Arsenal legend lays into Ljungberg over his team selection against Norwich City

Charlie Nicholas gives his opinion on Freddie Ljungberg managerial debut.

Arsenal may have gotten rid of Unai Emery but nothing has changed, that is the verdict of Charlie Nicholas after he was left baffled by Freddie Ljungberg’s team selection against Norwich.

Ljungberg was given temporary charge of the Gunners last week after they fired Unai Emery and his first game was against Norwich.

The Swede chose a defensive partnership of David Luiz, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Shkodran Mustafi, to the amazement of Nicholas.

The defense has been Arsenal’s biggest problem this season and it came back to haunt them again at the weekend as they conceded two goals to share the spoils.

Nicholas wonders why Ljungberg would start his reign with divisive players including Granit Xhaka in his first starting IX.

“They had a bit more spike about them at the weekend but Freddie, why are you picking Shkodran Mustafi?” former Arsenal striker Nicholas told Sky Sports as cited by

“When are you going to learn about Calum Chambers? I also cannot understand how David Luiz is in the team. He just doesn’t want to run. He is only interested when he gets the ball at his feet.

“Sokratis Papastathopoulos is a shocker and Mustafi is even worse. Granit Xhaka also cannot run.

“It is such a huge mess. I honestly thought Freddie would not be close to getting the job, but now, I do not know how long he will have in charge. In the end, it may not be their No.1 target who they end up getting.

“Regarding Freddie’s selection, what have you done there that was different to Unai Emery? I didn’t get it. It might be his first pick, but could also be who he has got fit.

“Bringing in Joe Willock I understood, but the re-introduction of Xhaka baffled me. Mesut Ozil wanted the ball and wanted to get into the pockets of space, he was decent again. There is an enthusiasm about Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

“This is about Arsenal getting back on the winning trail and trying to threaten the top six, and potentially the top four. They need to ramp up the action. The manager has gone and they need results and a winning formula.”

Arsenal takes on Brighton Thursday evening and the fans will be hoping that Ljungberg puts out a better team this time and finally get three points on the board.


  1. Charlie Nicholas is right in a way but TBH with the squad he has, even God Almighty could not put out a team to defend. It is NOT Freddies fault that such tripe as Sokratis, Mustafi, Luiz, Luiz, Kolas, Xhaka and Chambers are in his squad. Tierney was said to have had a training knock, though was on the bench. So he could hardly have picked VVD and Vincent Komany instead could he!

    1. That was funny, Even God Almighty Couldn’t pick up out a team 🤣🤣🤣 Mustafi, Luiz, Luiz, Kolas, Xhaka and Chambers are in his squad. I will put all them on black Friday sale. I will blame Wenger, he bought rubbish defender. I can’t blame emery Unai too much. Just his dam selection is awful. Maybe we use the youth team .

    2. That’s true. And Bellerin was injured plus Ceballos, so he couldn’t replace Ozil with a similar player.

      But playing with Willock instead of Torreira was a pretty big mistake. Torreira on his worst day is about as good as Willock on his best, so this was a strange one.

      And introducing Saka, but not Pepe was odd as well, but we don’t know the situation there in its entirety.

      What had me worrying was that he sacrificed midfield to strengthen the attack with 4 attacking players. That’s just not done anymore. You dominate midfield – you create chances. Which is what Norwich did after he did that.

      I’m willing to give him more time, but the beginning was not that auspicious, though not too bad either.

  2. We understand that Freddie has had only one game in charge, but he has been around for much longer to know what’s going. He got his team selection and formation dead wrong and that is a matter of concern. IMO I think Luiz Sokratis Mustafi and Xhaka must be replaced next season come rain or shine. We need excellent CD’s and a sterling DM.

  3. Considering how poor Sokratis has been for a while, and Mustafi showing some signs of composure when played in Europa league, going for Mustafi wasn’t that worse of a decision. And we don’t really have VVD and De Ligt in our team now do we?

    Regarding Xhaka, it’s a necessity considering how poor and slow our defenders are. Our CBs can’t risk playing a high line to keep the formation compact and assist in keeping possession. So we need someone to take the ball forwards, and someone with a directness to his passing game. Guendouzi, Torreira, don’t cut it in that role, too fiddly with the ball. Luiz would be a better choice in that role though.

    And most of these PUNDITS, they talk like they know shit but continue to cherry-pick what serves a selling story. It’s obvious we aren’t overflown with good defenders, who does he think Freddie should have started? And Bellerin being not fit enough, and AMN being AMN, Chambers had to play RB. And Holding was injured, so who remains? None.

    Just another story to shit on Arsenal because everybody continues to do so. I don’t give two shits about these pundits really.

