Press conference

Freddie on Man City, substitutions and his future

Freddie Ljungberg cut a frustrated figure on the touchline on Sunday afternoon, watching us suffer a third consecutive defeat at Emirates Stadium.

It was an uphill task from the moment Kevin De Bruyne fired City ahead in the second minute, and our head coach outlined the reasons for the defeat in his post-match press conference. 

Here's a full transcript of what Freddie said:

On the defeat...
Of course we know in the last couple of years that we've struggled against City at home, so we knew that before the game started. We started well when Martinelli had a chance and we thought, 'Oh, this looks good'. But we got done on the transitions again. One of the goals we had five of us against two of them and they still scored. We worked a lot on being balanced and having players back for the counter, but then De Bruyne showed his quality. Not many players can score those goals like he did today from small chances. Maybe it shows the difference in the teams. They score from those chances with top, top players. I think what we can learn is that we got done on the transitions again. If you look at City, when we were able to counter against them - and that was one of our game plans - they had five yellow cards from bringing us down when we had a chance to counter. That's tactical and they worked on that. That's something that we need to do. Maybe we need to learn to be more cynical when opponents have a chance to counter us. That is a bit of a weakness of ours and maybe we need to take those fouls.

On whether players are taking his messages on board...
First of all, I think they take things on board. We have looked at clips about how we changed our structure. We're actually there whereas before we didn't have any players there for the transition. Now we are there. Of course now the next part is that we need to stop the action, to create something. I can't remember which player it was but we were three against one, it got a deflection and then came out to De Bruyne. That's small thing but that's something we have to work on: how to defend. But I think we sorted organisation a bit, sort of, on the transition.

On whether he expected more of a second-half fight back...
I must say that if you're 3-0 down against a team like City who can play well with possession, it's tough. I said at half-time that I knew it was hard, especially against City. Liverpool and City are in a league of their own at the moment. I said it's about pride. They had to go out and show in the second half, even if they don't react and I knew it would be difficult to win 4-3, but there should be no chance of them scoring another goal. We tried to at least impose ourselves a little bit. It was hard for them because City kept the possession well. Sometimes we did as well between the boxes, we understood the game plan of trying to change it and open them up a bit. But we were not dangerous enough. We had some small half-chances where something could have happened. When they had their chances, De Bruyne smashed it straight in the net.

On playing with 10 men when Sead went down injured...
Obviously, Sead went down, then our player started getting ready. The weather meant he had a lot of clothes on. We tried to get him on. That's something we need to learn with young players, for them to get ready quicker. But then when you are injured and you are down, you need to stay down until the players are ready so we can make the change.

On whether we can compete with the top six...
I think we should be good enough to compete with the top six but it shows Liverpool and City are very, very good. I think we put up a similar, almost the same lineup, against West Ham where we played really well and could've won 4-1 or 5-1. We played it against City and they punished us straight away before we lost 3-0. I think that shows the difference in quality in teams in this league.

On the stadium emptying before full-time...
Of course, I'm an Arsenal man and we try everything. But at the same time we need to be a little bit realistic. There is a gulf in quality between City, Liverpool and the rest. They showed that today. But for me, I was actually happy and proud of the fans. In the end, they responded positively to the young players that came on. That could see that when Sead came off they saw we had an 18-year-old winger who came on and had to play at left back against Raheem Sterling, and we have Gabriel who's 18 years old and has to play against Kyle Walker. Of course they can see there's a difference. But I was proud of the fans when they sang in the end and showed that they appreciated the young boys trying.

on Mesut Ozil...
First of all with the China thing, that's a political discussion so I'll leave that for the club to deal with. I think there will be a statement or there has been a statement. When it comes to the other stuff, he should be annoyed when he comes off. But I'm the coach at the moment and I made the decision I wanted more energy in the team. We want possession but sometimes we need to run and tackle and win the ball back. I think Emile did extremely well in Belgium on Thursday, and I wanted to give him a chance. I think he did well when he came on.

On our lack of tactical fouling...
I think that's intelligent by City because they do it, it's obvious to see. I said it to the fourth official, 'That's tactical, there's no other way to see it'. We need to be a bit cynical as well if we know we're weak on the transition. Maybe we let them take that free-kick and nothing happens.

On not being able to get a substitution right...
I think that's a bit harsh to talk about that with a substitution. A player can't get ready quicker than getting his clothes off. Yeah of course you can say that he shouldn't have had those clothes on but it's the first half where he doesn't feel there will be a substitution. Of course there's something to learn. Maybe we need to stay down a bit longer so everyone can get ready. That's just how it works.

On whether he can air his political views...
Today we haven't had the discussion with the club about what I should or shouldn't do. I've been trying to concentrate on the game. My opinion about it is that of course I will speak with the club, but what I've been told is that the club will deal with it and I will leave that to them.

On why we've only won one game in 11...
It's not where we want to be to have won one game in 11. We all need to look in the mirror. For me, I felt the West Ham game was a big step in the right direction. I haven't seen that in our team for a long time, where we were much better than opponents and playing such good football that we could've been 5-1 up. Today we played a top, top side and they are better than us. That's a fact and I don't think anyone thought that wasn't the case.

On whether managerial uncertainty is impacting players...
I think, as I've said to the club, it's a great, great honour to do this. Of course Per is the academy manager and he's doing two jobs in one go. I think it needs clearing up to make a decision so that everybody knows. That's something I've said. It's totally up to the club. I'm very honoured and trying to do things as well as I can, but I think that it would be good to make a decision regardless of what it is.

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