Arsenal fans are known to be hyper-critical. They couldn’t put up with the over-achieving Arsene Wenger at the end of his long stint at the helm of the Gunners. And they gave Spanish coach Unai Emery an even shorter period before they started blaming him for his apparent lack of tactical knowhow as well as not being able to recognise the best starting eleven he had at his disposal.
Emery, as we know, was axed as a result of the mounting pressure on him and the club following a poor run of form as well as what was perceived as a lack of direction. The straw that eventually broke the camel’s back was the 2-1 defeat to an average team in the shape of German side Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League clash at the Emirates Stadium last week.
In the meantime, the club’s powerbrokers have persuaded former midfielder Freddie Ljungberg, a first team coach under Emery having been promoted from working with Arsenal youngsters, to take over in a role they call interim head coach. Ljungberg, who enjoyed a prize-littered career as a player with the north London giants, got his management career off the mark with a creditable 2-2 draw at Norwich City on Sunday in a Premier League encounter. Some say creditable isn’t a worthy description given that they believe a team with Arsenal’s pedigree and top-notch players should have won at Carrow Road against a newly-promoted team.
Some fans said the performance wasn’t any better than under Emery while others pointed out that the former Sweden attacker had only one training session in which he had the chance to impose his methodology and that he should be given far more time before the knives come out and the call for a permanent replacement gets louder.
Ljungberg will have that in mind tonight when he takes Arsenal in to a Premier League game against Brighton at the Emirates Stadium. One option open to him is to be more expansive than he was against the Canaries and with that in mind he may well chose to employ the £72million Pepe in a wide role against the Seagulls. Pepe has endured a flat start to life at the club and he failed to get on against Norwich and even had to suffer the dent to his pride when Ljungberg chose to give Bukayo Saka, who is aged just 18, some game time ahead of the Ivory Coast ace.
Another option open to the temporary boss is employing young Brazilian striker Gabriel Martinelli in a role against Brighton. He may only be 18 but his movement, power and pace have excited fans and many have called for him to be given more opportunities to shine. Tonight, we’ll discover if Ljungberg has listened to supporters or not.