Freddie Ljungberg takes up the reins as Arsenal’s interim head coach on Sunday, as the club travel to Norwich City for a Premier League clash.
This is the first senior game Ljungberg has managed, so there really isn’t much to work with for our predictions.
The former winger generally used formations with three up front and four at the back in his time as u23 head coach, even if he did experiment with other systems too. We also have a good idea of the team news after the most recent updates in the last day or so.
With that in mind, let’s have a look at our predicted team for the match.
Unless Freddie Ljungberg has some significantly different ideas about the abilities of Arsenal’s two goalkeepers, Bernd Leno should start ahead of Emi Martinez – as usual in the league.
With Shkodran Mustafi and David Luiz struggling with injury problems after Thursday’s match, and Hector Bellerin not yet confirmed to be fit, Ljungberg may not have many options defensively.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Rob Holding and Calum Chambers are the only players available for the centre-back and right-back positions. Ainsley Maitland-Niles could be considered at a stretch, but to throw him back in at right-back again is a risk.
On the left, Sead Kolasinac should come into the team. Kieran Tierney has played 90 minutes twice this week, which he was forced to do in Kolasinac’s absence. With the recent injury worries of his own, it’s not worth the risk starting Tierney for a third time.
Mesut Özil should keep his place in Dani Ceballos’ absence, though it would be nice to see Emile Smith Rowe on the bench at least. Smith Rowe had been frozen out a bit under Unai Emery but he’s been performing well for the u23s, scoring on Wednesday.
For the sitting midfield two, Lucas Torreira is the easy choice. Between Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi and Joe Willock, it’s a tough call.
Xhaka is the best fit, but he had a knock on Thursday and he’s only just come back into the team. Guendouzi isn’t in great form but he got a little more rest than the other two on Thursday, playing just under an hour. He’s probably the most likely to start.
Willock may get more of a chance under Ljungberg, as he was a key member of the 42-year-old’s u23 side last season. He’ll probably be introduced more gradually though, rather than immediately making the starting lineup in the league.
I’ve argued in the past that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang playing out wide to fit both Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe into the team isn’t Arsenal’s best strategy, but for this particular game, it may be what we need.
The fans just want to see the club’s attacking talent on the pitch and given license to express themselves against a weak Norwich defence.
There will be time to sort out the most balanced front three later, but for now, having the star names out there will give everyone a boost. Bukayo Saka, Reiss Nelson and Gabriel Martinelli should all be available from the bench to make an impact.