Freddie Ljungberg must prove he is no Solskjaer: Richard Buxton
Arsenal's interim boss starts managerial career with a 2-2 draw at Norwich
|(Teemu Pukki 21, Todd Cantwell 45+2)||(Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 29-pen, 57)|
Freddie Ljungberg is not Arsenal's dream ticket for a life after Unai Emery just yet.
The pay-off from a revered former player taking charge in the dugout is rarely vindicated; neither are progressive appointments designed to succeed the end of decade-long dynasties.
Manchester United have offered the Gunners a genuine pathfinder; rather than going for a blue-sky ideology, they should have looked to the Red Devils' recent leads and avoided them.
Yet, last night's 2-2 draw with Norwich City showed that the Swede has a fighting chance of bucking the trend after the club's worst start to a season for over 27 years.
That damning statistic had rendered Ljungberg's predecessor a dead man walking. Achieving in 18 months what took Arsene Wenger over 22 years did not help Emery's case either.
By the end, little separated Arsenal's two most recent managers. Both had become figures of widespread ridicule; barely respected by anyone in the north Londoners' dressing room.
The few that did were left confused by muddled thinking which worsened from week to week.
Ljungberg, by contrast, is a rare breed in football, let alone management.
He freely admits that most things in life can be taken or left. Coaching was initially among them.
Once his mind is set to something, however, an innate sense of self-determination kicks in.
Changes, he promised, would be incremental rather than "just go and smash things up".
Yet, at Carrow Road, he made four changes from Emery's final match, including the reintegration of Granit Xhaka and Mesut Oezil.
But while the one-time Highbury flyer is an "Invincible", he is certainly no miracle worker.
NO OVERNIGHT SUCCESS
Turning back the clock to Arsenal's class of 2004 was never going to happen overnight, especially after just one training session before facing Daniel Farke's side.
Deep-rooted defensive issues came home to roost as Teemu Pukki tied the visitors' backline in knots, before using Shkodran Mustafi, on his first English Premier League outing this season, as a detour with a shot that beat Bernd Leno and broke the deadlock.
Same old Arsenal, always conceding.
Norwich made the 13-time English champions appear more like the besieged newcomers as they peppered Leno's goal regularly in the second half, often spearheaded by the prolific Pukki, and bypassing an often passive midfield.
Only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's two-goal haul either side of the interval managed to spare Arsenal's blushes as he ramped up his EPL away-day contributions this term to 85 per cent.
Ljungberg pledged to put the smiles back on the faces on Arsenal's players, but would be better served attempting to fix a steely scowl that defined his own career instead.
Nice guys invariably finish last, or at least outside the EPL's top four, based on recent experiences.
Arsenal somehow remain within touching distance of that all-important final Champions League qualification spot.
To reach it, Ljungberg must show he is not another Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
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