Lee Dixon defends Freddie Ljungberg and singles out Sokratis and Lucas Torreira for Brighton’s winner

Freddie Ljungberg reacts to Arsenal's defeat to Brighton
The Gunners suffered another hugely disappointing defeat on Thursday night (Picture: Getty)

Arsenal legend Lee Dixon believes the players – not interim manager Freddie Ljungberg – must take responsibility for their latest defeat and criticised the team’s defending for Brighton’s winner.

The Gunners have not won a Premier League match for two months and suffered another disappointing night at the Emirates on Thursday, with Neal Maupay’s late strike securing a 2-1 victory for the visitors.

But Dixon was keen to avoid placing the blame on Ljungberg, who has only had a few days to work with the squad, and says the players must start stepping up.

Lee Dixon defends Freddie Ljungberg and calls out two Arsenal stars
Dixon was on punditry duty at the Emirates and wasn’t impressed with what he saw (Getty)

Speaking on Amazon Prime Video, the former Arsenal defender explained: ‘I would like to think he put a bit of responsibility on them, and said let’s watch the video together of the Norwich game, where did we [go wrong].

‘They’re intelligent football players, they wouldn’t be playing at this level if they didn’t have some level of intelligence, football intelligence, being able to look at a game with their manager and the coach and say “oh, look at that gap there, look at that back four running off because there’s no pressure on the ball and let’s make sure we don’t do that against Brighton at home”.

‘And I think maybe at home, they wanted to win, wanted to please everybody and get off to a winning start. But because Brighton were so organised and so good at just snuffing them out in the middle of the park and then hitting them on the break, they kind of lost all fathom of what they were doing again and those gaps opened up.

‘But as a player, surely if you’re Granit Xhaka or a midfield player, you’re looking at that area going, “I’m on my own here and I’ve got three or four running at me”. How can that be right? So work it out for yourself, it’s not all Freddie’s fault.’

Dixon was particularly scathing about Arsenal’s defending for Maupay’s winner and criticised Sokratis for following the ball and Lucas Torreira – who had covered the wandering Greek defender – for leaving his man at the last minute.

He continued: ‘Just look at Sokratis, he’s the right-sided centre-back and he goes chasing the ball. Now you’ve got to get back, too late, Torreira goes back into the middle and all of a sudden just leaves his man, Luiz has got two guys in the box. Little things like that.

Sokratis blasted for defending in Arsenal defeat
Sokratis, highlighted top left, ran halfway up the pitch (Picture: Amazon Prime Video)

‘The back four is in a decent position, it’s a free-kick, you should be able to defend that. Sokratis gets tight, that’s good, but as soon as he starts to go wandering off down the line, just pass him off onto the midfield player in front of you and get back in the box.

‘In the end it’s two-versus-one in the middle, Torreira goes in to help out then goes “you know what, I’m just going to go out there” because he gets hoodwinked by the little pass. But you’ve got to protect the middle of the goal.’

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