Football Manager 2012 best tactic – play like Arsenal

FM 2012

written by Darren Smith

Hello, hello, hello! I told you guys I’d be back shortly with some posts and I’m keeping my promise. During FM 2012 I will be releasing a series of tactics, tips and player lists, but until then we have an awkward wait. You have the Football Manager 2012 demo, you want to play it constantly, but just get bored of doing 6 months before starting afresh. Well I have something to cheer you up, I have decided to create some club based tactics. Today’s is a Football Manager 2012 best tactic to play like Arsenal. This FM 2012 tactic will have you playing Arsenal’s silky passing game in no time and the beauty is it’s a plug in and play tactic. You don’t have to tweak this for any opponent, so just download this FM 2012 Arsenal tactic and concentrate on doing what Arsene Wenger couldn’t, signing some quality players :)

The formation

Arsene Wenger does mix his formations up a little but tends to favour some sort of a 4-5-1. The midfield three consists of Song winning the ball back, Ramsey pinging passes around and finding the gaps which leaves Arteta or Wilshere to bomb forward and act as an AMC at times. You can see the formation and player roles below.

Football Manager 2012 best tactic – Roles

GK (Role = Sweeper Goalkeeper, Duty = Defend) – Nothing special here, just a plain old Keeper but note a Sweeper Keeper will clean up behind your defence to make up for the high line. Therefore a bit of pace comes in handy.

DR, DL (Role = Full Back, Duty = Support) – Wenger doesn’t employ his left and right defenders as wing backs but he does expect them to get forward and support the attack. With this role and duty you should notice the likes of Sagna well up the pitch and they will need a lot of pace and stamina.

DCR (Role = Ball Playing Defender, Duty = Defend) – This role is set specifically for Vermaelen who tends to pass his way out of defence and look to play the ball as opposed to hoof it to safety. If you aren’t using Vermaelen make sure you have a defender that is composed and can pass the ball for this role.

DCL (Role = Central Defender, Duty = Defend) – Just your bog standard defender but be sure to use someone tall, that can jump and header the ball for this role. I have assigned this guy to attack the ball during corners and Mertesacker is perfect for this.

CM (Role = Ball Winning Midfielder, Duty = Defend) – Throughout the years Arsenal have always had one midfielder to do the dirty work and Alex Song seems to have picked up this role of late. This role requires good tackling, marking and passing. But pace is also important while using a high tempo game.

MCR (Role = Central Midfield, Duty = Support) – Aaron Ramsey is usually the midfielder to drift around midfield and fulfil many different roles. With a CM role and support duty he’ll do just this, picking out passes is the primary objective but holding a central position also requires some defending.

MCL (Role = Advanced Playmaker, Duty = Attack) – This was Samir Nasri’s old role and has been handed down to Arteta and Wilshere of late. While holding a central position this player is the heart of what makes the team tick. He must be able to get forward, pick a pass score goals and most importantly create magic. I signed Hamsik to rotate in this role and he works a treat fitting into the Arsenal side like a glove. :)

AMR, AML (Role = Inside Forward, Duty = Attack) – If you watch Arsenal play they rarely get down the flank to cross the ball. Their wingers usually cut inside and create havoc before teeing up oncoming midfielders or playing the 1-2. With the inside forward role I have created this feel and prevented both wide men from getting to the byline. After much testing I am happy to say Walcott and Gervinho play very much like in real life with these roles.

ST (Role = Complete Forward, Duty = Support) – This was the toughest role to assign, but I based it around RVP’s style of play. He tends to drop deep and run at defenders, while at the same time covers a multitude of differing roles. If not using Van Persie be sure to sign a technically gifted striker that can do almost anything. He needs to score as well as create.

Football Manager 2012 best tactic – Team Instructions

These weren’t too hard to pick, Arsenal obviously play a fluid and attacking style of play. You should never change this as Arsene Wenger never changes his game plan whether it be at home to Swinton or away to Manchester United. ;) Having said that you should expect far better results. Arsenal use a short passing style and I have selected zonal marking to compliment their attacking play. The only tough decision was whether or not to allow the team more expression on the creativity option. I decided to do so as Wenger’s team do have a certain freedom about them and I wanted to replicate that.

