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Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Arsenal Season 2013-2014 | Football Manager 2012 stories

The wonderkids of Arsenal FC - Season 2013-14 (PART 1):

Football Manager 2012 savegame Arsenal This season the average age of my squad is only 20 years old. The media predictions for Premier League is 3rd place. I have no expectations this season, as I use this season to test out players and tactics.

My squad consists of 6 wonderkids, a new personal record. The players are;
- Jack Robinson, DL
- Lucas Digne, D/WBL
- Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, AMR/ST (for a short period)
- Lazar Markovic, AMR/ST
- Mbaye Niang, ST
- Carlos Fierro, ST (had to try him out as I had not bought him on FM12 before)

In the pre-season, which ended with 5 wins and 1 loss (aggregate 22-6), I decided to try out the Free Formation tactic for FM12 for a longer period.

Because of the change of tactic I needed to strengthen my squad with suiting players. I bought Isco for €9,25Mill from Malaga. The attacking midfielder have had two poor seasons before I bought him.
I also bought Carlos Fierro from Chivas for €11.75 mill to compete with Mbaye Niang and Lazar Markovic in the attack. Before the Premier League season kicked off I decided to strengthen the midfield with the deep-lying playmaker Jack Rodwell (€25mill from Everton).

A short summary of the fixture list on a monthly basis:

August 2013:
The start of this season was very difficult. With only 4 points after three matches I must say I was disappointed. I know I could have won all three matches, but bad luck and poor performances (poor form) sealed the results.
The fixture list:

Fulham - Arsenal, 1-0
The opening match of a long campaign was a very even match.
My line-up consisted of eight U21 players, one of them where Isco which debuted. Robin van Persie, my captain had to watch the first half from the bench. I had given my trust to Chamberlain, Mbaye Niang and Lazar Markovic in the attack.
Even though I won on possession and passes completed my team did not manage to score the required goals to make a draw or win the match.

Arsenal - Liverpool, 1-1
I felt I had everything in my hands in this match. Unluckily Luis Suarez scores a goal in the 75 minute. Liverpool had only one shot on target.
Jack Rodwell got his debut and played well. He had a passing accuracy on 90% (40/36).

Aston Villa - Arsenal, 1-2
Finally I got the first victory for the season.
Robin van Persie and Chuks Aneke made the difference, scoring one goal each.

September 2013:
September could be a hard month with 5 matches in 15 days I had to rotate the squad and let young players like Jamaal Lascelles and Chuks Aneke get the feel of first team football. September consisted of matches in UEFA champions league group stage and League Cup.

Arsenal - Manchester City, 2-3
After a difficult first month, Manchester City (double Premier League winner 2011/12 and 2012/13) was the next team I should face.
Bad luck followed my Arsenal team as Man City got two "cheap" penalties in a match where I where superior in possession and passing accuracy, and scored some tremendous goals. You can see the goals by Bender and Alba at Youtube
A reason for the defeat could be the poor performances in defence by Jack Robinson (5.6), Donervon Daniels (5.7) and Thomas Vermaelen (6.0).

The next two matches in Premier League where two "easy" matches against Sunderland and Norwich. Watch the match highlights against Sunderland at my Youtube channel.

October 2013:
The opponents in October may have not been of the highest caliber, but I got some easy points and higher morale. Marc-Andre ter Stegen got a serious injured late september and would be out for over a month. I had to rely on Craig Gordon for the next two months until ter Stegen were match fit.
I used mostly my most experienced players in these matches. Robin van Persie had a good month scoring 5 goals in 4 matches (1 CL match included).
His best match was against Cardiff where he scored 2 goals.

My best match in october was against Juventus in Champions League.
Read more in the Champions League section

November 2013:
The figure list for November was very hard. It was also in this month all the problems started, with morale dropping and internal unrest. The first match in November where against Tottenham, a real classic. Tottenham have had a very good season and are leading the Premier League with 4 points to Man Utd and 11 points to me, by end of December 2013.
Even though the intense rivalry with Tottenham I decided to play with Mbaye Niang, Tony Trindade de Vilhena and Jack Rodwell instead of Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott and Mikel Arteta. The match ended with a boring draw.

