Freddie Ljungberg admits he ‘feels sorry’ for Arsenal’s younger players as they are having to shoulder so much responsibility at the club.
The Gunners battled to a 2-2 draw at Standard Liege in the Europa League in a game where they found themselves 2-0 down.
But largely thanks to the brilliance of 18-year-old Bukayo Saka they managed to claw their way back into the game and ended up finishing top of Group F.
Saka excellently set up Alexandre Lacazette to head home before curling in an effort on his weaker right foot himself to equalise.
And interim boss Ljungberg heaped huge praise on the teenager but also feels the club’s younger players are being asked to do too much and called on the experienced players to ‘take the lead’.
Ljungberg said: “He [Saka] was amazing.
“I feel sorry for our young players. A lot of them haven’t been on loan, they’ve not had that exposure to men’s football.
“Some of them made mistakes but they’ll learn from those mistakes and won’t do them again. Bukayo had a tremendous night.
“What I meant was that it was not fair to put the pressure on the young players. Experienced players need to take the lead.
“I hope that’s because the experienced players have allowed them to express themselves.”
Although the likes of Saka shone, it was another worrying performance by Arsenal even though it looked like they had turned a corner with their win at West Ham on Monday night.
But Ljungberg was fairly upbeat after the game.
He continued: “We played really well in our game-plan in the first half.
“They didn’t have any shots on target. We should have maybe been one or two up at half-time.
“We got sucker-punched a bit, they scored two deflected goals… you can’t really slam the players for that. We could have folded but we didn’t.”
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It looked like Arsenal would need three points to secure top spot but Eintracht Frankfurt’s surprise defeat at home to Vitoria Guimaraes meant they only needed a draw.
And Ljungberg suggested that knowing the result in Germany was a reason his side didn’t go on to win the game.
He added: “2-2, we could have got a 3-2 but I had the information about the other score so we didn’t go too hard.”