Arsenal v Man City preview: Charlie Nicholas says title is lost for City, and Freddie Ljungberg is not the man for Gunners

Charlie Nicholas previews Arsenal v Man City for Sporting Life
Charlie Nicholas previews Arsenal v Man City for Sporting Life

Charlie Nicholas previews Arsenal v Man City, saying Freddie Ljungberg isn't the man for Arsenal while Pep Guardiola's errors have already cost Man City the title.


Can Ljungberg be the man long-term?

The answer is no. I mean no disrespect by this. Freddie Ljungberg moved up the ranks to cover Unai Emery’s lack of communication. Whether he was the academy coach or assistant, Ljungberg shouldn’t be in this situation, but he accepted it and so should we. He is a legend of the game and at Arsenal, rightly so.

He comes across as an honest guy who is trying his best, but the decisions he is making suggests he is struggling in his seat. Don’t cover your mouth when giving instructions Freddie, nobody is going to listen, but then he doesn’t do it when they go one-nil down!

Should he be the full-time manager? The reality is absolutely not. If Freddie is pushed in to the end of the season, then I would be happy to finish mid-table. This is not disrespectful, it is just the reality.

If they can get a manager in, I am not sure Freddie would stay in the head coach's role. He took Alexandre Lacazette off against Brighton after he scored a goal, why take the goalscorer off and leave Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on, who was poor?

In the old days, Arsene Wenger got a lot wrong in the end, but they would always snatch something and go all out to take a chance and gamble. No matter what they do, it is not good enough. Lacazette may sit on the bench and not be part of his fabric, which may not give a good feel. All the youngsters like him but then he leaves them out.


Arsenal v Man City


Everyone saw what Bukayo Saka did against Standard Liege. It is harder for Freddie to do this but there is no way he can be Arsenal’s long-term success. If he gets to the end of the month and it is still not done, I would be totally embarrassed to say that we can’t get a top-class coach in. I would still say to stand up and go all-out to offer it to Brendan Rodgers. I would not be embarrassed if he said no. Another option is Mikel Arteta - bring one of them in and move on.

Why is it going wrong for Man City?

It has been tough for Pep Guardiola to keep the motivation going. The Premier League is of a really high standard, look at Liverpool - they are not playing brilliantly and they have drawn just the one game. Leicester are also playing superbly and winning, but the breakdown of this is that Manchester City have missed a trick not getting another defender through the door.

Rodri was brought in to replace Fernandinho, who has become the regular centre-half when he has not been suspended. Nicolas Otamendi is not good enough and this is the same with Benjamin Mendy and Angelino. Kyle Walker been poor, so their defensive structure has not been great.

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John Stones has not improved and lost his confidence - City have had to rely on Ederson to bail them out at times. There could be games where the City attack has an off-day and the defenders can get them through that, with the attackers grabbing a goal or two, but this hasn’t been the case this year.

They have missed a trick not covering the defensive region. They will get one in January but the league will be gone. If they manage to bring in someone of significance, they will most likely have already played in the Champions League and it becomes too late for that. They are good enough to win the Champions League and they are the favourites for good reason. But Man City are very poor in defence this year.

Is Pep too stubborn to play Fernandinho back in midfield?

All great coaches are stubborn. That is something that adds to their greatness. He has been like this many times. A lot of people see it being wrong. I look at alternative ways he could go at it. Rodri could play that position with his eyes closed. He could play it better than Fernandinho - he is quicker and much calmer, while Fernandinho is quite rash where Rodri is calm. He could just flip them and put Fernandinho back in his nice, protective role.

Pep sees it in a different way for the pattern of play he wants. Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger were all stubborn, as Brendan Rodgers will be when his tactics start to be questioned. That is what they all do but it adds to their greatness.

They are not guys who never make mistakes and the league table is telling you that. Pep has got it slightly wrong but managers will always say the same thing. Players have not been the same or have not been good enough and that’s where you have to make the big decisions. I would definitely flip Rodri and Fernandinho around, and you have to say that this year Pep has got a few decisions wrong.

Prediction: Arsenal 2-4 Manchester City (Sky Bet odds: 28/1)

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