Some of you might remember that I’ve wrote a few things about this in the past. Last year it was more focused on being a community project and revolved around people participating in discussions and providing feedback based on the games I uploaded for them to watch. However while the subject was very popular people seemed reluctant to get involved with the side of the discussion that required people watching matches, so I stopped the project.

This year, I’m writing about it again. However it won’t be a community project and it isn’t really a downloadable tactic either. The purpose of these articles is to show you my interpretation of the tactic and my journey to the end product which is something that resembles how the great Arsenal Invincible side played. I’m never going to get it 100% accurate but I can still create something that resembles the style they played.

Recreating this is a long-term project and isn’t something you can do from the off. It’s something we build towards over a number of years. The overall style I’m trying to implement is the end goal and will take time to achieve. It will also require squad building a specific way and developing players with certain player preferred moves. So if you are expecting to see me playing the Arsenal Invincible’s way from the start then you might be disappointed. I’ve done projects in the past that show me hitting the ground running. This one will be different though as I’m wanting to highlight the fact we are building and working towards a specific style and for that, I need time to get it to a standard that is acceptable. Hopefully this comes across in these articles.

The good thing about trying to replicate this Arsenal side is the amount of resources available on the subject. There are many great articles and books we can use for a reference. On top of that we can also check out videos of games and clips, that can be found on YouTube or via other media sources. Some of the better one that I will/have used are these;

In 2003-04, Arsenal overcame every conceivable challenge to complete a 38-game league without a single loss. It was a feat unequalled in modern football. But for Arsene Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’, a team including legends Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Dennis Bergkamp, it was a challenge that went far beyond sport.

Based on exclusive players interviews, this definitive book relives the pivotal games and moments, and allows the Invincibles to tell their own story. It takes readers inside the locker room, to reveal the teamwork, the psychology and the struggle behind one of the greatest teams in history.

That is a book written by Amy Lawrence and I highly recommend buying it, if you enjoy reading football books.

Other sources of information include Zonal Markings Team of the Decade;

Then we have this fantastic series by Leo Chan that gives you an insight into how this Arsenal side functioned and breaks down the numbers.

The Hard Tackle also have a series on the subject which looks at how the system evolved;

There are literally thousands of other links I could provide too, but I’d be here all day. Those articles are all helpful for allowing you form an opinion of how they functioned as individuals, as well as a collective unit.  

Unlike most of the articles I write, when this one gets posted the majority of it is already written. Normally I write as I go along. This time though I played the game for a few days and then spent the rest of the time writing the articles needed for this series. So hopefully it will feel more complete. At the time of writing this I planned on doing seven parts. However even though these will already be written, I might add more parts if I feel they’ll contribute to the main parts. Sort of like filling in blank spaces if I’ve missed something.
In the next article we take a look at just what it is, that I’m trying to recreate and discuss what the long-term goal is. This will be looking at player traits mainly so I can focus on what I’m actually looking for in players. Hopefully this allows better squad building. Although some of the players I sign will be stop gaps just to improve on what I already had at the club. Some signings though will be more long-term based. It’s going to take a lot of time and quite a few seasons to nail this style down and be successful. So don’t expect miracles from the start!

So what to expect?

I’d like to consider this project as a complete one, this means not only do I highlight my way of recreating Arsenal Invincibles but I also document the journey. This includes;

  • A look at just what exactly I am trying to replicate in FM
  • How the above translates into FM and what base tactic along with roles, duties and TI’s I use.
  • This will focus on how I squad build for such a project as well as highlighting future potential signings.
  • A review of season one in League One to see if the foundations I’ve put in place are working and show characteristics of the Invincibles.
  • A review of season two in The Championship as well as looking at the signings made.
  • After promotion to the Premiership we look at the players I’ve brought in and why. This will also be focused on the development of the players.
  • Another review but this time more tactical analysis based as by now the club should be showing a lot of what I outlined in part one.
  • At this stage I am established in the Premiership and Europe. So we look at tailoring players to play a specific way that enhances the Invincibles.

That’s the short version of what to expect. It might be different from you was expecting as a lot of you was probably thinking it would be purely tactical discussions. However for something like this, the majority of how we play comes from the players I use and their PPM’s. It’s the PPM’s what will make the difference and be the reason why it works. However these take time to learn and one of the reasons this project is so big and in-depth.

I hope you like what I have planned and enjoy the series.


  1. I am made up, literally gleaming from ear to ear. I was just sat here today thinking that I need another Santos style experience set of posts to divulge and get my brain working / thinking outside of the box and this is it!

    To see you work and how you work and thought process will be a very cool experience indeed. Will you happen to have a discussion thread on the sigames forum so people can chat more directly about it there too but having the link to your site from there for the article itself?

    1. I might have it on both yeah. It’ll all be available on here first though, as no point posting it on SI until all chapters have been posted 🙂

  2. Really looking forward to this. Always love an Arsenal invincibles recreation and no better man than Cleon to do one.

  3. I’m really looking forward to this series! The system I’m using in my current Aston Villa save was inspired by your Arsenal Invincibles Community project so it will be really interesting for me to see how you develop your system and build your squad.

  4. Looking forward to this. This site is now my favourite FM site of all. The tactical discussions have helped me a lot and with the Belmondo diaries thrown in it is entertaining and knowledgeable.

  5. Last year you inspired me in trying to replicate the Invincibles and came up with a tactic that I used until FM16 came out. I enjoyed creating it so much and reading about things, this article of yours is like a Christmas gift ! Really looking forward to this

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