Freddie’s Second Game in Charge: Preview and Line-Up

Arsenal v Brighton – December 05, 2019


Brighton is a seaside resort in the county of East Sussex. It is a constituent part of the city of Brighton and Hove, created in 2001 from the formerly separate towns of Brighton and Hove. Brighton is located on the south coast of England, positioned 47 miles (76 km) south of London. 

Archaeological evidence of settlement in the area dates back to the Bronze Age, Roman and Anglo-Saxon periods. The ancient settlement of “Brighthelmstone” was documented in the Domesday Book (1086). The town’s importance grew in the Middle Ages as the Old Town developed, but it languished in the early modern period, affected by foreign attacks, storms, a suffering economy and a declining population. Brighton began to attract more visitors following improved road transport to London and becoming a boarding point for boats travelling to France. The town also developed in popularity as a health resort for sea bathing as a purported cure for illnesses. 

In the Georgian era, Brighton developed as a fashionable seaside resort, encouraged by the patronage of the Prince Regent, later King George IV, who spent much time in the town and constructed the Royal Pavilion in the Regency era. Brighton continued to grow as a major centre of tourism following the arrival of the railways in 1841, becoming a popular destination for day-trippers from London.

Many of the major attractions were built in the Victorian era, including the Metropole Hotel (now Hilton) Grand Hotel, the West Pier, and the Brighton Palace Pier. The town continued to grow into the 20th century, expanding to incorporate more areas into the town’s boundaries before joining the town of Hove to form the unitary authority of Brighton and Hove in 1997, which was granted city status in 2000. Today, Brighton and Hove district has a resident population of about 290,395 and the wider Brighton and Hove conurbation has a population of 474,485 (2011 census).  

Brighton have not beaten us at home in our league history, the most they have accomplished was a goalless draw in Division 1.

This will be only our 2nd game against Brighton in the Premier League era, we defeated them 2-0 on October 1st, 2017. 

Brighton are currently 16th in the EPL with a record of W4, D3, L7, GF16, GA21. They have 15 points which is only 4 points less than 9th placed Arsenal – so you can see just how close we are to the relegation zone. 

Make no mistake – this is a must win game. Freddie and Per will have had 3 days to spend coaching the squad, lets hope they have concentrated on our porous defence. 


TotalArsenal’s Preferred Line-Up (subject to fitness)

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If I was Freddie: How to Get the Best out of our Fab Squad | Torreira is Key

How to line-up our team.

Arsenal Training Session

ST ALBANS, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 30: during a training session at London Colney on November 30, 2019 in St Albans, England. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

So we had the Emery to FL change and the first game of the new interim-era is behind us. There was simply not enough time for Freddie to put his stamp on the team and it remains to be seen whether Thursday’s game against the Seagulls will also not be too soon. However, he has held the wheel in his own hands now and that experience is likely to have given him new ideas on how to approach our next game.

From my own and Pb’s post game posts and bloggers’ comments here on BK, I reckon the team should look something like this:

Many believe we don’t have enough quality players, but I would trust the above team to give any PL team a more than decent game, especially once everybody is fully fit. These are my key considerations:

  1. Xhaka and Torreira are 2.5 players on the pitch if they are both fielded, but they need to play in line and a bit deeper most of the game;
  2. Ozil is required for his creativity but he needs a couple of attackers who can also pass and combine in tight spaces;
  3. Hence my perference to play Willock near him and Laca or Martinelli in the hole position;
  4. I prefer Auba up top with Laca or Martinelli behind him. Wing play can come from the full backs and either Ozil or Willock (or Saka and Pepe if we need more pure wing skills);
  5. Martinelli is that good that we need to play him more, either in the hole or up top – as a starter or regular sub;
  6. Luiz is the brain of defence but we need to give him a steady-eddy next to him. That is either Chambers or Holding imo;
  7. Guendouzi should also get time in this team but not in the deeper midfield positions as he is much more of an attacker than a defender;
  8. We would need to dare to push up a bit and focus on our passing game again, but with real urgency and penetration.

I feel that with this team and formation we can defend and attack better and have much better balance in midfield….

But what do you think? How would you like Freddie to line up the team?

By TotalArsenal.

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Emery-ish team selection, Emery-ish game management, Emery-ish result

Let’s not jump on the LJUNGBERGOUT train yet, but Sunday’s performance was largely unimpressive.

