Norwich Review: New Boss, Same Failings

Norwich City 2 – 2 Arsenal

I said before kick-off that Freddie got a “free pass” for this one. Little did I know that he intended to turn it into a hospital pass with his team selection.

In the end, a point was a fair result with neither side interested in defending and guilty of wasting good opportunities for a winner.

Before kick-off, if you had asked Freddie what opposition he wanted to face then a team reluctant to press us when we have the ball probably topped the list. Thank you to Norwich City for being so obliging; we really didn’t deserve it.

The opening phase of the match saw more activity from the XI than Emery saw in most of his reign. It was almost as if the players became “protagonists”. Passing was quick and we played out of defence well on occasion; we looked interested in doing a good job. But looks can be deceiving.

We almost saw the ultimate banter moment when Shkodran Mustafi’s header was cleared off the line; the first goal of Freddie’s reign from the previously hapless German? Jokes.

Normal business, however, was shortly restored. Before then though, Chambers shot was blocked after a howler from Lacazette. The striker shot wide from close-range after Willock’s Ramsey-esque run, interchange and shot fell into his path.

But with almost their first attack, Norwich scored. After twenty minutes of almost-complete dominance, Norwich won the ball in their defensive third. A couple of passes through the midfield to Pukki.

Defensively, neither Luiz or Mustafi took control, allowing Pukki to turn and shoot. Inevitably, it deflected in off Mustafi. The change of head coach hasn’t brought a change in luck for the hapless German. Soon enough, the familiar sight of Mustafi on his arse with a forward running into space became commonplace.

More of the Same

Freddie’s high-risk defensive strategy didn’t work and with the personnel on show, was never likely to. Twenty minutes in, we were to find out whether the confidence of the opening twenty minutes has any substance.

Surprisingly, luck went Arsenal’s way.

Ozil floated a free-kick in, Luiz and Zimmerman tangled with a hand flailing. No doubt of the penalty award but the kick itself? Relatively straight and well-saved. Thank god for VAR; encroachment meaning a retake. Into the corner, Arsenal level seven minutes after the Norwich goal with just ninety seconds played.

There were several moments which merited a second yellow card for the Dutch goalkeeper. None more so than the embarrassing ‘Let’s be having you’ to the home fans, who were duly silenced with Aubameyang’s well-placed second spot-kick.

Again, Arsenal dominated for twenty minutes. Again, a ball won in Norwich’s defensive third was quickly turned into a devastating counter-attack, with Todd Cantwell scoring with a well-placed shot. Defensively, it was woeful. No-one covered for the buccaneering Chambers and Norwich exploited that space effectively.

Ljungberg has plenty of work to do with the midfield and the attack in terms of their defensive work. No-one closed down Hernandez when he was in possession on the flank and no-one tracked Cantwell.

These are fundamental issues to be resolved when you ask the full-backs to push on and support the attack. Even more so when our defenders are suspect most of the time which makes the unwillingness of the others to track back all the more baffling.

If anyone thought that changing the coach would bring an immediate dividend received a rude awakening. This is a squad which requires major surgery, as well as work on the training pitches.

Now The Work Really Begins

Judgement Day comes quickly in football. Freddie has four days to the visit of Brighton and while aspects of yesterday’s performance showed reasons for dimmed optimism, the majority of the faults were already well known. Maybe it is a step forward that we didn’t manage to find any new ways to lose a game?

Equally, it isn’t all down to the coaching. OK, it’s bizarre that Mustafi started ahead of Holding but maybe Freddie had to get that one out of his system early. Nonetheless, the rest of the players need to take a long, hard look at themselves and question whether they are good enough for this level.

Certainly, Ozil outside of the set-pieces for the goals was noticeable by his absence. We’ve long known that he isn’t a player who grabs a game by the scruff of its neck but was non-existent elsewhere. And there is an element of questionable selection at play here. Why play someone easily marginalised out on the wing?

