Willock: We’ve not been doing the badge justice

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Freddie Ljungberg kept faith with Arsenal’s youngsters in his first game in charge as interim head coach at Arsenal.

While the Swede apologised to Reiss Nelson for not including him in the matchday squad at Norwich, he did find room to play Joe Willock in the centre of midfield and brought on Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli in the closing stages.

After the 2-2 draw at Carrow Road, Willock, who worked with Ljungberg when he was in charge of the club’s under-15s and under-23s, shed light on what the 42-year-old had said to his players prior to kick-off.

“We know collectively we need to improve with whatever manager comes in,” he told Sky Sports.

“Freddie is a brilliant manager, we believe in him and we’re working hard to try and improve.

“As a team, as a club, we weren’t doing the badge justice. We have to try to do that. He said the most important thing is to play, to play with happiness and get the pride in the badge back and work to win.”

Ljungberg sprung a surprise with his first team selection, handing Shkodran Mustafi his first Premier League appearance of the season. The Swede was eager to underline that everyone at the club will get a fresh start under him, even the German who was told in the summer he was surplus to requirements.

“I haven’t had a word with the players but for me that’s how it works,” Freddie told his post-game press conference.

“I have been here for three months and last year I was the manager of the under-23s and I saw every game for the first team so I have an opinion about how we can play and what players to use.

“I try to see things like that, everybody has a fair chance and what I see in training and in games is what I will judge them on.”

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Azurelas
Azurelas

Mustafi should have fucked his chances of ever playing in the Prem again. Simply awful.

Goo-nerd
Goo-nerd

I actually think Luiz was far worse than Mustafi.

For the first goal Mustafi sprinted back to cover Luiz, who inexplicably decided to stand off Pukki and let him shoot rather than close him down.

For the second goal Xhaka (or whomever was playing in our shambles of a midfield) should’ve tracked Cantwell’s late run into the box.

Everyone give it a rest with the Mustafi stuff. I know he’s an easy target but blaming the usual whipping boy does us no favors.

I would start holding next to Mustafi for the next game.

Dom47
Dom47

Mustafi was himself – awful as usual. Luiz was also bad but they can both be bad at the same time, right? We only give Luiz a bit of leverage as he is newer in the team and I am at least excited to see him here, while Mustafi spent all credits.

He can f*ck off wherever just not near Arsenal.

loose_cannon
loose_cannon

Agree that Xhaka was partially culpable for the second and was massively bailed out by Leno in the second half. But Mustafi was very shaky too, there was one moment that summed up his game in the second half where Pukki sent him to the shops with a simple turn. We’ve put him in the transfer window for a while and there have been no takers, that should really tell you everything you need to know.

Olivije Žirod
Olivije Žirod

Xhaka was not really late for the 2nd goal. He was the only one who actually came back. If anyone Willock didn’t track back. Guendouzi should showed more awareness because the ball was in the left side and Cantwell was more dangerous than Mclean. Also there were already Kolasinac and Luiz. But the main fault was from Luiz who was completely out of the positon in the first place. I mean who knows what was he doing there.

Didrik Plehn
Didrik Plehn

Well, this is how Luiz play and have played for many years. Some teams are buying CB’s like van Dijk , Laporte and Maguire. And we buy CB’s like Squillaci, Gabriel and Luiz…

mc1892
mc1892

Agreed- I’m usually the first person to have a pop at Mustafi but I thought he was alright-ish on Saturday; surprised me how much the blog today was on his case. I’ve given up moaning about our CBs- any one of Luiz, Sokratis and Mustafi are a disaster waiting to happen, so what’s the point in discussing the merits of one against the other. I can’t help but think there’s more to this Torreira situation- surely there’s no justification for not playing him unless he’s poor in training or- as I suspect- he’s mentally left the club already.

jarlov
jarlov

Did you even watch the game? Mustafi and Kola was easily our best defenders. Chambers was terrible and Luiz was not much better. Then again Chambers is English so he gets away with it. I am bored with this Mustafi hating¡

Mekus
Mekus

Before the end, Chambers was almost practically praying for Norwich not to attack from his end. He has completely ran out of gas and anticipative ideas by then. He must be thanking his stars by the time the final whistle sounded. They should be mentally and physically ready/prepared to defend the Arsenal badge on field of play. Most of them aren’t ready yet for the big battles.

