Freddie Ljungberg has doubts about whether his former club Arsenal can end their title drought this season under Mikel Arteta.
The Gunners are searching for their first league triumph since 2004 and moved top of the table on Saturday after picking up a late 1-0 win at Brentford.
But Ljungberg is concerned by the team’s attack, with Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus all down on their goals-per-minutes ratio when compared with last season, and believes that could be an issue as the season progresses.
‘I think definitely they’re ready to challenge for the title,’ he said on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football.
‘But the stats here are quite telling and I don’t think they work in their favour,’ he added as he looked at Arsenal’s attacking numbers.
Freddie Ljungberg has doubts about whether Arsenal can win the league this season
Mikel Arteta’s men are looking to win their first league title since the 2003-04 season
Ljungberg is concerned by the attacking numbers of the likes of Bukayo Saka (left) and Gabriel Martinelli (right)
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Arsenal finished second last term, and Ljungberg feels they can push Pep Guardiola’s men again this year, although he is not convinced they will beat them to the title.
Asked whether they could be City’s closest challengers, Ljungberg said: ‘Yeah I think so. But then I think City are amazing so it’s hard.’
Arsenal have conceded the fewest goals in the league this season, but have had to grind out four 1-0 wins already in their opening 13 games.
Ljungberg’s fellow pundit Jamie Carragher admits that Arsenal have improved defensively, but believes the side are lacking fluidity at the other end of the pitch, and does not believe their current level of performance will be good enough to hold off their rivals.
‘I don’t think they actually are that much better (than last season),’ he said.
‘Because actually we’re talking about a team going from the third-best defence to the best at the moment, and could that make little difference make a difference? Of course. But we’re talking about a team going from almost the second-best attack to sixth, even one of the stats is 11.
‘I think if Arsenal continue as they are, I don’t think that can win the league. Because I think so many games are going to the wire, and sometimes that kind of game can go against you. You think about the Ramsdale mistake, the big chance Brentford had in the second half. So those that are 1-0 can easily go 1-0 against you.
‘Everyone can see it with their eyes, it’s not the same fluidity, the same pace, energy, creating chances, you can see that. I don’t think it’s actually anything tactical.
Jamie Carragher is also not convinced Arsenal can go on to win the league this season
Carragher feels Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard is not playing as well as he did last season
‘When I’m watching Arsenal, Zinchenko is going into midfield, Declan Rice has come in for Thomas Partey but Thomas Partey was outstanding at this stage last season, and Declan Rice has been outstanding. Actually in midfield, I’d say they’ve been more offensive.
‘Last season it was Granit Xhaka and he was almost a midfielder playing an attacking role. At the weekend, that was Trossard, we’ve seen Havertz in that position.
‘But the reason they haven’t been as fluid is I think individually the attacking players have been average this season whereas they were on absolute fire last season in terms of Martinelli, Saka, Jesus. Odegaard for me last season was up there alongside Kevin De Bruyne.’
Arsenal will get the chance to improve their attacking number this weekend when they return to Premier League action at home to Wolves.