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Norwich vs Arsenal preview | Confirmed team news, Pepe to start + prediction

By on December 1, 2019

freddie ljungberg arsenal

Freddie Ljungberg will try to get Arsenal’s season back on track when he takes charge of his first game as interim manager at Norwich this afternoon.

Unai Emery was finally put out of his misery on Friday morning after being relieved of his duties at London Colney just before training bringing an end to his 18-months in charge of Arsenal.

It’s unfortunate how things turned out but it’s definitely the right decision as Emery had completely lost the dressing room and things were only going to get worse the longer it went on so we needed to act now to try and salvage something from the season.

Thursday night’s defeat at home to Eintracht Frankfurt was the final straw as it extended our winless run to seven games in all competitions – which is our worst run since 1992 – so the Arsenal board had no option but to pull the trigger.

Ljungberg has been installed as interim manager while the club look for a permanent replacement but Freddie’s got to make an immediate impact as Arsenal languish down in 9th place in the table.

The good news is a win today would see us climb above Tottenham into fifth and we’d be just five points off fourth-placed Chelsea after they lost at home to West Ham on Saturday afternoon so we can’t pass up this opportunity to close the gap.

Team news

Ljungberg has inherited a fairly healthy squad as Dani Ceballos is Arsenal’s only major absentee with the Spanish midfielder still out with a hamstring injury.

David Luiz is a doubt for today’s game after suffering a rib injury on Thursday but Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding and Sead Kolasinac should all be in contention after recovering from minor knocks.

Norwich will be without Alex Tettey and Grant Hanley while the game may come too soon for Jamal Lewis but Todd Cantwell is expected to be passed fit after recovering from an ankle injury.

Preferred line-up

Ljungberg is likely to go with a 4-2-3-1 formation and I hope we see him give Holding and Chambers a chance to form a partnership in defence as Sokratis and Luiz have been shocking this season. I’d like to see Lucas Torreira given instructions to be a proper defensive midfielder and play alongside Matteo Guendouzi in the middle of the park.

Nicolas Pepe was left out of Emery’s last two games so hopefully we see him recalled on the wing today to play alongside Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette in the Arsenal attack.

This is the team I’d like to see:

football formations

Norwich XI: Krul; Aarons, Zimmermann, Godfrey, Byram; Stiepermann, McLean, Trybull; Cantwell, Hernandez, Pukki

Prediction

It’s going to be interesting to see how the squad responds to Emery’s departure but hopefully they work a lot harder for Ljungberg than they did for the Spaniard in recent weeks. I’m expecting a positive response from the players as it was clear they were just going through the motions until Emery was sacked. Arsenal still have a lot to play for this season so it’s down to Ljungberg to pick the players up and get them focused again.

Norwich are struggling down in 19th so this is a good opportunity for Arsenal to get back to winning ways. I don’t think we’ll see us suddenly playing vintage Arsenal football as it’s going to take time to adjust to new tactics but I think we’ll do enough to edge this game. I’m going 2-1 Arsenal.

Norwich 1-2 Arsenal

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