'Special bond' kept Ljungberg at Arsenal

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The Independent Football

Arsenal midfielder Freddie Ljungberg has insisted he has no intentions of quitting the Premiership club. The Swede has been linked with moves to West Ham, Milan and Real Madrid but continues to pledge his support to manager Arsène Wenger and the club.

Ljungberg, still recovering from the hamstring problem he sustained in the draw with Portsmouth in December, said: "I have been at Arsenal for eight of Arsène's 10 years and am now the longest-serving player.

"When I was young there were a lot of clubs who wanted to take me and everybody back home said I should go to Spain or Italy because the style of play was more technical. But I met with Arsène and we had the same philosophy of how the game should be played with the ball on the ground and a quick passing game.

"I went against what people said and it has been a great journey. I enjoy playing football the way it should be played. There were rumours that I was going to leave for Real Madrid or Milan in the past but I always said that the most important thing was to win things and be successful.

"I live to win things and we are doing that at Arsenal so I see no point in me leaving. There is a special bond at Arsenal. I just love the way it is and that's why I have stayed so long."

Ljungberg's affinity with Wenger is another reason for the Swede's desire to remain at the Emirates Stadium - and he hopes the Frenchman stays as boss for another decade.

Ljungberg added: "There are lot of things that make him (Wenger) special. He is very intelligent and he picks players - not just for what they do on the pitch - but also how they are mentally and how they can fit into the dressing room so that he won't have any big problems there.

"He knows how he wants to play and he sticks to that. He is up there among the best and has shown that for many years and will keep on showing it.

"David Dein [the Arsenal vice-chairman] had talked of offering Arsène a job for life and it is something the players would support. I hope he stays for another 10 years."

The Champions League gets under way again this month and Ljungberg admits he is desperate to reach another final after being unlucky to lose 2-1 to Barcelona last season.

Arsenal face PSV Eindhoven in the last 16 and Ljungberg added: "It was a major boost for the whole team to get to the Champions League final last season.

"We did struggle in the Premiership, particularly during the winter months. It is a physical game and we dropped a lot of points but we beat some big teams to get through to the final and then we were underdogs against Barcelona.

"I think we played really well and it still really hurts that they scored the winning goal with just 10 minutes to go. It's hard to take and I can't stop thinking about it.

"Pain is never good but this pain is good for us because we are hurting and we want to go one better this year and win the final We didn't feel justice was done.

"I am desperate to get back to the final and win it. I haven't watched the whole game on video since then, just the important moments. It makes me angry when I see that goal, I would like us to play Barcelona again this season."

Spain coach Luis Aragones has successfully appealed against a £2,000 fine handed to him for making derogatory comments about Arsenal striker Thierry Henry.

Aragones was caught on camera making racist remarks about the Arsenal striker in October 2004. The following month England's black players were treated to a tirade of racist abuse from fans in Madrid's Bernabeu stadium in an international friendly.

The Spanish Football Federation came under pressure to act and opened an investigation with the judge leading the probe recommending that Aragones be fined for behaviour "contrary to the good order of the sport".

Aragones appealed and has claimed victory, telling Cadena Ser radio station: "My lawyer told me this morning. I went to court because it was a stain on my reputation and because the offence did not exist as some judges thought." The ruling is definitive and there is no right of appeal.

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