The once title-challenging Gunners are in trouble.
A messy reign from Unai Emery came to a miserable end mid-season, with Mikel Arteta coming in to try and reverse the fortunes of his old club.
In Football Manager 2020 you can jump into the hot seat at the Emirates to start the 2019/20 season and try to guide Arsenal back to the top of the Premier League.
So what are the expectations of the board when you up the managerial reins? And how long will it take to turn this squad into a title winner?
EXPECTATIONS: Arsenal's board have very reasonable targets for you
This new feature has been a big success in FM20. It is both a short-term and long-term set of goals for the club as laid out by the board that includes play style aims, financial targets, and competition results.
For Arsenal, the goals are pretty simple.
The board wants you to play attractive and attacking football, which given their squad is easy to do.
They also want you to sign players under the age of 18. This can be trickier, but there are some players you will want to target almost immediately that fit those goals.
As for the competition targets, these are pretty realistic and achievable.
In your first season the board wants you to qualify for the EURO Cup (Europa League) which is a low bar to clear, but you do have to make deep runs in the FA Cup and EURO Cup too.
FM20's tactical options are similar to those from last year, so don't panic too much about trying to learn your way around a new system.
Given the talent Arsenal have on the ball you can play a possession-based system. Vertical tiki-taka is the most suitable, as it helps push the team forward a little quicker, taking advantage of the pace this team has.
Against trickier opponents like Liverpool or Manchester City a slightly more conservative approach may be required though.
BATTLE PLAN: The 4-1-4-1 DM Wide is a classic that still works
Arsenal have the depth across the board to play most formations well.
There is always a temptation to play with two strikers thanks to the quality of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but the best option for the vertical tiki-taka style is the 4-1-4-1 DM Wide, which plays like the classic 4-3-3.
A good secondary, more attacking, option is the 4-2-3-1 which replaces the DM with an AMC.
In the 4-1-4-1 DM Wide your best XI would have Bernd Leno in goal, with a back four of Hector Bellerin, Sokratis, David Luiz, and Keiron Tierney.
Lucas Torreira can take up the DM spot, with Matteo Guendozi and Granit Xhaka as the central midfield pair.
The attacking trio will consist of new-signing Nicolas Pepe on the right and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the left with Alexandre Lacazette up front.
On the bench you'll want Emiliano Martinez, Shkodran Mustafi, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Sead Kolasinac, Mesut Ozil, Dani Ceballos, and Gabriel Martinelli.
Arsenal's squad may not be of title-winning calibre when you take over, but that doesn't mean they lack quality players. There are a number of stars that can turn the tide and win games on their own.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - CA 4 star (169), PA 4 star (170)
DEADLY: Aubameyang will be your superstar at Arsenal
It's no surprise to see Aubameyang here. The star forward has been deadly in front of goal be it as a lone striker, a partner for Lacazette, or from wide on the left.
In FM20 his 20 acceleration, 19 pace, and 17 finishing show he will terrorise any defence, while his 18 off the ball means he will pop up in the right place.
Alexandre Lacazette - CA 4 star (160), PA 4 star (161)
Next up is Arsenal's frontman Alexandre Lacazette. The Frenchman has been at Arsenal since 2017 and scored a bagful of goals for them since he came over from Lyon.
In FM20 he has a balance with 16 pace, acceleration, and stamina, along with 16 finishing, 17 work rate, and 16 technique. He's a true striker and will be deadly in FM.
Mesut Ozil - CA 4 star (158), PA 4 star (180)
MAESTRO: Ozil's creativity is second to none
Ah Mesut Ozil, the most maligned Premier League player in a long time. His creativity and talent is undeniable, but his effort and work rate is often called into question.
Fortunately in FM20 you get clear values for these things. The AMC brings superb 19 passing, 19 technique, and 19 vision to his role, but with just 10 work rate don't expect much tracking back.
As ever, the Arsenal squad is full of talented young players. Some, like Eddie Nketiah, are out on loan already so you won't be able to take their development in hand, but there are others that you can. Here are the best players under 20 on the Arsenal squad.
Matteo Guendozi - CA 3 star (144), PA 4.5 star (165)
HARD WORKER: He can be your engine room for years to come
The talents of Matteo Guendozi are well known, and at just 20 years old he has a bright future in Arsenal's midfield.
