Freddie Ljungberg’s long-awaited home debut as Arsenal boss is here! Yay, Freddie!
Brighton find themselves as the bit-part players who are not expected to poop on this particular party. Not in the way they did last year, for example. Arguably, both sides are worse this campaign than they were last so a match of high quality is not expected.
Not for want of trying, as the routines and “mini-drills” video which is doing the rounds showed. Nice passing, good pressing so let’s see if it works out on the pitch?
Among the issues to be resolved is that of Nicolas Pepe. We know it’s an issue because Freddie told us it was:
Nicolas is a very, very good player. Sometimes we come from a different league and it takes time to adapt, off the pitch and on the pitch.
Nicolas is someone I plan on talking to, we’re going to have a little chat about how he feels about things. He’s an important player.
I just think it’s a new country, a new way of playing and I’m going to have a little chat with him about what I expect and how I want to play.Freddie finds the cure but will it lead to three points?
It’s a conversation in the future tense, indicating that Ljungberg doesn’t feel it is necessarily urgent. It also suggests Pepe isn’t featuring tonight either which is a questionable decision by the Swede. We didn’t win on Sunday, in case he’s forgotten and using kids didn’t work either as we chased a third goal.
The signing of Pepe baffled me at the time, mainly because I hadn’t seen him play and I thought we needed better centre-backs. But we signed him and have wasted his talent on a weekly basis since.
Freddie is, of course, right about adaptation and joining a team woefully short on confidence hasn’t helped. I am surprised that the Swede didn’t seem to think Pepe was a priority this week. Maybe it’s a smokescreen from Fred but I doubt it.
Certainly, I’d argue he should consult Wenger and Eriksson on this issue since they both know about players struggling to adapt. There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ answer but there’s enough experience between that pair to have some good ideas.
Alternatively, Freddie could just say ‘you’re a winger, wing it’ and play Pepe. It’s a radical solution but you never know.
God knows what Ljungberg does about the rest of the XI. Tierney and Bellerin delivering their saviour days as we hoped. Chambers and Holding in the centre; surely it is worth a runout for the pairing? We’ve run with Sokratis and Luiz until we’re blue in the face and it still doesn’t work.
Xhaka, no doubt, resurfaces in midfield, even if his performances against Frankfurt and Norwich warrant no part in the XI. Somehow, he’s persuaded a succession of bosses at Arsenal that he can do a job. He can; it’s just not the one we want.
Torreira and Guendouzi in the centre, Pepe, Ozil and Martinelli with Aubameyang central. Unless Freddie is intent on playing Lacazette as a proper strike partner with Auba not shoehorning the pair into a three-pronged attack. Which needs a more orthodox 4-4-2 type formation. You know the one that is no longer in fashion.
It’s also the only formation we didn’t play during Emery’s reign so it’s got to be worth a look, surely? Typically, a front pairing comes with a back three in the modern game. Maybe Freddie can throw a spanner in the works?
Seagulls Ready to Nick Three Points
According to We Are Brighton, the Seagulls aren’t in the best form. Neither are we so a high-quality match is probably too much to expect. They are in the relegation fight and our form will put us in it as well.
However, if Freddie wants the job on a permanent basis, he’d better start finding a way to win games on a consistent basis, it isn’t happening.
Can I suggest we go with the following line-up tonight as a tester?
Leno; Bellerin, Holding, Chambers, Tierney; Pepe, Guendouzi, Torreira, Ozil; Lacazette, Aubameyang
It won’t be the line-up. Fred is wed to the 4-3-3 variants we’ve been using. Maybe drop Torreira into a one-man barrier, leave out Guendouzi and bring in Sako for a 4-1-3-2. Anything must be worth a go.
Look, Freddie is doing a decent job. A point at Norwich was better than I think Emery would have managed. He got a boost; not much of one but he got one in two days. Almost a week? We ought to see another boost, a little more significant, even as he put it with so many rest days as matches come thick and fast.
That is a hindrance, there is no doubt. However, it is the same for every coach who comes in so getting a quick response is vital.
And, of course, he’s going to get that tonight, isn’t he? He is, isn’t he…
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.