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Sunday, December 8, 2019

Freddie Ljungberg identifies the one change that can end Arsenal's winless streak

Freddie Ljungberg believes a strong start could make all the difference as Arsenal bid to snap their longest winless streak in over 40 years.
Arsenal head to West Ham chasing a first win in nine games and under Ljungberg, whose two games since succeeding Unai Emery have ended in a draw at Norwich City and defeat at home to Brighton and Hove Albion.
In each game Arsenal started relatively brightly but were undone by a goal from their opponents that left them chasing the game with first Teemu Pukki and then Neal Maupay pouncing on errors at the back.
Ljungberg's side can ill afford a repeat against West Ham as they battle to extricate themselves from the bottom half of the table and the Swede has urged his players to make their chances count early on at the London Stadium.
"If you score the first goal you don't have to chase the game," he said.
"You don't have to open up as much because you can control the game so that's something that, in my opinion, we need to change a little bit."
Interim head coach Ljungberg has admitted on several occasions that his players' confidence has taken a beating in recent weeks yet he has refused to rule out the lofty goal of a top four finish.
In reality the Gunners are far closer to the relegation zone - they have four points more than 18th-placed Southampton - than Chelsea in fourth but Ljungberg saw signs of progress even in disappointing results against Norwich and Brighton.
He said: "We started really well at Norwich. We started the second half really well [against Brighton] and I was sure we were going to win the game and get going again.
"We get a sucker punch on a counter or as they play down one side. It's hard to take but we keep plugging away."
Meanwhile West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini admits he is surprised to see Arsenal struggling in the lower half of the Premier League.
"I expect to see a team that will try to reverse their results [on Monday]," he said. "They have a lot of top players so we cannot be confident that, just because they are not in a good moment, we are going to win the game.
"It's strange for a big team [that in] the last 20 years normally play in the Champions League, but football is like that. From one game to another the results change.
"Is it a good time to play them? The time for our team depends more on our performance than what is happening with the other team."

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