When you start at Arsenal, Guendozi already has a few top-level stats. His 17 work rate and 17 teamwork make him a quality water carrier for the Gunners.
His 15 passing, 15 tackles, and 15 stamina means he can do basically everything you need him to. With his 165 PA he can become a leading player for you.
Reiss Nelson - CA 2.5 star (135), PA 4 star (160)
WIDE MAN: Nelson can be a threat from out wide
After a successful loan season in Germany, Reiss Nelson is back in the Arsenal squad and ready to provide depth and an option on the wings for your team. A natural on both the right and left, he possesses 16 pace, 15 technique, and 15 dribbling already, and with 160 PA he will develop well if you give him some cup games and substitute appearances early on.
Bukayo Saka - CA 2.5 star (133), PA 4 star (158)
FUTURE STAR: Saka can be a difference-maker in years to come
Much like Nelson, Bukayo Saka is a talented young winger that can thrive on either flank. The 17-year-old will be important for your national quotas in years to come so be sure to develop and nurture his talents. He is already a quick player, with 17 acceleration and 16 pace, but his 15 dribbling, 14 technique, and 15 flair means he can perform pretty early on.
|Youth Prospects||Transfer Budget|
HIERARCHY: This is how players fit within your team's dressing room
Team Leaders: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mesut Ozil
Highly Influential Players; Granit Xhaka, Alexandre Lacazette, Hector Bellerin, Sokratis, David Luiz, Shkodran Mustafi
Dynamics depict the dressing room atmosphere and hierarchy at your club. It is important to keep the team leaders and highly influential players happy. More playing time and big contracts to other players can see them leap up the tiers, so be sure to keep an eye on this tab so you understand how your team fits together.
For Arsenal it will be tricky to keep Ozil in particular happy. The ideal formation does not have room for him, so perhaps trying to sell him is the best bet.
Starting transfer budget: £10 million
Remaining wage budget: £350,000 a week
Arsenal have very little room to work when you take over. This is thanks in large part to the record £72 million they spent on Nicolas Pepe. With a relatively small squad of quality players you will be hard-pressed to sell someone without opening a big hole in your team.
One player you can move on from is Granit Xkaha. The combative midfielder is valued at £30.5 million and you can get most of that from a club. He is a decent player but with Matteo Guendozi, Lucas Torreira, and loanee Dani Ceballos there are plenty of options for Arsenal in the midfield.
Callum Chambers is another you can move on from, as the #3 right back he won't see much game time for you and his £20.5 million will be handy if you want to throw money at a wonderkid.
New transfer budget: £61 million
New remaining wage budget: £500,000 a week
So, with all these new funds what position do you need to make a move for?
Dependable centre back
Arsenal's defence is not particularly consistent or dynamic. David Luiz and Sokratis are into their 30s already, and Shkodran Mustafi is not the best player around.
Arsenal do have William Saliba out on loan for the first season, but he is very young. As a result finding a dependable centre back in the prime of his career would be a good move.
PERFECT: The ideal signing when you first join Arsenal
Daniele Rugani fits the mould perfectly. The 24-year-old Zebre (Juventus) defender seems to be expendable after the arrival of Matthijs de Ligt, and with a value of £13 million he fits Arsenal's budget very well. His 147 CA & 159 PA makes him a rock you can rely on.
|Manuel Akanji||23||Borussia Dortmund||Switzerland||144/161||£16.25m||£49.5k|
|Dayot Upamecano||20||RB Leipzig||France||135/172||£6.5m||£40k|
If you do sell Granit Xhaka you will need to find a replacement. Dani Ceballos is a nice player but only on loan from Real Madrid, and Joe Willock is young enough that you shouldn't trust him with a lot of minutes right away.
VERSATILE: Van de Beek can play anywhere
With a little work on the clauses and extras you should be able to add Ajax's Donny van de Beek. The versatile midfielder can fill in anywhere in the middle of the park and has strong stats like 16 stamina, 16 teamwork, and 18 work rate. At 22 he will improve in years to come too. Valued at £23 million he should be an attainable player.
|Franck Kessie||22||Milan||Ivory Coast||149/169||£22.5m||£67k|
|Mahmoud Dahoud||23||Borussia Dortmund||Germany||138/161||£15.5m||£66k|
|Amadou Haidara||21||RB Leipzig||Mali||139/165||£9.25m||£49.5k|
Arsenal's contract situation is not nearly as bad in FM20 as it has been in previous years. There are just 4 players in the first team with contracts that will expire at the end of your first season.
