City Preview: Tall Order

A week has passed since since ill health prevented posting. And it was probably the best week of Freddie’s short Arsenal managerial career to date.

Well, if he’s honest, it was the best forty minutes of his career. Thirty at West Ham where the usual lethargy found itself overwhelmed by Gabi, Pep and a few smiles.

Twenty minutes in Liege turned the night around and Vitoria did the rest. Not vintage but vintage was not required; getting the job done was.

So, as I say, a good forty or so minutes ahead of what is an entirely different kettle of fish this afternoon.

By their own high standards, City have slipped flat on their faces this season. If Liverpool don’t win the title this season, Devon Loch will finally rest in peace. The obituaries on Pep’s reign seem premature, however.

Last weekend’s defeat in the Manchester derby was their fourth this season. Wolves, Norwich, Liverpool and United were all well-organised and pressed consistently for 90 minutes. Those are the very qualities we lack during any part of a game, let alone from kick-off to final whistle.

Injuries suffered at West Ham curtail that ability further. Kieran Tierney is out for several months which means we are in bare bones territory at left-back. Raul doesn’t like January sales but he may have to get cosy with the idea if we suffer further calamity.

Hector Bellerin is out with hamstring twang and Granit Xhaka has concussion. Quite how they noticed…?

I suspect it leaves the line-up:

Leno; Luiz, Sokratis, Chambers; AMN, Guendouzi, Torreira, Kolasinac; Pepe, Ozil, Aubameyang

Three at the back isn’t the safest formation, especially with Bob and Sokratis, but we’re a rickety old ship at the best of times.

We shall see.

Taking Us Back To The 1970s

Mesut Özil embroiled the club in a ‘diplomatic’ spat with China, from which the club tried very unsuccessfully to distance itself. As the NBA found, the Chinese government is more sensitive to criticism than most and Arsenal is paying the price.

The club is obviously trying to protect its assets and commercial interests which were dented when the country’s state television station, ominously known as CCTV, abandoned its’ coverage of today’s match.

As with Hector Bellerin last week, the player attracted criticism for his views. Such is life.

However, I question what it is people want from players? Sanitised versions of human beings whose favourite actors are the Hollywood superstars and favourite meals of Steak and chips with Shakatak in the background?

If there are issues close to their hearts, they have the right to speak out, If you want to take issue, so be it but stifling debate is not answer. Nor is abusing them for speaking out.

Would there be so much criticism if we didn’t have so many problems on the pitch?

Back to today.

It’s a bit of gimme today so low are my expectations. Not that I excuse lack of effort or stupidity, I just don’t believe we’ll pull off the necessary effort and collective intelligence needed.

However, enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

‘Til Tomorrow.

131 thoughts on “City Preview: Tall Order

  1. Damon says:

    With what’s available to us right now, I’d play PEA up top through the middle, Pepe right and Martinelli left.

    If we’re going to play a “10” I’d give Laca a run there. He links up well, can hold the ball up and isn’t afraid to shoot. So quite a big upgrade on the current Ozil we’ve got playing there.

  2. C says:


    Personally would play both Ceballos or Foden…..fuck defending, even when we set up to defend we can’t so fuck defending.

    Ceballos is a good player and could absolutely come good.

  3. C says:


    I wouldn’t be opposed to that at all. I’d actually sit Torriera and either Chambers or Luiz next to them to have them sit as DM’s.

  4. Bill says:


    I agree with your idea of playing Auba Laca and Pepe. The stuff about unsettling our defense with Auba and Laca is another example of A heavy duty tactical overthinking.

  5. Bill says:

    Liverpool has 3 top notch forwards and their midfielders are basically ball winners and energy players whose main job is to win the ball back and pass it to the forwards. You don’t need the brilliant creative #10. Our forwards are not as good as liverpool’s but their style would be more easy to emulate and probably more successful then trying to be Man City light. The one thing we desperately need is a better DM like Fabinho. Torriera or possibly Guendouzi could be a good role players and energy players if they were paired with a real defensive mid but whether we want to admit it or not I don’t think Torriera is the long term answer as our deepest midfielder and the Torriera Guendouzi axis as the defensive long term lynchpin of our midfield is probably not going to work.

