Freddie’s First Game In Charge: Predicted Line-Up and Style of Play


joe willock

Freddie was not exactly Bergkamp technically. Bergkamp was untouchable. Freddie too was untouchable but as a bundle of energy. He played as if the opposition had no right to the ball and this was long before the birth of gegen-pressing. Will he transfer that playing personality to this laid back Arsenal team?

Well, the first thing that he’d drive to achieve is to create a feeling of oneness in the dressing room. The door would be flung open for the return of Emery’s outcasts to the fold; Ozil, Mustafi, Xhaka and possibly Torreira, Pepe and perhaps one or two others. He has promised smiles to sulking faces. That would be his opening gambit not just as a strategy but also because his very enthusiastic nature would ask for it.

He’d give the players a break from too many tactical sermons and instead begin to emphasize the little things that matter so much such as the second balls, playing to the whistle, keeping focus all of ninety minutes, being streetwise on the pitch, understanding the importance of investing totally in critical moments of play and so on. For those of us who knew his playing years well, these qualities were his hallmarks. For example he was always arriving in the box in the last millisecond for the poke in.

He is not going to talk to the players about Norwich. Freddie is a smoking Joe who takes the fight to the opponent. To him the headache is the opposition’s to find a solution to his rampaging team. Taking that cue this post is also saying nothing about Norwich except that for us it is an away match. His strategy would be simple. If his team make 20 plus attempts at Norwich’s goal then they’d be nowhere near able to make 31 attempts at our goal.

Should we expect a few don’ts from him? Yes. Don’t play Xhaka and Guendouzi together, it failed Emery. Don’t play Sokratis on the left side of the central defence, that’s a yard too far for him.

This is my guess of his line up (assumed Luiz, Mustafi not available):


Bench: Martinez, Sokratis, Guendouzi, Matinelli, Nelson, Saka, Auba on the bench as his joker.

I hope Freddie starts with a win.  The players know that if he fails in his interim role the world will begin to wonder if, in fact, Emery was let down.


By PE.

91 thoughts on “Freddie’s First Game In Charge: Predicted Line-Up and Style of Play

  • Thanks PE for an inspiring match preview and I think you have got Freddie’s approach and style well worked out. I think he will bring initial focus, energy and teamplay and, as he has already got a very good idea of who are the really talented members in his squad, he is likely to pick the right set of players right away too. He will need momentum more or less straightaway, even though this tricky away match is not ideal as his first game in charge. I am really looking fwd to this match even though my expectations for a win will be quite low. It is more about who will play and how we will play…

  • Now let’s talk about the starting 11…

    I like yours a lot. We need a solid midfield so we are the boss there again. A good Arsenal team is in charge of the most important area, so it will relief pressure on the back and intensify pressure from the front. Freddie knows all about this as you point out so well in your post. I believe he likes to play 4-5-1 and that is possibly our best line up in the modern era for us. Whatever it is, I hope we do away with the 3-4-3 formation as that makes us weak in both defence and midfield, with those free as a bird wingbacks that don’t add much value in all areas most of the time. The problem is we have too much money invested in our attack to play 4-5-1 or 4-1-4-1…. but we can off load one of them in January and use the money to get some more steel in midfield. Initially, his most important job is to turn Pepe in a new FL08. We need a Freddie on the right: tenacious, hard working, a flee in the fur of the opposition, assisting and scoring for fun in the process. The rest sort of sorts itself out.

    My preferred 4-5-1 would look like this:


    Passing football, leaving little space for the opponent, with Ozil in a free role to occupy and find space with and without the ball. Laca to do the link up attacking play (ala Giroud who Freddie should get back in January). There is more to this but that is for post… 🙂

  • Freddie is à coach who wants to hurt opponents with offensive play.
    Force opponents to find a cure against our offensive pressure.
    That is our trademark as we know it. COYG!

  • Therefore my guess is starting

  • What makes an attacking team? On the surface the answer should be strikers. But is it? Of cause the right answer is the whole team but if it has to be narrowed down I’d say the more the attacking midfielders the more attacking the team (tactical musing).

