Norwich City: Right, Said Fred!

We love you, Freddie…

And as quick as a flash, the game is here. Forty-eight hours ago, Freddie Ljungberg walked into London Colney wondering how Unai would approach this fixture and wandered onto the training pitches wondering how he would do the same.

Today, we find out.

It’s a free pass for Freddie today. Josh Kroenke’s admission that The Muppet Show have been talking about replacing Emery for weeks compounds last week’s dereliction of duty in not removing the Spaniard to give Ljungberg a full week’s preparation time.

The Muppet Show are no longer the dream team of last summer; they are a nightmare cabal of shoddy management who have a lot of work to do to regain the respect they won after the transfer window. The Spaniard, in particular, faces intense scrutiny.

But that’s for another day; today, it’s all about Freddie. His appointment added some zip to the game that most of us probably regarded as ‘meh’. The enthusiasm for the Swede’s appointment will buy him more goodwill than any other head coach can dream of gaining.

A win can only increase that but let’s face it, in 48 hours he isn’t going to make a major tactical innovation. This is all about him improving the players’ application and performances.

It’s about improving the mood. Referring to his time at Wolfsburg and probably at West Ham United, Ljungberg observed:

I’ve had experience of players and staff being very down and low and there are things you can do and what we will do. At the end of the day, if you play good football and have results there’s nothing better than that to raise spirits.

Freddie on being down and out in the Bundesliga

We Was Getting Nowhere

When it comes to his own team, it’s Per Mertesacker for the moment and that’s it. Despite fantasies of an Invincibles reunion, Gilberto Silva hasn’t been contacted and neither has Dennis Bergkamp. Maybe the latter will come now we’ve got the flight to Norwich out of the way?

Similarly, I’ve yet to see any kind of reason for Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira to leave Montreal or Nice beyond the Arsenal bat signal shining high over the London skyline. Maybe that’s the warning hiring an inexperienced manager brings: who does he hire to bring his ideas to fruition.

And he could do with a busy transfer window to sign new defenders. So far this season, the only central defensive pairing which hasn’t been disastrous is Mustafi and Holding in the Europa League. How does Ljungberg solve problems like Luiz and Sokratis?

The former gave him an excuse: the injury suffered against Eintracht means he can be left out. Sokratis? He may get a stay of execution if we run a back three or Hector Bellerin doesn’t pass his fitness test.

It’s a flavour of themes running through the team. The right combinations eluded Unai Emery as did a consistent playing style. Freddie recognises that but has his own way of thinking:

I’ve been at Arsenal for a long, long, long time, I like entertaining football but of course at the same time you can’t concede goals. That’s a tricky balance to find. For me, happy footballers play the best football. That’s a part I learnt as a player, there is a time to work hard but at the same time we need to enjoy what we’re doing. Often the players we have enjoy playing offensive football which makes them happy.

Music to the ears but will reality prove a cacophony?

So We Had A Cuppa Tea

“Entertaining football” covers a multitude of sins. The Keystone Kops were entertaining but I’ve suffered enough as they inhabited our defence.

While the focus is on the interim head coach, the focus is also on the players. The notion they downed tools on Emery was ridiculed but we’ll find out if there’s any truth in that by their performance today, both individually and collectively.

Defending as a unit was the remit of the coach but inside that, players individual responsibility was to concentrate. Few, if any, achieved that consistently. It’s not just about doing that in Freddie’s first game, can they continue to do that through to the end of the season because that is the expectation at Arsenal.

Curiously, some seem to be rejoicing that Mesut Özil outlasted Emery. Will he outlast Freddie? Not if he doesn’t start delivering £300k per week performances. While he’s had the last laugh on the Spaniard, I believe now the pressure is really on and in those circumstances, the German inevitably disappears. No doubt there will be a few colds and illnesses surfacing.

Not everything is sweetness and light. There are still lingering issues to be dealt with.

Hopefully, the denouement of Bernard Cribbins epic won’t prove a warning we should have heeded.

“You see the trouble with Fred is, he’s too hasty
You’ll never get nowhere if you’re too hasty.”

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow. 

113 thoughts on “Norwich City: Right, Said Fred!

  1. Wailesy says:

    i don’t think “happy” is part of a good defenders DNA. I’m hoping Freddie gets Keown in to sort out some form of defensive structure. I’d be looking at playing Luiz in front of a back 4 or 5 or 6…..

  2. Jonnygunner says:


    I was thinking the same thing about Keown this week ,and I agree with you about Luiz too.

