There’s going to be no quick fix for the Gunners as their winless streak extends to eight matches in all competitions
If Freddie Ljungberg wasn’t fully aware of the size of the task that is facing him during his interim spell in charge, he certainly is now.
There were some positive signs during the Swede’s first game, against Norwich City, but ultimately Arsenal fell short once again because of their usual Achilles heel. Defending.
At times this was actually an improved performance compared to the final weeks under the sacked Unai Emery. There was more structure to the side; they weren’t cut open time and again or comfortably outshot by the opposition.
They had the better of the game in a statistical sense and it’s been a fair while since that has happened. But their inability to deal with the threat of a counterattack was exposed yet again by a Norwich side who went into the game sitting second from bottom in the Premier League.
Arsenal dominated the first half yet went into the break 2-1 behind – with the hosts scoring twice on the counter.
Teemu Pukki scored the first and Todd Cantwell added the second moments before the interval with a twice-taken Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang penalty sandwiched in between.
Cantwell’s goal was a lovely finish but it came with Calum Chambers caught high up the field, just as he had been when Pukki opened the scoring.
Aubameyang did level things up early in the second half, but the expected push for a winner didn’t really materialise for the visitors. In fact they got worse.
The structure they played with before the break disappeared and only two fine saves from Bernd Leno – first from Kenny McLean and then from Pukki – stopped Norwich going in front for a third time.
The draw means Arsenal have now gone eight games without a win in all competitions and it leaves them seven points adrift of the top four.
The word coming out of the club is they will not rush into appointing a permanent successor for Emery and that, in Ljungberg, they believe they have a competent coach who can guide the ship until a new man is found.
But the way Arsenal ended Sunday afternoon’s game showed that the scars of the past few months won’t be easily healed. The visitors were a mess for the final half hour and a better side would have certainly punished them.
Arsenal need a top coach to come in and sort this out. Ljungberg will no doubt give it his all and, as he gets his feet under the table, you would hope to see an improvement, but it would be unfair to expect someone with his lack of top-level experience to fix a team with so many major problems.
Arsenal have now amassed 21 points from their first 14 league games. No team has ever gone on to finish in the top four from that position at this stage of the season, that is the size of the task facing Ljungberg.
The one big bonus is that he has Aubameyang to call upon. Six of Arsenal’s seven goals away from home in the league this season have been scored by the Gabon international, that’s how important he is to them.
It’s also a clear sign that his team-mates need to do more. Alexandre Lacazette flattered to deceive away from home again and Nicolas Pepe didn’t even get on the pitch, with teenagers Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka preferred to the club-record £72 million summer signing.
The reliance on Aubameyang remains absolute and Ljungberg needs to find a way of getting his other forwards scoring because the way things look, clean sheets are going to remain difficult to come by.
There may have been a new man in the technical area, but it was a case of same old Arsenal at Carrow Road.