Ljungberg ‘100 per cent’ confident Arsenal can make the top four
Freddie Ljungberg started his spell as Arsenal interim manager with only a point at Norwich, but insisted afterwards they can “100 per cent” make the top four this season.
After an entertaining 2-2 draw at Carrow Road, which extended the Gunners’ winless run in all competitions to eight matches, the north Londoners are seven points off Chelsea in fourth position in the Premier League.
The Swede has been placed in caretaker charge after Unai Emery was sacked on Friday and he saw two goals from captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ensure Arsenal battled back to earn a point against the Canaries.
It did little for their hopes of securing Champions League qualification this season, but the former midfielder and under-23s boss is optimistic.
Asked if the top four was still achievable, Ljungberg said: “Yes, 100 per cent. Like you have seen, people drop points here and there and we drop points and it is a bit of a crazy league at the moment.
“Of course I hope and think that Arsenal can get back into the top four.”
Per Mertesacker joined Ljungberg on the touchline and would have been aghast at Arsenal’s defending, with Shkodran Mustafi enduring a difficult return to Premier League action.
He gave Teemu Pukki too much time to open the scoring in the 21st minute and Todd Cantwell was also afforded plenty of room to curl home on the stroke of half-time.
But there were positives for the Gunners, who started brightly and saw Aubameyang reach double figures in the league this season while also twice coming from behind to level.
“I was proud and honoured to be allowed to stand there on the touchline and lead this great club,” Ljungberg added.
“We started extremely well, I thought we dominated it totally and found pockets and created chances. I probably expected us to take the lead and go from that.
“The problem, I think everyone can see, is we had problems on the transition when we had possession so that is something we have to work on and not get countered on in those ways.
“After that… extremely proud of the players to come back twice from one down, especially the one just before half-time.”
A notable moment in the second half, when Arsenal were looking for a winner, was the 42-year-old turning to Bukayo Saka rather than record signing Nicolas Pepe.
Ljungberg added: “Pepe is a very good player, but I try to look at what is done in training and what I see every day and that is how I judge it.”
Norwich boss Daniel Farke was proud of his players, but frustrated that VAR let Aubameyang retake his first-half penalty after encroachment by Max Aarons – Tim Krul had saved the initial spot-kick.
“It was a great performance, without any doubt. My players left their hearts on the pitch,” the Canaries manager said.
“Yes the penalty (for Christoph Zimmermann’s handball) was probably the right decision, but to replay it I think was strange.
“You will find something in the rules about why it should be replayed because Max Aarons’ foot was in the box, but Arsenal’s players were quicker than ours.
“Even if he started 10 inches later, he still would have cleared the ball so it didn’t affect it at all.”