Interview

'I have history with Tottenham!'

Ljungberg

Freddie Ljungberg picked up a win in his very first north London derby in charge of our under-23s, as we won 2-1 against Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium on Friday night.

The former Sweden international has now seen his team win twice in succession, as the momentum begins to build at the start of a new Premier League 2 campaign.

After the final whistle, he spoke to Arsenal.com – and this is what he said:

on the team’s overall performance…
With the ball first-half we played really well and we were a bit passive defensively, but we knew that Tottenham were trying to find the pockets so we were compact and won the ball in good positions and probably should have countered and scored another two goals. Joe was one on one against the keeper, so we still felt good with the performance in the first-half, but we should have been a good few goals up. Then we talked at half-time to be a bit more aggressive and a bit higher up in our defensive work, and in that way we gained the ball a bit more and dominated quite strongly in the second half. I said to the boys well done and the only sad thing is that we didn't score more goals with all the chances we had and the missed penalty. 

on the team’s defensive performance…
Very good, but defenders have to defend and they are developing everyday. Both defensively and offensively we are starting to feel that this is our team and what we are working on in training we can see in the games. Everybody’s working and trying to do it and sometimes it doesn’t maybe get an end product or we miss the pass, but you can see that the thought is there and we are trying to push it and we’re getting better everyday. It’s a pleasure to see that. 

on a cohesive team performance despite missing a number of regulars…
Yeah, I thought it was (cohesive) too. That’s what we do, we just fill up with players and they did great. I spoke to John-Jules and he had a good performance and with the under-23’s he needs to lift his game and push harder and push harder and he did it, so well done. 

on it always being nice to beat Tottenham...
Of course it is! Especially for the players and for the fans, it's always nice to win. Especially against London clubs. But what I am happy about is the full performance. Like we said, it could have been about 5-0. So that's amazing by the boys. Like I said, we had a lot of new faces and that's great too.

on how it was to manage a north London derby...
I had one against West Ham but if we're talking just north London with Spurs, then yes, of course. I have history with them! It's always nice to win against them.

on whether there's a feeling among the squad that they want to defend the PL2 title strongly...
For us, it's about the development of my players. That is the main, most important thing. Of course, it is nice to win and stuff. But at this level, if I can see players developing every day then that is the key. That's what development football is about, but I like to win games!

on Ben Sheaf's return from injury...
I was so happy for him. He's been having so much bad luck. He got injured before I even got him, he got injured in the gym before I got here. So it was nice for me to see him on the pitch. He's worked really hard to get back, so well done to him for all the work.