  • I would like to see a defensive team today – solid. maybe on the left I would like to see Sead and Tierney play together they would control that area and switching with lots of energy. Would be nice to see Torreira playing deep again. I think the players will be playing with something to prove today, I hope!

  • I agree with you TA. Pepe and Auba are not know for their defensive contributions. Laca is upfield. With the three of them together our midfield would be overrun. For right balance one of the PALs should start on the bench which should be viewed as a tactical bonus.

  • Leno
    Pepe Özil- Aubameyang
    I think that we’ll start with this formation where Abu and Pepe helping out without the ball and attacking in a 3 when we have it. Xhaka and Torreria being far more disciplined in the holding berths. More concentration at the back and clearer/cleaner/crispier passing through to Ozil.

  • Nobody is talking about BFG. He was highly rated by Wenger and obviously by the current hierarcky. It looks to me he is being groomed as a future Arsenal manager. He is an excellent space reader and has a good PR personality. He’d work well with Ljungberg whom it’s said has no hang ups.

  • DH … looks good the way you summed it up. Wish Pepe and Auba would be equal to it without the ball. Balance is a tricky customer.

  • The players know that if he fails in his interim role the world will begin to wonder if, in fact, Emery was let down.

    What rubbish!!!!!

  • If you think about the 4-5-1 line up then there are also Martinelli, Saka and Nelson to be considered. They have the same work ethic as Freddie used to have and especially Martinelli would fit in really well on one of the midfield ‘wings’…

  • just had a glance at the physio room
    ceballos out, kola in
    hector/rob/david/shkodran not fully fit: i don’t see any reason to risk them, particularly at the start of such a wild run of games
    so i’d go for (i’m in agreement with the “risky midfield” option):
    bench: emiliano/sead/ainsley/joe/bukayo/emil/reiss/gabe (matteo needs a prolonged rest)
    i get tony’s caveat about that midfield, but … come on, friends, (with all due respect) this is norwich we’re facing, and we have an urgent need of those 3 points; not to mention the fact that our lads need to be unleashed, have fun-enjoy themselves, score goals, so as to leave behind the last dire weeks/months, once and for good
    i’ve always been hopeless at predicting lineups, but this time i won’t be far:
    in freddie i trust

  • Wow, Brighton on Thursday at home and then the Hammers away on Monday. Three games in eight days for nine precious points: FL has got his work cut out.

  • The PL revolution is that the non traditional Top-6 teams have upped their game with all the money flowing into the clubs. Yesterday I saw Brighton play with panache against Liv. Ncastle hold its own against City. W.Ham beat Chls at the Bridge. I watched previous match weeks Sheffield dazzle against Man U and the Spuds. More than ever there are no easy games in the PL. We have no option but to up ours.

  • Up early…as it’s a travel day…and I doubt I’ve got the bandwidth to watch the match…but, if anybody has any ideas (JW?…) I’m all ears (or eyes, I guess)…

    PE, that is quite a preview, but I wonder how you can know exactly what Freddie is thinking/saying, etc… 😉

    I watched FL8 play just a bit but it was after he had lost more than a step (or 3…) and soon he was packed (like Jack, maybe…), spending a season at West Ham before trying his luck as a name/bonus guy (i.e., paid above his teammates) in the Pacific Northwest… From highlight films, however, I know that Freddy ran hard (in straight lines mostly? on the break?) and (often?) made good decisions with his final ball. My hunch is that defenders didn’t really fear his pace and often they allowed him to sneak into good positions when the other team had the ball, ready to do his part if they turned it over…

    But, hey, that’s just my assessment, and it’s as good as anyone else’s…(and, probably worse, actually…)

    Also, like it or not, I don’t believe a smart coach will try a remake of all the tactical concepts overnight…which is literally about as much time as Freddie has had as top man with the team…

    As such, I predict that we try–first and foremost–to mass players behind the ball and keep Norwich from scoring, i.e., like Emery’s Arsenal, and attempt to exploit things on the counter. That’s not to say Freddy might not go with his top attacking talent, but, like everyone else, I’m hopeful that it’s a deep lying two of Xhaka and LT11, probably ahead of a back four of Bellerin, Chambers, Sokratis and Tierney (though, of course, if Bells is truly hurt, AMN might get the nod)… (TA, I think Ceballos is definitely out…)

