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Freddie Ljungberg ‘hopes’ Mikel Arteta keeps Arsenal job despite dismal Villarreal defeat in Europa League


Freddie Ljungberg wants Mikel Arteta to remain Arsenal manager (Pictures: BT Sport)

Freddie Ljungberg insists he ‘hopes’ Mikel Arteta keeps his job as Arsenal manager despite the club’s dismal defeat to Villarreal in the Europa League semi-finals.

The Gunners, who are ninth in the Premier League with four matches remaining, crashed out of the Europa League on Thursday night after losing 2-1 on aggregate to former manager Unai Emery’s Villarreal.

Arteta enjoyed an encouraging first season at the Emirates – leading the club to FA Cup glory – but this campaign has been a different story and questions will inevitably be asked of the Spaniard after Arsenal’s Europa League exit.

But Ljungberg, who was briefly Arsenal’s caretaker manager following Emery’s sacking in 2019, ‘hopes’ Arteta stays.

Asked whether Arteta still has the support of Arsenal fans, Ljungberg told BT Sport: ‘There’s no fans here so that’s difficult to know. I hope he does.

‘I’m not going to stand here and say managers should stay or go. Listen, he’s a young manager and I hope he will stay.

‘But of course it’s not good enough for Arsenal football club and it’s up to the owners and other people within the football club.’

Discussing Arteta’s future at the Emirates, fellow Arsenal legend Martin Keown added: ‘Well that decision needs to be made. He’s a young manager. Emery was here himself and was sacked also. Maybe he lost the players also.

‘So it’s not a given that you’re going to be successful even though you come with a big reputation.

‘If you think about last season, they played predominantly with a back five, they did very well to win an FA Cup with that system. There’s been too much chopping and changing this year.

‘It didn’t work in this tie and that’s where he was outsmarted by the previous manager – and that’s where it becomes embarrassing for the club, for the owners.

‘Then the spotlight comes on his position. That’s it, you’ve got to be a quick learner as a manager.

‘I’m not saying he’s not going to stay in the job, that decision is one that will be made through the summer, but we know it’s going to have to be an incredible start to the season next year if he stays in the job. He’s under huge pressure now.’

The former Arsenal caretaker boss added: ‘I’m a bit in shock unfortunately. I thought Arsenal would definitely go through.

‘The whole game there was no pressure really, Villarreal were the better team in both legs.

‘It’s an emotional evening but it’s the reality for Arsenal. We are far behind in the league and now out of Europe.’

More to follow…

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