Arsenal U23s may have finished their season over a week ago, but, with all of the matches in the division having now been played, it has been confirmed that the young Gunners have finished second.
They may not have been able to replicate last season’s title success, but Arsenal have still produced some excellent performances and conclude the campaign just four points adrift of leaders Everton.
There were some difficult moments for Freddie Ljungberg’s team, and they struggled when having to balance their league commitments with their involvement in the Checkatrade Trophy.
Once their participation in the latter competition was over, however, Ljungberg’s team started to express themselves better, with both their results and performances starting to improve.
Some of the players were initially a little bewildered when Ljungberg elected to alter the tactics that were behind last season’s title success, when Steve Gatting was in charge.
Ljungberg switched to a 4-1-2-3 formation and gave greater freedom to Joe Willock, who produced some outstanding performances as he frequently made dynamic runs from midfield.
Like Unai Emery, Ljungberg demonstrated that he wasn’t afraid for his team to pass the ball back to the goalkeeper, and his team proceeded to deliver some superb swift counter-attacks.
As the campaign wore on Bukayo Saka, despite only being a first year, became one of the most influential players in the team, while on the opposite flank Xavier Amaechi also often impressed.
Ljungberg also gave an opportunity to Arthur Okonkwo late in the campaign, and the goalkeeper seized it as he kept three clean sheets in four games.
By the end of the season, Ljungberg had got Arsenal playing exactly how he wanted, with his side often destroying opponents in a quick burst in the first half before conserving energy and seeing out the game with a disciplined performance in the second period.
During his first season in charge of the U23s Ljungberg has certainly enhanced his reputation as a coach, although further challenges will lie ahead next term.