.

Crossing is set to drill, mostly because the floating ones are too floating. It didn't look realistic. Roaming is set to more - the whole team roams around constantly throughout matches.

Defensive line was higher last year, but fairly normal now. The introduction of more 'traditional' centre backs like Koscielny and Squillaci has naturally pulled down the defensive line slightly, and gives it more stability.

Even though Arsenal play pretty wide at times, I struggled with getting a realistic experience in the 3D match engine with a wide I narrowed it down and now it looks much better.

Some might argue that since Arsenal are playing a probing passing game, they should be set to a pretty slow passing tempo, but they do in fact pass the ball around quickly. Watching Arsenal games shows you that they rarely dwell on the ball, but rather try to move it around the team swiftly and probingly at the same time.

Focus passing was set to through the middle in the first versions of the tactic, but the ball possession percentage took a big hit, so it's now mixed.

No counter attack and no offside trap. The team do counter attack many times in real life, but counter attack in FM terms means lots of long balls to lone strikers, which isn't really Arsenal.

Final Result: How close did we get?

As with every tactic in the world, there are positives and negatives, and I'm fairly sure I've captured the most important traits of both:

• The possession is there - the team passes the ball around quickly but probingly, and it looks convincing in the match engine, at least as far as the match engine allows.

• All the set pieces are constructed exactly as in real life, so it's the correct players in the correct positions.

• The formation is fluid and switches between 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3 and 4-2-4, just like the real tactic.

• The defence struggles for the same reason as real life - central defenders get caught out of position when trying to close down the opposition too high up the pitch, and there is lots of space for the opposition on the flanks, due to the attacking nature of Arsenal's wing backs.

• The attack also struggles for the same real life reasons - the team only tries for goal if they are close enough, and the probing passing play often translates into the final third of the pitch, creating that 'pass into goal' behaviour.

Some things were impossible to do, like the width of the central defenders (they play very wide when Arsenal is in possession), the interaction between Song and the defensive line, etc...but overall I must say that this tactic will get you as close as possible to the real Arsenal 4-2-3-1.

Limitations Of The Game
Obviously there are limitations in trying to emulate reality through a game. Some behaviours just won't be possible to reproduce, due to database, match engine or just game functionality limitations.

In FM2010 there was an issue with letting central defenders burst forward, as Arsenal's defenders did during last season. Luckily for us, they don't do this anymore, at least not as frequent as before, so this won't be a major issue.

There are also some limitations when it comes to positioning - I'd like to place some players in between the pre-determined positions, and at times FM can feel restricted in this area. I'd like for Song to drop down to a third central defender when Vermaelen or Koscielny are out wide covering for the full backs, but so far I haven't been able to create this behaviour.

But the biggest limitation is the one dealing with positional fluidity. The current match engine can't cope well with fully free roles, which is a key feature of the real 4-2-3-1.

Final Result: Player Stats Comparisons

Finally, the best evidence of the tactic emulating real life behaviour is to compare match stats side by side. Keep in mind that the real chalkboards draw a dot to the receiver as well as the distributor, so some of the real chalkboards will seem 'wider' than the in-game ones.

Hover over the images to switch between in-game analysis/real life analysis.

The most obvious problems are getting the midfield trio to play as wide as they do in real life, and to get the FC to occupy the flanks as frequently as he should, but it's as close as it's going to get.

Screenshot Examples

Example A: Base formation, a 4-2-3-1 with the two midfielders dropping down to DM's even though their starting positions are MC's.

Example B: Both MC's are dropping very low and become DM's, all while the attack line are shaping themselves into a 4-2-1-3, running into positions from a long pass forward.

Example C: Shows the midfield pivot, having moved from a 2-1 to almost a 1-2 with Song coming deep to collect a pass. In this case Fabregas has dropped down, and Wilshere has filled his position, keeping the structure of the formation intact.

Example D: Once again showing the defensive nature of Song, as he comes very deep in comparison to the rest of the midfield. In this screenshot the midfield pivot has fully transformed into a 1-2.

Example E: In this example, the formation has fluidly become a 4-1-2-3 in an attacking move.

Example F: Chamakh is not in view, but he has replaced Walcott on the right as Walcott has ventured into a central position, just as in real life. Here the formation has become a 4-2-1-3, with Fabregas coming deep to dictate play, while Wilshere has filled his position to keep the structure intact.

Frequently Asked Questions

• I can't score, what am I doing wrong?
You have to give the team some time to become fluid with the formation, and if you're struggling for goals I would suggest playing the FC and AMR/L's that are in the best form and have the best morale. When the team have momentum you can go back to the normal first choice players.

• I'm conceding lots of goals, what am I doing wrong?
Unfortunately this is true in reality as well. Arsenal have had instability at the back since the iron curtain of Seaman-Winterburn-Keown-Adams-Dixon was dissolved. And just as in reality you will concede goals, especially since the goalkeepers at the club just aren't good enough for top flight football at the moment. However, the current backline will become very good, so buying a good goalkeeper in the January transfer window could help you concede less.

• I'm losing/can't keep possession/let in late goals, what's wrong?
There are a couple of tricks I do frequently to alter a match without messing with the core tactic. First one is pulling the wing backs down to full back positions, without altering anything else. This makes the tactic slightly more stable, and is a good trick if you want to protect a lead. Another trick is to raise tackling to hard - a good approach in hard away games.

And the final one, my favourite: lower ALL players' creative freedom to zero. This will make them stick more to the gameplan, which can be absolutely vital in some games. I usually do this if I notice that our pass completion is bad (below 77-78%), or if it's just not "working" on the pitch.

• I don't know what kind of players I should sign?
In the upcoming Arsenal Simulation Compendium Deux, there will be a whole section dedicated to transfer suggestions, with realism scores and so on. But in the meantime, here are a couple of somewhat realistic suggestions;

Rene Adler (GK), Mark Schwarzer (GK), Debuchy (DR), Van Der Wiel (DR), Etienne Capoue (DM), Moussa Sissoko (DM), N'Zonzi (DM), Eden Hazard (AM), etc...

• Do I need the database/what is it for?
You don't need the database, but without it you won't get realistic results when it comes to possession and pass completion. The database also has changing home/away/third kits every year, altered attributes, improved player looks, correct competition names, etc.

• Why is AMR set to swap with the FC?
Both Theo and Nasri does this in real life when playing in that AMR position, especially Theo. Many times during games he drifts in towards the FC position, and the FC comes out to cover and keep the structure intact. Read more about the philosophy behind the swap instructions in the 'Connections to Total Football' section in the article above.

Final Words

I just have to mention a couple of things. Last tactic I made received an awesome response from the FM community, and I'm very thankful for all the positive comments I've received. This time I've tried to put in ten times the effort, and I hope it shows. Personally, I think this article is light years above the old one, and I'm very happy with the result.

Also, I'd like to thank Joss (@JossBennett), who helped me out more than he thinks he did. It was completely priceless having someone to look through the work, test the tactic and receive feedback from. And having such a person to bounce ideas with made me work harder as well. We've had plenty of discussions on Twitter during the last month, so thanks Joss for all your input!