Player Ratings

Bernd Leno – 8,5 (MotM)

We clearly wouldn’t have taken a point without him. While I think he could have secured a better spot before the second Norwich goal, he made a string of fine saves, including – but not limited to – his masterful iron finger poke denying MacLean in the 59th minute. As long as we allow the opposition this many shots, it’s vital to have someone like Bernd between the posts.

Calum Chambers – 6,5

The Englishman didn’t have a great afternoon, but was far better than many retarded supporters insinuated on Twitter. He had an excellent header on goal (drawing a fine fingertip save from Krul), led the team in dribbles (!) with 3, and contributed the defence with 2-2 tackles and clearances. Made some mistakes, but no major errors. He will be the next scapegoat (when Mustafi doesn’t play), independent from his performance.

Shkodran Mustafi – 5,5

Statistic-wise he is our best defender by a fine margin. He was the clearance-king on Sunday (as expected). Contrary to popular misbeliefs he is unfavoured not because he cannot defend, but because he always has a lapse of concentration and/or a lack of focus up his sleeves. He did not make them against Norwich, but he wasn’t particularly impressive either. While he was not at fault in Pukki’s deflected goal, he couldn’t send the message to Freddie and the fans, that the most experience defensive pairing (him and Luiz) is in fact the most capable.

David Luiz – 5,5

The good: he was a calming presence all over the pitch; he behaved like a mature player, almost like a captain. The bad: he couldn’t organize the defence particularly efficiently. Let’s not jump to premature conclusion, as David is playing for Arsenal only for 4 months, and he was paired with Mustafi for the first time, but the amount of shots conceded cannot make him proud. He led the team with blocks, but the second goal – albeit nobody’s direct fault – was the consequence of the lack of defensive organization during a counterattack.

Sead Kolasinac – 6,0

Bask into Arsenal’s starting line-up the Bosnian tried hard to make for the lost time. Sead looked to provide further offensive ammunition and get crosses into the box for Aubameyang and Lacazette. He bonded well with Ozil. He showed a lot of energy and a big heart when he got insulted for the handball claim. His defensive contribution could certainly improve, but it was a steady performance by the Hulk.

Matteo Guendouzi – 5,0

Struggled to impose himself in the Arsenal midfield. He showed glimpses of promise on the ball, but was painfully ineffective without it. He has an unfortunate tendency to keep the ball under pressure and invite a fault instead of passing it further, but Santi Cazorla did just the same. He almost provided MacLean an assist, but Leno bailed him out.

I don’t think Guendouzi played any worse than last year, however, as time goes by his limited value added gets more and more transparent. In a high performing team he could shine, and for many months he got away when the team played poor, as he was always defended on account of his age; but it was high time him being substituted.

Granit Xhaka – 6,0

The Swiss played with confidence, but unfortunately couldn’t crown his brilliant offensive interception with a decent pass or shot. His passing was spot on (91% and mostly forward), and made several defensive contributions including a team high 3 tackles. His mind and calming presence are undisputed, but the execution lacks precision more often than under Wenger.

Joe Willock – 4,0

Disappointing display from the youngster after earning a start under Freddie, too. Gave the ball away far too many times and made almost no effort to track back. He is one of Ljungberg’s favourites destined to many minutes this campaign, but he needs way more confidence to deliver the performance to justify that. I would rather see him in cup ties, because Joe is indeed a hard-working athletic box-to-box midfielder, but not yet on PL level.

Mesut Ozil – 7,0

Mesut had a two-faced game. He was quiet as usual, yet managed to create 4 chances (50% of team total) including 2 pre-assists; and made 2 tackles as well, falsifying those who systematically claim that Ozil cannot defend. His set pieces were constant dangers, taking the corners far better than Xhaka. On the other hand, he didn’t seem like a world cup winner midfield artist, but a regular #10 (having a good day) that almost every PL team possesses. He missed a promising chance, when he should have passed the ball instead of shooting. Due to the team’s mediocre performance that was still enough to win the bronze.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 7,5

Both awarding and retaking the penalty were somewhat lucky (albeit correct). Failing to score for the first was a disappointment, but the retake was largely convincing both mentally and execution-wise. Same applies to his second goal. He is a true poacher, currently wasted in a winger position. I don’t remember Auba doing anything else. But that’s OK, as long he scores doubles on a regular basis. Still, not captain material.

Alexandre Lacazette – 5,0

A classic Welbeck performance. Lacazette worked hard, bullied the defenders, missed a great chance and was overall uninvolved therefore anonymous. I’m not sure that this was the best tactic Arsenal could have selected, but that is hardly the Frenchman’s fault. He was dispossessed even though hi missed the EL-clash against Frankfurt – unlike his striking partner Aubameyang.


