December 15, 2019 / 9:13 PM / a month ago

Ljungberg says rudderless Arsenal must pick new manager

LONDON (Reuters) - Arsenal’s interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg said the club needed to hurry up and appoint a new permanent manager after a crushing 3-0 home loss to Manchester City on Sunday, and he appeared to accept that he is unlikely to get the job himself.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Arsenal v Manchester City - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - December 15, 2019 Arsenal interim manager Freddie Ljungberg Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley

The London side managed just one shot on target in the first half, and none at all in the second, as they suffered a third consecutive home defeat in all competitions.

As well as calling for a swift resolution to the managerial situation, Ljungberg flagged up how he is operating with a skeleton staff behind the scenes, with Per Mertesacker acting as his assistant as well running the club’s academy.

“It’s a great honour to do this, but Per is doing two jobs,” Ljungberg told reporters after the match.

“I’ve said it (the managerial situation) needs to be cleared up, and it would be good to make a decision regardless of what it is,” he added.

Arsenal have been without a permanent first-team boss since they sacked Unai Emery at the end of November.

The club sit ninth in the league on 22 points, seven points adrift of the top four and showing little sign of improvement since Ljungberg took over.

They have managed only one win in five matches under the Swede, who blamed Sunday’s drubbing partly on the skills gap between his side and that of the visitors.

“We all have to look in the mirror... They are better than us, that’s just a fact,” he said.

He also suggested Arsenal needed to be tougher on the pitch, noting the number of yellow cards City racked up in shutting down his side’s attempted counterattacks.

“I think they took (four) yellow cards on just kicking us down when we had a chance to counter. That’s obviously tactical and they worked on that,” he said.

“That’s something we need to learn, to be a bit more cynical when opponents have a chance to counter on us.”

While he said the team ought to be able to take on the top teams in the league, he accepted that at the moment Arsenal are lacking the confidence and composure to achieve anywhere near that level of performance.

“We need to be realistic. There is a gulf in quality between us and City,” he said. “This is hard - Liverpool and City are in a league of their own.”

Reporting by Hugh Lawson; Editing by Toby Davis

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