    Personally, I don’t know how Guendouzi has gotten a regular spot in the line-up…but who cares what I think?… Freddy’s in charge today…

    In attack, of course, are many more options, and I agree with TA that if Pepe can blossom into a (better than a new) Freddie I’ll be able to keep my current avatar (at least as long as I stuck with the Egyptian Arteta, Mo Elneny)…That said, I wonder if there are concerns about the attackers also working as defenders, and the new manager may have more faith with guys like Saka or even Nelson (whom I think is fit again). I also believe we’re better with PEA at #9 (meaning Lacazette off the bench) but it’s hard to keep either out of the first 11, esp. when you might also be wanting to bring Martinelli in. Ozil, I think, must play, but again, W(TF)-DIK?…My best guess looks like this:

    Pepe-Ozil-PEA(or maybe Saka/Nelson)

    (Bench = Martinez, Holding, AMN Guendouzi, Nelson, Saka, Martinelli)

    With the matches coming thick and fast (and tougher and tougher), I think we shouldn’t suggest that Freddie’s first 11 (literally…) are his faves–or who will be starting in a month’s time… And, let’s be clear, it’s a BIG month. From 1 Dec through 1 Jan these are the (PL) fixtures: Norwich (a), Brighton (h), West Ham (a), Man City (h), Everton (a), Bournemouth (a), Chelsea (h), Manchester United (h)… 24 (big) points on offer…Gulp…

    How many points does Freddy need from these matches to keep his job? YMMV, but, frankly, I don’t think it matters all that much as I believe that Raul is on orders (from the son-in-law and/or grandson of Sam Walton…) to keep the spending down, and his man (Emery) is still on the books, making him just as bad as one, Ivan (gone now…) Gazidis… (Read the article TA linked to above…it’s short and gives the thumbnail sketch…) These are some tough matches (esp. in front of the home crowd…) and we could be closer to the relegation places and further away from the top 4 by the time they’re over… Though, of course, that’s our current situation too… 😮 )

    Or, maybe we’ll be a brash beast of bald (or at least mo-hawked) bad(*ss-ed)ness… I predict 13 from 24, how ’bout you?… (BTW, TA…who might be the only guy reading this, I fear…Did I miss a prediction game this week, or did it get lost in the whipsaw from ennui to excitement?…)

    Anyhow, for me, low expectations are the key to happiness… So, for today’s game, a nil-nil (but maybe ahead on shots, possession, etc., at least in the 2nd half) would be satisfying (and a good result)… That said, a (double) shot (and score…) of say, Cafe Pepe, could also go down a treat too…

    At least we’ve got a new barista working the handles… 😀


  • Confirmed. Mustafi back!

    Chamb. Musti. Luiz. Kola.
    Guendz. Xhaka. Willock.

  • Torreira for Guendz for me but the latter is the undisputed psychological leader on the field. That could shade it for him.

  • Luiz “back” too… Right, PE?… Or at least from the injured list…

    Frankly, I’m pleased to see Sokratis not being required… From what (little) I’ve seen (and what more I’ve read and heard…) his playing out of the back is the scariest of all of the CBs…

    Willock is the surprise for me (started on Thursday) but he does have a “run all day” quality to him…and, hopefully he can cover for Guendo’s runs/misplaced passes…

    Full line-ups…

    Norwich City (4-2-3-1): Krul; Aarons, Zimmerman, Godfrey, Byram; Trybull, Amadou; Cantwell, McLean, Hernández; Pukki

    Subs: Fährmann, Lewis, Vrancic, Srbeny, Buendía, Stiepermann, Roberts

    Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Leno; Chambers, Mustafi, David Luiz, Kolasinac; Xhaka, Guendouzi; Willock, Özil, Aubameyang; Lacazette

    Subs: Martínez, Sokratis, Tierney, Torreira, Pepe, Saka, Martinelli

  • Odds on Mustafi to net the first?… They can’t be overly long, eh, J-Dub… But into which goal?… 😉 😮

    My kingdom for a link…

  • Hi all.. Longtime no see..

