Friday, May 20, 2022

Freddie: Auba-Laca partnership unbalances defence

Freddie Ljungberg says playing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang alongside Alex Lacazette upsets Arsenal’s defensive balance, hence his decision to field one or other of the club’s strikers in this week’s trio of games against West Ham, Standard Liege and Manchester City.

Aubameyang netted at the London Stadium in Monday’s 3-1 win and was restored to the attack on Sunday against City after Lacazette had scored in Belgium on Thursday.

While his predecessor Unai Emery had regularly shoehorned both players into his starting lineup, the Swede has preferred to add pace to the flanks in the form of Gabriel Martinelli, Pepe and Bukayo Saka.

Somewhat surprisingly, given his side found themselves 3-0 down at half time against Pep Guardiola’s reigning champions, Ljungberg decided not to use Lacazette at all today. After the game, he was asked about the decision.

“You need to have balance in your team,” he told beIN SPORTS.

“With Lacazette and Auba, we tried in my first two games, but we looked really vulnerable defensively. They are both great players that’s why I wanted them on the pitch, but we were vulnerable defensively.

“We’ve taken the route against West Ham where we’ve played one of them to have more defensive organisation and we played well and won that game very clearly.”

While today’s match was dispiriting on a number of levels, not least because it again highlighted the huge gap between Arsenal and the country’s best teams, Freddie tried to sound an optimistic note.

“When you play against Man City there’s a big step up and especially in your organisation. When you play against De Bruyne and he scores those fantastic goals in the beginning of the game, there are not many who score those chances. After it’s very difficult to come back, when you go 2-0 and 3-0 down so early.

“There were some instances where we played decent in between [the goals]. Between the boxes we played well and kept the ball but when you get 3-0 down it’s difficult. We put the young players on to bring some energy.”

Related articles


newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

shoot me in the face. that is all.


That was a shambles yesterday. Its so painful to see Freddie being hung out to dry and used as a shield by the Exec team. This is our worst run of form since the 80’s and where are Raul? Josh? Vinai? — they are literally nowhere to be found. Man City turned up yesterday with a squad of serious seasoned professional footballers at the top of their game, and about 14 coaches and technical backroom staff. In comparison Freddie was sat there next to Per and that was it. As for our squad.. it was almost like something you would… Read more »


Play Auba up top. Play Lacazette up top. Play Lacazette and Auba together. Fuck it, play Per up top. Without any service whatsoever it really doesn’t matter. We might as well not have a CF and just play two wingers down one of our wings.

Matthew Beeson

Time for a major overhaul. Aubu and Laca are luxuries. Also part of an un-balanced team. Sell them. Should yield circa £125mm. Buy Upamecano and Demiral. Should cost circa £85mm. Spend £40mm on a left sided winger like Everton Soares. After that, Guenduzi, slows play down and doesn’t put in the cynical challenges. Ideally, I’d buy Tialgo to cover his spot, who I understand is not 100% supported at Buyern Munich. Should cost about £45mm. Selling Elneny, Mkhitaryian, Mustafi, Sokrtais and Chambers should sort that. Finally., I’d look at Renier Jesus as a long term replacement for Ozil. Oh! Fantasy… Read more »


Crack cocaine doesn’t do transfer windows. But if it did…


When you look at Leicester’s defensive partnership of Evans and Soyuncu (both of whom were heavily tipped to move to Arsenal), it just makes you sick. Why oh why did we not go for those two?!

If the proof is in the eating, then look no further at Leicester’s Goals Against stat. Lowest in the EPL at 11, compared to Arsenal’s 27…

"Thierry Bergkamp

The defence did well today

Heavenly Chapecoense

I am not impressed by Freddie on this one. He tries to solve defensive midfield and fullback problems using strikers. Can’t he try to improve his midfield or do something?


Half our starting midfield and all of our starting fullbacks are injured.

How do you propose he improve those areas with no players and no coaching staff?

The Arsenal

Other than trying Luiz in midfield what can he do. He’ and Emery tried every combination possible. We just are not that good and do not have the players. They are all weak and slow especially in the midfield. Short guys can be tough but the fact that Torreira is our midfield destroyer is embarrassing. The big athletic guys are not just big dumb lumps any more they can play too so I unless your Santi cazorla you are fucked. A guy like Dacoure who is average looks like Prime Yaya Toure against us.


Bit harsh on Auba and Laca, we haven’t had a balanced defence for years.

Heavenly Chapecoense

Auba and Laca were on the pitch for most of our wins last season. Maybe Freddie was too busy with the academy and not watching the first team. Replacing Ozil by Smith-Rowe certainly gave us that defensive solidity and the goal threat we urgently neeeded.


