Freddie Ljungberg sounds warning over Arsenal youngsters

Bukayo Saka inspired Arsenal's comeback against Standard Liege on Thursday
Bukayo Saka inspired Arsenal’s comeback against Standard Liege on Thursday (Picture: Getty)

Freddie Ljungberg fears too much is being expected of Arsenal’s emerging crop of young players ahead of Sunday’s acid test against Manchester City.

The Swede coached the club’s Under-23 side last season and several of the players he mentored are beginning to make a significant impact at first team level.

Reiss Nelson, Emile Smith Rowe and Joe Willock started last night’s Europa League clash against Standard Liege, while it was precocious winger Bakayo Saka who inspired a second half comeback with a sublime assist and the late equaliser which ultimately ensured the Gunners finished top of their group.

Ljungberg, who has been placed in charge of the first team on an interim basis following the sacking of Unai Emery, is proud of his young players but warned of the pitfalls of expecting too much from them too soon.

‘They are great young kids,’ Ljungberg told Sky Sports News.

Freddie Ljungberg praises Arsenal's experienced stars Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Freddie Ljungberg praises Arsenal’s experienced stars Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Picture: Getty)

‘I try to remind people that they are young and that is not what we should put the hope of the club on. That is too much pressure.

‘For me if they would have been out on loan before or they had [played] 50-100 professional games in men’s football then they would have made mistakes maybe in those clubs.

‘Sometimes they will make mistakes. That is normal with the young players. They will learn from it – that is the only way they get better. They need to play.

‘I have been very impressed with them, especially the energy that they give. They are not scared, they make mistakes, and they go again. It is a pleasure to see.

‘At the same time we can’t forget the older players give that framework and talk to them all the time, they try to give them advice. I am proud of the old guys that they really like to try and help them.’

A raft of injuries could force Ljungberg into making significant changes against City, with Nicolas Pepe a doubt and both of his first-choice full-backs, Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin, likely to be unavailable.

Despite his options having been limited, the 42-year-old revealed he has not been party to any discussions over the club’s strategy ahead of the January transfer window.

He said: ‘There have been no discussions about transfers. All I have been told is do this from day to day and ‘we will let you know what we do’. I respect that and just try to do the job as best I can.’

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