ScotchEggsRule
ScotchEggsRule

That’s what happens when a CB is played at RB

Cechmate
Cechmate

While I do not support the opinion that our fan base is toxic, I must accept that it is not without base. Chambers had started doing well in CB and in partnership with Holding, when the club decided to loan him (and then played Xhaka there, how stupid was that?). He played as a DM there and comes back and was made to wait as we had bought Luiz and then played out of position. Now, the fans are after him!

While I like Bellerin, I think it’s time we stopped relying on him (if not move away), his injuries have hurt us as a club and spoiled careers like AMN and now Chambers. We don’t need a back-up for Bellerin but a proper competition for him in RB.

In both goals, did you see the number of players we had in the box when they scored? It was not a classic counter attack where they outnumbered us, we had sufficient people and no one closed them down – basic stuff.

Until the hierarchy and the managers get the team composition & personnel right we are going to suffer and we need to endure it and support the lads. We can’t just keep going after our players like vampires!

Patty knight
Patty knight

Absolutely. The Sooner most of the guys in the dressing room leave the better. It is reaching a point where it seems the players are deliberately sabotaging this great club

Rich
Rich

I agree, it was always going to be difficult for Emery once we started the process of trying to get Ozil, Mustafi and Kolasinac out the door, but then failed to do so.

Once you get those cliches inside a dressing room, it’s always going to be difficult for a manager, no manager has survived after losing the dressing room.

Next time we go for a squad cull, we need to ensure we succeed.

Our squad is lacking in quality, and is full of flaky characters.

The next set of players we invest in, we need to get it right.

I’m happy to persist with the likes of Willock, Saka, Nelson and Smith-Rowe, even if that means going through some pain in the process, I’d much rather any of those young lads over continuing with Ozil.

Dave M
Dave M

I’ve been this guy’s biggest fan the whole season. This just shows more reasons why he should be out there starting games in the EPL. An Arsenal player that finally realises why they do the job they do – THE FANS! fans pay the TV subscriptions, (most costly) tickets, merch, all of it…all the revenue is generated by the fans. Sure there are always some knob fans of EVERY team, but you want to bring things together this is EXACTLY the talk that is needed (some wins will help too), but enough of this begging for fans support from players. Time for them to ackowledge they’ve been terrible and get out there and earn their pay and place on the team and leave it all on the pitch.

Willock is young and is going to make mistakes. But just like Douzi (and as it should be for Torreira too) if they have belief and confidence and support now and get opportunities then we’ll benefit in the future even if it costs us a few points – not like the jokers out there at the moment haven’t cost us even more while acting like entitled prima donas to boot!

#WillockIn

Homer
Homer

Respectfully disagree.
Willock was awful on Sunday. Just awful. Out of position, giving the ball away/bad passes. He may’ve tracked back, but had zero effect. IF he’s supposed to be a box-2-box, he’s got a long way to do. Young Aaron Ramsey, even at his worst, was less lost at sea than this player.

He needs to play cup games and U-23. He’s nowhere near a Premier league player. (Nor, for that matter is Saka.) Great that JW is prattling on about the badge, shirt, etc. But hows about playing better instead of cheap talk, there young man.

FL has a bias; plays the young kids b/c they’re his young kids from the U-23 team. WTF kind of man management leaves Pepe on the bench when we’re chasing the game and need a goal, bringing on a teenager instead???? And starting Xhaka…??!!

To be fair, FL has a near-impossible task. But he does himself no favors with these bone-headed line ups and subs.

Xhaka – he’s rubbish. And, its just a shame that Mustafi — who I agree w/you isn’t as crap as many say — seems always in the wrong places at the wrong time.

Dave M
Dave M

So you’d rather send an extremely promising young player that has had an outstanding season this year that is preaching positivity and pride in playing for the Arsenal back to the bench for guys that have proven for many years now they can’t improve our midfield and have zero pride in anything except their bank accounts?? I’ll take a gamble on the youth (Douzi, Willock and Torreira) until we get someone else in ACTUALLY worth playing instead and help bring them through with some leeway for learning and mistakes.

NumberWeng
NumberWeng

How about just calming the fuck down for a moment?