ESR had STRICTLY nothing and jogged 30 minutes.


He hardly broke a sweat after coming on. Ozil tackled with more zeal and focus before tiring out. He’s much younger and having just come on is much fresher and so is expected to do better than he did. Even Matinelli who has ran himself to the ground by the time ESR joined the game was hassling the city players more than he did. The kind of soft and safe contribution that made fans call out Ozil before and now he’s doing a much better job at tackling than before. ESR needs to do better (including Willock), unless they’re as… Read more »

Pépé Le Pew

Play Laca as a number 10!! He cannot do worse than Ozil and has grit ! He can dribble player , spot a pass, resist challenges and nick balls. Worth the try


Why not? Once you’ve played Saka at LB you have gone through the looking glass as regards players positions.

Emery never knew his starting XI and I don’t think Freddie does either. At least Freddie is taking some risks though.


I’ve been saying this all season. Stupid thing is that Lacca plays like a number 10 this season. He is the strongest forward we have in terms of holding the ball and letting others get into positions.

He could be great just behind our front three.


Or as a false number nine (depending on the formation being used). He can do a sterling job in that position when/if fit.


Funny but Liverpool can play 3 up front and they seem to be doing ok . Definitely can’t play opal forward line against stronger teams as would leave us a bit Dolly Parton (top heavy and short in other areas) Balance is the key but without passion,focus and desire it’s pointless. In most games you are without the ball between 40 & 60 % that’s where we are failing. Not seeing or can’t be bothered to see the danger.


Exactly my worry. Most of these players don’t seem to care anymore. More like (without questioning their loyalty) they just seem to want to play for appearance sake than for the badge. Something drastic needs to be done about that by the club and incoming coach or it will end up being unending vicious circle that will make the club turn into a ridicule.

Ordnance Dave

Exactly, we can talk about systems and balance and patterns of play all day long, but if the players don’t fundamentally work their holes off, none of that matters.

Cliff Bastin

He’s right though. They shouldn’t play together unless it’s a 352 or a 442 diamond.

Olivije Žirod

For me the biggest problem is that Auba is not that effective on the wing because he is not good enough with the ball. Instead I would try Lacazette on the left wing as some kind of wide target man. Let’s remember that he had few minutes on the LW in his first Arsenal game against Leicester. He did pretty well. The 2nd time was not that long ago against Brighton. The start of the 2nd half were our best minutes of the game but then suddenly Laca and Auba changed positions again. I think they can work together as… Read more »


If it’s me I’m starting Martinelli every match unless his form changes.


Martinelli will get burned out in no time playing every game. Don’t think he can sustain the pace after receiving this many fouls and bruises.


Eventually.. But before then..


Have anyone noticed that Auba is starting to slow down?


It’s not like our defence has looked any more balanced for having Lacazette out of the team. And using West Ham as an example is pretty worrying, we were garbage for 60 minutes!


I have not seen a balanced defence since a while now.


Team has no midfield, end of story. You can blame whomever you feel like not going to make any difference until tbe management fix their error of letting Ramsey, Iwobi and Myhitarian leave without proper replacements.
However you have to think that people like Laca, Auba and Torrera are already planning their exits.
Sounds like a mess. Who is to blame?


Pep and City were very kind to us today. If they had not had a CL match i think it would have been about 0-6. We do not seem to know how to press opposition, we keep backing off, City hunted in 3’s, one makes a tackle or forces the pass, the others pick up the lost balls.
I suspect our training methods are not being effective regardless of players in defence.


True. As a partner in the DM position, their coordinated fast/interchange play exposed all of Gend’s weaknesses. And I can’t understand why he likes to seem to want to engage a player and then seem to change his mind and back off making it easy for the player to have enough time to pick where to shoot or whom to pass the ball to. If he wants to engage, do exactly that without committing unnecessary fouls in dangerous areas. His indecisiveness in such situations (as if he’s scared of being beaten) can be quite irritating and compromises the defense.


I really don’t buy the Laca and Auba can’t play together view. They are our 2 best players. They had some fantastic games together last season. Holy shit Laca was player of the season for many of us. Now all we hear is this “they can’t play together” bullshit. Since when?! We keep Laca on the bench and have that waste of space Ozil starting?! Seriously fkd up team on so many levels right now.


Özil was not good but ge was unvolved in all our attacks.


On the contrary, he put in a decent effort until he tired out. I rated him above average in yesterday’s match.