Arsenal 4-2-3-1 | v1.02
DS2 Database | v1.00

Either click directly on the links, or right-click and choose 'Save As...'

Instructions: the tactic is put into User/Documents/Sports Interactive/Football Manager 2011/tactics, and the database is put into User/Documents/Sports Interactive/Football Manager 2011/editor data - you apply it by starting a new game and choosing it in the database dialogue.

  • Joss

    You’ve exceeded yourself Ix.

    Great in depth article (even if it’s late up =P)

    Really fun working on this for me actually, and i’m sure this will get the attention it deserves!

  • Tom

    Awesome guide yet again, does it work on FM10? still waiting for FM11 to be delivered.

  • mantralux

    Haven’t tried it on FM2010, but it might work? There’s nothing new in terms of sliders in FM2011 compared to FM2010….try it out and let me know if it works! =)

  • Marco

    Great guide, im gonna use it again. I tought you stoped but here you are.


  • Niels Madsen

    Very nice guide, i’m definately trying it out sometime, but i would like to know which roles and duties you would give they players?

  • mantralux

    All players have many individual instructions, so roles/duties don’t play that much part in the tactic….but here they are:

    Almunia: Goalkeeper/Defend

    Sagna: Wing Back/Attack
    Clichy: Wing Back/Support
    Koscielny: Central Defender/Cover
    Vermaelen: Central Defender/Stopper

    Song: Ball Winning Midfielder/Defend
    Wilshere: Box To Box Midfielder/Support

    Walcott: Inside Forward/Attack
    Fabregas: Advanced Playmaker/Support
    Arshavin: Inside Forward/Attack

    Van Persie: Complete Forward/Support

  • Marco

    Hmm… The tactic doesn’t work well for me. I’m getting much goals againts. What am i doing wrong?

  • mantralux

    Probably nothing. This tactic does leak goals, just as the real one. If you want to tighten the defence up without changing too much of the tactic, pull back the wing backs a notch so you get a traditional back four. I tend to do this against strong opposition in away fixtures. =)

  • Joss

    Or buy a good (Wenger-ish) defender like Hangeland/Subotic and a decent keeper like Schwarzer/Adler.

  • Marco

    Ok thanks, Do i need to do some side-line instruction as wel? Or do i need to change something in the strategy?

    So i need to pull the backs behind to get a 4-2-3-1 (4-5-1)

  • mantralux

    Yeah, just one notch down. =)

  • Joss

    If you notice that your not keeping possession as much as you should, then a simple ‘retain possession’ may or may not do the trick ;) Other than that I don’t use any touchline instructions…

  • Joss

    This is the result when someone tried to put the tactic onto FM10:

    So yeah, it doesn’t really work..

  • Logan

    Great in-depth guide and breakdown. As with a lot of tactics using custom sliders and positions – I’d like to get your take on adjustments during the game.

    How do you modify when you go up 1-2 goals against a tough opponent away? How about in the last 60, 70, 80 minutes to protect the lead? Likewise, what about when you go down a goal or two against weak or tough opponents?

  • Mike

    Hmm, your center-backs will make the team leak goals even when you pull back the wing-backs. If one is a stopper, one does cover, then you need an anchorman or else your defence will be torn apart! My suggestion is, DRC is a limited defender and DLC is a central defender. When I play against strong teams I even make Walcott and Arshavin defensive wingers to tighten up the defence at the sides.

  • kmart

    I cant figure out where to put the database file exactly. as soon as i get in football manager file, editor data is not even a folder. Is this duee to the fact i have a dl version of the game?

  • kmart

    do i even need the database to get the same results or can i just follow the tactics you put up?

  • kmart

    i have applied the new patch and i now see the Database dialogue pop up, but it wont find the file obviously.

  • kmart

    OMG OMG i figured it out i was stubborn and kept looking under Mycomputer/Program files/Fm11 so stupid

    i <3 u!

  • Aajay

    great article. very well written.

  • Robert

    No offence, but I can not actually believe You’re a chick!! This guide is just brilliant, big respect for You, every male FM maniac would want to have even 10% of your tactical knowledge. All the best, and thanks for the tactic.

    Come on Gunners !!

  • mantralux

    I don’t alter too much, other than pulling the wing backs down to full backs if I’m away or protecting a lead. I use some shouts though, like ‘get stuck in’ and ‘retain possession’…..but for the most part, the core of the tactic doesn’t change.

  • mantralux

    Yes that’s one way of tightening up the tactic in FM, but not really how Wenger uses the tactic in real life. Song is the designated holding midfielder, he is the most defensive of the two MC’s…and in reality he protects the backline fairly well when he’s not on one of his forward runs.

  • mantralux

    No idea. If you don’t have one, just create one called ‘editor data’. =)

  • mantralux

    Anyone can do it really, it’s just patience and math. ;)

  • Robert

    Any advice from you about who to add to the team at the beginning of the game? I suppose a good keeper and defensive/ball winning midfielder would be handy, was thinking of Frey who’s surprisingly quite cheap (around 9 mill) and Annan from Rosenborg who used to be quality in FM 2010.

  • mantralux

    For realisms sake, I wouldn’t add anyone in the 2010 summer transfer window, and especially not Frey. ;)

    There are three key areas of the current squad that needs strengthening:

    Goalkeeper – obviously, as our first and second choice keepers aren’t at the level you need to be when playing for Arsenal. However, Szczesny is tipped for the future, so any keeper brought in would be an older, experienced one to take the number 1 jersey until Szczesny is ready. This is why Wenger was going for Schwarzer in the summer. Signing him in the january transfer window might be a good and realistic option.

    Right Back – we have no real natural replacements for Sagna. Eboue plays there when Sagna is out, but other than that we’re pretty screwed. Nordtveit and Eastmond can play in the DR slot, and have done so in the reserves/academy, but Arsenal do need the equivalent of a Gibbs in the DR slot, to push Sagna to work harder for his place.

    Holding Midfielder – the most important position to strengthen for me. The only replacements we have for Song are Diaby, Denilson, Frimpong and Eastmond….and only Frimpong are showing signs to become a good DM in the future. Diaby and Denilson aren’t true DM’s. Until Frimpong is fully ready, we really need a backup for Song, so this would be the first thing to look at come January transfer window.

    Other than that, there is no need at all to strengthen. We have plenty of forwards (both strikers and wide forwards) in RVP, Chamakh, Bendtner, Walcott, Vela, Arshavin, Nasri and JET. Midfield is even better (excluding the Song/MRC slot of course), with Wilshere, Denilson, Ramsey, Cesc, Rosicky and fringe players like Lansbury coming through. Backline is also fine (exclusing the DR slot), our four central defenders are actually quite good.

    So priority list, both in the game and in reality:

    1. Defensive Midfielder (suggestions; Capoue, Sissoko, N’Zonzi)

    2. Goalkeeper (suggestions; Schwarzer, Adler)

    3. Right Back (suggestion; Debuchy, Faubert)

    Good luck! =)

  • Joss

    Gregoy Van der Wiel is another player who could fit in at RB. As is Felipe Melo:

    - VDW can be bought for about £10m if you fend off bids from Bayern specifically, and often others.. so snap him up quick if you want him. He’s played 10 times for the senior squad, and is still quite young – Being a product of the Ajax Youth Academy I think he’d be fairly ideal as backup or competition to Sagna. Wages are reasonable, though he asks for a lot he can usually be bargained down to what Denilson & co. are on (roughly = £30,000/wk) with app. fee and TOY bonuses etc.

