Norwich, United Kingdom, Dec 1 – Arsenal caretaker manager Freddie Ljungberg said it is obvious what he needs to work on as the Gunners’ defensive problems were again exposed in a 2-2 draw at struggling Norwich on Sunday.
Norwich twice led through Teemu Pukki and Todd Cantwell, but Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ensured Ljungberg did not suffer defeat in his first game since taking temporary charge.
“It’s easy to see what we have to work on,” said Ljungberg. “We need to work on the transitions, we dominated and they break on us too easily.”
Arsenal also had goalkeeper Bernd Leno to thank for coming away with a point as the German saved brilliantly from Kenny McLean, Pukki and Emiliano Buendia.
Unai Emery was sacked on Friday after seven games without a win in all competitions that had seen the Gunners fall well off the pace in the race for a top-four finish.
A point leaves Arsenal still seven adrift of the top four down in eighth, but Ljungberg believes he can help close that gap.
“Top four is 100 percent achievable,” added the Swede. “In the beginning I saw a lot of things we worked on in training, but we need to score goals and take the lead.
“I want this club to do well, it is only winning that counts. I wanted to win the games so I am disappointed, but I have also seen some positive things.”
Ljungberg recalled Granit Xhaka for the first time in the Premier League since an explosive clash with the club’s fans as he was substituted against Crystal Palace last month that cost him the captaincy among four changes from Emery’s last starting line-up in the league.
After a bright start, Arsenal fell behind to Norwich’s first dangerous attack when McLean’s pass played in Pukki, who twisted and turned David Luiz before seeing his shot deflect in off Shkodran Mustafi for his first club goal in nine games.
However, Norwich have also made a habit of giving themselves a mountain to climb this season with defensive errors and gifted Arsenal a route back into the game when captain Christoph Zimmerman handled a free-kick inside his own box.
– ‘Really unhappy with decisions’ –
Aubameyang saw his first spot-kick saved by Tim Krul, but was given a second chance after a VAR review for encroaching by the Norwich players and fired home the retaken penalty.
“I was really unhappy with the quality of decisions during this period. Each and every 50-50 was against us,” bemoaned Norwich boss Daniel Farke.
Just as Arsenal were beginning to get on top, they were again cut open with ease as Onel Hernandez’s cut-back was passed into the far corner by Cantwell to give Norwich a half-time lead.
Aubameyang has now scored half of his side’s 20 Premier League goals this season as the Gunners’ new captain led by example to smash home at the back post from a corner just before the hour mark.
But it was Norwich who will feel they should have taken all three points.
McLean’s shot was turned onto the post, Cantwell’s strike from the edge of the area flew just wide and Pukki was denied by a fine Leno save in quick succession before the German had one more big stop to make from Buendia in stoppage time.
“It was a great performance, we delivered what we wanted to do,” added Farke.
“I’m disappointed to some extent — we should have got three points. Some of that was due to a world-class Bernd Leno.”