    New Manager.. New Hope..
    Hope is a new Arsenal..
    A win is a must..
    As a new Manager usually give a new magic

  • Guess I almost called it right, save for Guendouzi and Kola, where I thought Torreira and Tierney (previous thread).
    Le Gall, maybe you missed it but Norwich have been flying this season, even beating Man City 3-2 in September. They beat Everton 2-0 last game week. I think we should show them respect, but play with confidence and go for the win.

    The lads just have to raise their game today, be aggressive and pass with confidence. COYG!

  • It looks like Pepe has to start looking at himself and not allow the weight of his huge transfer fee weigh him down. He must man up and start to contribute in all spheres of our play.

  • Well, if J-Dub isn’t gonna play…or help me score a link (impossible, probably, from here in Mexico w/o an in country bank account…

    I agree, go on you Skrot!!

  • Cheers PB, I’ll give it a spin but I’m probably not (nearly) well enough set up down here… My wifi is only from an LTE hot-spot off my phone… 😦

    Any/all comments from those watching, however, is much appreciated… 😀

  • From what I’m reading, it sounds like a VERY strong start from the Arsenal…

  • I think we play with 3 AM.. or at least 3 Attacking preference..
    A very brave approach..
    Hope to watch our old Arsenal style..

    And Nice to see our legend be our Manager..
    Freddy and Mertasacker..

  • HT–

    Spent the first several minutes of the match DVR-paused to locate a link– alas, I’ve not one that’s worked


  • 1:0 to Norwich.
    A deflected shot found its way in.
    It’s hard to blame the team, but that is exactly the reason why we have to aim for 3-4 goals scored, because a deflected or otherwise lucky shot might be conceded any time.

  • I win…Or we both win…or we both lose…or something…

    Mustafi = first to score (OG)…sounds like there wasn’t much he could do to avoid it, but J-Dub’s got the call…

    Pen to the Arse?…

  • Sounds like 1-1 with Auba 1 for 2 from the spot… 😀

    How does that work in the fantasy leagues?… Hopefully the first attempt is scored as if it never happened…

  • Almost 1:1 – but still 1:0
    Arsenal was awarded a penalty for a handball on the box. The claim was approved by the VAR, but Aubameyang missed it.

    But it’s gonna be retaken!!!
    I was typing the comment, when I heard the crowd shouting. And rightfully so, as no less than 5 Norwich player entered the box before Auba kicked the ball.
    And this time the captain scored.

    So it is 1:1 eventually. 🙂

  • Sometimes fortune smiles upon you. 💎
    I’ll liken that to VAR leaning in Arsenal’s favor.


  • But, but…Simba…That’s half our team… 😮

    And, also, wouldn’t that mean that switching managers doesn’t quite solve everything?…

    Sounds like you’ve got a winner with the guy trying to break Guendo’s leg…

    (Of course, who am I to talk, though I’d be content just giving him a haircut…and some cup games…)

  • Arseblog’s pointing the finger at…you guessed it, Mustafi…for not making a lunge… Let’s see what the Guardian says, then it’s over to J-Dub (et. al…)

  • Willock lost the ball (or failed to properly re-collect), the counterattack found the Arsenal defense unprepared, and Cantwell managed to find the far bottom corner with a great shot.
    But as far as I’m concerned, Leno was positioned himself sub-optimally, as 2 defenders were covering the near part of the goal, so he could have moved a couple of steps to the far side, thus being able to get the ball before it bulged the net.

  • Yep. #20 also switched-off on the first one– allowing Pukki to run down the middle of the pitch unattended before he took the pass prior to the shot.

    Getting tiresome being right about something as obvious.


  • I am not sure guys. We are playing and passing well and in tight spaces and also attacking from the centre too, but their counter attack is very good. We need to be tighter, but it does seem that we are already very active in ball control and passing of the ball.