  6. andy1886 says:

    Bill, just don’t even mention City-lite! Makes me feel ill to think that we’d try to do that the way Wenger went all Barca-lite and messed us up for years.

    All the best (title winning) Arsenal teams have been built on a solid defence and quick, powerful mids and forwards. I never understood why Wenger walked away from that basic formula.

    Sorry C, if we don’t sort out the defence it isn’t going to matter a jot what we do up front.

  7. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:


    I’d go with that Damon. Like C’s idea of having Luiz and Chamber as holding/defensive cover in midfield. Sadly this won’t occur to our management and coaching staff.

    Still Olympiakos in the Europa can’t be bad. We should at least progress to the last 16 surely!

  8. Dukey says:

    Jay Leno
    Maitland Chambers Luiz kolasniac
    Pepe saka
    Auba laca

  9. Alex Ice Cream says:

    I would be happy with Arteta but it is a gamble. We cannot wait until the end of the season so the likes of Poch are not in the picture plus we won’t pay the 12m compensation. We wont give Allegri millions but I wouldn’t want him anyway. We need someone younger with more energy and who speaks English. Vieira has not done enough, Rogers is staying at Leicester. Thank f*** its not Nuno, or Martinez… could you imagine.

  10. Alex Ice Cream says:

    All those who want Laca and Auba in the same team could you please explain how to do this without compromising one of them?

    Its usually Auba shunted out to the wings where he is less effective.

    Anyway, Martinelli has to play. I reckon he is our most talented player and unlike most, he put a shift in yesterday.

    This kid is a genius. Yes, a genius and I don’t use words like that lightly. He has everything and we should enjoy him before he is sold for mega millions to pay $tan’s debts.

  11. Bufallo says:

    Ex captain, loves the club, has a clear attacking vision, wants to dictate play, apparently is quite the reverse of a soft touch, hugely demanding, absurd work ethic. Poch says he will become one of the greatest managers in the world. Wenger loves him, Guardiola loves him. Welcome back and I wish him good luck and hope he is given the support he needs from our owners, otherwise it’s all bloody pointless.

  12. Bufallo says:

    Martinelli needs to be in the team because he is mentally head and shoulders above the entire bloody squad !!

  13. C says:


    I get it, we need to get the defense sorted but why not actually attack and press, we have players that suit that style. Sokaritis is shit, please be done with him. I wouldn’t mind Damon’s front 4 and then behind them sit 6.

  14. Bill says:


    Emery wanted to press and I assume he tried to get the players to do just that but they were never able to execute that style effectively. Saying we have the players to play that style is ignoring what has actually happened for the last 1.5 years.

    You can’t attack with abandon in any league much less in the PL. professional teams at this level are just to good at playing defense to try and win that way. We might score a few more goals over the course of a season but it could never come close to compensating for the number we would concede.

  15. C says:


    Yup because defending and trying, being set up to formationally and tactically has work out for us defensively.

  16. C says:

    Sooooooooo its looking more and more like Arteta in the coming days and his 1st match being Everton.

  17. C says:

    Everton looking like wrapping up the deal for Ancelotti.

  18. Dukey says:

    Arteta is a risk. But us mere mortals do not know him personally. He could be a great leader only time will tell. It could be a very astute appointment or he could be another failed task. One thing is sure he has from the outside got potential and let’s hope he can be the man to save our butt’s. We will all be right behind him….

    Nice to see carragher has got his kid cuz a job on sky!