To pick on two players is unfair but honestly, there is a wider issue to be dealt with. Our competitiveness is weak. Tactics influence that, as does confidence but even at a basic level, we are not intense.

Our athletic ability seems weak compared to the other teams in the top four with lethargic defensive running and large gaps in midfield when we’re out of position. We don’t concentrate hard enough for long enough and lack the physical ability to make up for the mistakes we make.

Final Thoughts

Some of those issues may improve over time but I don’t see it happening this season. We might finish the season in the Europa League places but the Champions League is gone. And I’m quite relaxed about that.

This squad isn’t good enough for that competition and one of the gripes I had about it is our lack of competitiveness. We’d fare even worse with this squad and be lucky to claim the Europa League spot in most groups.

We’ve known for some time that the next few transfer windows would be vital for the club. It’s time to get a new boss in to oversee a radical overhaul of the squad. Ship out the majority, keeping a core few for consistency in the XI to bed everyone in.

That requires Raul & co to get it right in the managerial appointment and nobody should be confident that will happen.

This is a telling time for the club because we don’t have the luxury of almost limitless funds in the way United does. They can afford to lurch from one expensive disaster to another without blinking a financial eye. We can’t and just as we had to operate smarter in the summer transfer window, now we’ve got to work better in the managerial stakes.

’til Tomorrow.

46 thoughts on “Norwich Review: New Boss, Same Failings

  1. Dukey says:

    Agree with all of that. Excellently put if I must say so.

  2. Wavey says:

    Hoping Per’s input can help the defence develop a bit of steel.

  3. Ferkov says:

    Moening all.
    Well put Yogi. Could hardly agree more. We used to claim we got bullied off the ball, now we just get out tackled and bossed everywhere.
    Wierd selection. Did Freddie see so little of last season that he’s had some nagging doubts that we are missing out on the skill sets of our most expensive defender and ‘midfielders’?
    We were treated to some yesterday.

    Diabolical break defending. If Luiz and Shocker don’t trust each other enough to go to the man with the ball and at least slow the fucker down abit, both of them need to go. Now. Sideshow. Fuckin carthorse.

    Terrier the answer to CDM.?
    Besides his two notable interferences, he took a while to get going , but once he’d found where the best space to cover was, he did it well. Don’t look chuffed these days tho does he?

    Xhaka did okay. Didn’t pull up any trees, or get sent off, just okay. Looks like he’s had a bit of a rocket .

    Enjoyed the extra zip and fizz despite the lack of end product.

  4. Adam Singh says:

    Best performance in the PL for a while, sure we were still pretty awful at times but I thought we showed some fight and there were actually a few nice moves and passes put together.

    Our defence was as shite as normal, it’s take your pick on our CBs though as I don’t think any combination will work.

    Ljungberg came across quite well in his various pre match interviews but I get the sense he knows this job, at the moment, is too big for him and isn’t really expecting to get it on a permanent basis.

  5. Arsetralian says:

    I am not entirely sure Lac and Auba is a 2 that works well sadly. Ozil was ok but only ok. That 3 just did not really click. I thought he might use Pepe for Ozil as a sub.
    Willock was only ok too.
    I actually thought Xhaka and Guen were good and bossed the first half.
    He needs a rethink but we started brightly.

  6. Bufallo says:

    Blinder by Freddie to play all the dross in his first game so he can now drop them, or at least i presume that’s his plan. Otherwise he’s a maniac and frankly already shows terrible judgement.
    In all seriousness Freddie shouldn’t be anywhere near the job. Apart from Guardiola at Barcelona when did this last work out exactly….the romantic option. We need an Allegri, someone of big stature who can stamp his authority on the club. I fear the board are terrified of a figure like that and will instead appoint a yes man to fit within their structure of many cooks, appalling broth. I’d be happy though with Bodgers, Ten Hag. No thanks to Benitez. Only one of those who is available now is Allegri, so get the cheque book out and sell the project to him Josh. Could and should have a new manager by the end of the week.