    - Felipe Melo is a tricky one though tbh. He had a solid WC and could be pricey. But Wenger has said he’s interested, and he’s publicly known to not be happy @Juventus. He shouldn’t cost anything like the £20m Juve had to pay Fiorentina but maybe £10-15m is a realistic price for the start of next season?

    - Phil Jones is another who can play DM – He’s naturally a CB, but a young, English (U21 international) and versatile player, he’d add some stability to an unimpressive (Youth/Reserve) backline (Only Nortdveit/Cruise and Bartley (@SUtd on loan) seem to be showing any promise in the reserves. Wenger is known to be interested, but didn’t feel he was ready in the summer, thus no bid was made.

    Hope that helps. Happy hunting. =)

  • mantralux

    Van Der Wiel is a good shout, only problem would be the £10m – I’d give it a realism score of 6/10. ;)

  • uysalere

    sheer brilliance. amazing guide.

  •!/JossBennett Joss

    True. But the price tag is only that high because of the competition from Bayern.. £9.5m is the minimum offer I’ve had accepted so far, though you can do things like add-on fees/monthly instalments and knock the original price down to £5m –

    At 22 he’s young enough to fit in at Arsenal, and still improve, and he’s a full international, and went to the WC.

    Remember Wenger will pay when he has to, even if he prefers to buy cheaper, younger players – Look at Koscielny and Vermaelen as prime examples, both cost around the £10m mark but to be fair that was a position that he really HAD to strengthen both last season and this because of departures of Silvestre, Campbell, Gallas..

    One in Jan and one/two in summer seems reasonable, as long as you’re not buying Wayne Rooney for £300m ;)

    Anyway 6/10 sounds reasonable so I don’t know why I’m protesting it!

  • kmart

    hmmm first 4 games

    0-0 everton
    0-0 sunderland
    0-1 man city
    0-1 aston villa

    whatss goin on?!?! they played amazing pre season but not getting any results barely any shots in on some games. Am i just supposed to grind this out? I dont mind losing or tieing but when im not scoring goals there is got to be something wrong

  •!/JossBennett Joss

    Let the team gel – They are 4 difficult fixtures tbh and playing Colchester or some non-league Belgian side is different to playing Everton and co. If you’re not scoring give a different striker a go? Or tick ‘hassle opponents’ against teams like Sunderland who will press you and get in your players’ faces…

  •!/JossBennett Joss

    Give the tactic time. Four tough fixtures. If your strikers aren’t doing the job, play someone else like Vela or Walcott.

  • volnerman

    very cool article, thanks again for all the hard work. Just wondering how soon you were gonna post some results?

  • mantralux

    £5m + clauses seems far more realistic though, much more so than Rooney for £300m. ;)

  • Richey Back

    Absolutley amazing guide … I think I love you lol ;-)

    Being a massive Gooner myself and season ticket holder i’m a firm believer that it will work in real life, I just wish we’d be more active in the transfer market for those areas we need!

    Anyway gonna put the tactic to the test tonight on FM11 but playing my chelsea mate online so gonna try and fill those gaps in the squad and show him that Arsenal can win on FM :)

    For those looking at poss signings in certain positions players i’ve had success with in FM10 and so far in 11 are:

    GK – Ochoa – Sometimes brilliant but can lose morale and cheap
    Mandana – immense for 5 years
    Sergio Asenjo – though he’s one for the future and we’ve got Mr Szczesny coming through

    DR – Never really covered this due to money and I like Eboue but have sometimes got Van Der Wiel on cheap (rare) after a season he’s better than Sagna!

    DCM – Marchisio is excellent
    Annan is good but more as a breaker up of play so a good sub when you wanna hold a lead not so good on ball

    Try and get Romelu Lulaku on loan too – he scored 10 goals in the Carling Cup alone!!

    Obv not sure how the outfield players would fit into the arsenal tactic but they are good players in the game!!

    Once again brilliant brilliant article

    Richey Back xx

  • mantralux

    Thanks! Good couple of suggestions there, I’ll check them out and put them in the compendium, I have a couple of transfer suggestions but it’s always good to have more. I’m especially interested in Mandana, Asenjo and Annan. =)

  • Marco

    I think Buying Labyad for the futere will be also a good buy, he’s like 2 mil i think.

    I think buying Afellay would also be realistic.

  • Richey Back

    Though I cannot say for sure having not tested it out but my gut feel would be that Annan maybe wouldn’t work in the system/tactic esp from a starting point of view and is it worth just wasting a sub for a player that will break the ball up in the last 10? He’s not what you’d call a typical Arsenal player – very powerful though!

    Defo give it a try though!

    Hope the keepers work – also forgot Rene Adler too!!

    I cant wait to get home from work and smash it tonight :) … even turned down a night out on the tiles too lol!!

  •!/JossBennett Joss

    Marco: Afellay would indeed be realistic, being a typical Arsenal player with skill, pace and passing ability, but we don’t really need and midfielders – If we did, I feel sure Wenger would have offered Pires a contract when he was training with us a little while ago. We’ve got Arshavin, Walcott, Nasri, Fabregas, Van Persie etc. Who all play in his potential positions. Certainly though if you’re running low on midfielders for some reason he’d be a good shout!

  • Richey Back

    oh dear I cant seem to download the tactic file from the website?

    for some reason it says that the link is generating too much traffic?

    could someone possibly put the file link on here?

    if not is it just a case of copying the positions etc as above or does the tactic include other more specifc tweaks?

    confused,com!! lol

  • mantralux

    Couldn’t find Annan, what team does he play for? And yeah, Adler is my first choice in every save as well.

  • mantralux

    I’ll check into it, maybe my Dropbox account got tired of the 2500+ downloads do far hehe. Give me a couple of minutes!

  • Richey Back

    Hey … all sorted and loaded in … time to get cracking … COYG lol!

    Thanks :)

  • Marco

    Ix, he’s playing a CSKA. His full name is Anthony Annan.

  • Dk-Bendtner

    Hey great work whit the tactic. Ive been studying it for a while now. But I seem to have a problem. Dont know if it suppose that Wilshere, should switch place whit cecs while playing? Cant find the idea in that. Thank you from denmark

  • mantralux

    Yeah there are a couple of swaps going on, between MLC and AMC, and between AMR and FC – this is what happens in real life. Fabregas often drops down to collect the ball, and when he does, Wilshere takes his chance to go further up the field. In the other swap, Theo usually play in the FC position during games this season, forcing the FC to cover for him on the right flank.

  •!/JossBennett Joss

    Also, I find that having a “very fluid” philosophy means, more so than in FM10 that players move into space, and cover for each other. Nasri spends a lot of the time in-game in the AMC position, even when played in AMR, the ST moves into the channels etc.

