Series: The Premier League's Missing Generation: 30th July - 12th Aug: Harbingers of the Seaso

Author: 3the1orange6
Published: 2019-01-20, edited: 2019-01-20

Part of the campaign:

Series: The Premier League's Missing Generation

Previous part:

Game: Football Manager 2017

Series: The Premier League\'s Missing Generation: 1st July - 29th July: The Transfer Rush

Images: 40, author: 3the1orange6, published: 2019-01-12

Welcome back to the Premier League's Missing Generation - a series which exists in a parallel world where over 1000 top professional footballers have been struck down by contaminated drugs! What will happen to the Premier League after the loss of nearly all of its big-name players? This is the third instalment in this Football Manager series, and there will be links to previous parts in the reddit description, which itself is linked here. This episode will cover the final part of the preseason. We will be looking at squad development using two friendly matches - Man City vs Ajax and Arsenal vs Sassuolo. Are these two formerly big English teams ready to perform internationally again? Have they rebuilt their squads and tactics enough?
First - the match against Ajax. Guardiola lines up at the Amsterdam ArenA in a 4-3-3 formation. Numbers 4, 5 and 6 - Ceccaroni, Pacini and Ristl - are new acquisitions from Italy and Germany, but otherwise, Guardiola's team comes from his own former U23 and U18 squad. Man City has chosen to maintain continuity, refraining from expensive transfers. By contrast, nearly all of Ajax's team may be known to our audience. In a less high-pressure league, Ajax's players were not corrupted by the contaminated drug so their squad still features Hakim Ziyech, Abdelhak Nouri, Jairo Riedewald, Justin Kluivert and Matthijs de Ligt among others.
Guardiola has not abandoned his style of football despite the change in talent level. City goes on the attack immediately, but despite seemingly strong positions, their efforts in the first few minutes come to nothing.
Ajax centre back Joel Veltman gets carded.
Ajax are managing some excellent through balls, and Kluivert in particular is getting the better of his opposite man Pacini on the Dutch left wing.
In the centre, Man City's defence is narrow and high. Here, it looks as though the Dutch lack the creativity to easily pass.
Kluviert receives a promising ball again and slips past Pacini again.
Yet nobody is in the right position to receive his cross, and he doesn't quite pull it off anyway.
This shot highlights the questionable positioning of some City midfielders, but Nouri lost the header in this instance and the first half ended 0-0, with neither side dominating.
Man City's attack is balanced, whilst Ajax are exploiting the left wing.
As the second half kicks off, Kluivert goes far out of position to create an overlap.
He then delivers a brilliant cross to Nouri, whose forward run capitalised on all that space. Nouri shoots, but City keeper Angus Gunn gets a finger on his powerful effort.
City are now on the defensive, but City left-back Ceccaroni makes a strong tackle to dispossess Cerny.
Young former Spal player Ceccaroni is performing well this game. His tackling stat is particularly high, especially for someone of his age.
Klaassen is substituted on and immediately delivers a promising cross from the right flank, although Gunn claims it.
As it is a friendly, the teams are constantly altering. Ajax now has Kluivert playing a more central role, replacing the underperfoming Cassierra, whilst Nouri has moved into a more attacking position. City has a different striker for the second half, as well as star player Aleix Garcia in midfield.
Ceccaroni makes another strong tackle.
..however he almost immediately loses possession and only another strong foray by Gunn prevents an Ajax goal.
Ziyech and Nouri combine to easily dominate their left flank. City are defending so narrowly that they cannot really contest these positions.
However, Plummer cuts out Klaassen's header after the inevitable cross is delivered. Yet Ajax's attack is relentless, and within another minute they get a free kick.
Ziyech's effort is far to the right
And yet it somehow curves in, outranging Angus Gunn!
The home Ajax fans go wild!
City are not to be demoralised and immediately launch a great counterattack. Dilrosun is on the end of a very high ball into the box...
Dilrosun stops to control the ball, but then Ajax defender Tete cannons it away in a stunning goal-line clearance.