  7. Bufallo says:

    Sure we were better yesterday but we were still pretty dire, the bar is so low its on the ground. Worrying lack of a new manager bounce but then again if you play all the unpopular dross can’t help. Mustafi in defence, has FL been at the club for the last 18 months ?! Xhaka…the holding rock. The disciplined genius. The guy who runs into jello if he’s pressed and has the turning speed of a Maersk tanker. All in all a very average debut by FL.

  8. Randy Thomsett says:

    Raul was being lauded as a modern day saviour in August and now, four months later, we’re a squad which requires major surgery.

    The previous Manager was hindered from the moment he arrived by the recruitment policy, clearly wanting to set up his side around Ramsey.

    But Raul spent some money so everyone was happy, irrespective of where the money was being spent or if it was being spent on players that the Manager actually wanted.

    January will be the same. The usual melodramatics until money is spent on an inappropriate player.

    We’re like the girlfriend that gets on her knees after a shopping spree at the local mall.

  9. Bill says:

    Thanks for the post yogi

    We have been debating this all season long but I think the real issue is the after Auba and Laca there just isn’t that much talent in the squad. Who knows whats happening with Pepe. Its too early to write him off but this is very reminiscent of Gervinho. None of our midfielders would be regular players for the rest of worlds “big teams”. We have no midfield creativity or end product. Ozil has never given us much in terms of defense, energy or pressing the ball but at this point in his career his attacking skill set has faded to the point where he is similar to Elneny without the great hair or the work ethic. What’s the point of using a pure flair player who has lost his flair? The rest of the midfield are poor defensive players. It certainly does not bode well for us if we are counting on Torriera and Guendouzi as the midfield “pivots” of the future. The less said about our back line defenders the better.

    I really thought our front office did a great job last summer but Ceballos, Pepe and Luiz all look like mistakes right now. We need to rebuild the midfield and the back 4. Auba is our only truly excellent player and he isn’t getting younger. Lots of work to do.

  10. C says:

    Good stuff Yogi.

    I know Mustafi is getting killed for the 2nd goal, but I went back and took another look and I think you nailed it with the lack of competitiveness. Chambers for me is where the blame must start, Norwich didn’t counter quickly and even while Chambers jogged back, he still was in position to recover, and then he just stopped instead of getting back into position, if he does that, then he stops the counter; he didn’t and then it all went bad.

    I do take some positives though. I mean 1st and foremost, Leno despite the 2 goals (which he had no chance at either….which is a common theme) he made some brilliant saves and is showing the form that saw him as highly rated in Germany as ter Stegen. Week in and week out he is making the difficult saves that should be helping us win matches but instead is just keeping us in matches; imagine is he had a dependable CB pairing infront of him?!?

    I also thought Torriera came in and played well; definitely should be starting from this point forward. I thought our attack actually played well and connected at times and you could see things and the potential is there; whether is was Ozil getting a couple shots on target, Lacazette with his close control off of a couple nice 1-2’s or whatever the case maybe; but I really do wonder if they are almost trying too hard and over-complicating things in the attacking third because they know that defensively we are shambolic?

  11. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    Bufallo:
    the turning speed of a Maersk tanker!

    Absolute classic Buffalo!

    The worrying thing is, it was Norwich. There isn’t much worse in the league at the moment and we didn’t look convincing at all. We’ve finally turned into that mid table team we’ve been threatening to be for the last 10 years.

    It’s a sad indictment that it’s come to this.

    Let’s hope an Allegri, NES, Poch or Rodgers is on their way, sooner rather than later.

  12. C says:

    Bill,

    You say don’t write off Pepe and then you write him off. Maybe, just maybe he is needing more time to settle into not only Arsenal but the PL and life in London? What if I told you, for all those banging the drum for Zaha, that Pepe has the same amount of goals this season as Zaha who is PL proven? Lets also see what happens with Freddie, the players struggled attacking wise under Emery, lets see how they do under Freddie.