  • Foley McOley

    Annan plays for Rosenborg BK in the Norwegian League.

  • Dk-Bendtner

    OKay but Im so happy someone took the time to make a real arsenal tactic :) I cant thank you enough. Also I got a question. I feel so bad buying and selling players in FM11. But you got any suggestions on a some nice realistic transfers I could get? that maybe could happen in real life also?

  • mantralux

    There are a bunch of them mentioned in the comments above:

    Rene Adler, Van Der Wiel, Etienne Capoue, Moussa Sissoko, N’Zonzi, Debuchy….only keep in mind that Arsenal rarely go for hyped and well-known players. Here is an excerpt from the upcoming Arsenal Simulation Compendium:

    “The reason Arsenal behave like they do in the transfer market started out as a purely short term economical decision, but has turned into a long term business plan for the club. When Arsenal were playing at Highbury, they couldn’t generate enough money to really compete in the transfer market, prompting Arsene Wenger to approach the market differently. And when the club moved to the Emirates, there was a huge bank loan that needed priority,

    The result has been that Arsenal has gained a reputation of finding chunks of coal few people have heard of, and polishing them into talented diamonds. In general, Arsenal go for one of three different player types:

    1. Wonderkids from (mostly) France, South America or Africa
    Examples: Nasri, Fabregas, Vela, Walcott, Song

    2. Neglected and/or cheap early/mid-20′s players in medium-sized clubs
    Examples: Koscielny, Squillaci, Rosicky, Chamakh

    3. Free or very cheap older backup players for temporary (6-12 months) duty
    Examples: Silvestre, Sol Campbell

    Many of the younger emerging talent comes from within. Jay-Emmanuel Thomas, Emmanuel Frimpong, Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere, Craig Eastmond and Benik Afobe were all trained by Arsenal from an early age.

    There are about 3-4 signings every summer transfer window. 1-2 for the first team and usually 2 for the academy/U-18′s. Just keep in mind: give your youngsters a chance. Don’t buy to solve your problems, try and use the talent you have.

    If there is any activity during the January window, it would probably be for emergency situations (Arshavin was signed when Cesc got injured, etc). In some cases, the January transfer window could be used in order to get a player familiarised with the highly paced Premier League – something that takes around 6 months according to Wenger.”

    Good luck!

  • Bugu111

    Hey Mantralux, fantastic guide, scary how much the FM tactic replicates real life. Will definately try it out sometime. Just wondering where you got the stats about passing IRL from? Those diagrams I mean.

  • Bornholm

    Hey there. Ive been playing this tactic and it went very very good. Then after some time my players got bad morale and we lost 4 out of 6 matches in a row. I thought I had it stable in the start. Being number 3 in the league and doing fine like we should. But I keep losing.. And tryed some of the things you say in the guide.

  • mantralux

    Everything is from the Guardian Chalkboards, you can find them here:

  • mantralux

    You’ll always have ups and downs, just have to ride out the storm! ;)

  • Elwood

    This is incredible stuff, well done! I’ve tried to do something similar with Chelsea, but it was so much work I gave up, so I know how much effort you put into it.

  • Richey Back

    Update from my game I started against my Chelsea mate, unfortunately only 3 games in to the league as we had a few glitches getting the game started then had to get pre-season over with.

    In order to try and improve on areas I feel we need cover and improvement I made the following signings, Claudio Marchisio to play in the Alex Song role and then after for some reason getting knocked back for Mandanda and Adler in Goal I managed to get Akinfeev for 16M!! … I know this is slighlty against the Arsenal policy but I’m trying to see if in FM these work maybe it could work in real life?

    Anyway pre-season went ok, Winning 5 and Drawing 1 (Vs At. Madrid) out of 6.

    When league started everyone (inc Cesc) was on Good or Better morale and we won first 2 games at a Canter (Stoke 3-0 h, Everton 2-0 a) then came Blackburn away … final score 1-1 …

    … this was typical Arsenal, 64% possesion, 19 shots (14 on target), hit woodwork 3 times and had a goal disallowed. Blackburn scored from a long ball from Chris Samba lol!!

    Anyway i’m pleased with how its going as in contrast my mate got smashed in Community Sheild then W1 D1 and L1 of first 3 … few injuries racking up for us tho which is my only concern!!

    Should be playing lots more this week so hopefully will continue to improve?? :)


  • Patrick

    I just discovered your site and I love these articles. As someone who is a relative newcomer to Premier League football, what do you consider a reasonable cap for transfer fees? Is spending 8-12 million on a single relatively young player reasonable? I’m thinking of picking up Rodwell to cover the MCR position (and also provide the occasional appearance at DC) and he costs about 12.5 million at the start of the game. How do you decide when to really splurge (at least by Arsenal standards)?

  • mantralux

    Good to hear Rich, are you playing the default database? =)

  • mantralux

    When it comes to Arsenal specifically, I’d say that the maximum Wenger/Arsenal would spend at a player currently would be £15m-£16m, and that would be stretching it. Those kind of transfers would only happen in rare occasions. Even though Rodwell is an unrealistic buy (too well-known for Wenger’s taste), £12.5 is a perfectly realistic transfer fee for him, so I’d say go for it. =)

    Here’s an excerpt from the upcoming simulation compendium. It’s work in progress at the moment, but it should give you a good overview on how to make realistic Arsenal signings:

    One of the keys to playing a realistic Arsenal save is to play the transfer market in a cautious and financially sensible way (big words meaning ‘cheap’).

    The reason Arsenal behave like they do in the transfer market started out as a purely short term economical decision, but has turned into a long term business plan for the club. When Arsenal were playing at Highbury, they couldn’t generate enough money to really compete in the transfer market, prompting Arsene Wenger to approach the market differently. And when the club moved to the Emirates, there was a huge bank loan that needed priority,

    The result has been that Arsenal has gained a reputation of finding chunks of coal few people have heard of, and polishing them into talented diamonds. In general, Arsenal go for one of three different player types:

    1. Wonderkids from (mostly) France, South America or Africa
    Examples: Nasri, Fabregas, Vela, Walcott, Song

    2. Neglected and/or cheap early/mid-20′s players in medium-sized clubs
    Examples: Koscielny, Squillaci, Rosicky, Chamakh

    3. Free or very cheap older backup players for temporary (6-12 months) duty
    Examples: Silvestre, Sol Campbell

    Many of the younger emerging talent comes from within. Jay-Emmanuel Thomas, Emmanuel Frimpong, Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere, Craig Eastmond and Benik Afobe were all trained by Arsenal from an early age.

    There are about 3-4 signings every summer transfer window. 1-2 for the first team and usually 2 for the academy/U-18′s. Just keep in mind: give your youngsters a chance. Don’t buy to solve your problems, try and use the talent you have.

    If there is any activity during the January window, it would probably be for emergency situations (Arshavin was signed when Cesc got injured, etc). In some cases, the January transfer window could be used in order to get a player familiarised with the highly paced Premier League – something that takes around 6 months according to Wenger.

  • Patrick

    Thanks for the advice. I’m not going for QUITE the level of realism in terms of specific signings that you are but rather the overall approach to management. One secondary goal of this save is for me to eventually take over as England manager and I want to have a core of a few young English players that are already familiar with each other.

