Ljungberg urges Arsenal to find balance
Friday 01 October 2004
Arsenal did little to quell the perennial debate as to whether or not they will succeed in Europe following their disappointing draw with Rosenborg on Wednesday night.
Arsenal did little to quell the perennial debate as to whether or not they will succeed in Europe following their disappointing draw with Rosenborg on Wednesday night. But in their reaction yesterday to the Champions' League tie there was perhaps an acknowledgement that they should not try to be what they are not.
"Maybe we should have gone for another goal," said their midfielder Freddie Ljungberg, whose scrambled sixth-minute effort had put the Premiership champions in front. "It is something to think about, not to stop playing when we take the lead."
Curbing their killer instinct is something of which Arsenal were also perhaps guilty in the first group game, at home to PSV Eindhoven, although they held out reasonably comfortably for the 1-0 victory which, together with Wednesday's point, means they top Group E.
Despite that, and the fact that last year they were fretting at the bottom of their group with just a single point from three matches, there are nagging doubts. "We gave them the initiative," Ljungberg said of the encounter with a limited Norwegian side whose main asset consisted of long balls forward to a tall striker. "We were not first to the ball. That is the way it was. I am not blaming anything like bad luck or something like that. Unfortunately, we stopped playing attacking football after they scored. We just kept the ball."
Ljungberg acknowledged that Arsenal need to find a balance. Attacking football has also cost them dearly in the past. "Of course we can concede a goal doing that, but we are giving it a go," he said. "We are an attacking side. We want to enjoy our football. It is the way we play. Unfortunately, we let Rosenborg into the game. We did not kill them off."
Arsenal are desperate to win the European Cup and banish the nagging doubts over their status. "We have been playing a long time in the Champions' League," Ljungberg added. "It is important for us and everyone at the club."
Another player who has undertaken several campaigns is Thierry Henry, who drew more encouragement. "I remember the days when we used to go away in the Champions' League and forever we would not create any chances at all," he said. "One-all away is never a bad result. But the way we didn't play was a bit frustrating." Especially as Arsenal next have to visit Panathinaikos, against whom they lost just two years ago.
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