Thu, 13 Aug 2020

Cape Town - Arsenal interim boss Freddie Ljungberg was relieved to see his charges clinch top spot in Group F after drawing 2-2 with Standard Liege in the Europa League.

The Belgian side had held a two-goal lead over a much-changed Gunners line-up showing nine alterations from the team that won at West Ham on Monday night.

But two goals in three minutes, an Alexandre Lacazette header followed by a smart Bukayo Saka finish, secured a 2-2 draw which, coupled with Eintracht Frankfurt's surprise home defeat to Vitoria, saw Ljungberg's team seal top spot.

The 42-year-old admitted it was a "little gamble" to make such sweeping changes when the likes of Inter Milan and Ajax could have been waiting in the last 32 if they had failed to win the group but was happy his young talent did enough.

"We played a lot of games lately and of course I want to give the young ones a chance as I said before, but I needed to rotate as well because we got injuries in the West Ham game and I didn't have many options left," he said.

"And we have a game again on Sunday. Of course, it was a little gamble, but I believe in those young players and they pulled through and we're top of the group."

Liege had taken a shock lead after two deflected goals from Samuel Bastien and Selim Amallah caught out the Arsenal defence.

But the two quick-fire goals in the second half got the Gunners back and almost mimicked the three goals in nine minutes which were enough to seal a 3-1 victory at West Ham on Monday.

That result ended a nine-match winless streak but interim head coach Ljungberg conceded it was frustrating that his side have only been showing their true promises in glimpses.

"I believe that even in the first half against West Ham and even today we tried to have possession," he said. "Yes, maybe it's a bit slow because we didn't have the intensity sometimes, but it wears the opponents down."

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