  • FootballFarrago

    Crazy analysis, so detailed. How long did this article take you? If it’s not enough to describe all of the real life trends at Arsenal you’ve then gone and replicated it in champ, must have taken hours of practice!

    Do you play the game properly too? I’m guessing this isn’t the most successful tactic?

  • word

    I’m not sure what the fuck is going on here but I’m pretty sure its epic.
    fair play

  • Richey Back

    unfortunately we are playing off the default database as you have to have the same version on each computer for it to work and my mate cant install it?

    tbh its gone a bit pete tong so to speak!!

    the injuries have played havoc and have had some shocking results inc a 4-0 slaughtering from Birmingham!!

    Just this second been done 2-0 by man utd so need to pull it back!!

    what are your views on where to play fabregas in the default database? … still AMC or maybe MCL? dunno … sticking with it so far but morale not to good at the mo?


  • mantralux

    I have logged every hour, just haven’t checked it yet. I started researching it from pre-season, but started writing the article when a couple of Premier League games had been played. I’d guess it’s somewhere around 200+ hours for the research, coding (making all the chalkboards and so on) and then creating a tactic that gives the same results.

    People are having different results with it. In my main save I’m having a fairly realistic game, others might not have the same experience. It’s all down to form and luck basically. ;)

  • mantralux

    He always starts out in the AMC position if he’s fully fit, but as the AMC and MLC swaps, he will roam that whole area. If he’s not 100% fit, Wenger has played him in the MRC slot, presumingly because that position is ‘easier’ (not as much running).

  • Lizidking

    Thanks for the article – the effort is immense and appreciated as a great basis for a backup tactic I want to build!
    BTW I loved your comments on FM-B, I think Millie might actually have pee-ed his pants in fear at one point!!

  • Polish

    Just… amazing……

    Marry me

  • Richey Back

    Well tbh I think a lot of it is to do with morale, as I cant seem to string 2 wins together so maybe a few good results and things will look up?

    What i’ve noticed more (and you could say this is realistic of arsenal anyway) is that players are tiring very easily?

    One mistake I’ve made on this is save is going big for Akinfeev as its impacted on wages and cannot employ anymore coaches tho I was lucky to find a fitness coach at 20 who I could afford so have put him in charge of Aerobic training hoping that will improve things but with the injuries I have I just can’t afford to rest players as much!!

    I’m very impressed with the tactic tho, makes me feel like Arsene Wenger :) … and i will have the Wenger stubborness to continue with it all lol!!

    Re; Cesc – I was gonna say he’s sort of played all over midfield but guess thats just the player he is and like you say something you just cannot mimic in FM … if I was to start him in MRC would that still be as a Ball Winning Midfielder (Defending) or as its Cesc maybe different? Hard to say without messing with the system i’d guess?

  • mantralux

    A couple of good results will definitely give you good momentum, in my save I was lucky to string 3-4 wins together, and from then on I was flying for a while until Chelsea brought me down to planet earth again. ;)

    I wouldn’t change the MRC, Cesc will play that role just fine….but I wouldn’t start him in that position either. Playing him in the MRC slot is more if he’s coming back from injury, or if he’s getting very tired but you don’t want to sub him for some reason. =)

  • Richey Back

    I think my issues arent really especially linked to the tactic, any team that has injuries in vast numbers is gonna have problems regardless of their system as the quality in the team is reduced and players who are fit have to play more games , then if you lose morale drops etc etc etc … bit of a domino effect!!

    I just need to get the best out of what i’ve got and hopefully get a run together and maybe a bit of luck there but then that wouldn’t be like Arsenal to get any of that would it? lol

    Thanks for your help hun … when I get some time i’m going to load in the new database and start a brand new save; i’ll update you on progress with my current game and that as I go on!! :)

  • El_Generalissimo

    Out of interest, what roles do you play Wilshere and JET in? I’ve always seen Wilshire as more of a deep-lying playmaker in the games he’s played, and JET’s more offensive nowadays, so I usually put him as box-to-box. Both in the MLC slot though.

  • mantralux

    Roles aren’t necessarily important in my tactic, as there are so many individual instructions that override them. But when it comes to JET, he is definitely a striker or a forward. He’s been played as a ST or a AML both in the first team and the reserves all season, scoring tons of goals for the reserves. =)

  • El_Generalissimo

    Funny really, given we’d all been playing him as a DM in the last game. We all get it wrong sometimes! Realism aside, I prefer him in the middle for his physical presence, pace, and shooting; he’s my Michael Essien. I appreciate that’s not what this tactic’s really about though.

  • mantralux

    Don’t say that! The tactic for me is about giving you a realistic platform to develop your own tactic from. In fact, the one thing I enjoy the most about creating a realistic tactic is that I can experiment and alter it, to better understand why it works as it does….but also to see if I can make it better over the years. =)

  • FM11Gamer

    I’m one of those like this tactic a lot, its seems to play like the real Arsenal in every single way..

    Just have a quick question since I’m approaching end of my first season where I’ll probably finish the season in 2nd or 3rd with no trophies (yeah that is so Arsenal)

    How should I approach the transfer market in my second summer in charge?

    I’ve already offloaded Eboue, replaced with Van der Wiel, flogged off Arshavin replacing him with Arda Turin as he wasn’t performing nearly enough and refused to renew contracts of players who have been deemed not good enough so where should i go from here in terms of signing youngsters etc. I have some ideas of one or two big names such Gourcuff I’d like to bring in but who else?

  • mantralux

    I would suggest a goalkeeper, and then no more transfers. If you’re playing with the custom database you’ll have plenty of talent already at the club, and always try to build from within instead of buying as a solution! ;)

  • FM11Gamer

    Will do that thanks. I also signed Manual Fernandes as a back up DM but since Frimpong was performing so well it turns out I had no need for him after all and agreed to sell him at the end of the season as he wasn’t getting enough games. Another youngster that’s done well for me when called upon is JET , I put him upfront as an emergency striker for a few games in the absence of Chamakh and RVP and he was banging them in for fun. so I guess all that kind of proves your point.

    And just one more question, apart the MCL and AMC swapping positions, the AMR and FWR seem to swapping a lot too along the AML(but that only happens occasionally)

    Is this supposed to happen as a way of representing fluidity or is it a glitch of some sort.

  • Marco

    It’s supposed. :) I saw a few with that question to.

  • FM11Gamer

    Ah, I had feeling it might have had to do with the tactic but was checking just to make sure.

  • mantralux

    There is a little note about it in the newly added FAQ at the end of the article. =)

  • AnonymousGun

    Database didnt show up in database selection with the new patch.

  • mantralux

    Should now be fixed, let me know! =)

  • mantralux

    Added new screenshots towards the end of the article to explain the fluid nature of the tactic in FM, and how the midfield pivot translates to the game. =)

  • 1daBoi

    When is the new Arsenal Simulation for FM11 coming out ? And what do you think about Anthony Annan? He played the Song role for Ghana in the World Cup he is very good at defending but not so good at attacking ? Realistic?