  13. Damon says:

    Seemed to be more of the same yesterday, especially the defending. Goodness me!

    I don’t mind Freddie giving the players that probably felt they were being elbowed out a game, to show that it’s all to play for. Wipe the slate clean, so to speak

    I know it’s early days still, but Thursday will be much more telling on how this is going to play out. If there’s no discernible change, I’d expect a new man in pretty quickly

  14. gooner99 says:

    We absolutely looked better going forward. At times we did look like we were overthinking, overworking it, but at least it wasn’t the flaccid shriveled mess it has been in recent weeks. I can’t agree that we generally lack quality. Sure, we aren’t ‘pool or City, but we are better than mid-table talent, even if we have been shitting ourselves repeatedly on the way to mid-table results. With our general lack of discipline and organization in defense, I’m not sure there’s a center back or defensive midfielder on earth who could make us look solid. My guess is even if we’d ponied up for some top shelf central defenders this summer past we’d be talking them up in the same glowing terms as Pepe. Let’s hope the new manager is a good one and that he gets here fast.

  15. Stu says:

    The problems run deeper than Unai Emery, so it was never going to be fixed yesterday. Anyone thinking otherwise, really doesn’t have a sound grasp on the reality of the situation. In the circumstances we had some good play, some poor play and yet again committed some typical errors at the back. On balance, we played better than we have done recently and sneaked a point out of Carrow Road. The divine right to 3 points only exists if you have a working team; history and bank balance alone don’t earn those points.

    I tend to agree with Damon in that Freddie had nothing to lose by giving certain players a run out. He’d only had 48 hours with them and if they’re good enough it will show…. cream rises etc. Likewise, those who flatter to deceive will continue to display their failings and limitations. January should beckon for those in the big Arsenal knockdown sale.

    In the meantime, Josh has to work out which strategy to adopt. Does he go with an older experienced manager (Benitez, Ancelloti, Bielsa) as a safe pair of hands and possible mentor for someone younger such as Freddie. In which case, a need to hit the ground running is imperative, with a knowledge of English football and the language? Or does he go for the younger manager and give him time to step up or adapt (Howe, Nuno, Nagelsmann, ten Hag etc)? We just get to watch the show unfold.

  16. billbo says:

    Thanks for the post and good chatter all. Was tuned into the match and also vomited up some leftover turkey and taters seeing Mustafi in the lineup. Of course Auba/Laca are trying hard to do score, they (and everyone else watching) understand our defense will give at least 1 or2 goals per game. So you cant just score 1 or even 2. You need to put at least 3 goals up per game to have a decent chance of winning.

    Agree in general same problems. Every match we see our nonexisting midfield shield getting sliced thru like butter. Doesnt matter the team or the players. Every match we see teams get straight thru our midfield and running at the backline. It’s a common theme on the defensive side, seeing our most important defenders jogging backwards. We need players who can see the game, read the danger, and step FORWARD to break up play.

    finally, i’ve been seeing the Pepe/Gervinho comparisons all season. The ball sticks to his feet like glue and he can pivot, swivel, twist, turn, scurry, scuffy. He can do all the tricks but he is 100% left footed and so far hasnt shown any finishing ability. Crosses whipped in from his opposite side, but he still tries to put a left on it. Any good strikers sticks out the appropriate foot and gets a simple tap in, a nice 90 degree angle to hit the ball. Pepe (and gervinho) try to swing their peg at the whipped in ball and literally cant score from within 5 yards. 80 million dollars guys, nobody taught this kid to use both legs!?!?

  17. G4E says:

    Identity Crisis?

    I hate to say this, but systematically and over time, we lost the English team identity. I remember times when we played a whole starting XI without one single English player on the field or even the bench.

    Maybe this is Wenger’s fault or the Club’s for not wanting to pay over the odds for an English player.