Lucas Torreira – 6,5  

In his 20 minutes he made 2 important tackles and 2 vital interceptions, largely contributing Norwich not keeping all 3 points. He was full of energy, even managed to see his goal bound shot blocked in the last minute. He should definitely start the next games as he seems an upgrade to Guendouzi both defensively and – surprisingly – offensively.

Bukayo Saka – 5,0

I must give it to Ljungberg that he had the balls to make a formation changing substitution. However that’s the end of the positives. Young Saka is technically gifted and mentally strong to make the right decisions, hence rightfully stood out in his age group, but he doesn’t have the athletic stature to shine in the much more physical PL. It’s hard to extrapolate from 12+3 minutes but he was usually overpowered, and when he could shake down his marker, his final ball let him down. Pepe or Nelson would have stood more chance against the physical Norwich defenders, in my opinion.

Gabriel Martinelli – N/A

He had too little time on the pitch to record a proper rating. But it is probably more of a message than a tactical move, as I would be willing to bet good money on that young Gabriel will not make it to the bench, and even he does so he will never be called to action in Freddie’s first game. Or maybe I just don’t understand football that much – but still better than Keown, Savage and Nicholas. 😊

Freddie Ljungberg – 5,5

It was a strange line-up with unusual defensive pairing, a regular but obviously ineffective midfield trio, and an incoherent attacking trident where 2 non-winger players started on the wings, and 3 “professional” wingers started on the bench. But the game was nevertheless enjoyable and could have gone both ways. He gets the credit for substituting the ineffective Willock and Guendouzi, but he could have done it sooner, and only bringing Torreira proved to be a success story.

Nobody could have reasonably expected that Ljungberg solve our problems in a few days, so re-stating them is not (yet) a critique against Freddie. But we desperately need a top defensive coach, as our players defend properly in training ground situations, but make wrong decisions when it comes to improvisation – which means at every other counterattack. The other problem we have is we are again celebrating coming back twice from behind, while a top 4 aspiring team should beat the proverbial out of a freshly promoted team, even in away games.

Let’s hope that we take 6 points from the games against Brighton and West Ham. COYG!

By PBarany.

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Freddie’s First Improvements, Ozil Needs Support, Leno Superb: 8 Observations.

Let’s be honest: how many of us had expected a total turnaround now that Emery is gone and Freddie is in charge? I reckon quite a few. Not sure what this would be based on other than a romantic notion that any change will bring instant bliss, even within just a couple of days.

Arsenal Training Session

ST ALBANS, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 30: during a training session at London Colney on November 30, 2019 in St Albans, England. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Instead it is: the villain is dead, long live the villain?! Well it definitely isn’t that either. Ljunberg is bringing home a point, which given the circumstance is anything but bad and, most probably, more than Emery would have done; but most importantly, the Swede had us play attacking football again and instilled enough character and perseverance in the team to overcome Norwich taking the lead  twice. In the end, the Canaries had won at home against Citeh already and came back from Goodison Park with a precious win last weekend: that is a tough psychological combination to overcome in an away game…

Furthermore, he was brave to play Mustafi in defence and to reinstall Xhaka in midfield. It was also impressive that he opted for youngsters Guendouzi and Willock in midfield, whilst allowing Ozil to play with both Auba and Laca in attack.

Norwich sat deep and played on the counter and we pinged the ball round in their half looking for opportunities to score. The latter was not great and it should not come as a surprise that we are still vulnerable to counter-attacks. Ljunberg and the BFG have their work cut out but we knew that, and it will not be solved instantly. But most importantly, we played attacking football again and that goes a long way.

Freddie had his first session on the wheel and it will have felt both great and scary. He will have learned so much from it and I expect subtle changes and improvements in our up and coming games.

PB has written some excellent player reviews and they will be published soon, so I will make some more generic comments regarding Freddie’s Gunners in action.