  • mantralux

    I’ll finish it as soon as I’ve created all the 3D kits I’m currently making…couple of days maybe? I actually don’t have Annan in my save, even though I have a large database and many leagues loaded. =P

  • AnonymousGun

    Database now works.. :)

    Impressive works btw, didnt congratulate you in the first post.. I did try out the tactic in the my running game and it took a bit of time to adjust from my weird formation, I loathed tweaking the slider, so I tried to tweak my formation so I can use the default role instruction only. Anyway this is not about mine so I’ll stop. I’ve restarted the game last night and finished all my preseasons, so hopefully, I have time to start the season tonight.

    Using yours do managed the Arsenal style a bit better, however because each players have individual instruction, I’m a bit reluctant to tweak inmatch as it could break the balances all to easily, more so when I dont know much about why this player have this set of instruction.

    Also, I’m not a bit of a fan to have 11 players playing individually, rather I’m a fan of having 1 team of 11 players playing together. Do consider to explain a bit more on individual instructions (and possible tweaks) if you have time.

    Thanks again and KUTGW :)

    p/s: Bingo on Zonal Marking remarks on FM-B. The author do have a certain distaste toward Arsenal a bit IMHO and sometimes it does feel like the articles containing Arsenal a bit more hastily construct.

  • Richey Back

    Well half a season in and gotta say the tactic is running very Arsenal like so to speak, all my players are back and have put a few runs together (inc a 1-0 win away at Chelsea :) ), however Man City are running away with the league and i’m 11 points adrift? :(

    Anyway just a quick bit of help if possible … i’m a bit of a novice when it comes to the tweaks on FM and am having a bit of trouble saving your database?

    I dont seem to have the folder User/Documents/Sports Interactive/Football Manager 2011/editor data ??

    When I go int to User/Documents/Sports Interactive/Football Manager 2011 and then Tools there is a Data folder and there is obviously the Editor Tool itself but having opened that I cant seem to be able to load that into it in anyway so i’m a bit flumaxed?

    Sorry, i’m probably being a right div lol

  • Richey Back

    Actually moving on from the above … could I just create the Editor Data folder myself then save it in there?

    I can’t check at mo as I’m at work lol!!

  • Marco

    Yes, you need to put it in: User/Documents/Sports Interactive/Football Manager 2011/editor data

    If you don’t have that folder you have to make it.

  • mantralux

    Rich, if there is a folder named tools in the directory you’re looking at, you are in the wrong directory! That directory is the game directory, usually in the Applications folder (or Program Files if it’s Windows). You need to go to (My) Documents -> Sports Interactive -> Football Manager 2011 and there you should have a folder named ‘editor data’. If you don’t have one in that location, create one, and then put the database file there. =)

  • Richey Back

    Brilliant I see know … thank you :)

    I did look in the my docs folder there wasn’t an editor data folder in there either; i’ll add the folder and put database in tonight!!

  • Richey Back

    Or I see now even lol!!

  • C Erdal

    Ix when can we expect the Compedium ??… and what would the 1st transfer should be ? a gk in january ?

  • Richey Back

    Hey I loaded in the new database yesterday ok and started a new save which I haven’t yet started but will do in future?

    There is one bug/glitch that I thought i’d mention:

    Basically found out that when me and my mate who I play online are connected he can see my other saves if I’m in the middle of them so I told him about the database (i didnt realize this was possible)

    he started having a play about and clicked on chelsea and looked in their fixtures and the Arsenal badge was blue?

    I know you didn’t really design it to be played as any other team than Arsenal but thought i’d let you know in case you werent aware?


  • mantralux

    If you feel rushed to solve the goalkeeping problem then yes…but I would wait for the summer window to see how it pans out. Compendium will come soon, just have to finish all the 3D kits I’m making, as the compendium will now have all kits in the 3D match engine as well. =)

  • mantralux

    I’m not sure I understand what you mean…where was the Arsenal badge blue, and why?

  • Marco

    A friend of him is playing with Chelsea, and at the fixtures the Arsenal logo whas blue. I think he means that.

  •!/JossBennett Joss

    100th comment! ;)

    Tactic is going really well for me at the moment, looks realistic in-game and getting realistic results too.

    Beat Tottenham 2-0 as my claim to fame and could well have been more, but Gomes was superb.

    Top of the League after 14 games, but haven’t been quite as good in Europe, beat 2-0 A to CFR Cluj (although Arsenal have an awful record in E. Europe so that’s realistic I suppose)

    Wilshere has been the stand-out performer, and Chamakh is starting to get amongst the goals, he has about 5 and Cesc has 7 (2 were penalties, he’s also missed two penalties!)

    Just a big congratulations really. Absolutely outstanding work effort gone into this, and I hope you feel it’s paid off, I certainly feel the tactic at least is looking the real deal!

  • mantralux

    Thanks Joss, more to come! =)

  • C Erdal

    love u and your work :D

  • Tom

    Hey, just got fm11 2day, starting arsenal career, obviously using all the above mentioned, i loaded all the leagues and similar to a comment previosly the arsenal badge was blue and the kits were plain blue for home kit and plain white for away, how do i correct this?

  • mantralux

    Tom, could you help me troubleshooting this by starting a couple of new saves and see if the problem is the same in both those saves? Are you on patch 11.1.1?

  • Tom

    Sure i will help anyway i can, do you mean the updated databse and the default? i have the 11.1.1 patch also.

  • mantralux

    Just my custom database, but try two new starts if the first one is still a blue badge, etc. I’ve heard of stuff like this in FM2010, and then it was just a bug where some new games could “miss” the info in the custom database, and you’d have to start a new save in order for it to stick. =)

  • Tom

    yer no problem, my computer is rather slow so update you 2moro on how goes.

  • Tom

    hm…i tryed 8 new games, each one with the blue, i would have been able to do more however i would save the attempted new game, go back to the main menu to start another new game, leagues would start to load, then it would say ‘ severe error with FM11 application within crash dumps’ and then get the ‘ FM11 has stopped working’.

    I used the editor app to use your databse, not sure if thats how you use it properly or if that could be the problem.

  • mantralux

    Hmmm very weird. What do you mean by “I used the editor app to use your databse”? Didn’t you just select the custom database at the start of a new save?

  • tom

    I had to load your database into the the editor app, resave it as say dial square v2′ and then it would come up in the custome database. not as the original xml file though.

    I will keep trying to use your database if it keeps failing, i will just use your tactic.

    Quick question about a transfer target i had in mind, mohamed diame from wigan looked at his stats, good passer, physical, not obvious option and at 7mil not bad price, the only problem is he is over agressive and arsenal are a fair team IMO.

  • mantralux

    I updated the original XML file that’s available for download in the article, could you please try applying it to a new save without loading it into the editor app first, and let me know if the badge/kits are still blue? I’ve only heard of one other person having this problem, so it would be good finding the reason for this happening.

    Also, if possible, could you upload a save game where the badge/kit is blue so I can submit it to SI and see if they can figure out why it’s happening? =)

  • mantralux

    Oh and I wouldn’t say we’re a fair team anymore, we’re last in the fair play league this season. =P

  • tom

    Working right now, will do when i get in, how do you upload a save and to were?

