Arsenal’s Pepe: Blame the players, not Freddie Ljungberg

Arsenal Pepe Ljungberg
Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

Arsenal continues to wobble despite its change of manager, and Nicolas Pepe says it’s not right to blame the interim boss.

The Gunners have one win, two draws, and two losses since the firing of Unai Emery, as interim boss Freddie Ljungberg has struggled to martial his team’s defense.

And, really, that tells you plenty about the quality of players at the Emirates Stadium.

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Even some of the club’s bright spots have made errors to help doom Ljungberg. Nicolas Pepe has been lively of late, but his non-committal defending of Fernandinho helped lead Man City’s first goal in Sunday’s loss.

“Freddie tries hard, he talks to us, but nothing has changed much in terms of results. It’s down to us the players, not the coach,” Pepe said, later adding, “Us players have to do better quickly. We have won only one game out of the last 12. It is not enough, we are Arsenal. It is about us, not the coach or anything else. We have to wake up quickly, starting against Everton.”

Pepe is Arsenal’s top-rated player according to advanced stats site WhoScored, and trails just Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Bernd Leno on SofaScore’s scale.

The latter tells you plenty, as Arsenal has a bevy of talented attackers but not much at all at the back and in the middle of the park. Maybe Mikel Arteta can fix it, or maybe any manager is going to need big investment in the January transfer window in order to help the Gunners get anywhere near the Top Four.

Arsenal’s 22 points will find it 10th should Crystal Palace and Brighton not draw on Monday. The Gunners are seven points off fourth place Chelsea and 27 points back of Liverpool.