  3. Jonnygunner says:


    It’s just come thro’……the decision is……Jonnygunner confirmed as first 🙋‍♂️👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

  4. Noon Gunner says:

    Thanks, YW – do I detect a bit of ‘new coach bounce’ in your excellent piece today? My imagination did a nice bounce of its own at “the Arsenal bat signal shining high over the London skyline”. And you’re probably not wrong in the sense that all Freddie’s ex-team-mates around the world must have been calling and texting him once the signal went up from London Colney. Several would probably think it a great gas to come and help him re-build their beloved Arsenal.

    Aah – we dream, we hope…it is a sport after all…

  5. Kenny says:

    YW, what should today’s lineup look like.?
    Someone suggested Luiz in front of a back 4 or 5 and I ask, where is Torreira gonna play?

  6. Dukey says:

    If we get Nuno then it confirms our place as a second tier team. What we really need is a top manager like Alegri or Ancelotti. Not a second string manager like Nuno or Howe. But I suppose it’s where we are now, we are in with the likes of Everton and Leicester.

  7. Wailesy says:

    What the fuck.


    Bellerin Holding Sok Tierney

    Luiz Chambers
    Torreira Ozil
    Lacazette PEA

    No Xhaka on the bench.

    I’m not expecting this to be popular but he can’t roll out the same shit Emery did.

  8. Bufallo says:

    Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Chambers, Tierney, Torreira, Ceballos, Ozil, Willock, Auba, Laca

    You look at our squad and frankly it’s pretty crap. Not even confident in the first team. Outside this lot i’d keep Guendouzi, Smithe Rowe, Maitland Niles, Pepe, Nelson, Martinelli. Lightweight midfield and shocking defence, and it’s been like this for how long. The muppet show indeed. How difficult is it to work out the RBL model for example is better suited to our owner, rather than lashing out 70 million on a player in a position that isn’t a priority, with unlikely upside resale value. Shambolic.

    If he can speak better English than Emery and somehow can be persuaded to lower himself, i’d take Allegri over any other of the candidates doing the rounds by a mile. Hope he’s feeling romantic and fancies a project. Most likely and sensibly waiting for the end of season to see if the bigger job at Man Utd comes up.

  9. Bufallo says:

    I don’t see the romantic option of appointing a former player as the answer, the only one i’d consider a possibility if it’s a route the club want to go down is Arteta. The rest, no for now.

  10. Wailesy says:


    From what I’ve gathered Allegri’s English is weaker than Emery’s

  11. Adam Singh says:

    Looking forward to the game. Hoping Freddie will at least bring a bit of desire and passion back into the players. Be interesting to see who he goes for and what formation. Will the younger players like Willock get a chance to start?

  12. Bufallo says:

    Not so sure Wailesy haha
    Also seems like the type of man who would learn the language quickly and efficiently and also not a man who would have a problem transmitting his message to the players meantime. Emery managed perfectly well at the beginning when we went on that long unbeaten run, the problem with Emery was not his English, it was just one more of his many problems.

  13. Wailesy says:


    Haha! I love it.

    Yeah I agree with that. Allegri at least has a personality.
    I’d be delighted if we bagged him.

  14. andy1886 says:

    Word is that Arteta is our #1 target and part of that is that we want to retain an overall Spanish influence at the club. Personally I’m not a fan of cliques at a club where nationality is a ‘thing’. If Arteta was the best option fine (not than I’m convinced) but I don’t want Raul running our club like his own little kingdom. Yeah Emery wasn’t great but our management team bear overall responsibility for selecting him in the first place.

  15. Randy Thomsett says:

    Josh said Fred ‘do you want to manage Arsenal?’

    And Fred said ‘Right-Ho’.

  16. andy1886 says:

    Also good to see the BFG involved with the first XI again. I don’t know about his coaching but he’s just the right sort of straight talking no-nonsense guy that the players should be listening to.

  17. Noon Gunner says:

    Arsenal: Leno, Chambers, Mustafi, Luiz, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Willock, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette

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

  18. C says:


    Subs: Martinez, Sokaritis, Tierney, Pepe, Torriera, Saka, Gabriel

  19. Bufallo says:

    Holy mackerel to that line-up
    Mustafi, Luiz, Ozil and Xhaka redemption time ?
    Good luck Freddie

  20. Noon Gunner says:

    Since we have no record of these puzzle pieces ever properly fitting together to make a recognisable picture on the field of play, what matters now, it seems to me, is the team’s spirit and will to win, the will to go the extra 10% for each other and the shirt. If Freddie can rev them up in that department this motley crew could give us the victory we need. But on paper, still a head scratcher…

  21. YW says:


    I know I said I’d give Freddie a free pass for today but fuckin’ hell. He’s trusting to luck with that XI. Think it’s a 4-3-1-2 BTW, rather than 4-3-3.

