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Some Are Not Taking Freddie Seriously

Arsenal vs Brighton: Freddie Ljungberg attended his first press conference ahead of his second game in (interim) charge of Arsenal. But this time he’ll be at home. Of course the media asked him the important questions such as why he didn’t wear a suit. Freddie gave a very Wenger-esque response to that. For those of you interested, it all happened quickly, his suit was at the dry cleaners and Freddie still hasn’t been fitted for a club suit. There, all caught up on Freddie’s fashion.

That question of course was sparked by a Paul Scholes jibe as to why Freddie is unsuited (pun intended) to be Arsenal’s coach permanently. Though that is not a serious line of questioning, the feeling I get is that the media and Arsenal fans alike are unwilling to look at Freddie Ljungberg as a serious candidate. This would be understandable were it not for the same fans who have in the past welcomed the idea of Thierry Henry as Wenger’s successor.

Speaking for myself, I was all in for Arteta, both before and after Emery. I really feel he could be something special. But now that Freddie is in place, I don’t want to think about Arteta, or Pochettino, or Allegri, or Ancelotti, or the latest rumour, Marcelino. I don’t care how good we think they are or can be, Freddie has been here quietly learning his trade, still learning, and now has a chance to grow into the role and prove himself. After 18 months of the damage wrought by Emery, I think he has the right personality, the right philosophy, and hopefully the ability, to set it right.

Encouraging signs

The early signs are encouraging. Very early signs I should say. There were some familiar problems, and a familiar shape, but the Norwich game had us playing much better with the ball. Apparently the data backs it up too, as we were among the best in the league at breaking through the lines. What was also encouraging was how clearly Freddie identified the problem (transitions) and how confidently he stated that we can fix it in training. The man has a smile on his beautiful face all the time, and I get the sense that he gets underestimated because of it. People don’t see the steel and mean streak he possesses.

One person who does, is Arsene Wenger. He’s been silent on Arsenal’s issues for the most part, choosing to distance himself rather than cause controversy, but he came out in strong support of Freddie, saying he is ‘fantastically committed’ and has wanted the job for a long time. I hope he gets a fair chance at being named permanent boss because the more I hear him talk, the more convinced I get that he knows what he’s talking about.

Weakness in the transition

Freddie reiterated the problem being in transition, and admitted to mistakes, saying we’ll never win if we keep doing what we did. But he also protected his players and said that if some players get caught in a sprint (with the attacking players) as happened in Norwich, then it can be a problem, and that’s where the defensive system has to be designed in a way to account for players’ attributes. I know people make excuses for Emery based on his lack of proficiency in English, but this seems to me an acceptance that Emery wasn’t doing this. Though he’s always been respectful of Emery, Freddie also refused to take the burden of the run of eight (8) games without a win on himself or his squad. Smart, clear and confident. I love Freddie.

I am not aware if we’ve named any further assistants for Freddie yet, but with more than a single full session under their belts, the Brighton game is another opportunity to improve on the Norwich performance.

Focusing on us not the opposition

Freddie praised Brighton’s defensive organisation and their tactical flexibility, but said he wants to focus more on how we play. (Imagine that!)

Brighton actually have made more passes than us this league season. They’ve taken just 10 shots less, and scored 4 fewer goals. They also sit a mere 4 points behind us. And that is after 3 consecutive losses to ManU, Leicester, and Liverpool. They must be cursing their luck Emery isn’t still in charge. Sorry, cheap shot, but it’s what I would be thinking. You can bet they’ll be motivated to turn their poor form around. Neal Maupay is their top scorer with 4 goals from 39 shots, while their leading passer is Dale Stephens in midfield. I would also be wary of Pascal Gross and his free kicks. I’ve liked the player since his days in Germany.

Ljungberg alluded to some players coming back to fitness. I wonder if Pepe is included in that? I’ve been a little concerned at how he’s been benched by Emery, and then by Freddie too. His response on Pepe not playing at Norwich is the only thing which raised some doubts for me about the situation. But it’s still early. I’m looking forward to seeing him play again, as I think there’s a great player waiting to be unlocked with the right coach and system. So I’m going to pick him to start.

Starting XI: Leno, Bellerin, Sokratis, Luiz, Tierney, Xhaka, Torreira, Pepe, Ozil, Martinelli, Aubameyang

Subs: Martinez, Chambers, Kolasinac, Guendouzi, Willock, Saka, Lacazette

Not wanting to change the system too much last time was probably an understandable decision, but I hope we line up in a 4-2-3-1 even if that means sacrificing Lacazette for the moment. Unlike a few of our fans, I really like Laca and what he brings to the side. I just think it may not be worth playing him back into form when there’s the dynamic option of Martinelli and Pepe. We lose a little hold up play and technical ability up front in Lacazette’s absence, but hopefully Ozil and Pepe can make up for it.

I’m keen to watch us play, and it’s been months since this has been true. I hope and expect we’ll start to see more of the Arsenal DNA emerge in our style of play. Win (hopefully), lose or draw, that is something very important, both for me as a fan and, I think, for the future of our club. I believe Freddie’s the man to make it happen.

Prediction: 3-1 winners (One of these days I’ll get it right)

15 Comments

  1. Well written and on point.am looking forward to the game to night.
    I think just one win Will unlock the shackles that has been holding this team back.
    Welcome FL to the Emirates… COYG

    Reply
    • It’s a tough fixture list this month. Was always anticipated as the death knell for Emery. Freddie is much better, but he’s still working out the problems gradually. He doesn’t have the luxury of throwing it all out and starting over. A win alone may not represent a turnaround in fortunes, but it is vital for our confidence. I am hopeful that win will come today, and ‘football the Arsenal way’ will be back at our home.