Eight Observations/statements:

  1.  Leno was beyond superb. Such great hand-eye coordination.
  2. Freddie went for powerhouses Chambers and Kola on the wings but both struggled to make the required level for a top PL team. First touches need to improve and so do the passing and final balls into the box.
  3. Mustafi is more dynamic than Big Sok but he had an unfortunate game. The BFG may be able to get renewed confidence in Frantic Skod but yesterday’s performance was alarming.
  4. Auba scored twice and that was great and many will argue that Laca did not have a great game. But when it comes to adding to our attacking build-up play I would say Laca is a much better field-footballer than Auba, and this is just as important. If we only play three attackers they all need to be good footballers and not just excellent finishers, and I am not sure we have the balance in attack right.
  5. Now we come to Mesut Ozil, who looked keen to me and was desperate for a few fellow players on the pitch to play Arsenalesque football with (oh how he will wish for the days with Giroud and Sanchez). Laca was isolated and kept the Norwich defence busy, Auba I just discussed, Guendouzi likes to hold on to the ball (often too long), Xhaka sits deep, the full backs are technically quite limited (as discussed) and only Willock (and Laca) link up well with him. So there is another key job for Freddie and Per to get sorted: our passing needs to get slicker and much more deadly and this will take time.
  6. I was surprised not to see Torreira start and I hope this will not become a trend. Torreira and Xhaka in midfield supported by Willock/Guendouzi, either next to them or slightly in front, looks the safest bet for balance and power in midfield…. I applaud that we are going to play attacking football but we need to stop cheap as chips counter-attacks against us when we lose the ball deep in the opponent’s half. In my humble opinion, LT11 is paramount in this.
  7. Other than our bouncebackability to overcome two setbacks and more attack focussed football, there was another positive: the away fans were in great spirit again and supported the team throughout the game.
  8. It is easy to go and pick on individual players now but surely we have to give them time now that we have a new (interim) manager with new ideas and tactical adjustments. Freddie and the players will need all the support we can give them and we have a big role to play in this. So let’s focus on the positives at least for a couple of months.

By TotalArsenal.

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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.

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Are You Ready For Freddie?! Norwich City v Arsenal Preview

Norwich City v Arsenal – December 1st, 2019

See the source image 

For only the second time in twenty five years we are in the market for a new manager.

Unai Emery managed Arsenal for only fifty one Premier League games and ended his tenure with a record of W25, D13, L13, GF91, GA70, GD21, Pts % 57.52. He left in style with this farewell letter: 

Arsenal veteran Freddie Ljungberg will lead the team on an interim basis until a new manager is named. Freddie played in 328 Premier League games for Arsenal scoring 72 goals. His first game in charge will be against Norwich City at the Canaries home ground of Carrow Road. 

See the source image


 Norwich City F.C. was formed after a meeting at the Criterion Café in Norwich on 17 June 1902 and played their first competitive match against Harwich & Parkeston, at Newmarket Road on 6 September 1902. They joined the Norfolk & Suffolk League for the 1902–03 season but, following a FA commission, the club was ousted from the amateur game in 1905, as it was deemed a professional organisation.

Later that year Norwich was elected to play in the Southern League. With increasing crowds, they were forced to leave Newmarket Road in 1908 and moved to The Nest, a disused chalk pit. The club’s original nickname was the Citizens, but this was superseded by 1907 by the more familiar Canaries after the club’s chairman (who was a keen breeder of canaries) dubbed his boys “The Canaries” and changed their strip to yellow and green. During the First World War, with football suspended and facing spiralling debts, City went into voluntary liquidation on 10 December 1917.

The club was officially reformed on 15 February 1919 – a key figure in the event was Charles Frederick Watling, future Lord Mayor of Norwich and the father of future club chairman, Geoffrey Watling. When, in May 1920, the Football League formed a third Division, Norwich joined the Third Division for the following season. Their first league fixture, against Plymouth Argyle, on 28 August 1920, ended in a 1–1 draw. The club went on to endure a mediocre decade, finishing no higher than eighth but no lower than 18th. The following decade proved more successful for the club with a club-record victory, 10–2, over Coventry City and promotion as champions to the Second Division in the 1933–34 season under the management of Tom Parker.

Norwich held a slight edge over us in Division 1.

Arsenal v Norwich Division 1 Away Results
    W D L GF GA Pts
1 23-Sep-72     1 2 3 0
2 15-Sep-73 1     4 0 3
3 07-Feb-76     1 1 3 0
4 25-Aug-76 1     3 1 3
5 24-Sep-77     1 0 1 0
6 09-Dec-78   1   0 0 1
7 02-Apr-80     1 1 2 0
8 21-Mar-81   1   1 1 1
9 20-Apr-83     1 1 3 0
10 02-Jan-84   1   1 1 1
11 26-Dec-84     1 0 1 0
12 13-Dec-86   1   1 1 1
13 14-Nov-87 1     4 2 3
14 10-Dec-88   1   0 0 1
15 05-May-90   1   2 2 1
16 23-Mar-91   1   0 0 1
17 08-Apr-92 1     3 1 3
Total : 4 7 6 24 22 19

But during the Premier League years we held the edge over Norwich.