  • James

    great work mantralux will download

  •!/JossBennett Joss

    If you have a dropbox/rapidshare account you can upload it from your ‘Games’ folder in My Docs > SI > FM11 > …

    For dropbox, you have to make a copy, then drag the original into the public folder, right click on it after it’s loaded (with a tick) and go to:

    Dropbox > Copy Public Link

    Then just paste the link from rapidshare or dropbox to a message =)

  • tom

    thanks joss, however after all the difficulty its now working fine when i re-downloaded the file, i can still upload the save game if you want mantralux?

    are the arsenal kits supposed to be on the database or are they supposed to be downloaded seperately? im eager to know because i want to start a career and dont know if i start one know will i be able to then get the kits on the save say half way through the season. thanks in advance

  • mantralux

    The database already includes changing Arsenal kits all the way to the year 2030, so you can definitely start your career save. Soon I’ll have the 3D kits done, but you will be able to apply them to any save, so you don’t have to restart anything when the 3D kits are released.

    I started my career save a while back, currently in 2011 pre-season. =)

  • tom

    ok great, gonna get started, looking forward to any of your future articles. thanks

  • HB

    Any chance of a ‘real’ Barcelona tactic? This seems to be the most fascinating challenge for any FM tactics makers at the moment:

    I’d be really curious to see you attempt to reproduce it, as well as Pep’s variant 424 and 343 formations
    ( and

    The thing that seems to be difficult (if not impossible) to recreate in FM is the movement of the CBs and DM; with the DM pushing back to create a back three when the team is in possession, allowing the wingbacks to push on, while the front three converge in the opposition’s box. The other thing I’d be curious to see is where you would position the wide forwards in FM. I suspect it would be difficult to reproduce ‘real-life’ scoring form with them as AML/AMRs, so one might position them in the wide forward (STR/STL) positions, or in a genuine front three (all as forwards ‘inside the box’, so to speak) but with supporting/move into channel instructions.

    I definitely see some similarities with the fluid nature of your Arsenal formation. For instance, you might have Xavi swapping places with Busquets (in order to emulate his deep pulling behavior), as well as having Messi and Pedro interchanging between the ‘false 9′ and AMR/STR positions.

    What do you think?

  • mantralux

    Well there is a huge issue with trying to make a realistic Barca tactic. And the issue is that I can’t stand Barca, I hate them with a passion. So the thought of spending 200+ hours learning the tactic and compiling match statistics makes my brain cry. ;)

    It would be a challenge, but I don’t think it would be harder than making any other tactic. It’s all about compiling the facts, analysing them and then presenting it.

  • C Erdal
  • FM11Gamer

    Just been analyzing the Arsenal player’s movements really closely v braga in the first half and have to say your tactic does seem extremely realistic with Walcott cutting into the CF postion, Bentner dropping off and drifting wide o, Fabregas swapping with wilshere/denilson when he comes deep to dictate play and the likes of Gibbs in particular bombing on.

    The only slight issue i would have is that wide left player in Rosicky does tend to cut quite a fair bit to get involved whilst in the game he tends to stay out wider more often but other than that i can’t find many flaws.

    Keep up the good work.

    p.s Ignore that fella on the si forums who keep nitpicking a tiny little things, personally i think you’re doing a great job.

  • mantralux

    Yeah Rosicky has a completely different personality to Arshavin, so his movements are off. It should be controlled by PPM’s, I’ll look into it. =)

  • darrell

    hi mantralux :)
    yet another masterpiece you`ve written, i have only just got FM2011 and i have been using your dial square tactic from FM2010 on it. nearly completed my first season, got just 7 games to go and 11 points clear, in the semis in champs league. i will give this new tactic a go for the start of my second season. if only i was 20 yrs younger, i`d ask you to marry me :P
    kind regards darrell

    ps: had a funny thing with alex song, he didnt like my team talks and put in a transfer request lol

  • Rahul

    Beautiful article, cleared up the whole tactics mess for me.
    Read through this a couple of days ago and since then been applying your tactical principles and your approach. Have not downloaded your tactic, understood the principles and applied them……endless cycle of games, using the post-game analysis and stats to tweak the tactics ……took me two whole days to figure out but my Arsenal team is currently top of the table at Christmas……yippee

    Thanks a lot and keep these articles coming

  • N i s h i n O

    well, I usen this tactic in patch 11.1.1 but it isn’t working well at all. is it becuz the patch also?

  • mantralux

    It was made in the 11.1.1 patch, what exactly isn’t working?

  • Tcheky

    Hello from french west indies:

    First, i must apologise, if my english is not really correct for you guys, but i will try explain my point.

    I start a game with FC santos, apply this wonderful tactic. The fact is, the team get the ball, and it’s really good to see.
    If the other can’t get the ball, they can’t win :D

    But in offensive mode, it’s a lil… poor.
    Maybe it’s my striker ( got guilherme, and i think i will try rafael sobis this year), but my team don’t score at all, even if i win some trophies.

    The good news is the winger: got Neymar and Zezinho and together , they burn.

    So i will try this tactic an another, year, try find a striker like chamack ( i think about adriano (As roma) ( if he want to come :p), but without a good striker this tactics , is just funny to see, not a killer tactic. That’s my point.

    Keep it good, and thanks a lot for your work

  • mantralux

    It’s definitely not a killer tactic, it wasn’t meant to be. The striker position needs to be filled by a player comfortable in the complete forwards role. Preferably an AMC/ST with high passing and creativity stats. Might be hard finding a complete forward with Santos?

  • Tcheky

    i check with rivaldo ( 39 years), he have the profil for it, but anyway, even if the tactic is not perfect, i must say, just for your work, the tactical sense, and observation, i will play and try up your tactic.

    I don’t really like arsenal, but i love people with tactical sense:)

  • eit

    So, i’ve got a question – how did you make a players in center playing first balls in triangle (like Barcelona against Real, the most fresh example i think)? I was always trying to do it, but for me it was just impossible and i’m interesting with which option can i do it? Thanks a lot.

  • mantralux

    Impossible in the current match engine. Even using players with Passing 20, the ‘Plays One-Twos’ PPM, and the highest tempo…they won’t do it. But it will be much better in the upcoming match engine for patch 11.2, where you will start seeing more one touch passes.

  • Gaudi

    What about Raul from Atl. Paranaense as WB right???

    He’s young (only 20), promising and could be take for free offering him a precontract at the end of August.

  • mantralux

    Haven’t seen him, but good tip! =)

  • Xulu

    Really good stuff. Got a save with this setup in the middle of year 3 now with an EPL title, an FA Cup, and CL final (lost to AC Milan) in the previous 2 years. Have a few questions on how to perhaps use the tactic in differing situations.

    The main strategy is Control. Are there any other strategies that would be used in a variation of the tactic (Counter and Attacking seem to make the most sense; one more offensive and one more defensive) for different situations? If another strategy is used, would any of the sliders need an adjustment?

    For certain situations, do any players need to be moved on the pitch to a different position (say, moving the WBL/R to DL/R or adding a second ST)? If down to 10 men, what formation to adopt?