  • We started the half well/strongly, but didn’t take the early chances which came our way. A bit of composure and decisiveness in the box would have helped. If anything has changed, it is in our greater possession (with Emery, it was a rare occurrence to be ahead in that aspect of the play) and some increased full back forward play. What we have not done away with his calm heads when defending. Both goals to the home side were gifts. So, it’s what the media will refer to as “same old” as far as our defending is concerned.

    Laca and Auba are so poor in one-touch situations and it hurts us a few times, each game. Auba, in particular, misplaces or over-hits passes. I feel that if our players can have the same proactive disposition to marking the man with the ball as Mustafi does, we will be a shade better. He has to improve on his positioning when a forward bears down on him, though. He just backs off and backs off till it is too late.

    Norwich were a bit worried by our play so if Ljungberg can get the boys playing in the same way, with greater positivity in possession, we should score the goals to win this one. Oh, and David Luiz just has to pass it quicker and quit being casual. Guendouzi must realize Ozil has more experience than he does; too many times he’s turned away from giving the pass to Ozil. Use a man with the key….

  • Same old Arsenal. Emery may be gone but our main problem remains. Nobody in that freaking defense and midfield ever sees any clear danger. All they do is pedal back and back and back without attacking the f*cking ball. Way too easy!!! Why do we always play like that? I think we need to get rid of that whole defense (minus Thierney, Bellerin, and Holding). Every single one them f*ckers needs to go either in the Winter transfer window or the Summer one. Attack the f*cking ball and close down the f*cking space. Gosh, enough of the pathetic defending, for Christ sakes!

    And a word to young Joe Willock: when you lose the ball upfield (lead-up to Norwich’s first goal), you don’t just jog back casually and assume someone else will recover it for you. You run your ass off and chase after that ball all the way. Too much laziness and casualness in this team. No f*cking urgency! That needs to change pronto or have a seat on the bench!

    Torreira on for the 2nd half (should have actually started, in my opinion).

    Let’s go!

  • I cannot comment to the blame-laying re: Norwich goals…but, it sounded like we started with good energy and made some (real) chances…

    A goal right at the end of the half, however, makes things a good deal tougher… Given that we attacked from the whistle, Freddy might like this group to the hour mark before using any subs?… Or is Douzi (or anybody else for that matter) looking hurt?…

  • well … at least, var’s been on our (freddie’s) side
    he has obviously decided to rely on our “german” core (leno/mustafi/xhaka/özil/kolasinac) … why not? he’s not been rewarded so far, shkodran must be the unluckiest cb in the whole league, with that hand deflection on the canaries’ first
    as for mesut, his influence has not been felt enough – even though his FKs were very, very well taken (as on our goal)
    I keep believing pépé should be brought in, as well as lucas
    matteo’s been good today, I’m not his biggest fan, but he’s done well what he does best: alternating short and long passes, varying angles, I think I’m guilty of forgetting too often how young he is, with age, after some muscling up, he might turn into some kind of andrea pirlo
    joe’s been struggling, both canaries’ goals started from his side of the pitch, and he looked like he didn’t have the engine to run back as if his life depended on it: I don’t blame him, I blame his not having been picked often enough, he should have had many more pl games under his belt by now
    anyway, come on lads, make us proud!!!!!

  • Mustafi is an easy target but in my view, nothing he could do with both goals. One of the goals started with Willock losing the ball inexcusably and could only jog back as the counter attack was on. It was something we’ve seen a lot of times with this side.

    Second half is underway.

  • Pray tell then Eris?
    Why is #20 always standing in space, yards from either an attacker or the ball when goals are scored? Never close enough to disrupt an attackers’ intent– nor in position to take the sometimes-necessary ‘professional foul’.


  • I’m not much of a fantasy football expert… (I play by own, very limiting and cruel, set of rules…but I do have Auba on as triple points captain this week)… 😉

  • One of the best scene of the game:
    Xhaka and Guendouzi made the identical mistake in 2 seconds, but while Granit did it in a harmless situation, Matteo repeated it as almost the last central defensive player leading to MacLean going through on goal inviting the save of the season from Leno.
    (The German goalkeeper made a fin save a couple of minutes later denying Pukki, too.)