Oquix
Oquix

Prior to the first goal Willock lost the ball and was reluctant in tracking the ball misplaced by him, even an arsenal player behind him ran past him in an effort to help the defence, these guys need a coach that won’t tolerate their nonchalant attitude in games.

Dom47
Dom47

Exactly.

Mekus
Mekus

I saw that too (even more than once). And I remember checking my head and asking myself how a still young athlete/player like him (who’s Arsenal to the core) can track/fight back after losing the ball to an opponent. Some others, even when they misplace a pass can’t be bordered to fight and recover it (examples Ganduizy and even Saka after coming on). They need a no nonsense coach to coach out this mediocrity mentality out of them or push out those who resist the obvious needed changes. It was so irritating to observe that from some of them (especially the younger ones)

James
James

That Ganduizy is some player, right up there with Gwendoozy, Gendozi, Geunduozy and even Matteo Guendouzi.

Olivije Žirod
Olivije Žirod

He lost the ball in the final third. He wasn’t sprinting back because there were literally 5 our man against Pukki. And before that only Mclean who Guendouzi just watched him instead of pressing him (guendouzi knew there was only Pukki behind him and 3 of our players).

That guy (the only one) who ran past him was Chambers. He is a defender of course he had to go back. But he wasn’t exactly sprinting either. He was jogging in similiar pace than Willock just in different direction.

Dave M
Dave M

So you sit him down and show him the video and teach him to fix that part of his game. And you keep giving him chances and opportunities. He most certainly has shown a propensity to chase back this season, but sure he can definitely improve in areas – like concentrating the whole game and working our the space on the pitch to exploit. Dropping him is not the answer, especially for someone like Xhaka who is a complete turnstile in the middle of the park and has 2.5 years of data of errors costing us in midfield.
Torreira-Douzi-Willock
Get it done.

Amusa
Amusa

Get off Mustafi’s back. How many goals we’ve conceded have been Luiz’s fault? He’s supposed to be Fucking experienced to but has been a disaster. Maybe pair Mustafi with someone better and I guarantee he’ll make less mistake than Luiz.

Dom47
Dom47

Mustafi is a disaster waiting to happen, partner won’t help there.

Olivije Žirod
Olivije Žirod

People love to forget who was actually Holding’s partner last season.

Swerve
Swerve

Just goes to show how good Holding was

goonero
goonero

Mustafi Luiz and Sokratis are the same shit in a different package, the sooner were shot of the lot of them the better.

Dom47
Dom47

Especially you, Joe. With you and Xhaka we had 9.5 players on the pitch, you were 0 and Xhaka 0.5 which is progress on his part.

And when being subbed you were slow to leave, unacceptable.

Bergkamp2Wright
Bergkamp2Wright

Jesus mate have a word with yourself. Willock is a 20 yr old Arsenal lad that has come through the ranks and for the most part has been a revelation this season. Yes he had a bad game but he’s playing in an completely dysfunctional team. He needs strong players around him to guide him and bollock him when necessary so he can learn, but instead he has Guendouzi(also young and learning) and fucking Xhaka (I agree on that point).

Homer
Homer

Yes, all true. But let’s be honest; he’s rubbish at the moment.
Back to the youth set up with this youngster. He’s half-baked and needs time. That’s not to say he’s crap.

Its effing irresponsible for FL to throw players like Willock and Saka on in games like this when they are clearly not ready. Its not experience, its just damaging their confidence. And we lose more points.

Had very high hopes for this match. Perhaps foolishly. Blogs was right though, there was overall improvement from the dross Emery was giving us.

Everyone keep in mind though: This was freaking Norwich. They are in the drop zone and probably will go back down. And Arsenal cannot beat them. AFC has drawn both Southampton and Norwich – both relegation candidates.
This is going to get worse before it gets any better.

ViennaGooner
ViennaGooner

I think Chambers was worse.

David Hillier's luggage
David Hillier's luggage

Everything wrong with our fanbase in one comment. Joe’s an academy graduate in his first season of first team football (for any club), asked to play in the engine room of a side with no direction or distinct playing style. He’s done remarkably well.

The last home game a guy behind me was screaming at Saka, claiming he’s ‘not good enough’ for Arsenal. Saka is the youngest player to start a Premier League game this season.

Our youngsters are never going to break through if we keep treating them like this.