Zeus the Arsenal God

Hello from the USA….what is wrong with our attacking machinery? We all know our defense is porous but I can’t understand why our shorts at goal have not been encouraging. Even in our win against WHU, the numbers were abysmal. I think the frontline bears as much blame as the backline. My wish and hope is that we get a permanent manager to be involved in disposing/acquiring players during the January window. If that will not happen then let’s leave Freddie to run the show through end of season, making sure we remain in the middle of the league table.… Read more »

Zeus the Arsenal God

sorry ‘shots’ and not ‘shorts’


It might be down to the shorts….

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

Our results have been poor against teams from all levels of the league. We have barely moved on from the Emery days and are playing at a relegation-fodder level, so we will be lucky to stay in the PL at all unless something happens soon. I don’t think we can leave it to Freddie because this squad got absolutely NO new coach boost from having one of our heroes take over. He is a hero to the Arsenal fans, not the people we have working as footballers in the club. Its the players who have to understand the “Arsenal Way”… Read more »

The Arsenal

Lacazette works harder than Ozil, Pepe and Auba combined. But Auba gets more goals and is poor out wide. I think we’re a better side with Lacazette leading the line but he has been poor since his return from injury.


I think it’s less that and more the fact that the rest of our team is too much of a shambles to accommodate two strikers. If we had midfielders worthy of the name there’s no reason Laca and Auba can’t fit in the same XI.


Yes, I agree. But maybe Freddie thinks he shouldn’t say that. He’s working on midfield tactics but the process is just starting. He’ll start Laca and Auba (if he’s around long enough) together when it makes sense to him, which would be if he feels he’s got the midfield sorted. I wouldn’t make too much of this comment.


He’s exactly right, it has been a problem since auba signed, glad he has the balls to say it, i like Freddie.

The Gooner

Problem discovered: Average players. Full stop

Steve Morpurgo

We all can see that without a midfield, you won’t score and you will concede. If you continually back off the likes of City, if you don’t engage and press them, make them make mistakes, they will walk right through you. The truth is, we have very ordinary midfield players, who are not good enough at this level. They don’t provide attacking options and they certainly don’t provide defensive cover. Ozil strolls through a game without any sense of urgency, Guendouzi runs about but without any end product and Torreira doesn’t want to be there. We urgently need a clear… Read more »

Proud Arse

Spot on re midfield is the engine room. There is a reason why such blokes like Conte and Nuno loved to pack the midfield with 3-5-2 formation, especially with Luiz is a liability as CB and try him at holding midfield role. The 5 midfielders with help to crowd and press from the center of midfield with one midfielder more and suit the 2 forwards pair in Laca and Auba. With the Kola’s injury, Freddie had no choice to play Saka as left WB. Big Dunc can motivate his Everton players to defend as a unit starting with the front… Read more »

The Spoon

At this rate I’d start the whole u23s against Everton. Can’t do any worse, and they won’t be suffering from low confidence, if anything they’ll want to prove themselves.

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

But if they get hammered they will start to suffer from low confidence.


Freddie is off the target here. He seriously think we would defend worse with Laca in the team? This is not about selecting a team, it’s about having a game plan and execute it. Yesterday, the two central midfielders should be central and Pepe and Martinelli should have got clear instructions to track back and cover Citys wide players.
Neither did that. At 1-0 both were disasters.
There’s no fight in this team, no pride, no understanding that this path is the relegation path

Crash Fistfight

Bit harsh on Martinelli, I think. He ran himself ragged. Meanwhile Pepe was getting roasted by that dribbling machine Fernandinho and trying backheel flicks to teammates in his own defensive third.

Duakeez Jay

Here’s how I can set up this team if Luis and ozil must play… Niles – Chambers – Sokrates – kola Toriera – Luis Ozil – Laca – Martinelli Auba Laca may not be in his best form but not worse either. He is a strong guy who is not afraid to tackle n hold on to the ball… I would keep Ozil right now cos of his tele-passes n Pepe is not better at d moment… Luiz may do well at DM if instructed to do all d dirty work there… My plea – pls play Laca always. His… Read more »


Why must Ozil play? So he can have one of his once a season masterclasses? He really is magic, how he can disappear while wearing a bright red shirt in front of 60000 people. That’s twice he has shown a bit of fight after his game was done. Try to show some fight during the game and I would have more respect. Ability alone is not enough and as Martinelli showed fight and ability are not mutually exclusive.


I Just kind of get the feeling like Luiz as a DM would not do the dirty work but rather prefer to start trying to spray it round, bang in a couple of no look passes, try and get on the end of crosses and then not really defend at all. Thats just the kind of feeling i get from Luiz.