City's renewed energy improves their defending. In particular, newly substituted centre back Adarabioyo has seemed to dominate.
Hakim Ziyech is very tired and the Ajax midfield are sitting lower, signalling a switch to a more defensive strategy.
City is pushing higher but their midfield, even with Aleix Garcia, still lacks dynamism.
Ajax striker Kaspar Dolberg evades his marker but then misses.
Again Dolberg is in a promising position, but again he cannot control the ball in time to shoot properly. Man City are still making defensive mistakes but Ajax is struggling to capitalise.
Adarabioyo looks like a decent player.
Youth player Fernandes is substituted in for City and seems promising. However his cross does not reach the concentration of City attackers on the opposite flank.
Adarabioyo muscles out Dolberg from the City box.
Ajax gets a corner, but Garcia cuts out a whipped cross that almost reached de Ligt.
City's defending is successful for the remainder of the game.
City recorded just one shot on target for the whole game. Although this conceals the fact that some aspects of their defending were very strong, since the sole goal was from a free kick, City showed very little creativity in offense.
Our next friendly will be Arsenal vs Sassuolo!
Pundits seem to see the two sides as equal. The tie is being contested in Italy. Note that at this point, Arsenal is still under the control of Arsene Wenger.
Arsenal are playing an attacking 4-2-3-1, a more offensive formation than we have seen so far. Their lineup features four new signings. Two of these were covered in the last part of the series - Lewie Coyle is a brave and industrious right back from Leeds and George Williams is a tricky attacking midfielder from Gillingham.
As for the other two new signings, Leonel Bontempo seems like a very strong attacking left-back.
And Innocent Emeghara is an opportunistic finisher who adds experience to a very young squad.
Several Arsenal players are immediately in amongst the Sassuolo defence.
Emeghara scores with a powerful effort from outside the box!
It was accomplished with a short, quick pass from Willock. Some responsibility goes to Sassuolo for defending too passively.
But Sassuolo are soon straight back on the attack. Huddart slides towards a narrow angle shot from Zecca...
Huddart stops a fast deflection by tipping it into the air, where the Arsenal centre backs can get to it.
This is a really end-to-end match so far! Emeghara tries an aerobatic shot, but the Sassuolo defence cuts out the angle!
After over 15 minutes of relentless Arsenal attack, another Arsenal goal comes. Reine-Adelaide backheels the ball to Coyle...
..who crosses it to two players in the centre of the pitch...
Williams delivers a header at goal, but it is quite weak
The Sassuolo keeper gets to it but fumbles and deflects the ball into space in the box.
Chris Willock gets to the loose ball first and taps it into the net, completing a somewhat lucky but still well organised Arsenal goal.
The rest of the match is rather uneventful to be honest. Arsenal play more defensively and easily maintain their two-goal lead.
Arsenal's style did not intend to dominate possession, but they were very successful in creating chances.
On paper, academy goalkeeper Ryan Huddart is the weak link in the Arsenal team, but he still had a very successful game.
Emerghara deservedly gets player of the match.
In the next fortnight before the start of the Premier League season, there are a few more notable transfers, although nothing approaching the £25.5m signing of Matheus Pereira to Chelsea last part. First, the complete forward Moussa Konate arrives at Southampton from Swiss team Sion.
Arsenal get winger Nacho Lafita for free. He is not physically impressive but has some very helpful qualities - he will probably serve as an effective rotational option for Jeff Reine-Adelaide.
Leicester make their biggest acquisition yet with the very young and promising DM Angelo Fulgini.
City midfielder Mart Ristl participated in the friendly defeat against Ajax, and we saw him then. Here is a closer player overview. He is very defensively oriented, but has some strong mental stats.

Tune in next time for Gameweek 1! This part has shown a relatively strong Arsenal and a relatively weak Manchester City. Which teams will show promise and which will have to continue their rebuilding?

Check out another AAR:

Game: Victoria 2

Suomen Ikä - A Finland AAR - HPM-HFM

Images: 10, author: Sp00nexe, published: 2017-08-24