Playmaker: Arteta/Wilshere (advanced playmaker, CML)

Target man: Robin Van Persie (Complete Forward, ST)

Supply to target man: Mixed

Important notes

I have already set up the set pieces and some of the positions have specific roles to certain players like Mertesacker. Be sure to check what they are doing in corners and free-kicks before switching things around. Like with any attacking tactic you need to be careful during team talks, never allow your side to get complacent as this will result in plenty of nice play but no goals. The key positions for this tactic to work are the same as real life. The ‘advanced playmaker’, ‘striker’ and ‘inside forwards’ must be fast and have the ability to cause havoc. Manage that and you’ll be playing Football the Arsenal way but winning at the same time. :)

If you are mid-game and the team don’t look up for it, do some the following touchline shouts. ‘Get ball forward’, ‘get stuck in’ and ‘run at defenders’. This should hopefully give your players the kick they need, but if not give them a dressing down at half-time.

My results and performances with this tactic

It’s all well and good creating a tactic that replicates Arsenal’s style of play, but is it successful? Well I have played around ten games already this season and drawn just once. Rather than show you all the results I’ll select two matches to demonstrate our performance and domination. The first was against Swansea, not the toughest opponent but look at our match stats. Not only did we dominate possession with 66% but we fired 25 shots off on goal. I think the ‘pass completion’ of 83% also demonstrates that this tactic is well balanced.

The second match was against FC Twente in our Champions League qualifier. Some amazing goals were scored but our possession of 67% and 32 shots really made the match seem one sided.

Now before you download this tactic I’d like you to watch a video, its very short and features a couple of goals I have scored while testing this tactic. Not only does it demonstrate the fluid and create style of play this Football Manager 2012 Arsenal tactic creates, but it represents Arsenal’s real life game as well. I strongly recommend watching the video in 720HD and in full screen.

Click here to watch my goals while using this FM 2012 Arsenal tactic

Click the download image below to be redirected to the download page then follow the ‘how to install’ instructions.


How to Install

Download the file to Documents\Sports Interactive\Football Manager 2012 demo\tactics, obviously you will save the tactic into the official game when its released as opposed to the demo file. Then in the game go to the tactics screen and load it from the “archived tactics”. The tactic is named ‘Arsenal 4-5-1’.

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331 Comments on "Football Manager 2012 best tactic – play like Arsenal"

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Nicholas Phipps
October 9, 2011 14:42

Looks good. Can’t wait for the next one :)

October 9, 2011 14:52

Great post Darren and a great-looking tactic as well, the video shows a team that does play like Arsenal. Well, not today’s Arsenal… :)

October 9, 2011 15:46

Great post Darren, you have got it spot on. Hamsik seems to be good in that video, do you play him where Arteta is?

October 9, 2011 17:42

Great article Darren to kick off FM 2012 and to increase the build up to the full product launch

October 9, 2011 19:29

haha, this is the exact same tactic i’ve been using for almost a year now!!! :D i just love how it works for many different teams. arsenal, valencia, southampton… not very far away from your Manchelona one :)

ps: glad to see you posting on the site

October 9, 2011 20:59

Hey Darren,
Nice looking tactic and good results too! Too bad Arsenal can’t emulate this sort of form in real life:) Can’t wait till the next one!

October 9, 2011 21:13

Nice post Darren. I like the tactic and the video is great and show how good the tactic is. I look forward to your next post.

Martin 'Pellow' Pickard
October 9, 2011 22:51

Great post Darren…yet again lol. I may have to use this tactic in my Anzhi FM12 story :)

October 9, 2011 23:30

Great tactic Darren…would the Barcelona tactic be something similar? Also, in your experience, is the 4-5-1 the best tactic? since i always see you use it, even in the Mancehlona :)

October 10, 2011 07:58

great post as always…

Im looking forward to the Stoke tactics lol…how to win ugly…with barely any possession and only one shot on goal…

Keep em coming…this is only making the wait even more painful lol

October 10, 2011 20:38

That’s a fantastic tactic!! I used almost the exact same tactic with Arsenal on FM10 and really dominated. Won 3 PL titles, 2 CL titles in 5 years. I think the best part of it is when one of the inside forwards cut towards the middle, plays the ball behind the defense and either the striker or other inside forward make a run on to the ball and score nearly every time. Pace makes a huge difference and was the reason for Walcott scoring 48 goals in my second season. Imagine if he did that in real life!!!

October 11, 2011 01:29

Nice, an Arsenal tactic that keeps clean sheets, they could definitely use some help in that department, though Vermaelen seems to just get injured all the time these days

Somehow, it looks similar to the Manchelona tactic, just the left winger role is different it seems
, i think i’ll give it a go with Birmingham, unlike real life they seems to have a few million to spend on transfers and a decent wage budget……….

