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1 Dec, 2019 16:49

'No consistency at all': More VAR drama as Freddie Ljungberg begins Arsenal managerial stint with draw at lowly Norwich

'No consistency at all': More VAR drama as Freddie Ljungberg begins Arsenal managerial stint with draw at lowly Norwich

Arsenal will count themselves as fortunate to have escaped Carrow Road with a point after a controversial VAR penalty decision helped them to a 2-2 draw at Norwich in Freddie Ljungberg's first game as caretaker manager.

Unai Emery may have been dispatched last week but Arsenal's winless run in the league has continued under new temporary boss Ljungberg and now stretches to six games (D4, L2) in what has been the worst start to a top flight campaign since 1975 - and it could easily have been worse.

Arsenal began brightly but the defensive frailties which have characterized their recent form showed themselves again as Norwich's Finnish striker Teemu Pukki scored his first goal since September.

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Controversy followed on the half hour as Arsenal were awarded a penalty after a handball from Norwich's towering German defender Christoph Zimmermann but new skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang saw his effort saved by Tim Krul before VAR intervened and determined that the penalty must be retaken after a Norwich player was deemed to have 'encroached' in the area as the penalty was being taken. 

Aubameyang made no mistake with his second effort.

Todd Cantwell made another mockery of the Arsenal rearguard just prior to half time, gliding unchallenged through the Gunners' midfield to slot a shot past German 'keeper Bernd Leno on the stroke of half-time before Aubameyang once again proved to be Arsenal's savior as he reacted first to a loose ball in the penalty area to even the scores.

Norwich frantically pushed forward as the game ticked towards its conclusion but spurned several opportunities to claim three points against an Arsenal who, while under new management, are displaying the same old shortcomings. 

"We started the game really well, that’s how I want to play football," Ljungberg said after the match. "But we need to work on the transitions, we dominated and they break us too easily.

"In the beginning I saw a lot of things we worked on in training, but we need to score goals and take the lead. I want this club to do well, it is only winning that counts: I wanted to win the games so I am disappointed but I have also seen some positive things.

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As for the penalty incident(s), Ljungberg was defended the decision-making of the VAR officials.

"I think I had a heart-attack twice!" he joked. "But from what I heard it was quite obvious, that’s what the results are for.

"The most important thing was for Aubameyang to have the mental strength to score the second penalty after missing the first one."

Ljungberg will have his next opportunity to arrest his team's decline when they welcome Brighton to The Emirates on Thursday.