    That said, if he gets a result with that lot, he is indeed a miracle man…

  22. YW says:


    I understood from a press report last summer that he ‘doing a Pep’ in that Allegri was using downtime to learn another language properly.

  23. Wailesy says:

    Holy shit!
    Freddie is off his head with that line up.

  24. C says:


    Yea, I was thinking 4312 too, tbf, Mustafi has actually been quite decent….the rest of that lot, Freddie was always a bit of a maverick.

  25. phil says:

    Good luck Freddie, ‘expecting the new manager bounce today .
    Or maybe hoping,

  26. andy1886 says:

    If Ozil has any chance of a future at the club this is just the sort of game he has to dominate. Let’s see…

  27. Woolwich Freddie says:

    Hello All,

    Get the impression Fred’s primary directive has been to limit players to two touches in the build-up.
    It’s instantly apparent they must have despised Emery because the increase in energy expended is tangible.

  28. Bufallo says:

    This should make things interesting, let’s see what everyones made of

  29. C says:

    Luiz, Xhaka Chambers all around Pukki and he still scores with a deflection off of Mustafi.

  30. Woolwich Freddie says:

    Noon Gunner,

    Rocket science.

    Still no formula for defending on the break, it would appear. At least we’re not so static.

  31. andy1886 says:

    Poor defensively but as usual the midfield was nowhere to be seen.

    Let’s see how the pen goes…


  32. C says:

    Penalty off of a really good delivery from Ozil.

    Krul saves ANOTHER fucking penalty.

  33. Bufallo says:

    Jesus we need a proper manager to sort this mob out

  34. andy1886 says:

    Encroachment! Pen to be retaken!

    Unlucky for Norwich, fine margins.



  35. Bufallo says:

    good man don’t look a gift horse in the mouth

  36. Woolwich Freddie says:

    Norwich really pushing their luck throughout that tortured process.

  37. C says:

    It wasn’t a shit penalty, Krul has made a career of saving penalties.

    Aubameyang stayed strong and buried it…..Freddie has even gotten VAR to work in Arsenal’s favor.

  38. andy1886 says:

    Best change so far…no more stupid playing around with the ball at the back.

  39. Woolwich Freddie says:


    Get the impression that was Freddie’s first bullet point.😂

  40. Noon Gunner says:

    That was so Xhaka! Brilliant intercept – crap pass to Laca.

  41. Woolwich Freddie says:

    Xhaka makes a tackle in the box not resulting in a penalty. Freddie must be magic.

  42. andy1886 says:

    Runner from midfield not tracked….should have been Freddie’s point #2.

  43. Woolwich Freddie says:

    Ignoring our defensive frailties for a moment, that was a decent goal. Sadly at the wrong end.

  44. Bufallo says:

    board might stop worrying about their process soon and start thinking bottom 3. better get the dollars out and buy a manager to inspire these players and attract better ones to the club.

  45. Noon Gunner says:

    What is our defensive secret?

    We’ve played some encouraging football in their half – in our own…don’t go there.

  46. Woolwich Freddie says:


    If, indeed, these players have enough attention span to get down to #2.

  47. phil says:

    Actually think we are a little stiff to be trailing.
    Their first off a horrible deflection, their second when we had one off the pitch.

  48. Woolwich Freddie says:

    It’s definitely an improvement but the only way was up and the return to possession has brought the return of the previously familiar problem of getting caught high up the pitch without an answer. At least they’re trying for now.

  49. phil says:

    Having said that Mustafi is still rubbish

  50. Noon Gunner says:


    Watching replays of their goals Mustafi’s response in each case is mystifying. How is he allowed by the AFC coaching staff to retain such appalling habits/instincts under pressure?

  51. Wailesy says:

    Pull Mustafi off now. What a disgrace of a player. Not fit to wear the shirt

  52. Charley Bates says:

    Poor, poor defense. Would love to see Sokratis on, Mustafi off. Xhaka off, Torreira on. And Freddie permanently on the touch-line marshaling the midfield and defense.

  53. Woolwich Freddie says:

    I think we could really learn from Norwich’s team shithousery in this game.

  54. G4E says:

    It’s seems we trying too hard ineffectively?

    We are not taking people on any any meaningful way.

    This game needs, Pepe and Matinelli on the wings and one striker up front.

  55. Noon Gunner says:

    We’ve dropped back to Emery speed.

  56. andy1886 says:

    Thank God for Auba.

    Then Xhaka nearly fucks us..

  57. Welsh corgi says:

    Wtf, do we think defending is an option. Even when we’re 7 vs 4 they just cut through us. Where’s the will and determination to defend.