  • I does kinda read like Mustafi has been too busy patting himself on the back since his assist for our 2nd…

    Are we just barely hanging on… Time for subs?… LT is kind of wee to be seen as an extra body (at the back)…

  • Then HT, the pre-assist surely must go to the Canaries defender– who headed it, dropping at #20’s feet.

  • Let’s, er, try and support the guys on the pitch, or something, J-W… Then we’ll have a junta and make some cuts… 😉

  • @ 17highburyterrace yes its half our team because more than half our team is not good enough. Freddie must try some juniors maybe they can be our hope. When we had good players all the elite teams were always trying to get them from us. Apart from Auba and Laca who else is interesting big teams? Midfield and defence need complete overhaul.

  • Lay it on me, fellas… I can take it… 😀

    REALLY sounds like we’re just hanging on now…

  • Good game guys. I will take a point against the Canaries.

    We played attacking football at its finest. We can only get better from now onwards. Wengerball is back.

  • LT got a late chance, I believe, but it sounded like we’ve got to be happy to hold out for a point…

    Rome wasn’t built in a day…

    And they sold Mo Salah to Liverpool… 😀

    Busy, busy, gotta run…

    Final though: Cafe Pepe? Could not we have used some? …

    Looking forward to catching up in a couple of days… I’ll be reading, however, so…

  • Excellent attempt at the end– from the 18 by Torriera– blocked by a sliding Amadou. Certainly would have challenged Krul to save.

  • Full time. It must be said that but for Leno, we would have been staring down the barrel of defeat in this game. Ozil took the set pieces, moved the ball around, tried to pick a pass every now and then and that’s as good as it went for him. He needs to be told a bit more is expected of him and see that he is the main man again.

    2-2 is not such a bad scoreline but we should be winning this one. Norwich have not been good at home. I feel we will get there soon enough. All it takes is that first win and that’s it. We will be off.

  • That shot by Torreira was headed for the bottom corner, jw1. Krul always plays against us like one whose agent may have given Wenger the eye a number of times without success. But he wasn’t saving that one.

  • When Xhaka and Tor were playing on the same pitch you see how well we were playing. The team had a better structure.

    Fred knows how best we have to play, but i guess we have to scrap the start from the back mentality. We spent more time up front, but we need better passing from the team.

  • Tim Sherwood is a tool. His style of punditry is always to pick on one player and bash him no end. Today, it’s all about Mustafi, like they don’t realize he is a central defender whose every error is likely going to lead to a goal mouth situation. They’ve been reviewing his role in the goals and other goal area situations, with the suggestion he shouldn’t be starting. I will play Mustafi till he regains his confidence. He makes us more solid. Pukki’s influence (I know he scored a goal) was curtailed in certain ways today. It was left for our midfield to stop the runs of Cantwell who gave us problems all over the pitch.

  • well, bernd MOTM says it all, i guess
    there’s work to be done, obviously
    and i mean work that’s clearly not been done
    how can we, come december, be running on empty after 60 minutes??
    not long ago, our physio room was empty and there was some rejoicing about that among some fans, who found an opportunity to pick on arsène, once more …
    i don’t wish our lads any harm, obviously, but when you see them, 60 minutes into an away early-december game at norwich, behave like divers who failed to check their oxygen bottle before taking the plunge, you have to wonder if they were made to train hard enough – with the caveat of some of them not being sturdy enough to put up with the workload
    in the month to come, unless FL pulls a squad-rotation masterclass out of his hat, we might find ourselves crying rivers, friends
    see you thursday, friends; i look forward to reading your analysis in the meantime

  • It says a great deal that Saka is considered over Pepe, whereas, I would go with the opposite. Sure, he’s put in a couple of crosses but his awareness and defensive side is so lacking, we should give him time before he starts to play ahead of a proven player.

    Maybe, Freddie should consider playing Pepe from the left, forcing him to put in crosses from the bye line instead of predictably cutting back onto his left foot with minimal impact, when he is playing from the right. Just a thought.