October 11, 2011 13:01

I feel like cheating …I deployed Manchelona on my LFC team and from that time I drew one match with City and the rest I won…that’s like 15 matches :)

But will try to change to this to see how it works but it seems that it will work well too..

George Dobson
October 11, 2011 19:08

good tactic Darren I will use it

Samuel Fisayo Adewuyi
October 17, 2011 22:30

Wow! I don’t know where u get these ideas from. I just used it for my psv story in a friendly against Newcastle and we won 6-1. You. May have a future in the coaching business. Ha ha ha.

October 24, 2011 19:38

quality looking tactic, although the download link for this and the Stoke one doesnt appear to be working!?

also, really enjoyed your Newcastle story on fm11, hope you do a toon tactic for fm12

October 26, 2011 00:47

I am using this tactic for colwyn bay in the conference north and i am doing so well, Thanks for the help, Great tactic

November 1, 2011 11:45

cannot download via mediafire. can someone email this file to me or upload it in different file host? thank you

November 1, 2011 11:58

Sorry about that, there seem to be some problems with Mediafire. We’ll try to upload it to a different host as soon as possible and then give you the link.

November 1, 2011 12:03

Alright man. I’m dying to try out these tactic. I would very much appreciate it if you could just email it to me directly since the file is fairly small :)

November 4, 2011 02:59

Hi Darren! can you please email me the tactic above? I can’t seem to get it to download using mediafire…Thank you in advance!! can’t wait to use this tactic since i’m a fanatic Arsenal fan!!

November 4, 2011 12:50

It looks great.

I’m still playing your “Mancelona” tactic in FM2011. And as soon as I start to play FM 2012 I will give this one a try.

Looks very good.

Thanks for sharing your work.

November 9, 2011 20:42

Hi there, I followed your Newcastle tactic from the last game and would you say this is similar? I just started my first Newcastle game on 12 and I’m not great with tactics. I was looking at your Stoke tactic and don’t think the squad is set up for that one. It’s not ideal for this one either, but think it’s closer.

November 12, 2011 07:18

Hi Im new to the FM12 and have to say its 10 times better then the FIFA one. But I was hoping for some help on a situation I find annoying. Everytime I save and finish and then quit the game, I go to play the saved game and I find matches have been played ect without me being on. How can I stop this from happing so that I as the manager play the games when Im logged on only? And great job on the tatics btw, helped my squad out better then the tatics I was trying :)

Keith Fagan
November 12, 2011 13:41

Thanks for repliying Darren :) And yes that is how it seems to happen I save the game then quit. But when I reload and it ask me to for my password to resume the game I have loads of mail for days that I myself did not do. I spoke to a good friend of mine who has played most of the FM games and reakons I may not be quiting correctly?


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Jamie Lewis
November 14, 2011 03:58

Thanks for the great tactic!
I have tried playing Chicago Fire of the MLS a few times since FM12 came out, and couldn’t get anywhere with them. (Actually kept getting fired right around the same time their actual Manager did!)

Since they use a 4-5-1 I thought I would give this a try. Not only did I make it all the way through the season, but we finished first and my team had the most goals in the league. We lost the MLS Cup Final to Seattle 1-2 in Extra time, but still quite happy how the season played out!

One downside though. my team also lead the league in Red Cards! Many were straight. I have been using this team since FM 2010 came out and I have never seen Chicago get so many! Is this just a very aggressive tactic?

November 16, 2011 01:03

when are you coming out with united tactic?

November 16, 2011 08:08

Hi! Thank you for a great post. I was wondering if you could tell me how your match preperation is setup. Very high preperation on attacking movement? Do you use a different tactic when you play a one of the top teams away?

November 17, 2011 07:50

thank bro…

Jonathan Crook
November 17, 2011 21:50

would it work for my forest green game as well then i see that someone plays as colwyn bay.

November 19, 2011 01:14

Hi, about to test this on my third season with Peterhead. My current tactic has seen me get promoted two seasons on the bounce but after coming a cropper in cup games against SPL teams I’ve decided to try something new. Can you advise me what pitch dimensions you’d recommend with this tactic.

Jonathan Crook
November 19, 2011 21:43

hi i have used your tactic for the last 4 games now and all seems very good played 4 won 3 lost scored 13 conceded 5 so good so far. how do i take screen shots of my results so far thanks.