    Theo, Chamberlin, etc. don’t count, they were nice English players. 🙂

    No matter what we think, this club does not represent the English game. Every big club in this league has at least 2 or more English players that connects the foreign players with the fans and the identity of the Club they play for.

    We are basically a foreign club on English soil.

    Maybe Holding and Willock will eventually be those English players (If they stay) but it seems we need already made or established English ones. Especially in Midfield and Defense.

    ***

    Howard is probably doing the dance after this comment. ( Only Long time Cultured Left Foot members will understand ).

  18. Bill says:

    We desperately needed a win to start rebuilding confidence and to start making up ground on the top 4. Additionally I am confident every manager in the history of sports would want to win his first game in charge. Why in the world would Freddie give players a run out unless he thought those were the players who gave him the best chance to win the game. He should be sacked today if he was just running them out for some nebulous reason other then giving the team it’s best chance to win.

  19. Bill says:

    In 2017 and 2019 we missed 4th place by 1 point. Every point matters if we hope to salvage this season.

  20. Bill says:

    C

    I have not given up on Pepe but the early returns have not been promising and the fact that Freddie used 3 U21’s ahead of him in his first game as manager raises some major red flags.

  21. Woolwich Freddie says:

    I’ve seen a couple of articles suggesting Emery’s failure resulted from his recruitment. I wasn’t aware he was responsible for recruitment. I know qualified journalists who can’t get work.

  22. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Keown did a good analysis of our defensive issues on MOTD 2 last night.

    Mustafi & Sideshow treated the Norwich attackers as if they were radioactive.

    Freddie may get a little longer than the players. Expect more ‘vocal encouragement’ if we struggle on Thursday night.

  23. C says:

    Bill,

    Again, maybe its a bedding and he, as a 23 year old, is struggling to adapt to a new country, club, style of play, language, etc., plus the whole season started like shit so I doubt that helped. The other thing is Aubameyang stated they only took 1 training session, so Freddie probably went with the players he knew best…the younger ones. Lets see what happens over the next couple of matches.

  24. andy1886 says:

    Ornstein saying that the club don’t want to pay compensation for a manger currently in a job so are looking at free agents. You’d think that getting the best man for the job would be the priority rather than savings a few quid, but this is Stan’s Arsenal.

  25. C says:

    andy1886,

    That makes me think they are either going to ride it out to see what Freddie will do or plan to simply wait until the summer and grab somebody, potentially even Arteta.

  26. Spike says:

    We will need a massive clear out in the summer, if we can offload the many underperforming or useless (or both)

    Mustafi, Luiz, Sokratis, Xhaka (fat chance), Ozil should all be jettisoned.

  27. Conan says:

    For me, one the second goal, the problme was Xhaka and Guenodzi both trying to get some pressure on the ball. And its technically Guendozi’s mistake. Xhaka was closest, so he need to try and slow the break, but Guendozi needed to get on his horse and protect the space behind Xhaka.
    Imop, our young Guen has been having a terrible run for around 6 games. He needs somebody to show him where he is making mistakes. I like the energy, but he needs a real coach. Hopefuly Freddic can coach, even if his game management may not be great.

  28. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Conan,

    What Guendouzi really needs is a midfield partner he can learn from. Unfortunately Xhaka is passing on his bad habits.

  29. billbo says:

    Paulie Walnuts,

    The new arsenal tradition of slow tracking back, sideways passing, cheap turnovers near our own area. To be fair guendo has some qualities we can see but also many faults. He has been a staple in our midfield this season and our midfield this season sucks serious b hole. Have to give him the benefit of the doubt because he is young and we can see his passion and effort.

  30. Wailesy says:

    It will be interesting to see how Freddie sets up next game. It doesn’t surprise me that he’s keen on creating more chances and holding the ball.

    For me though it misses the point. Every team in the league has a better defence and know our front 3/4 are dangerous so they defend for their lives knowing they can slice us open on the break at will.

