A few days is a long time in football. Everything moves so quickly. One day you’re frustrated with the never ending awfulness of it all, and the next you’re beaming with joy, goodwill, and full of hope.
Even Unai Emery, him of the faux-class reputation managed to exit in the right way. Something of the old Arsenal, the real Arsenal, seemed to be stirring as his dismissal neared. Chips Keswick leaked his unhappiness at being a figurehead with no power to affect the club’s running. Per Mertesacker praised Wenger, Kos and Arteta. And unbelievably, the club seemed set to replace Emery with Ljungberg.
Of course, it became inevitable once the half empty stadium rained down full volume boos on Thursday night. On Friday morning, the deed was done and Freddie Ljungberg, Invincible and formerly of red hair, was put in charge of the red and white. For the moment anyway.
The club and Freddie himself have made it clear it isn’t a permanent appointment. Josh Kroenke has made it clear that they have faith in Freddie and value that he has Arsenal DNA, but also that Raul, Edu, Vinai and Josh himself, are already working on appointing a permanent manager. What was that about football moving quickly? Because this quickly killed the unreasonably high level of excitement I was feeling.
If I’m going to be positive, which I am resolved to try, then I could point out that it’s fair to carry out a search as insurance, in case Freddie doesn’t work out. Just as long as they give a fair shake to Freddie, it should be ok. But I worry because it is still Raul running the show. It seems to me the tough fixture list will provide the excuse to remove Freddie during the winter transfer window.
Freddie means Wengerball
Anyway, that is for another day. Our own is currently in charge of the first team and this is exciting. Last season I turned to our U23 games to satisfy my craving for good, true, Arsenal football, and most often Freddie’s team obliged with his own take on Wengerball. That is exactly what the team needs. In his interview he said he’d like to bring the togetherness and the smile back for everyone. That the players play better when they’re happy, and our players are happy playing an attacking style. A simple statement of club culture and values, which Freddie also made reference to, saying he knows what the club stands for.
We love you Freddie.
Norwich sit in 19th in the table after Southampton’s win against bottom side Watford. No matter the result on Sunday, Norwich will remain in the relegation spots. After suffering 3 straight losses, they beat Everton 2-0 last weekend. Even so, they still have a Goal Difference of -15, having scored only 13 times (19th) on 147 shots (17th) and most of those goals (6) came from Teemu Pukki. That’s the danger man Arsenal need to watch out for.
If we win, we’ll go back above Spurs. Sheffield United and Wolves are playing each other, so it represents an opportunity to overtake one or both of them as well, and with Chelsea losing to West Ham, we could find ourselves within 5 points of 4th place.
Apparently Bellerin and Luiz both trained but they, along with Mustafi, Holding and Kolasinac remain doubts, while Ceballos is definitely out.
Picking the team in such a scenario is even more difficult than usual. Does Ljungberg just send out a team of his best XI and hope for them to click with the freedom he provides them? Does he try to play to a system and pick accordingly? Does he play a young side with players who are more familiar with his methods?
Starters: Leno, AMN, Chambers, Sokratis, Tierney, Xhaka, Torreira, Pepe, Ozil, Martinelli, Aubameyang
Subs: Martinez, Luiz, Mustafi, Guendouzi, Willock, Nelson, Lacazette
It remains to be seen how we are on confidence and how quickly the natural flow comes back to our team. I think we’ll play much better than we have done, and although Norwich too have created a couple of moments of beautiful football, they are simply not good enough to go toe to toe with us. I’d expect lots of fouling, some referee related frustrations, and some frustrating moments of our own making. The defense will need to stay sharp on the counter and on set pieces. But if we play anywhere near our talent level, we should run out comfortable victors.
Even though I continually get them wrong, my prediction: 3-1 to Arsenal in an enjoyable performance.
Come On You Gunners!