Mike Barker
November 29, 2011 08:59

used a slightly different set up of 4-3-3 as man city, currently in second season and well on the way to a quaddie. Mid set up is a DLP with 2x BBM,s and 2 forward searching FB’s. Love ur set up just wanted to try a few tweaks

Harris Bakhat
December 2, 2011 00:11

Hi loving your tactic, beat liverpool 3-0 with 38 shots and %67 possession, but was wondering what you do with your opposition instructions, thanks in advance.

December 2, 2011 13:51

hi sir.. can u email me the tactic? i cant download it. tq

December 7, 2011 02:58

Hello Darren, my existing possession tactic is already good IMO but yours is hell a lot better in terms of attacking threat and I must say that I like it so much. The only problem is, I started to conceded goals with your tactic which rarely happened to my existing one. Is there anything I can do to make my back 4 more solid?. My existing formation is 4-2(CM)-3(AM,AMC,AML)-1. Thanks in advance.

Paul PaulusArex Anyanwu
December 8, 2011 01:06

i have gotze, walcott, hamsik, arteta, song, and gervinho, and ramsey in my midfield. Was wondering what style gotze would play on the left wing and why not just push song back into the dm role.

December 11, 2011 10:57

how about player instruction? u didnt set it? or will improved this tactic later? cant wait

December 11, 2011 15:12

How do i put a screenshot of my forest green save game up to show you how your tactic is doing for me in BSP so far.

Jonathan Crook
December 11, 2011 22:10

will it work with any patch or is it for the original game.

Doing ok lying in 6th in BSP at the moment 3 points off 3rd.

December 14, 2011 04:29

Hi Darren,
I have Hazard, Ganso, Sissoko, Mikel, Neymar, Cavani, Lampard & Essien in midfield and I’m using the tactics as per your post. Need your advice on which post should they fit in.
Mikel seems like better playing on DM role, should I slightly change the tactics or remain him as BWM in CM role?

Last, Torres is the alone striker and he is not performing…


[…] to Darren’s Arsenal tactic from Football Manger Story ( if you have not seen it check it out… it is very good ) but I used to wingers and the two centre backs. Well in the Stade Malherbe […]

December 17, 2011 22:17

Match preparation? Pitch size? OI? Thank you!

December 22, 2011 00:40

Team talk? Thank you…great tactic anyway.

December 24, 2011 12:12

Hi Darren can u email me the tactic? i cant download it plz

December 25, 2011 15:17

Dear Darren, thanx for an superb guide, solid work! I can’t download the tactic shown here, is it possible to mail it to me?;) looking forward from more good work from you! Cheers from scandinavia!

December 26, 2011 08:46

Hi Darren I’m also unable to download. Can you send to my email? Really looking forward to try out thanks

January 3, 2012 21:27

you have suggestions for other players except hamsik and arteta for the advance playmaker position??

January 8, 2012 04:58

Darren, Fantastic tactic! I’m quite inept when it comes to this side of the game – and it’s wonderful to download a tactic that actually works! (I tend to download so-called “Super Tactics” a lot and have never really found one that worked since the old days of Championship Manager/early Football Manager games!) I’ve applied the tactic to my Villa team (the team is completely different, though – virtually every player is new) but it looks as though all of my team more or less match the attributes you’ve mentioned above in your write-up. I consider I have a team capable of top four, at least (finished 6th last season after an indifferent start – began using your tactic mid-way through the season). Problem is, I don’t seem to be able to score goals! I get 20-30 shots a game and come away with one goal, maybe two if I’m lucky. Defence is good but you’re always going to concede at least one goal every couple of games, so I’m drawing loads and find myself 11th after nine games. Do you have any suggestions? (My lone striker is Seydou Doumbia, who seems really good stats wise, but to be honest… Read more »

January 9, 2012 17:17

Hi Darren, i am a BIG fan of your tactics. Been using your Stoke one with Wolves for a while now and i achieved unbelievable success. What impresses me most is they never seemed to get cracked by the AI + you dont feel like you are cheating the game like you do with the usual tactics around.

Anyway, my question is, with the new patch by default this Arsenal tactic removes the counter attack, should we tick this so it does counter attack as originally or go along with the changes SI have made and play not on the counter?

Secondly, is there any chance you could come up with a new winger/target man tactic which plays direct and on the counter please?

I await your reply, cheers Darren.

January 10, 2012 00:13

Te felicito por la tactica, pero tengo una duda el centro delantero convierte pocos goles, que caracteristicas deberia tener o bien debo modificar algo de la tactica?