Fanboy
Fanboy

So disappointed with Willock yesterday. I’m his huge supporter, but every time he loses the ball, he just slowly jogged back with no urgency. Even Ozil tracked back more than him.

I know he’ll come good one day. But for now, for more solidity in the important midfield area, I would rather have just one between him & Guen to start, not both at the same time.

Mekus
Mekus

It was do irritating and got me so pissed off. Him and Guen were most doing that. And How Guen seems to like to give the opponents too much space to pass or shoot near our goal area, instead of closing them down to limit their options still baffles me up to today. Does it mean that the coaches don’t see that and correct him or that he simply finds it difficult to do otherwise? I mean, for the life of me, that should have been corrected out of him by now. And when he does attempt to close down (which is far in between) he end up pulling the player down and giving out a free kick. I know that they are still young and all that, but some basic training could have gotten those silly mistakes out of them by now except in instances where it’s deliberately done to avoid obvious goal opportunity/professional foul).

Fuhgedaboudit
Fuhgedaboudit

I’d like to see a back 4 of Bellerin,-Chambers Holding-Tierney . A midfield of Torreira, Guendouzi, then Ozil, then Pepe and Laca, and Auba up front. Chambers can not handle fullback, he has no pace, but he’s solid as a CB where his lack of pace does not hurt him. Luiz has been terrible, Mustafi doesn’t require an explanation, and Sokratis makes too many positional mistakes.
Not thrilled with Torreira – Guendouzi because they are both small and not muscular enough to be a physical force in midfield. Xhaka could satisfy that but has been too inconsistent. Overall, I’d probably prefer Xhaka – Torreira in midfield.

Red Arrow
Red Arrow

Find it strange that Pepe, Xhaka and Mustafi who cost the best part of £140 million are either on the bench or not up to standard. We say we can’t spend lots of money but what we do spend seems to be wasted. Something surely needs to improve in the recruitment process.

Santori
Santori

Too right.

The young man still has a steep learning curve (lost the ball too easily several times in particular high up for the first goal) but you can’t complain about his effort.

Freddy looks like he prefers both Guendouzi and Willock for their energy slightly higher in front of Granit in a deeper role dictating point of attack.

But it does mean a lot more space needs to be covered tracking back if their initial closing down when the ball is lost in our attack is not successful.

And yesterday, we also suffered from less pace on the right with Chambers. He’s a decent enough fullback (as proven with Soton) but we have to be more cognisant of his lack of pace with set up when using him.

Certainly the opponents were.

Overall, I’d say I was pleased with the effort yesterday. We were undone twice but kept persevering and came back, did not roll over.

but clearly lots of work yet to be done with Freddy really only having two full days with the squad since taking over.

So not unexpected result.

OTOH we saw players willing to track back and back up each other more in defense, Granit and Kolasinac particularly stood out.

Going forward we were not as static and there was movement off ball to provide angles for the player on the ball rather than waiting in static line to have the ball come to them. Also we made diagonal runs that help open up the opponents more.

Other obvious difference of course we seem to have abandoned the play out from deep around our box suicide tactic and attempted to find a way forward and I thought we were fairly competitive in this respect.

We did not sustain shape though for 90 and fell apart from 50 minutes onwards. How midfield shapes up and keeps momentum (with timely additions, Freddy threw on Torreira to keep energy levels up but help with space around Calum albeit to not much effect), will really depend on how the rest of the team as well close space in relation to midfield.

Often times when the initial press by Guendouzi or Willock was overcome, Granit became very isolated in too much space to cover.

As I said, work in progress for now and plenty PLENTY still to be fixed.

And as much as it can get better, it can also get a lot worse.

para
para

I get the impression that Arsenal train and forget the basics.
F.i. Using the side of the field to kick the ball out rather than directly up the middle when under pressure and need to stop the opposition’s advance.
Quick passing, dont hold the ball too long inviting a challenge.
Arsenal is starting to be deceitfull lately(because skill is gone? because this is how PL is?) Torreria falls down too much, Gwendouzi keeps the ball too long and loses it, Xhaka, well is Xhaka. There seems to be no organisation.
Well let me rephrase that.
We play well for a while and then all at once mid game we play as if we are a completely different team and play rubbish.
It is this sudden change mid game that i just cannot comprehend.