    I’d be playing chambers AND Luiz in front of a back 4 along with Torreira and challenge team to keep a clean sheet.

    We’ve got some big games coming up and we could see some cricket scores.

  31. G4E says:

    I’d Rather….

    See Freddie going from a Draw to a Win, than Win to a Draw.

    The key thing, is upward improvement..

    I think, there was some of that with Norwich…..But we need someone to carry the Midfield which would greatly protect the much weaker Defense.

    Xhaka ain’t doing it for a million years, he gets protected a lot with his National team and look good there but not with Arsenal.

    We still need a Fabregas, a Cazorla, or maybe Ceballos if he’s consistent and he’s a Temp.

    No disrespect to Xhaka, he’s not controlling the Midfield, neither Guendouzi, he’s a 20 year old French dude with a full set of hair running around. Effort but no clear product yet.

    Ozil is not that player either, he can hardly breathe just operating in the opposition Third. He looks like a heavy smoker?

    The Link, the Controller in Midfield, the one who can hold the ball under pressure and if attacked, he can take on players to initiate the next counter attack.

    We don’t have that, Unless Freddie knows someone in Under 23s?
    Or wait for Ceballos to figure out the English game.

    Honestly, I think our problems is in Midfield….. We seem dis-jointed, we need that link and eventually address the Defense.

    I hope we manage to solve this problem and quickly, we are lucky it’s just only 7 points to 4th.

  32. Stu says:

    C,

    I’m sure I read somewhere that Freddie doesn’t have his full coaching licence and that he can only be interim manager for something like 3 months.

    I have no idea if that is true or not, but could undermine a plan to give him until the summer.

  33. Stu says:

    andy1886:
    Ornstein saying that the club don’t want to pay compensation for a manger currently in a job so are looking at free agents.You’d think that getting the best man for the job would be the priority rather than savings a few quid, but this is Stan’s Arsenal.

    ‘Tis frightening, but no real surprise is it. Will Josh be twisting Poch’s arm to forego some of the reported compensation from the Spuds? Or maybe he’s considering the likes of Allegri, Solari, Kovac, Blanc etc.

    Then again, he might be on the blower to Allardyce, Hughes, Adams……

  34. Bill says:

    C

    Freddie has been with the club during the entire Emery era and he has been with the first team all season in training and at all of the games. I assume he has been involved in watching film and tactical discussions and he has seen what players like Torriera and Pepe can do every day in training and in our games. The idea that he was not familiar with the players and had no idea which ones might be his best options makes absolutely no sense.

  35. Jonnygunner says:

    Bill:
    C

    Freddie has been with the club during the entire Emery era and he has been with the first team all season in training and at all of the games. I assume he has been involved in watching film and tactical discussions and he has seen what players like Torriera and Pepe can do every day in training and in our games. The idea that he was not familiar with the players and had no idea which ones might be his best options makes absolutely no sense.

    Perfect observation Bill-and I’ve thought it myself,so I fully agree.

  36. Bill says:

    Sometimes when the events on the pitch don’t match what we hope there is a tendency to search for rationalizations to explain why things are not meeting expectations. The end of the Wenger era and the debates about whether or not Ozil was past his prime and the notion the notion that he and the rest of the squad just needed to be coached up is an another example.

  37. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    Mings, Ndidi and Haagland – IN
    Ozil, Sokratis, Kolasniac and which ever of the front two who wants to leave but keep the other one. – OUT

    Biesla, Rodgers, NES, Allegri or Nagelsmann – IN

  38. Pete the Thirst says:

    MINGS?? What have you been smoking Henry? He couldn’t make the Bournemouth first team.

    Maybe we could play Mustafi & Mings at centre back and bring Flash Gordon in to save the universe?

    HenryNorrisDialSquare,

  39. Wailesy says:

    Oh great, just what Freddie needs. Wenger in his ear. The same Wenger who brought Xhaka and Mustuffup to the club.

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