Freddie Ljungberg: Arsenal's confidence at rock bottom after Brighton defeat
Ljungberg: "They look very short on confidence. In the first half they were scared to get the ball and a bit scared to move, they were just standing still. That's something we need to talk about."
Last Updated: 06/12/19 12:55pm
Freddie Ljungberg admitted Arsenal's confidence is at rock bottom after his side slipped to a 2-1 defeat to Brighton at the Emirates Stadium.
Neal Maupay's 80th-minute header condemned interim head coach Ljungberg to defeat in what was his first home game in charge as the crisis at Arsenal deepens.
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The Gunners have now gone nine matches without a win, their worst run in over 42 years, with Ljungberg unable to oversee an immediate upturn in fortunes following Unai Emery's sacking last week.
Arsenal's winless run continues
Arsenal are now winless in nine games in all competitions, their worst run since going 10 matches without victory between February and March of 1977 under Terry Neill.
"They look very short on confidence," Ljungberg said.
"In the first half they were scared to get the ball and a bit scared to move, they were just standing still. That's something we need to talk about.
"They need to have a win, we need to dig out a win and get them some confidence. They can do it because they showed it in the beginning of the second half and they did it really well for 20 minutes. It's hard to say that when you lose at home, but they were very good in that little spell.
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'We need to keep plugging away'
"It's never easy when you sack a manager and you're low on confidence," he added.
"We started really well at Norwich. We started the second half really well [against Brighton] and I was sure we were going to win the game and get going again.
"We get a sucker punch on a counter or as they play down one side. It's hard to take but we keep plugging away."
Including caretakers, only one of Arsenal’s last five managers have won their first home game in charge – Pat Rice against Sheffield Wednesday in September 1996.
Ljungberg bemoans poor first half
Arsenal struggled to get going as Brighton dominated a first half during which they took a deserved lead through Adam Webster.
The Gunners threw on Nicolas Pepe at half-time and did get a response. Alexandre Lacazette's flicked header from Mesut Ozil's corner flew in off the far post as Sead Kolasinac challenged Mat Ryan, before David Luiz had a strike ruled out for offside by VAR.
However, Maupay's late winner sealed Arsenal's fate with Ljungberg bemoaning his side's poor opening 45 minutes.
"We're disappointed to lose at home," he said. "The main thing is we didn't show up in the first half.
"We were very passive and we had a chat at half-time, made a tactical change and all of a sudden we looked like a team. For 20 minutes or so we really pushed them, scored goals and thought we could win the game, but VAR was correct.
"That's how we have to play the whole game. I said to the players that you can't give away a whole half to any team in the Premier League. That's what we need to learn from."
'Players feel the pressure'
The result leaves Arsenal 10th, 10 points adrift of the top four and Ljungberg believes the tension in the crowd at the Emirates Stadium is not helping the players.
"It's obvious that nervousness from a crowd can affect footballers, it doesn't matter what quality you have," he said.
"They're human beings like everyone else, they want to do well and they feel the pressure. That's something we need to work on and I feel like if we just dig out a win, we can get there. They showed it in the second half."
Ljungberg, who has been linked with the permanent managerial role, says he will continue to commit to the interim head coach position until the Arsenal board have made their decision on who should take up the reins.
"It's up to the club and what they want to do," he said. "There's nothing I can get involved with. I said I love this football club and I'll help them with whatever they need help with and it's up to them to make a decision.
Analysis: Arsenal's pain continues
Sky Sports' Oliver Yew at the Emirates Stadium…
For whoever comes in at Arsenal to replace Unai Emery on a full-time basis, the job at the Emirates is getting even bigger - and doesn't Ljungberg, who is currently in interim charge, know it!
As early as the first minute it was plain to see that the confidence in this Arsenal team was on the floor as a mix-up between Bernd Leno and David Luiz almost gifted Brighton an early lead.
Ljungberg was up and down like a yo-yo as he looked to cajole his side into life, but he could only watch on as his team gave the ball away time after time after time. The Gunners were woeful, and they got what they deserved when Webster gave the visitors the lead. In truth, Arsenal were lucky not to be further behind at the break.
Attention quickly turned to Ljungberg's half-time team talk and whatever he said to his troops at the break did the trick - for a while. He also threw on Pepe at the break and the Ivory Coast international immediately injected some much-needed urgency into Arsenal's attacking play, but they soon slipped back into old habits.
Brighton continued to cause problems from set-pieces and on the break as Arsenal continued to stand off their opponents, and they eventually exposed Arsenal's defensive frailties to get their just rewards through Maupay's late winner.
It's another huge blow for Arsenal. The result is also a massive dent to Ljungberg's aspirations of getting the job on a full-time basis.
Arsenal's search for a new head coach has taken an urgent turn.
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