Freddie Ljungberg shares Unai Emery's Arsenal vision as youngsters told to toughen up
Checkatrade Trophy teaches players to face "grown men", says Ljungberg
By James Dale
Last Updated: 13/09/18 12:12pm
Arsenal's U23 coach Freddie Ljungberg is aiming to toughen up the club's youngsters and says he shares the same philosophy as Unai Emery.
Ljungberg was brought to Arsenal as a player under Arsene Wenger in 1998, going on to make more than 200 appearances over nine years.
Having initially returned to the club as U15s manager, Ljungberg has taken charge of Arsenal's second-string following a spell as assistant manager to Bundesliga side Wolfsburg.
The two-time Premier League winner has pushed through the U23s' involvement in the Checkatrade Trophy for the first time.
It sees them play League One and Two sides, with Ljungberg stressing the importance of Arsenal's potential first-team players facing "grown men".
Speaking after their 3-0 win over Coventry, Ljungberg told Sky Sports News. "My boys responded. We were not sure if grown men were going to be stronger than my boys and how will they feel when they get tackled a bit harder than they're used to but they responded great."
The new approach is one first-team manager Emery supports.
Ljungberg believes the pair's shared ideals will benefit young players' transition to the senior side.
I speak to him every week. We're very close.
Freddie Ljungberg on Unai Emery
"I speak to him every week," said Ljungberg. "We're very close. He helps me in my work and we think the same way in football. That helps my players when they come up and train with the first team."
Ljungberg paid tribute to his former boss, Wenger, but admits his departure can pave the way for new ways of thinking.
"Arsene was like an extra father figure for me," he said. "That's someone who we should all be grateful for.
"But then he decided to leave, there's something new and we all want to strive and make the club better. There's new ideas coming from above and maybe I have some ideas we can use. We're just trying to develop the club."