Great day to see one of the invincibles and a Wemger boy to be in charge at the dugout. Athough cannot expect Freddie can fill the great mans boots but let’s hope he can follow in his footsteps and play the Wengerball at its best.
Hope Freddie can take the team forward and get the job full-time and we might not need the services of Arteta Viera etc.
Since the AKBs have won the battle against the Wobs who claimed that anyone but Wenger can take the team forward lets get behind Freddie Ozil Xhakka Mustafi and all the Wengerboys to shine and give a big slap on the face of the Wobs for destroying the club values since Wenger left .
Will prefer to have Lacazette as striker and Auba on the wings instead of Martunelli.
Yeah, I considered it. But thought maybe Freddie would prefer to have some experienced attacking option on the bench.
I also had to make a choice between Nelson and Saka. But It’s not that important who plays really. (apart from how it affects morale) We have good players. I’m looking forward to them playing with freedom.
I thought you were going to dodge the scoreline prediction but you still did it. My guilty feeling is also that we will score 3. Though for a change, I feel we might nick a clean sheet as well. Let’s see on that front.
As for the team, it is interesting for me to note that you have put Lacazette on bench and have elected Martinelli to go with. I think one of the key features of any Arsene Wenger’s team was that he always had pace coming off he bench. This is something that we have lacked under Emery due to his tactical and individual person decisions.
I must say that I am least excited about the result and the game and more excited about every single decision that Ljungberg is going to take in this game. His natural instinct, his comfort zone and how he sees football on the pitch. Things that Unai Emery never convinced me of.
While we are rightfully awash with enthusiasm for Freddie being temporarily in charge, we on this blog are fully aware that some serious damage has been done to the club over the past 18 months and the challenge ahead won’t be easy. Getting rid of the hapless Emery is our 1st victory against Raul Sanllehi as he had no time to maneuver one of the clients of his agent’s friends into the job. Depending on how the legend does in the next few games we may have some influence on who becomes the future coach and at least stop the bleeding.
It is now #Freddie vs #Raul, the Legend vs the Gimp. #NORARS
For the first time in over a year Arsenal supporters can look forward to the line up being announced!
Freddie said he won’t try and “smash things up” which I like to think was a subtle critique, though he was probably only stating the obvious…
Looks like a 442 diamond?
Will be difficult for him to make significant changes after one training session but hopefully the players can feel the buzz!
Team selection: #SteadyFreddie No radical changes in the team selection Should be a change in mentality. At least a new manager bounce. Its going to take time to undo the damage done by Emery.
Loving Mustafi over error prone Sokratis. Willock instead of Torreira showings Freddie’s attacking intent.
Can’t wait for this game.
Very Emery style lineup, except that Mustafi plays. Why is AMN still out? What’s up with him? My slight disappointment is Guendouzi starting over Torreira, but what matters is how we approach the game. Hopefully the players will rediscover their love for the game. As Freddie says. He wants them(and us) to smile.
Cheers Shard top notching’s as always… I hope hes got Guen under control, more focussed and not so frothy and showy, and making a mess of things Im not convinced the kids a dm, but we shall see. Hes often a problem with goals going in.
Poor Fred only had a few days to start anything. Although Im sure he was shocked by what was going on, so maybe he was able to have a few good chats with the lads. Mind you maybe Wreck-it will sneak in the changing room and start telling them what to do.Urrrrrgh.
I havent a clue on the I-ching.
Very good start under Freddie. Under Emery, we would easily have lost. What I admired was his attacking intent with 6 forwards on in the last 5 minutes trying to get a win. Sure we had some rocky moments defending the counter, but give Norwich some credit, they did that very well. Our midfield did not have enough control towards the end but what can we expect when Don Raul has sold off or let go for free some of our best midfielders.
Most interesting: Lee Dixon on NBC attacking Freddie and his team selection after his very 1st game tells you the enemies of positive, attacking football are alive and well. Dixon had nothing positive to say. Nothing. Instead he wanted us to go back to George Graham football.