  4. Oh FFS.. with injuries and unfit players, that is it, like it or not, they are all we have.
    I really don’t get all the moaning.. we all know our defence is crap.. but what could he do? Drop the lot?? Work miracles? SMH…
    Jeez, I even saw Paul Scholes moaning about Freddie not wearing a suit…🙄

    Well, don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m looking forward to Thursday COYG

    1. A suit?
      What kind of criticism is that?
      If The fact isn’t enough Scholes is a United guy, he gives me another reason to dislike him

    2. Lol… Sue at least for once this season I can finally look forward to Thursday night football😄😄.
      Oh BTW Laurent Blanc and Marcelino news ain’t rumours.
      Both just ran up on the list during the past 24Hrs, bloody hell,both have been contacted.
      Depends on who the club feels is better.
      If Freddie string a couple of wins together to take us far, the club MIGHT consider him. The only thing that might stop him is the fact that the board now wants experienced managers

        1. I don’t really know why, but my gut has always been against these old coaches just because they have the trophies and experience.
          Sometimes, Grit, passion and hunger can beat experience cold.
          I really feel like whoever we get, let’s get a young ambitious manager.
          Personally I don’t want any of Blanc or Marcelino.

          1. Firmly with you on the substance of your post Eddie. LETS FACE FACTS, we are not getting a Klopp, Guardiola and that ilk anyway, even if their current ilk exists anywhere else outside those two, which I doubt, so we would be well advised to seek the next Klopp and Pep in the making. All top managers have to start somewhere. Youth, ie 40’s, has many advantages over 60+ year olds when dealing with young players, I’d say! I think both LAMPARD AND GERRARD are the next generation big successes in the making.

    3. Sue, you are so right. The issues affecting Arsenal FC go far deeper than changing the manager. The same issues confronted Unai Emery as Freddie Ljundberg; there are only so many ways you can shuffle the deck with these players, particularly when injuries impact the squad.

  5. Freddie had a chance to make a statement and show us straight away that he can and could change the personell that are not working for us and he didn’t. To play basically the same team Emery would have picked was not sending the right message out. What it says is, if you do the same things you get the same results (mistakes) any idiot knows that. Im not judging Freddie because i don’t think he is ready for managing us and he has been given a difficult job but he didn’t do anything very radical to show us he could be up to it. He needs to be relieved from this post as quickly as possible and a proper manager put in. It won’t benifit anyone if this goes on too long.

  6. At least Freddie managed to get a point away from home.

    Guadiola got nothing, he was humiliated, he played a full strength squad.

    Lets change our attitude towards our coaches, lets criticize when necessary. I dont think we could have come back with a point, had bellerin and Tierney been fit.
    Lets give him a chance.

  7. As someone who was so pleased to see Freddie active on the touchline against Nottingham Forest, I was quite disappointed with his team selection. He knew our best chance lies in attack, the same way as our defence leaks like a sieve. Pepe should have been on the pitch and not Xhaka, and what was really horrifying was to see Xhaka-Guendozi combination.
    Having said that, I’d give Freddie time till the end of the season and if he does well, he should be considered along with other candidates, because he needs to tell the club his vision. Unlike in his first match he put out an Emery team.

  8. Freddie didn’t take any chances with his lineup selection because just like this club he too is delusional…he actually thinks it’s his job to lose, which means someone in this organization needs to be fired immediately…what is going on at the Emirates?!?

  9. Am thinking no-one really loved the team selection, no surprise there then.

    But it told me something about the thinking behind the scenes, when Emery was still in charge. By the looks of his lineup, I think that Freddie thought Emery was wrong to turn on some players over fan pressure and was wrong with his dithering over Ozil. He had no qualms playing Xhaka, played him with Guendouzi, instead of Torreira, he had no problem playing Luiz and even brought him back in with Mustafi.

    He probably wanted as many of the players with the most minutes in AFC colors, that would be my guess, and an odd tweak here and there – due to injury/tactic. No dithering, the players will probably appreciate that.

  10. The only problem I have with the team is:
    why always going back when you’re being attacked?
    if the opposition player is coming at our defenders, they tend to go backwards instead of attacking the player.
    why is it so?

  11. Have I missed something? Sokratis did not play against Norwich.

    Hopefully at home, with a returning bellerin, holding and Tierney. Freddie will be able to field what should be our best x1 and bench in my opinion.

    bellerin holding chambers Tierney
    Guendozi torreira
    Pepe ozil aubameyang

    Martinez, kolasinac, luiz, maitland-niles willock,
    smith-rowe martinelli

    1. I can guarantee 100%, that starting line up will be at least 5 players different, the old not so faithful will play.

  12. Atid, you are spot on in terms of your first eleven and your bench.That said I would not be averse to Martineelli starting at the expense of Pepe who is needing a kick up the backside.

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