Mohamed Elneny, who is out on loan anyway, can be let go without issue, so can goalkeepers Dejan Iliev and Matt Macey. The fourth is your #2 keeper Emiliano Martinez. While there is no danger of Bernd Leno retiring any time soon, it could be useful to retain Martinez so your keeper situation is not in trouble should Leno miss time with injury.
You will have to make some decisions in your second season though, as David Luiz, Mesut Ozil, and Shkodran Mustafi have deals that expire in June 2021.
If you make a move for a centre back early then you can let Luiz go, and you are best off seeking a transfer for Ozil before his deal expires.
HEALTHY: Arsenal have financial stability, but not major clout yet
Arsenal's finances are healthy, but after a few seasons outside the Champions League they are hardly a powerhouse.
Everything is projected to increase, so you should see big transfer budgets down the road, but that is also dependant on you getting back into the Champions League picture and maintaining Arsenal's global stature.
Wage expenditure is projected to leap up too, but moving on from Mesut Ozil's massive £350,000 a week deal would help.
In short, there is little to worry about with Arsenal's financial future as long as you don't throw money away on bad signings and poor contract negotiations.
Return to the top
It has been a long time since Arsenal truly challenged for the Premier League title, but that should be your ultimate aim in Football Manager 2020. The squad is talented enough at the outset to push for a Champions League spot, but you will need to make improvements to really content with Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United.
It won't be an easy road, but a top four spot in your first year will help keep the likes of Aubameyang and Lacazette happy at the club and attract new players too. From there you have to kick on up the table or run the risk of the board getting tired of you.
Their projections in the Club Vision give you some time before you need to compete, but it's better to underpromise and overdeliver than miss a deadline.
Full Arsenal Player Ratings
|Bernd Leno||27||GK||SK||Support||3.5 star||155/163|
|Hector Bellerin||24||D(R) WB(R)||WB||Attack||3 star||149/162|
|David Luiz||32||D(C) DM||BPD||Defend||3 star||150/157|
|Kieron Tierney||22||D(L) WB(L)||WB||Support||3 star||146/170|
|Lucas Torreira||23||DM M(C)||Regista||Support||2.5 star||150/165|
|Matteo Guendozi||20||DM M(C)||B2B||Support||3 star||144/165|
|Granit Xhaka||26||DM M(C)||Mezzala||Support||3 star||146/160|
|Nicolas Pepe||24||AM(R) ST||IW||Support||3.5 star||153/159|
|Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang||30||AM(RL) ST||IF||Support||3 star||169/170|
|Alexandre Lacazette||28||AM(R) ST||DLF||Attack||4 star||160/161|
|Emiliano Martinez||26||GK||SK||Support||2.5 star||134/141|
|Shkodran Mustafi||27||D(C)||BPD||Defend||3 star||139/161|
|Ainsley Maitland-Niles||21||D (RL) WB(RL) DM M(C)||Mezzala||Suport||2.5 star||140/156|
|Sead Kolasinac||26||D(L) WB(L)||WB||Defend||3 star||144/155|
|Mesut Ozil||30||AM(RLC)||AP||Support||4 star||158/180|
|Dani Ceballos||22||M(C) AM(C)||Mezzala||Support||3 star||146/163|
|Gabriel Martinelli||18||AM(RLC) ST||IW||Support||2.5 star||126/130-160|
|Matt Macey||24||GK||GK||Defend||2 star||107/132|
|Calum Chambers||24||D(RC) DM||FB||Support||2.5 star||139/150|
|Rob Holding||23||D(C)||BPD||Defend||2.5 star||136/155|
|Joe Willock||19||M(C)||AP||Attack||2.5 star||134/153|
|Reiss Nelson||19||M(RL) AM(RLC)||Winger||Support||2.5 star||135/160|
|Emile Smith Rowe||18||M(RL) AM(RLC)||IW||Support||2.5 star||135/156|