  58. andy1886 says:

    Cantwell looks a decent player.

    Still think our midfield is a big problem.

    Then Pucci nearly gets in. Walking through us.

    Leno doing well.

  59. Welsh corgi says:

    Wonder if Freddie can get Keown to come in and work with defence?

  60. Spike says:

    Woolwich Freddie,


    Bellerin. Chambers. Holding. Tierney
    Torreira. Whillock.
    Pepe. Ozil. Auba.

    That still looks like our best team to me, I said it at the start of the season and it’s never played!!

  61. G4E says:

    I think the midfield is also weak in it’s lack of a mastermind type who can control the game. A Febregas type of player.

  62. Spike says:


    It was a joke that the board only pulled the plug on Emery weeks ago to give Freddie more time with the team.

    It’s all well and good them saying they’ve talked about firing him for weeks! But what does it do, other than make them look indecisive and weak.

    Clueless twats.

  63. Woolwich Freddie says:


    Interesting lineup. Would put a lot of responsibility on the fullbacks but we should be trying everything by now.

  64. Noon Gunner says:

    We’ve made yet another average team look really good. We are the gift that keeps on giving.

  65. Welsh corgi says:

    We’re holding on for dear life against a 19th placed team.

  66. phil says:

    Mustafi should never play again.
    For anyone !

  67. Noon Gunner says:

    Martinelli should start every time. Don’t ask me where – just play 12 but get him on.

  68. Woolwich Freddie says:

    Southampton, Norwich – we’ve really looked at these team’s levels. Worrying.

    Felt we faded in the second half. At least the effort is improved for now.

  69. Wailesy says:

    Great point in the end. Leno saved us.

  70. andy1886 says:

    Good game, on balance a point was a reasonable result.

    Freddie needs a few weeks to make a difference.

  71. Reloaded says:

    Game blurred as I was hearing of Afobe’s loss…fo make time for some extra hugs and snuggles for the littles in your lives!!

  72. thetotteridge man says:

    Average outcome. Considering that Norwich is relegation bound club, the team needs an experienced hand who can improve defence. Rafa Benitez or bringing in Martin Keown as a defensive coach, Boot out Per.

  73. consolsbob says:

    Of course, he can’t sort things out in a few days but I was very disappointed with the team selection and set up. Looked like a team that Emery would have chosen.

    He has a free pass atm, why not use it? Trying the same tired players in the same failed way is no way to do that.

    Were Xhaka, Ozil and the rest any better? Not significantly to me.

    No Freddie, you look to be a part of the problem if this is your outlook.

  74. Blue Yonder says:

    I think Freddie gets til the end of the season to make an impact. Anything less would be pointless – both for the club and for Fred. That means the board is writing off the season but, whether they do or not, it’s a lost season.
    That gives Freddie the time to try to fix the rot. Whether he can or not remains to be seen.

  75. Bill says:

    I think we looked better more aggressive team in the first half and then the new manager adrenaline surge faded and we looked a lot like Emery’s teams in the second half when they were more dangerous. Leno made a couple of nice saves to salvage a point. I was a little surprised with the team selection but obviously Freddie must believe Xhaka is the best player for our deepest midfield role. The reality is the talent in this squad is 5th or 6th place level and no manager can change that. I suspect we will finish in 5th or 6th place. Fortunately we have Auba which makes up for a lot. Without him I think we might struggle to finish in one of the Europa league spots.

  76. Pete says:

    The whole world’s on to us. Everytime the opposition gets the ball, they’re waving to each other to get forward… knowing that they just have to run at us and our defence just buckles. no amount of coaching is going to improve. we just need better defenders… period.

  77. Bill says:

    Time will tell how the Freddie era plays out. I am reasonably confident we will get some sort of new manager bounce and put together a run of good form at some point in this season to pull us back to the Europa league spots.

  78. Dukey says:

    We’re so shit we can’t even win with the new manager bounce effect!

    It’s probably for the best because we don’t want an ole scenario on our hands. Emery getting rid of Rambo was his downfall, it all went wrong from there. The players must have thought from that moment that he didn’t have a clue. How we could do with a Rambo in this side as we are crying out for some quality.

  79. Dukey says:

    Agree with Bob I think Freddie as much as we all love him could have been a part of the problem. We need someone totally fresh.

  80. Paulie Walnuts says:

    So Freddie goes with the old guard rather than showing some imagination.

    That back four must be the slowest ever put out in the EPL by anyone & the midfield is very pedestrian too. We have zero pace, so unless our passing & movement is perfect we struggle to create.

    I didn’t see one thing today that was different from UE.

    Disappointing & a chance missed.

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