David Freezer: Ljungberg’s new role at Arsenal ensures Canaries complacency is not a worry
- Credit: PA
Unai Emery may have been sacked by Arsenal but the challenge remains just as difficult for Norwich City if they want to claim another Premier League scalp at Carrow Road.
Judging by some of the moans and groans which followed the Gunners' decision to axe their head coach on Friday morning, you would think there was an expectation that City were favourites, against Arsenal?!
This is a club where we're talking about eighth place in the top flight and three defeats in 13 matches being a crisis, a position Norwich can only dream of. Three defeats, by the way, is the same amount that Manchester City and Chelsea have so far.
It's a run of seven matches without a win in all competitions which has cost former PSG boss Emery his job though, Arsenal's worst run of form since 1992, remarkably.
The embarrassed reaction of Alexandre Lacazette said it all as his goal saw the Gunners snatch an undeserved 2-2 home draw with Southampton last weekend - a game in which the struggling Saints had 21 shots at goal, with some terribly wasteful finishing letting Emery off the hook.
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At least the 60,000 capacity Emirates Stadium was still full for that game but supporters voted with their feet on Thursday night and the official attendance of just over 49,000 was met with scepticism by many.
The players gave their own signal of dissatisfaction with life under the Spaniard on the pitch as well, tossing away a lead to lose 2-1 to Eintracht Frankfurt - although their qualification for the Europa League knockout stages still looks highly likely.
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That has brought former Gunners midfielder Freddie Ljungberg to the fore, taking over as interim manager ahead of tomorrow's game and taking training for the first time on Friday, stepping up from his role as Emery's assistant.
As a member of the 'Invincibles' team of 2003-04 the former Sweden international is sure to command immediate respect from players as a club legend, so will we see a visiting team enjoying the release of pressure as a sour spell is brought to an end?
It's a ploy Norwich have tried themselves in the past, with Bryan Gunn getting off to a fine start in 2009 thanks to a 4-0 home win over Barnsley, only to be unable to prevent relegation to League One after getting the job permanently.
And it was Neil Adams who City turned to in April 2014 as Chris Hughton was dismissed with five games remaining, but that began with a 1-0 loss at Fulham.
Mid-season sackings haven't been too regular in the Premier League in recent years though, with just six during the course of the last campaign and two so far this term.
Of the last 10 managerial changes made mid-season in the top flight, four teams have won their next match, four have lost and two have drawn, with Jose Mourinho providing the most recent example of new manager bounce as Spurs won 3-2 at West Ham last weekend following the departure of Mauricio Pochettino.
However, whether Emery was still in charge or not, there is little doubt that Norwich would have had to play at least as well as they did at Everton last weekend to get a good result.
That same defensive commitment from front to back, passing variation and clinical edge will be the bare minimum required if the Carrow Road faithful are to have another determined display to get behind.
In strikers Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Lacazette they have around £150million worth of attacking talent with a combined 12 goals to their name so far this season - with former Borussia Dortmund star Aubameyang scoring 30 in 48 Premier League games in total.
That's before you even consider the £73m club record signing Nicolas Pepe, who is yet to really find form in England, and the World Cup winning talent of Mesut Ozil who will almost certainly be thought highly of by Ljungberg, who was also an attacking midfielder.
City's performance at Everton must be the base level for the rest of the season though, not just to have any chance of piling more misery on the Gunners. Continue in that vein and their survival chances are very much alive.
Arsenal absolutely cannot be underestimated but Daniel Farke's team have proved they can compete with any team at this level.