Freddie Ljungberg says playing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang alongside Alex Lacazette upsets Arsenal’s defensive balance, hence his decision to field one or other of the club’s strikers in this week’s trio of games against West Ham, Standard Liege and Manchester City.
Aubameyang netted at the London Stadium in Monday’s 3-1 win and was restored to the attack on Sunday against City after Lacazette had scored in Belgium on Thursday.
While his predecessor Unai Emery had regularly shoehorned both players into his starting lineup, the Swede has preferred to add pace to the flanks in the form of Gabriel Martinelli, Pepe and Bukayo Saka.
Somewhat surprisingly, given his side found themselves 3-0 down at half time against Pep Guardiola’s reigning champions, Ljungberg decided not to use Lacazette at all today. After the game, he was asked about the decision.
“You need to have balance in your team,” he told beIN SPORTS.
“With Lacazette and Auba, we tried in my first two games, but we looked really vulnerable defensively. They are both great players that’s why I wanted them on the pitch, but we were vulnerable defensively.
“We’ve taken the route against West Ham where we’ve played one of them to have more defensive organisation and we played well and won that game very clearly.”
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While today’s match was dispiriting on a number of levels, not least because it again highlighted the huge gap between Arsenal and the country’s best teams, Freddie tried to sound an optimistic note.
“When you play against Man City there’s a big step up and especially in your organisation. When you play against De Bruyne and he scores those fantastic goals in the beginning of the game, there are not many who score those chances. After it’s very difficult to come back, when you go 2-0 and 3-0 down so early.
“There were some instances where we played decent in between [the goals]. Between the boxes we played well and kept the ball but when you get 3-0 down it’s difficult. We put the young players on to bring some energy.”