English Premier League: Freddie Ljungberg goes Dutch

Norwich: There is only so much Freddie Ljungberg can change in two days as they went Dutch with Norwich in their away encounter, and Arsenal’s interim head coach will certainly have his work cut out in the coming weeks if he is to find a solution to the persistent sense of chaos that stalks the club’s defenders.

There were certainly signs of progress in Ljungberg’s first game since replacing the sacked Unai Emery, particularly in attack. But two training sessions are clearly not enough to fix Arsenal’s vulnerability at the back, where a sprightly Norwich City caused all sorts of problems across 90 minutes of terrific entertainment at Carrow Road.

Norwich are not a side to hold back against a team like Arsenal, especially not an Arsenal in their current state. They were defensively organised, yes, but they also countered with genuine pace and venom, twice taking the lead in the first half and then creating the best opportunities of the second.

A player of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s predatory instincts will always cause problems, though, no matter which team he is playing for or which manager he is working under. Aubameyang scored twice, once from a VAR-assisted retaken penalty, and once from close-range as Arsenal fought back.

All in, it was Norwich who looked the more likely winners, and it will not have escaped Ljungberg’s attention that Daniel Farke’s side had enough chances in the second half to win this by some margin. Teemu Pukki, the scorer of their first, and the excellent Todd Cantwell, who struck their second, both went close. As did Kenny McLean, who was denied by the exceptional Bernd Leno in the Arsenal goal.

By the end it had all become far too jittery for a wide-eyed Arsenal, who started the match impressively but soon reverted to the same panicky defending that became so common under Emery. Leno was called into action again and again, and Arsenal’s positive start felt like a distant memory when the whistle finally blew.

For the first time in a long while, Arsenal actually looked the better team for much of the opening stages. Their recent games under Emery had been characterised by a total lack of control and an absence of midfield but in Ljungberg’s first game there was more patience in possession and much more width in attack.

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