Too good to go down? Arsenal are sleepwalking into a relegation fight

Freddie Ljungberg said it himself after Arsenal’s loss to Manchester City on Sunday – it’s time for the club to make a decision.

The fact that it’s taken just five games for the Gunners legend to grow tired of the complete mess that exists above him sums up the current levels of ineptitude being shown by those in the corridors of power at Emirates Stadium.

How can a club of the stature of Arsenal just sit back and allow a season to descend into catastrophe? Because that’s exactly what’s happening at the moment and the worrying thing is there is every chance things are going to get worse unless someone takes charge of the situation.

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Some may scoff at the notion, but right now Arsenal are drifting aimlessly towards a relegation battle. They are currently seven points above the bottom three, but with trips to Everton and Bournemouth to come before home games with Chelsea and Manchester United, that gap could be vastly smaller by the time we start the new year. 

It’s tough not to feel sympathy for Ljungberg. He shouldn’t escape criticism because you would have hoped he would have inspired far more of a reaction than we have seen since he was placed in temporary charge, but in truth his hands are largely tied.

He has inherited a squad that had been stripped of all confidence by the time Unai Emery was finally sacked and injuries have also not helped his cause.

But, as big as the problems are on the pitch at the moment at Arsenal, the farce that exists off it is far worse. Ljungberg is being hung out to dry by a hierarchy that appears completely unfit for purpose right now.

How has it come to this? Where is the leadership, where is the drive to rescue a situation that is becoming more and more perilous?

It’s been over three weeks since Emery was sacked. There have been some initial talks with potential candidates, but that is as far as Arsenal have got to appointing a replacement. We are not even at the shortlist stage yet.

It’s a damning state of affairs for a club that like to laud themselves as one of the leading lights in Europe.

Meanwhile, Ljungberg is not even being allowed to bring in any coaching staff to help him get more out of a squad of players that looks like it has hit rock bottom. 

He is currently getting through games sat next to the club’s academy manager and a goalkeeper coach. What chance has he got? 

“As I’ve said to the club, it’s a great, great honour to do this,” said Ljungberg in the aftermath of Sunday’s defeat. “Per is the academy manager and he’s doing two jobs in one go. It needs clearing up to make a decision so that everybody knows. That’s something I’ve said.

“I’m very honoured and I’m trying to do things as well as I can, but I think that it would be good to make a decision regardless of what it is.”

The fact that Ljungberg is already begging for a decision to be made one way or the other in terms of his immediate future shows he is well aware of the perilous position Arsenal find themselves in.

Yet those above him seem no nearer to solving the state of flux that currently exists at London’s most successful club.

It was only a matter of months ago that head of football Raul Sanllehi was being heralded as ‘Don Raul’ by the club’s fan-base following the summer acquisition of Nicolas Pepe. That mantle has well and truly disappeared now.

Sanllehi, managing director Vinai Venkatesham, technical director Edu, chief negotiator Huss Fahmy and, of course, the Kroenkes have to take the blame for the predicament Arsenal find themselves in.

It was clear for weeks before Emery departed that a new man was needed. They have all had months to get someone in, yet they still haven’t even put a final shortlist together.

Where is the planning? Spurs had one when they got rid of Mauricio Pochettino and look where they are now, they are fifth and just three points off the top four because Daniel Levy was decisive.

Arsenal, meanwhile, are sleepwalking towards a relegation battle under owners and an executive group that is proving to be more feeble by the week. 

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