Chelsea - Arsenal, 2-1
After a mid-week away match against Juventus in CL the next opponent I had to beat was Chelsea. Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott was yet again in the starting line up, but ter Stegen who had been out for over a month with a serious injury was not match fit.

A screenshot of the match statistics against Chelsea:

As you can see I yet again had the most possession and the most shots (on target). My most experienced players did not deliver at all!

Arsenal - Everton, 2-0
After three poor results (draw against Tottenham, lost 4-2 against Juventus and 2-1 against Chelsea) I needed to do some changes.
I decided to have a conversation with Thomas Vermaelen, Robin van Persie and Mikel Arteta about their poor performances. They are my most experienced players, and have not delivered as expected.

Some of the changes where quite drastic. I let 20 years old goalkeeper, Jamal Blackman debut. The debut was okey regarding the amount of work he had to do. Everton had only one shot against goal!

In the other end of the pitch Robin van Persie delivered and scored a lovely goal. A typical Robin van Persie goal, a hard well-placed shot secured a win.

Summary of the first half until December 2013:

December 2013:
After a poor November I had not much confidence in my players. In this month I played 7 matches. The matches came with an interval of 2 and 3 days, so my young squad could get in trouble regarding fitness and drop of morale if I lost one game.

Arsenal - Man Utd, 3-2
Finally Robin van Persie and the other more experienced players performed on the highest level.

Newcastle - Arsenal, 2-2
After a win against Manchester United I gained more confidence and I was so ready to trash Newcastle.
But as prior in the season I have trouble in away matches. ter Stegen played awful and got 5.8 in rating. Thomas Vermaelen gave 2 points away with an own goal 15 minutes before end of match.

Because of the tight schedule between the December the 23rd and January the 1st 2014 I had to rotate my squad. Also I may have underestimated teams like Wolves and Swansea.
Match stats Wolves - Arsenal, 3-2

Match stats Arsenal - Swansea, 3-2
Because of the tight schedule I let players like Hector Bellerin (18yo), Jamal Blackman (20yo), Jamaal Lascelles (20yo) and Carlos Fierro (19yo wonderkid) get the chance.

Change of tactic to save the season:

After two poor defeats I decided to go back to the Domination Tactic. The domination tactic is one of the best tactics I have ever made! Highly recommended!

Arsenal - West Ham, 1-0

Q.P.R - Arsenal, 0-0

Records for the first half of Premier League:

Standings in the Premier League from August to December. Notice how poor Manchester City has played, a team who have won the Premier League two years in row.

Home records:

Away records:

Overall records:

Arsenal Team Report:

Arsenal in UEFA Champions League:
This year I had a difficult draw for the group stage.
You could say Arsenal came in the group of death, as they should face Juventus, Benfica and LOSC Lille Metropole.

The Champions League campaign started well with a 2-0 win against LOSC Lille. Jordi Alba scored an amazing goal, which you can watch at my Youtube channel.

I also want to single out the 3rd match in group stage against Juventus.
In the home leg I won with amazing 4-0! Jack Wilshere where tremendous in this match scoring hattrick and assisting Robin van Persie with the first goal of the match.

I lost the next two away leg matches against Juventus (4-2) and LOSC Lille (2-1). With two defeats the group where totally open. Before the last match against Benfica there where only 1 point separating Benfica, Juventus and Arsenal. So I needed a win in the last match against Benfica, which led the group before the final match.
Not surprisingly, Juventus won their match against LOSC Lille, which put pressure on me. Against Benfica I tried to use my most experienced squad. The previous matches had gone good so I went into match with much confidence.
With two goals from Theo Walcott and a possession of 65% Arsenal won the group stage.

1st Knockout rnd:
1st Knockout round: CSKA Moscow - Arsenal

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