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Norwich City 2-2 Arsenal – review

The first game of the Freddie era has come and gone.

And in many ways, it was the more things change, the more they stay the same.

 

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He’s back – but with no hair instead of red hair.

 

Look, I love Freddie. He had red hair, and amongst Henry, Bergkamp, Vieira, Pires, et al., he was arguably our best player in the 01/02 double season. He was a prime example of a player whom he had not heard of, who turned out to be a world-beater.

But I must say that his starting line-up was poor.

I can get him playing Auba and Laca up top, with Ozil behind. But Torreira on the bench, and Luiz and Mustafi as the centre-backs, was questionable.

Leno started as normal, though Kolasinac over Tierney raised a few eye-brows.

Our record singing, Pepe, was on the bench too, though Willock and Guendouzi started.

 

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Overall though, I have mixed feelings on this game. The positives are:

 

  • Attacking flair

 

We started the game well, and had several chances falling to Laca and Auba in the opening period.

Emery was too conservative, and this amongst other reasons cost his job.

But we were progressive and on the front foot. And it almost told in this first 20 minutes or so.

 

  • Mr. Captain

 

Auba showed his worth as he got a brace, though the penalty case was interesting. I reviewed the IFAB (International Football Association Board) Laws of the Game, and it seems the VAR and ref were correct.

 

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They did encroach, and it’s funny to hear their fans say the old chant “same old Arsenal! Always cheating!” when we were fully within the Laws of the Game. It’s like driving at under the speed limit on the motorway but still being charged by the police of speeding. Rank idiocy. I guess it’s the anger of their deadliest rivals, despite being in a lower division, winning more trophies and more important trophies to boot (including beating us in the 1978 Cup Final…)

The first Auba pen was weak – in truth. The second one was better done, but it was a welcome way back into the game all the same.

Of our two top strikers, I feel Auba affected the game more than Laca did. And this was away from the goals, since his movement was top-notch.

 

  • Xhaka

 

He’s in his rehabilitation phase, and whilst serving time for his offence, seemingly he’s waiting until it’s spent.

I thought he did reasonably well. I’ve often thought that we must get the proper balance around him for him to prosper.

And he needs people open further up the pitch for him to thrive.

However, I thought he was active in this game, and if Freddie can get the best from him, all the better.

 

 

  • Leno

 

He has come under some stick lately and did make a key gaffe vs. Spurs when Pochettino was their manager.

But he has faced many shots this season and made many key saves to boot. He continued this trend vs. Norwich, and without him, we may have lost.

I believe he’s amongst the higher echelons of keepers in the PL – Allison and Ederson are the best, though Allison is like a modern Grobbelaar in his erraticness at times. Or a modern Jens Lehmann, to use an Arsenal analogy.

I believe he is underrated amongst PL keepers and is a key asset in our side.

 

 

These were the good points, but tempered with:

 

 

  • Weak defending

 

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Mustafi and Luiz surely haven’t at the level required for a while. Both were at fault in varying degrees for their first goal.

And the second too was down to poor marking and tracking.

It was a stark contrast to our attacking play since we didn’t really function at the back well.

This was pretty much like the Emery times, though Freddie has only had a game and a few days on the training pitch to affect things.

That said, it was pretty negative to see the same issues re-occurring.

 

 

  • Fan discontent at Freddie

 

It’s not because Freddie is a legend.

But considering he’s an interim manager, what do we expect?

He has never managed before at a high level, so we need to give him a lot of slack.

My expectations here are that he will steady the ship, and would be able to do something to correct our long-standing faults.

With the Brighton and West Ham games coming up soon, these are prime opportunities to correct flaws and get back in our attacking grooves.

 

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Player ratings

 

 

Leno  8

Chambers 4

Mustafi 3 

Luiz 3

Kolasinac 5

Guendouzi 5

Willock 5

Xhaka 6

Ozil 3

Lacazette 3

Aubameyang 7

Torreira 5

Martinelli 5

Saka 5 

Freddie – 4 – The line-up was strange, but then perhaps we need to give him a lot of slack, given his caretaker role. 

 

 

Man of the match

 

Bernd Leno

 

Leno

He saved our bacon in this game.

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