On the 29th November 2019, Unai Emery lost his job at Arsenal. A series of poor results, culminating in a winless run of seven matches, saw the board take the action to remove Emery from his role as manager. This Football Manager 2020 post will simulate one season with five different managers to see which person could suit the Arsenal managerial role in real-life.
The five managers are as follows:
- Freddie Ljungberg
- Massimiliano Allegri
- Mikel Arteta
- Patrick Vieira
- Mauricio Pochettino
I will begin by reviewing the first season, looking at the transfers each manager makes in January 2020 and where Arsenal end up at the end of the 19/20 season. I will then simulate a second season to review in a second post, seeing which manager was able to take Arsenal the furthest after two years in charge.
This simulation begins in June 2019 and so Arsenal’s recent form will not be replicated in-game. However, I have added a transfer embargo on the club from June 19 until December 19 to ensure that no transfers are made until the January transfer window. It will be interesting to see which managers are able to use the current Arsenal squad more effectively that Unai Emery was able to.
Let’s get started!
Arsenal’s New Manager | Season 1
By 1st December: Arsenal unbeaten! By the 1st of December, Arsenal had won nine from fourteen matches. This run of form saw them sit in 3rd place in the league.
January Transfer Window: Ljungberg made just the one signing in the January transfer window, bringing in central defender Nicholas Opoku from Udinese. Opoku promptly left the club on loan and has yet to make his Arsenal debut.
Competitions: An unbeaten start was ended in early-December by eventual champions Manchester City. Arsenal went on to finish in 3rd, securing Champions League football for the 20/21 season. Ljungberg’s Arsenal struggled in the cups, failing to reach the quarter-finals in any of the three competitions entered.
Tactically, Arsenal set up in a 4-4-2 (2DM) formation.
By 1st December: 6 wins in the opening 14 matches saw Allegri’s Arsenal sit in 7th place. 4 consecutive draws in October/November could so easily have been turned into wins – Arsenal held the lead in three of those games. The table could have been far more promising had Arsenal held on in any of those matches.
January Transfer Window: Allegri made perhaps the biggest signing of the January transfer window when he signed Portuguese centre-back Gabriel from Benfica for £51m. He played 16 times since signing but underwhelmed with an average rating of just 6.69.
Competitions: Allegri’s Arsenal finished in 6th place in the league, the lowest of any of our five managers. However, his job was perhaps saved by his performance in the cups.
Defeat to Tottenham in the FA Cup final would not have gone down well with the Arsenal fans. This defeat could have ended Allegri’s time at the club, however victory in the Europa League saw Arsenal qualify for the Champions League next season.
Arsenal played with a 4-5-1 (DM) formation and Lucas Torreira was a player who thrived, making 19 assists throughout the season. Lacazette top-scored with 32 goals in 54 matches.
By 1st December: Arsenal were comfortably placed in 2nd place in early December. They remained in 2nd for 9 gameweeks before three consecutive losses in late January saw them slide down the table.
January Transfer Window: One main signing was made in January with Arteta bringing in Motherwell midfielder David Turnbull for £5m. He is yet to make his debut for the club.
Competitions: Arteta’s Arsenal finished in 5th place in the Premier League. A 3-1 win in the Carabao Cup final over Wolves saw Arteta lift his first competition with Arsenal.
Despite this cup win, the 5th place league finish (meaning no Champions League football for Arsenal next season) saw Arteta’s job security end the season as ‘insecure’, meaning that he could become the first of our manager’s to lose his job. However, the win in the Carabao Cup could persuade the Arsenal hierarchy to give Arteta more time.
Lacazette thrived under Arteta’s leadership, top-scoring for Arsenal with 36 goals in the season. Aubameyang scored just 19 in 57 games.
By 1st December: Arsenal sat in 6th place in the Premier League having won 6 from 14, losing 4.
January Transfer Window: Vieira made just one signing in January 2020, bringing in Celtic central player Kristoffer Ajer for £34.5m. Ajer made 30 appearances for Arsenal in the remainder of the season, scoring once and making eight assists. He won 5 player of the match awards and can certainly be considered a good signing by Vieira.
Competitions: Arsenal finished 5th in the Premier League, just missing out on Champions League qualification. They ended on 68 points, 4 behind Tottenham in 4th.
It was in the domestic and continental competitions that Vieira’s Arsenal really shined.
Arsenal reached all three finals in competitions they competed in. The first – the Carabao Cup, came against Manchester City and ended with Arsenal lifting the trophy. They also reached the FA Cup final but lost out to Chelsea. Arsenal secured Champions League football for the 20/21 season by beating Galatasaray in the Europa League final, lifting the trophy for the second time in the clubs history.
A hugely successful first season for Patrick Vieira.
By 1st December: Pochettino led Arsenal to 3rd position by the beginning of December, lifting to 2nd after beating Chelsea on the 4th Dec.
January Transfer Window: No transfers were made in terms of players coming into the club. Pochettino was clearly happy with the current squad and decided no players were needed to strengthen the squad. One notable player left the club – Shkodran Mustafi left the club to join Shakhtar.
Competitions: Arsenal finished the Premier League in 4th place on 74 points, one point ahead of 5th place Chelsea. Pochettino had a fairly similar season to Ljungberg, failing to impress in the cup competitions in favour of securing Champions League football through the league.
Pochettino favoured a 4-2-3-1 formation and managed to get the attacking players firing, with Pepe, Lacazette and Aubameyang all scoring 15+ goals.
Who do you think has performed best as Arsenal manager?
- Freddie Ljungberg | 3rd EPL
- Massimiliano Allegri | 6th EPL | Europa League WINNERS
- Mikel Arteta | 5th EPL | Carabao Cup WINNERS
- Patrick Vieira | 5th EPL | Carabao Cup WINNERS, Europa League WINNERS
- Mauricio Pochettino | 4th EPL
Ljungberg had the most successful league season, finishing 3rd. Pochettino was the only other manager to finish in the top four with Arsenal. Yet both of these managers failed to win a trophy whereas the remaining three all had success in either Europe or domestic cup competitions.
What will happen in season two of this simulation? How will each manager perform in the 2020 summer transfer window?
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