Arsenal, Clubs, English Premier League, Story

Former Arsenal striker Nwankwo Kanu says that it’s up to the players to adapt to Unai Emery’s tactics.

Arsenal legend Freddie Ljungberg guided the club’s under-21 side to victory at Coventry in the Checkatrade Trophy in his first match in charge.

The U21s beat League One side Coventry 3-0 in their opening match of the competition, which includes lower-tier sides and top academy teams, on Wednesday.

Arsenal declined to enter the tournament in the last two years, but Ljungberg said he had pushed for them to play in it when he took over as U23s coach in the summer.

“I fought quite hard for us to be in this competition because I think it gives players experience of beating grown men,” he told the London Evening Standard.

“It’s different, you see that when the tackles go flying in and the fans are cheering. That’s what happens in men’s football and they have to be ready for it.

“We’re not always the strongest players on the pitch — you have to use your technique in different ways. They learned a lot tonight and that’s great.”

Three of Arsenal’s most promising talents were on the scoresheet at Coventry, with Emile Smith-Rowe, Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock all striking.

Nketiah and Willock were given first-team debuts by Arsene Wenger last season, while Smith-Rowe impressed during the summer tour to Singapore under Unai Emery.

Emery has yet to include either in any of his matchday squads so far, but Ljungberg said the new Arsenal boss was keeping a close eye on the academy players.

“We speak every week, talk about players, what we’re thinking,” Ljungberg said. “He’s very open, which helps me a lot.

“Of course I have my own way of how I want to play and he never tells me how to do that. But we’re quite similar regardless. I just want to prepare them so they’re ready when they go up to his training.

“He works them really, really hard this summer and they’re very fit. My boys need to be ready for that.

“He’s an open manager and a nice, respectful man. He always asks how they’re doing. We had a few staff from Arsenal here today to look at them, and it feels great for me that there’s interest from above.”

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