Freddie Ljungberg’s first game in temporary charge of Arsenal ended in a 2-2 draw against Norwich City at Carrow Road on Sunday thanks to a brace from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Teemu Pukki put Norwich ahead via a deflected effort before Aubameyang equalised with a retaken penalty kick, having seen his initial effort from the spot saved.
Todd Cantwell restored Norwich’s advantage with a smart finish before Aubameyang levelled for a second time from a corner.
Ljungberg, who played for Arsenal between 1998 and 2007, was promoted from a coaching role to interim boss after Unai Emery was sacked on Friday.
He made five changes from Emery’s final game against Eintracht Frankfurt and retained Granit Xhaka for a first Premier League start since he was stripped of the Arsenal captaincy in October.
Norwich took the lead when Pukki latched on to a clever pass from Kenny McLean and, afforded time by the backpedalling Arsenal defence, saw his shot deflect off Shkodran Mustafi’s legs past the dive of Bernd Leno.
Arsenal were awarded a penalty when Mesut Ozil’s free-kick caught the arm of Norwich defender Christoph Zimmermann, who protested he was pushed but did not earn a VAR reprieve.
Norwich goalkeeper Tim Krul’s histrionics on the line appeared to unsettle Aubameyang and his spot-kick was saved by the Dutchman – who pointed in the direction he wanted the Gunners striker to shoot.
However, VAR determined there was encroachment in the penalty box before the rebound was cleared and Aubameyang regained his composure to emphatically dispatch the retake.
Norwich regained the lead on the stroke of half-time, when Cantwell finished off a counter-attack with an adroit side-foot finish from a tight position.
Aubameyang equalised for a second time just before the hour when the ball fell to him following a corner and he hooked it past Krul.
Both sides pressed for a winner – with Leno the busier goalkeeper – but settled for a share of the spoils.
What does it mean? Lots for Ljungberg to ponder
Ljungberg, 42, won two Premier League titles and three FA Cups with Arsenal but the current crop of players look a long way off those heights.
There was a little more inventiveness about Arsenal’s play in the former Sweden international’s managerial bow, but he will need to rectify a leaky defence if he is to land the job permanently.
This result saw Arsenal climb up to eighth – seven points shy of the top four. Norwich remain 19th – three points from safety.
Clever Cantwell creates problems
The 21-year-old midfielder caught the eye with his movement, creativity and deservedly found the net for the second league game in succession. Cantwell will be a key player if Norwich are to beat the drop.
Lacklustre Luiz at fault
Different man in the dugout, but same old David Luiz in defence. The Brazilian failed to close down Norwich’s attackers on too many occasions and he should have done better with the goals.
Key Opta Facts
– Arsenal are now winless in six Premier League games (D4 L2), their worst run since August 2011 (also a run of six).
– Norwich have avoided defeat in back-to-back Premier League matches for the first time this season, the first time they have done so in the top flight since April 2016.
– Since his Premier League debut in February 2018, Aubameyang has scored 27 goals in games played on Sundays – more than any other player has scored on a day of the week in that time.
– Pukki ended a run of 18 shots and 773 minutes without a Premier League goal, scoring his first in the league since September against Manchester City.
– Aubameyang has scored 10 goals in 11 Premier League appearances against newly-promoted opposition.
– Arsenal have won none of their last 40 away Premier League matches when losing at half-time (D10 L30) since a 5-3 win at Chelsea in October 2011.
Norwich face a trip to fellow Premier League strugglers Southampton on Wednesday, while Arsenal host Brighton & Hove Albion on Thursday.
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