Last night, Freddie Ljungberg took an under-21 side to face League One Coventry City in Arsenal’s debut in the Checkatrade Trophy.
His young Gunners, courtesy of goals from Emile Smith Rowe, Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock, ran out winners 3-0 victors at the Ricoh Arena and afterwards, in an obviously buoyant mood (ignore the above terribly timed screenshot), he faced the media. Here’s what the Swede had to say.
On playing in the Checkatrade Trophy…
“I fought quite hard for us to be in this competition because I think 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.
“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.” ”
On beating Coventry…
“It’s important for us to play against grown men, it’s amazing for us, and my boys responded. We were not sure how they were going to play against grown men, were they going to be stronger than my boys, how would they feel when they get tackled a bit harder than they’re used to, but they responded great, so i’m very proud of them.””
On his relationship with Unai Emery…
“We speak every week, talk about players, what we’re thinking. He’s very open, which helps me a lot. 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 them so they’re ready when they go up to his training. He worked 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 today to look at them, it feels great for me that there’s interest from above.”
On life after Arsene…
“Arsene was like an extra father figure for me. We should be grateful for all the things that he has done, he decided to leave and now it’s something new. We all want to strive to make the club better.
“There are new ideas coming from above and maybe I have some ideas that we can use. We’re just trying to develop the club.”