It’s the start of the season again – at least for Arsenal.
Unai Emery’s regime is over and we have a bona fide legend in the dugout, intent on bringing back the good times on the pitch.
He has his work cut out for his first managerial job. He has a squad underperforming, he has to erase tactics that were negative and he firstly, above all else, needs to restore confidence in the side.
Ljungberg finds himself in this position thanks to his work with the youth sides, and his manner will help the squad rebuild after the turbulence which surrounded Emery’s last few months.
The first thing we must do though, is win a game.
Seven matches on the spin have failed to earn a victory for the Gunners, and it has seen us fall way behind where we should be if we are to realistically challenge for a top four spot. Ljungberg won’t be concentrating on that target right now, he will get his men to look at one thing – and that is Norwich.
The Canaries were on a winless streak themselves before they faced Everton at Goodison last week, and boss Daniel Farke oversaw a big win. He has had to contend with an awful injury sequence too, but he has kept faith with the kids in his team and the open, expansive style that has seen them earn admirers, if not enough points.
We will need to tighten things up if we are to grab that win, and seeing as it’s a game on the road we really must knuckle down.
So many choices and things to consider for Freddie Ljungberg’s first game as Arsenal boss – what does he do and who does he go for in his side?
Hector Bellerin was a slight doubt but the Spaniard should be fit and ready for this game. The same too, goes for Sead Kolasinac, but the burly Bosnian will be available for selection. Shkodran Mustafi is facing a fitness test before the game after he suffered a bruised foot against Frankfurt on Thursday.
The only absentee will be Dani Ceballos. The loanee is set to be out until mid December with a hamstring complaint, but that gives more opportunity to our youngsters.
It is hard to predict what Freddie will select for this game as there is no precedence. It is doubtful that he will go safe for this game as he comes from a playing history and ideals that prioritise attacking play. That could mean a place for Nicolas Pepe, as well as Mesut Ozil.
What fans will be eager to see is if players are selected in their right positions. Chief among that group is Lucas Torreira. Ljungberg could give his side an instant boost if he plays the Uruguayan in the DM spot, but who will partner him – Xhaka or Guendouzi?
Player to Watch
The youngster is very creative, and will be one of the major driving forces in the Canaries side. Great with the ball at his feet, Cantwell linked up great with Teemu Pukki early in the season. Pukki has lost his shooting boots of late, but Cantwell has truly established himself, and scored against Everton last weekend. We will need to watch his late runs and close him down early before he gets up a head of steam, his dribbling is dangerous too.
How this could go
Arsenal have more than enough firepower to hurt the home team, but it is down to how we deal with their threats that will define this game.
We have failed to do so in our last few games, and let our opposition run riot. If we do so again then we will fail again.
Mind you, if Ljungberg can find the secret to get our attack moving as a cohesive unit, then attack is the best form of defence.
This game could be a real humdinger…
Predicted Lineup – Leno, Bellerin, Sokratis, Luiz, Tierney, Torreira, Xhaka, Pepe, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette
Predicted Scoreline – 3-2 to The Arsenal