Arsenal v Norwich Premier League Away Results
  W D L GF GA Pts
1 03-Mar-93   1   1 1 1
2 13-Feb-94   1   1 1 1
3 10-Sep-94   1   0 0 1
4 28-Aug-04 1     3 1 3
5 19-Nov-11 1     2 1 3
6 20-Oct-12     1 0 1 0
7 11-May-14 1     2 0 3
8 29-Nov-15   1   1 1 1
9 01-Dec-19            
Total : 3 4 1 10 6 13

Our overall League record at Carrow Road is almost even with Arsenal only beating Norwich on goals scored.

Arsenal v Norwich All Away Results
  W D L GF GA Pts
Division 1 4 7 6 24 22 19
Premier 3 4 1 10 6 13
Total : 7 11 7 34 28 32

Norwich EPL home games 2019/20

Norwich City 3–1 Newcastle United
Norwich City 2–3 Chelsea
Norwich City 3–2 Manchester City
Norwich City 1–5 Aston Villa
Norwich City 1–3 Manchester United
Norwich City 0–2 Watford

Norwich has a spotty home game record of W2, L4, GF10, GA16. They narrowly lost 2-3 to Chelsea and followed that by beating Man City 3-2.

Arsenal is now a team in total transition, what can we expect? Freddie displayed energy and fire as a player and that needs to be transmitted to the team.

I’m hopeful for a positive rebound effect and I look forward to only our second away win of the season, the first occurred on the opening day at Newcastle in a 0-1 victory.

By GN5







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Fab Freddie Friday!! Review of all Nine Candidates for the Big Job.

Note by TA:

Thank you Unai for all the hard work and passion for the club and team. It was not to be but nobody will ever say you did not give your all. Good luck in your next endeavour!

Freddie takes over as interim, but who will be the big boss after that?….

A few notes on each guy on the bookies’ list.

NES – I’m very suspicious about his arrival. He will be another Jorge Mendes’ yes-man who will play people Mendes orders him to. We don’t have Moutinho-Neves axis in the midfield so it’s highly unlikely Nuno would be able to recreate the holy spirit of his idea at Arsenal. His Valencia days bring a lot of worrying signs, some of those signs we should have read before we had gone for Enemy but Raul seems to be a politican who “fix” his mistakes by repeating them.

Allegri – the biggest name on the list. He’s won things with Juventus and reached two CL finals out of blue. His Juventus was known for their slow build-up (playmakers such as Pirlo and Pjanić were key part of his game), rock solid defence (with a note there were three individually strong defenders: Bonucci, Barzagli and Chiellini aka BBC with eternal Buffon and a bit of Chez between the sticks) and top class forwards who could invent a goal on their own (ring any bell?). I see him as a manager that would build our midfield around tenacious Torreira and DLP Xhaka but he’d scratch his head over Mesut.

Arteta – arguably the best option on the list. He knows the club, he has learned from Wenger as a player and from Guardiola as an assistant manager. He may be too nice for his own good though. He played for PSG with Pochettino. The main issue, aside from the fact nobody has seen his own work including himself, is our expectation we’ll play flying football with him in charge.

Pochettino – I think I have dwelled into this one already but just to repeat most important things: all his qualities (defensive drill, high energetic pressure, attacking football mixed with dirty moves) won’t find a good ground at Arsenal and all his flaws (discontent with his influence on our transfer policy, poor in-game management, trophyless personality) will maximize at Arsenal.

Rafa – one that knows how to steady the ship, one that knows the league, the language. He did well with Chelsea back in 2012-13 when he came in for Di Matteo and managed to win EL and FA Cup. We’d take that record in a heart-beat, we even don’t have to finish third like he did with Chavs back then. Now, his playing style is not so exciting when he doesn’t have the required personnel with an honourable exception Liverpool 2008-09.

Howe – I see the point of his arrival but he looks to me as another Moyes in making. He has done wonders with Bournemouth but I’m not sure he’s prepared for a big club. I’d like to see him at, say, Everton for a start.

Paddy – oh Paddy. I’d take him as a player. I wouldn’t take him as a manager. I’m not sure he’d Wengerball his way to the Hall of Fame.

Kovač – his name can be translated as Nobody Blacksmith. His Bayern weren’t that bad and putting seven past Spuds is always a great thing to have in your CV but he doesn’t cut it for me. I happen to have a good mate who is a good mate of his and Niko is really a great guy but I don’t think he has what it takes for the highest level.

Rodgers – that ship has sailed.

By Admir

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