Why? When they played together under Arsene Wenger they had a great partnership. What happened since then?




So with Ozil causing Chinese TV to drop the game yesterday and now I read that Chinese fans are burning their Arsenal shirts, is there nothing in his contract that would allow us to punt him now for some kind of misconduct? Cancel his contract and let him go?

There has to be some clauses in player contracts that says they need to behave??

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

Did you know that outside Australia many people criticise the Australian Government for selling coal to China and then acting like it’s not their fault that the Chinese actually burn it? Do you believe that anybody who thinks that is also guilty of misconduct and should be fired from their job?


I’ve been saying this for over a year, our front line is wonky. And for years our whole team has been wonky, Our signings haven’t been very well thought out. We struck gold will Martinelli, he’s raw, but he’s the very definition of a PL forward, but at 18, in a poor team, we can’t expect him to carry us. Pepe is 24, has talent, and I’m a little less anxious about him now, but he’s going to need to toughen up, and improve his work rate pretty sharpish. Saka is class, we’ll pay a price in the short term,… Read more »

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

So you are saying sell our two best strikers for 110 million, one of whom will be able to leave on a free soon or be dirt cheap six months before that, and then buy two younger players for £55 million each. Yes? That would be two £55 million players who are willing to join a lower midtable team (January) or perhaps a Championship team (June). What positions do you think those two new younger players should fill that will solve all our problems? Defence? If one of the £55 million players is a defender he’ll still have three potential… Read more »


What defence?

Crash Fistfight

Auba and Laca play together and Arsenal lose. Arsenal fans: “they don’t work together. Auba’s wasted on the wing and is no good there. Pick one or the other.”

Auba and Laca don’t play together and Arsenal lose. Arsenal fans: “what has defensive solidity got to do with it? Start them together!”


I don’t see how you can judge anyone up front with such apocalyptic defence and absent midfield.

I would sell the main two before their value diminishes, as we currently have no use for them. We need to concentrate on making sure we can retain Martinelli once the rest of the team has been replaced.


what unbalances our defense is not having two quick/mobile center backs WHO CAN DEFEND and drive forwards with the ball.. the most recent CB who had this in his locker was Koscienly in his day! we have enough good options in other positions to at least be competitive this season.. start from the front and work forwards.. it’s so obvious how bad we are back there in the center. FIX IT!

Tony Hall

The thing is Auba and Laca did pretty good as a strike pair last season. I think they had 30-35 prem goals between them.

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

Not too many of those goals came when we only needed a point to reach the CL. The rot had already set in last season.


Why Freddy did not haul off Pepe for Laca is beyond me. I would have thrown in Laca against Otamendi and Fernandhino. neither of their Cbacks are particularly tall and susceptable to balls from over the top or crosses. Pepe was useless all match. A couple of fancy flicks (most don’t come off), then when he loses the ball, he throws his arms in the air looks to the ref for a foul and ambles back leaving whoever is in midfield (In this case Torreira and Guendouzi) with acres of space to cover. When one of the mids have to… Read more »

Billy Bob

If I were the manager I would be speaking with all the players individually for a honest conversation about their desire to play for the club, what positions they prefer to play in and who would be the first choice player in the position immediately around them (a centreback o would have to pick a their first choice keeper, rightback, defensive midfielder) as I kinda get the impression certain players don’t trust some of the players around them which doesn’t make for a fluid performance!!! It’d give you something to work with, but certain players need to be got shot… Read more »

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

I think they’d choose differently to you. That’s the point. You assume that if you don’t like Ozil and Xhaka in the team that our players would think that way too.


such an insightful and honest response to the questions. hes right about the tactical side of things/our glimpses of ok play between the goals. we seem to have about 20 minutes of decent football in us at the moment. I think that’s an improvement on the 0-10 we had under emery. still not good enough, but I can’t imagine how we get out of this hole without 1 of 2 things that wont even happen. 1. kroenke sells up to the African billionaire who ploughs his slightly more ethical fortune in. or 2. we manage to sell 8 players and… Read more »

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

No 8 of our players will fetch enough to buy 5-6 top players. Even if they could, top players do not join midtable-relegation level PL teams who are losing money, as we are now. They laugh at the idea in private, say no politely, and go join a team at the top, who have European football every season, or are moving in that direction. This site is full of people naming the players we should buy. They never consider whether those players think Arsenal is good enough for them. Experience tells me that most of them don’t rate Arsenal. Some… Read more »

Share article

Featured on NewsNow

Support Arseblog

Latest posts

Latest Arsecast

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x