Freddie Ljungberg opens up on Arsenal head coach Unai Emery
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Arsenal U21 boss Freddie Ljungberg spoke to the Islington Gazette pitchside at the Ricoh Arena on Wednesday evening after his side’s 3-0 victory over Coventry City in the club’s first-ever Checkatrade Trophy match. Read on for Layth Yousif’s interview with the Gunners much-loved legend
Emile Smith-Rowe’s fourth minute goal, substitute Eddie Nketiah’s cool finish on 71 minutes and a late Joe Willock goal sealed a 3-0 victory for Ljungberg’s Arsenal against the Sky Blues.
Ljungberg who also bosses the U23 side has made a good start on his return to North London having won their previous two Premier League 2 matches against West Ham at the London Stadium and Spurs at the Emirates.
The much-loved former Gunners midfielder who won two Premier League titles and three FA Cups, scoring in two finals including the victory in 2002 over Chelsea, spoke about Unai Emery and his relationship with the head coach who replaced Arsene Wenger in May.
He said: “We speak every week, talk about players, what we’re thinking. He’s very open, which helps me a lot.
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“Of course I have my own way of how I want to play and he never tells me how to do that. But we’re quite similar regardless.
“I just want to prepare [my players] so they’re ready when they go up to his training.
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“He works them really, really hard this summer and they’re very fit. My boys need to be ready for that.
“He’s an open manager and a nice, respectful man. He always asks how they’re doing. We had a few staff from Arsenal here [at the Ricoh] to look at them – it feels great for me that there’s interest from above.”
Following a 1-1 draw at the Emirates against Brighton in the third week of August which was marked by Reiss Nelson’s spectacular last minute curler in his final match for the club before his loan spell to Bundesliga side Hoffenheim, the junior gunners beat West Ham 3-2 at a wet and windswept London Stadium.
Nketiah’s brace aided the side in East London before goals from Joe Willock and Tyreece John-Jules ensured a 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur in N5 two weeks ago.
With such talents at his disposal the Swede is happy to embrace the Checkatrade Trophy.
He said: “It’s amazing. It gives players experience of beating grown men. It’s different, you see that when the tackles go flying in and the fans are cheering.
“That’s what happens in men’s football and they have to be ready for it. We’re not always the strongest players on the pitch, you have to use your technique in different ways. They learned a lot tonight and that’s great.”
“There’s different competitions to enter and I think this is a very important competition to be a part of, for young players to get a touch of first team football. We send them on loan but then we can’t coach them at the same time as they play against first-teams, I can do that here. It’s great for me.”
Follow Arsenal reporter Layth on Twitter @laythy29