While he was quick to affirm that Arsenal as a team have a whole lot of hard work in front of them, interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg afforded himself a satisfactory smile after the win over West Ham United last night. He was swift in reiterating that it was a case of back to the training pitch for his conquering heroes as they try to add tactical nous to the confidence and desire shown in the triumph.
The 3-1 victory in the Premier League clash against the Hammers at the London Stadium was the first win under Ljungberg since the former Gunners attacker took over the role in the wake of the sacking of under-performing Spanish coach Unai Emery. He lasted 18 months or so after being appointed following the departure of Arsene Wenger.
Emery was given his marching orders after a dismal run of form — the club’s worst since 1977 — and Ljungberg was drafted in to steady the ship. His first game at the helm gave him a point from a 2-2 draw at Norwich City; his second was a wretched defeat at home to Brighton — but last night he saw his side chalk up a vital triumph against an out-of-form West Ham side.
Ljungberg reaped the rewards of his bold changes to the side that started the game, especially up front. He brought in Nic Pepe and Gabriel Martinelli to flank striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and this trio dug the visitors out of a hole.
Each of the attackers scored in an incredible nine-minute spell after the break that handed the Gunners the victory. It was the last thing you would have expected given the dreadful display in the first half that saw the hapless Reds go in 1-0 down having turned in a poor performance and delivering very little hope to supporters and pundits alike that they were capable of turning things round.
But turn things round they did and Arsenal took the lead when young Brazilian marksman Martinelli hit the net. Then it was the turn of Pepe, the £72million man signed in the summer from French outfit Lille, who curled home a wondrous effort to make it 2-1. The home side were reeling and it was Aubameyang who was next up to score. He got on the end of a teasing, tempting and tantalising cross from Pepe to follow the Gunners into an unassailable 3-1 lead.
The victory boosts the league table standing of the Emirates Stadium outfit and they now look to Thursday night for their next outing when they travel to Belgium’s Standard Liege in the Europa League in an effort to snare a win and progress to the knockout stages.
It doesn’t get any easier in the Premier League, though, because next up at home for the Gunners is Manchester City on Sunday.