NORWICH PREVIEW: WHAT TO EXPECT FROM FREDDIE?
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.