      Reply
  2. Thanks Shard

    Funny thing was that in his first Sky interview FL caught himself before saying he “has Arsenal DNA” or something very close to that.

    You’re right. He speaks very well.
    Like some kind of…coach. I shudder at the memory of the now unmentionable one, he only remains in our consciousness as the Toad that appointed him is still spreading it’s poison around the club.

    Let’s hope this evening is another step back in the right direction. Won’t be getting any favours from the Mikes and their clones but we know the panto quality of the pgMOB/WWF: we’ve only ever been here for the Football. Which is why the Arsenal support turned like they did on the previous non-coach, catching our blagging experts with their shorts down around their ankles. Which was the only highlight from the nightmare that was.

    PA and Uncensonred are likely the only places left for sane decent footy chat on the Gunners alongside the Bergkamp Wonderland (which is well balanced of late).

    COYG

    Reply
    • It’s actually weird how ‘Arsenal DNA’ has entered our lexicon now when it’s origins as far as I know are Xavi’s Pepe Le Pew style chasing of Cesc.

      At the same time Freddie absolutely knew what he was saying. That Emery was an assault on Arsenal’s traditions and values, and that is why he failed.

      Yes, Emery’s downfall came far sooner than his proponents had anticipated. They kept claiming it was so sudden, when it really really wasn’t. It was abundantly clear with no benefit of doubt left by the end of last season, if not sooner.

      People still speculating about other managers though is annoying. Like we haven’t learned our lesson from the Raul imposed Emery and want another Raul imposed slightly better coach, at best.

      Freddie is an appointment that Raul doesn’t have much control over. He probably wouldn’t have appointed him were Emery just no longer viable with the boos and stayaways on top of the results. That is almost reason enough to keep him.

      Man….I love Freddie. I don’t care who knows it.

      Reply
  3. Excellent analysis Shard. I really hope freddie can put a run together during the christmas fixtures to give himself a chance of landing the job permanently. Big difference between youth \ reserve football than the real deal but he has that experience to draw from, and his former managers, maybe Pires, Lehman and the old gang can help.

    Anyways i hope we win, feeling its gonna be tight.

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  4. Laccas in the 100 club. Pep on the beach, Guen on the beach too. I think we are going to win this one, and it will lift us in spirits and the league. COYG!

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  5. Lee will be ranting about the Seaweed goal.

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  6. the defenders were slow on the goal.
    but the Gunners were out shot which is the biggest indication that this is not their best half.

    Torreira in, Papa in, Guendouzi and Mustafi out.

    FL is rebuilding the dressing room amidst two training sesssions and fixtures. Not an easy task, he’s already said any changes would have to be incremental.

    Plenty of firepower on the bench.
    COYG!

    Reply
  7. Xhaka saved our Arsenals at one point. Really hope for Fred and the lads we win this one.They need a boost. Come on lads fight the Seaweed!

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  8. Some guys I know did a podcast after Freddie was appointed emphasizing “there is no quick fix.” Freddie is searching for solutions. It will take time.

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  9. Should Auba be captain?

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  10. Not sure Mills.
    I guess FL’s hands are tied there for the moment.
    His biggest concern must be, not including Auba, that he has so many players played out of form that he has to get them back into a groove. When there’s hardly any time to train at this stage of the season. Torreira?
    Plenty of clickbait to be had about Auba running off!

    I get the call on Tierney. though Kolasinac is in decent nick for a change, felt he and was for lack of a better phrase in the game today and the gunners lost a bit of momentum after that sub.
    There’ll be more subtle changes in the next game IMO I’m curious to see who starts at CB & in CM.

    Reply
  11. I didn’t realise my mental energy had been drained this much until after the first game with Freddie. The bollocks of waiting for the ending of Emery time was so enormous and unnecessary that it was actually bollocks! I can only watch the game now, nothing related after that.

    Although Lacazette and Aubameyang saved us many games last season and this season as well, the absence of Danny has been the last drop for me to utterly miss those old days of “striker surplus” with almost always 4 or 5 good and ready options. Never mind the midfield. To me it feels like this: when you guys mentioned “midfield injuries”, I thought (no offence to our other MFs) “What? We’ve got no midfielders other than Özil, Ceballos and only C was injured.”

    The situation is indeed tough for Freddie in a short time. Just please don’t let it lead to another vague or even Emery-like choice; I’ve no more stomach for any nightmare.

    Reply
  12. Question is do we set up and forget the wing back idea and play on old style four in defence, just to stabilize everything. Im not talking about defensive football or being a park the bus side, but trying to save our season.
    First time since 1976 and people are talking of relegation. Spuds only one point ahead. Yet we seem doomed. Luiz seems the worse buy in recent years, the defending for the first goal by everyone was terrible, sort of sad to see too.
    Emery should have one after Baku, but hindsight is easy, and no real sight, but that guy has destroyed Arsenal. Much much worse than poor old Bruce Rioch. People are now searching for a messiah, but theres something really really wrong, the poison of Emery.
    A lot of the oddballs who wanted Wenger out were calling for this: dropping down low in the league and no CL, saying it would wake us up. Logic be darned! We arent awake, we are playing like nobody gives a shite. Are we really the third best squad in the league? We seem like spoilt kids that are ungrateful and stubborn: we may not be like that, but we have no hunger, but are stuck in depression and negativity. And the vulture like pundits have waited for years for this.
    Poor old Arsene, must be breaking his heart to see this. Raul telling people what to do, dire football, the Kroenkes just on the take.
    But we keep on. But should we get relegated at least a lot of fake fans can bugger off. Our team needs our support more than ever.

    Reply
  13. New post up.

    Reply

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