  • All is OK after FL’s first match.
    Will take a point– on 2-days prep for Freddie.
    Arsenal had possession (60%), pass accuracy (84%)– at times played open, flowing footie. The midfield was still an issue. Better early-on. Better overall than we’d become accustomed to. We took 16/7 shots! But allowed 15/8 by Norwich. At the least? We had proper chances.

    Praise to Auba’s persistence and predatory instinct. Needed more from our creator, Mesut– and our facilitator, Granit. Confident that will come. Would like to have had Tierney’s crossing as a weapon today. That might have made a difference.

    Obviously, have an issue with one of Freddie’s selections. He may have been convinced of it too today. Youngsters make those errors. Or players with lesser physical tools.

    Alright Freddie! Now you get 2-days again. To prep for the next festive fixture.
    (Really, really wish the execs had lopped Ennui before the last break. We might have been bolted down tighter by now. Just another in a long-thread of short-sighted decisions.)


  • Bless you Eris.
    Forgetting is costly. Tragedies and disasters come on schedule, if you refuse to remember.
    His is a 5-minute tragedy, playing on a loop.


  • I am all for supporting our players but please, Mustafi should not be starting for us again. He struggles abysmally with one on one defending. He gets easily bamboozled and he so lacks basic situational awareness. I couldn’t stop laughing at that last counter-attack by Norwich in the 92nd minute. Mustafi, having been easily turned once again, lunged and tried his hardest to grab Pukki from behind like it was american flag football game. 😂😂😂 Of course, he missed badly, falling flat on his face. That was quite hilarious. However, there was nothing hilarious about our defense and about our midfield play, though we did play slightly better than the past several games (that says a lot). Thank God for Bernd Leno! Fantastic save after fantastic save! We would’ve lost by at least 3 goals to a freaking bottom team if it weren’t for him. He saved us from a certain humiliating defeat today. Thank you Leno.

    Poor Freddie’s got some serious work to do this busy and hectic Christmas period with that lot at CB and in Midfield. I wish him a whole lot of luck. We need a no-nonsense uncompromising defensive guru to help Freddie coach this group out of this defensive funk through the next few months, though I am not really sure if they are even coachable at this point. Still, try we must… Tony Adams, Gilberto Silva, where are you?

  • PE, Maybe you would like to explain what is wrong with what you see during yesterday’s match?

    For me, I see a more eager team of players. The transition from defense to attack was much better than it was this season, but I can say that the transition from attack to defense needs more work. Xhaka should be the one patrolling in front of defense, but he lost his way and ended up on the left side of the field.

    When Tor came on we did well in closing them down in midfield. Why? Because of the way Tor dropped deep to block crosses. Emery and Freddie forgot that our only DM is Tor, not Xhaka, when he played Xhaka and Douzi, and at times, Willock and Douzi. The only formation possible now is Tor and Douzi, or Tor and Xhaka, with Willock in front of them.

    With that midfield sorted out, our transition of play for both ways will be well taken care of.


  • “We need a no-nonsense uncompromising defensive guru to help Freddie coach this group out of this defensive funk through the next few months…”
    Gino, my thoughts exactly, as reflected in the summary of the player ratings – hopefully being posted later today.

    PE, I’d go with Tor, Xhaka and Ceballos. (And Guendouzi-Willock-AMN/ESR in cup games.)
    Or if we play home against weaker opponent (if any), then Tor, Xhaka, Ozil, and field the full PAL trident up front.

  • njk … you’ve answered part of the question you put to me.but to put my answer in a nutshell ….. we are unbelievably poor without the ball. Thanks to Leno the match would have ended a lot more miserably. Am not in any way trying to be critical of Freddie. He has hardly taken over. The team that he told to feel freer with their initiatives were disappointing particularly without the ball.

    What tactics is this that defends by those behind the ball pedaling backwards right deep into our 18 and those not behind the ball tracking back nonchalantly? A team must be able to play the two sides of the ball otherwise they are no good.

    I said it in my post. If performance doesn’t improve, I’d say it again, I wouldn’t point at Freddie as being responsible.

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