  • Xulu

    One other thing I forgot, what shouts are normally used? Typically I use the AssMan’s feedback and use shouts based on that, but are there any that are permanent?

  • mantralux

    In your third year I would definitely suggest messing around with the tactic, altering it slightly every year to fit your needs. My realistic tactic is only really realistic for the first year. After that you will have to adjust slightly based on new players, and own preferences. As an example: in my second year, I pulled back the wing backs to full backs and made the overall tactic more solid defensively, as I felt that was the biggest problem.

    In real life, Wenger comes up with a ‘prime’ tactic every summer that the team then plays for the duration of the season. And every summer he takes the positives from the last tactic used, and applies them to the new version.

  • mantralux

    That’s also what I do, I constantly look at what Pat Rice has to say, and then shout accordingly. =)

  • Myles

    What are the Specific individual instructions for the players? Or did you not change anything? For instance, is Walcott the only player that is swapping with another?

    Also when you move the wing backs back to the full back position does that not completely unbalance everything? possesion wise?

  • mantralux

    I have a new version of the tactic that I’ll put up soon, I’ll try to explain the individual more in detail then. Pulling the wing backs down doesn’t upset any balance, mor than it adds a slight advantage defensively.

  • Brian

    First off let me say this article is awesome. Very thorough. Any way i have a couple of questions.

    1. Do you think it would be possible to reproduce Wenger’s 4-4-2 that he used up until last year?

    2. I was wondering what i could do to get the team to break more often (ie should i play a little more direct?). The possession is there but i feel like the team isn’t breaking with pace the way Arsenal so often do.

  • mantralux

    1. The 4-4-2 that he used in different tweaks between 1996-2008 is actually very similar to today’s 4-2-3-1. The wide forwards are pretty much the same, as is the midfield. If you pull back the wing backs to full backs, and push up the AMC to a striker position, giving it a Deep Lying Forward/Support role, you have a good starting point.

    2. I’m playing with the 11.2 patch right now, and they break more often in the newer match engine. Lots of things will be fixed with the new match engine, so I’d recommend holding out a little bit. I’ll also have a new version of the tactic as soon as 11.2 comes out. =)

  • Oscar

    Hello, i no you do not like (to say the least) barca however would you be able to tell me if thier is anywere else you can get those passing chalkboard as i do not think the gaurdian do barcelona passing stats?

    Thank you in Advance

  • Roey

    i have to say – wow! amazing post! i enjoyed it and have to say that i appreciate your work. thank you for the tips and the time you gave to create the best FM forums’ post.

  • FM11Gamer

    Any idea about when the latest version of the tactic will be released ?especially seeing as the 11.2 patch is out now

  • FM

    If RVP an is injured for months. Should i get a striker like Nistelrooy to either replace chamakh?

  • Jimbo

    What shouts are best suited for this ?

  • JoeGooner

    Great article, read it twice over as I was so impressed and took around 2 hours implementing the tactic into my game, making slight changes to the player’s individual instructions so the 3d match engine looked better, such as Theo running at opposition with pace, getting to the byline and pulling it back for RVP to finish.

    Great tactic! Well done.

    Any suggestions about changes to the tactic when playing away from home, such as Stamford Bridge. Apart from simply pulling the wing-backs back to the full-back position?

    Also, I have signed Phillippe Mexes for a bargain 5million, he does twice the job of Koscielny, is French so it is realistic, and scores a fair few from corners, something that I was struggling with when Chamakh wasnt in the team.

    Yaya Sanogo looks a great prospect for the future, but I fear I will have to make slight tactical changes to get the best out of him, as he is more like Henry and would not suit RVP’s role, such as using him as a poacher or target man with him running onto the ball?

    This tactic has re-kindled my love for FM

    Thanks so much!

  • RichardM or Blue Balls

    Hello Mantralux,

    Thanks for the VERY informative website.

    You mentioned somewhere you are going to look at the Man City tactic, I am a City supporter and would love to see this as I have yet to work out what our tactics are!!?

    I’m currently playing as Sao Paulo using your 4-2-3-1 until the patches settle in to do my City career after Xmas.

    And is there anyway I can get my players to storm down the tunnel when subbed >8( never let it be said us Blues don’t have a sense of humour!

    Currently enjoying 23 C temps in Kiwiland, but the snow looks nice back home 8D

  • mantralux

    As it stands, Mancini has been changing his tactic around too much in order to make an accurate emulation. This is fairly common in early days of managers, maybe next season he has settled more, and then we can make a good tactic out of it. =)

  • mantralux

    If possession is low (below 55-56%): ‘Retain Possession’.

    If pass completion is low (below 77-78%): ‘Work Ball Into Box’.

    If you’re struggling to get into the match: ‘Hassle Opponents’ and/or ‘Get Stuck In’.

    Those are basically the only ones I use. =)

  • mantralux

    You should go directly to jail for even thinking about bringing van Nistelrooy to Arsenal. ;)

    Use Chamakh or Bendtner instead.

  • mantralux

    I don’t think there is a chalkboard service anywhere for any other league than the Premier League. Maybe in the future Guardian will expand their service to include Champions League, La Liga, Serie A, etc….but right now you can only get Premier League.

  • Kristján Ingi Geirsson

    Hi, i’m thinking about starting a new Arsenal save and I saw this comment “New Arsenal tactic coming within a week or so, and updates to some articles, including this one (adding a section about the training graph).”

    So I was wondering how long I should wait for it ;) ?

    Getting really excited :)

  • mantralux

    It all depends on your preference. The new version of the Arsenal 4-2-3-1 will be up within a couple of weeks. I just started compiling the statistics today from Opta regarding the last 10 Arsenal matches, so it will take me another couple of days to calculate it all and make it presentable…then I need to write the new section of the article, with comparisons made to the first 10 games, and so on.

    Personally I’m going to wait until patch 11.3 until I start my ‘real’ FM2011 Arsenal save – it will have the latest transfers and database updates, and the latest match engine and bugs squashed. But if you can’t wait that long, you could probably start your save in a couple of weeks when I have the new version of the tactic done, and hopefully even the new Arsenal Simulation Compendium. =)

  • Kristján Ingi Geirsson

    Okey thanks :)

  • Morley

    Mantralux this is an amazing compendium of stats, analysis, research and arsenal fan-dom! You are awesome for doing this!!

  • james

    when is the guide coming out

  • Kristján Ingi Geirsson

    Just wondering when the new Arsenal version is out ?
    Been waiting for a long time :P

  • Tcheky

    same as Kristján, need to test this

    Santos need u mantra !

  • Tom

    Hey, mantralux

    I totally understand that you have the arsenal report thing going on so this is probaly lower down on your priorities but would you be able to say if you are or are not doing the new arsenal tactic? Fair enough if not, just didnt want to get into an Arsenal save for then the new to come out.


  • The Real Arsenal 4-2-3-1 – Page 10

    [...] #93 Originally Posted by Lol_101 wheres the download link ? On Mantralux FM | Football Manager Tutorials, Guides, Graphics and more Reply With Quote + Reply to [...]