  19. Bufallo says:

    Nicky it all sounds good

    I will have everyone 120 per cent committed, that is the first thing. If not, you don’t play for me. I want the football to be expressive, entertaining. I cannot have a concept of football where everything is based on the opposition. We have to dictate the game, we have to be the ones taking the initiative, and we have to entertain the people coming to watch us”

    obviously everyone sounds good until they start managing this sort of mess haha but I’m quite optimistic. he needs to be given at least rest of this season and next to change tinker and implement before we see if the plan has worked in the 3rd and 4th seasons. He’s an appointment that is realistic for us given our owners and he may just come good. Very good communicator and crucially loves arsenal too. Timing for him is much better than immediately post wenger

  20. Bufallo says:

    Poch on Arteta (I’ll take it over Mersons opinion)

    “He was very young when I played with him at Paris Saint-Germain, he was 17 years old when he arrived and he was brilliant,” Pochettino said in an interview with Sky Sports in February He was brilliant not only because of his talent but his maturity on the pitch, to be a leader, his knowledge about football surprised me as he was a young player who had a capacity to talk in the same level as a 30-year-old player. For me, he’s going to be one of the best coaches when he decides to be a coach. He has the capacity to be one of the greatest coaches in football, for sure. He’s top, a top personality, character. I think he has the qualities to be one of the best.”

  21. andy1886 says:

    Latest on Arteta:

    Arteta ‘is seen as a less risky appointment than someone like’ six-time Serie A champion and two-time Champions League runner-up Max Allegri. The Italian ‘has no Premier League experience, doesn’t speak particularly good English (a criticism often levelled at Emery) and would make transfer demands in January.’

    Arteta, however, ‘would be happy to toe the line’ and ‘leave transfer business’ to those above him, while ‘his wage demands would be more reasonable’.

    So that’s cheap and isn’t going to complain if he doesn’t get any transfer funds…

    This could go well…not.

  22. Stu says:


    Totally agree Andy. I’ve nothing much against Arteta, but it looks like the wrong appointment at this time – his lack of experience, his style, the problems in/with the playing squad etc. So yes, it smacks of doing something on the cheap and hoping it works out. And I do hope it works out. i just fear it won’t.

    Some have questioned our style of play or rather our lack of one style or another at this time. Arteta may aim for a Pep flowing style, while the likes of a Benitez would be more akin to a Graham style, defending from the back. Some have also questioned the mannerism’s managers have and how their actions on the bench foster a greater atmosphere within the ground that helps the team.

    Klopp’s Liverpool have self-proclaimed raucous rock n roll football.
    Pep’s City are more akin to a jazz band, somehow magical even if the fella at the back is out of tune half the time.
    Rodgers’ Leicester are catchy, middle of the road Snow Patrol football. Everyone likes them, but not many love them.

    What would that make an Arteta Arsenal? Dull? Boring? Inanimate? Sounds like a David Gray album….. you know, the one after White Ladder than nobody can remember the name of and is available in the cheap bin at HMV. The kind of music you stay in your seat to.

  23. Jonnygunner says:


    You still buy CS’s?….how quaint 😂😂

  24. Damon says:


    One of my least favourite, but very regular pass times….

    Coating someone off via text/email/blog and getting a big fat typo in there.

    Means having to wipe a little bit of omelette off your chops immediately after

  25. Stu says:


    Yep, I sure do buy CDs and digital downloads. Although was looking at some vinyl albums the other day. They are all the rage with the hip and trendy…… not sure they will ever catch on though!

  26. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    Bill I’d have to disagree in that attacking is part of defending. Dictating possession and keeping the ball in the opponents half of the pitch keeps pressure off our defence.

    I’m not opposed to Arteta. But this is the board taking the cheap option. I wish him all the best. Especially if he has the vision to play Chambers and Luiz as DM’s and Martinelli as a no. 10. Pepe/Laca/Saka doing the wing work. Auba down the middle.

  27. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    Agreed Martinelli is the best player we have in the squad right now.

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