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Freddie Ljungberg on decision to leave Nicolas Pepe on bench in Arsenal’s draw at Norwich


Interim Arsenal boss Freddie Ljungberg was this evening drawn on his decision not to utilise Nicolas Pepe during his side’s draw with Norwich earlier today.

Norwich 2-2 Arsenal

The Gunners travelled to Carrow Road a short time ago, for the club’s first outing following Unai Emery’s dismissal.

Freddie Ljungberg took charge of Arsenal for the clash, with Per Mertesacker the Swede’s right-hand man.

The visitors no doubt viewed Norwich as the ideal opponent to get the post-Emery era up and running, with the Canaries having sat in a lowly 19th in the Premier League table ahead of kick-off.

When the 90 minutes were said and done, however, Arsenal again failed to get the job done.

Despite Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s brace, Norwich goals from Teemu Pukki and Todd Cantwell eventually saw the shares spoiled at Carrow Road.

Arsenal are now winless in their last 8 fixtures across all competitions.

Pepe snubbed

The final half-hour of this afternoon’s clash actually saw Norwich enjoy the better of the chances, with Bernd Leno having been forced into a number of fine saves.

Arsenal, on the other hand, looked laboured and lacking in ideas in the attacking 3rd following Aubameyang’s 57th-minute equaliser, with the likes of Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette having majorly struggled.

As such, many understandably called for Nicolas Pepe to be introduced off the bench, in an attempt to add some pace and guile to the Gunners’ frontline.

Freddie Ljungberg, though, opted against such a move, instead bringing on youngster Bukayo Saka.

The interim Arsenal boss was therefore inevitably drawn on his decision not to afford big-money summer signing Pepe the opportunity to turn things around at Carrow Road, with Ljungberg having subsequently explained:

‘Pepe is a very good player. But I looked at what we did in training and what I see every day and that is how I judge it.’

The Swedish tactician continued:

‘I am going to judge them on training and their games.’

‘What I saw in the first 30 minutes and the belief and how we played that was good. Offensively that was good.’

‘I don’t know if you saw it but when we went 1-0 down, the players weren’t shaking their heads, they were actually going ‘come on guys we can sort this out’. That shows they believe they are quality players.’

‘We need to change a negative trend plus, with our run that was a difficult game and the players did really well.’

Quotes via the Mirror

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