Freddie Ljungberg Scores His First Arsenal Goal On This Day, 20th September 1998

Arsenal were the defending Champions but in the lead up to this match, you would not have believed it reading the media reports. Anelka was useless and Seaman past it. An unknown Swede on the bench. Winning one and drawing four of their opening five games was a signal that Arsenal were in decline.

Not that Manchester United were any better. They had meekly surrendered the title the year before, offering little more this season. Liverpool were already favourites to win the Premier League, United had won two and drawn two as their season opened. Qualifying comfortably past Lodz in the Champions League, they had blown a two goal lead in the first group match against Barcelona, drawing 3 – 3.

The match was already won when Freddie Ljungberg left the bench to make his Arsenal debut. The icing on the cake came when he scored the first of his seventy-two goals at the club. It was his only one of the season.

But that did not matter. Arsenal had paid £3m for the Swede not noted for his prolific scoring in his career at Halmstad, averaging a goal every ten games. His game was more than that and Arsenal’s return on the initial investment was many fold greater than the amount of his fee.

7 thoughts on “Freddie Ljungberg Scores His First Arsenal Goal On This Day, 20th September 1998

  1. I was there for his reserve team debut four days earlier. I wrote a report for the Arsenal Mailing List (now defunct, but at the time the best way for Arsenal fans to exchange views and information). This is what I wrote. I chuckled at my opinion of Freddie. Can you guess who Tottenham’s freaky substitute was?

    Seeing as I handed in my notice on Monday, I decided to bunk off work this afternoon and see what our second string were up to. I had been told that Ljungberg would be playing so it gave me even more of an excuse.

    I arrived five minutes late but apparently missed nothing.

    We lined up:
    McLeod Weston Crowe Cole
    Black Day Vernazza Gray
    Riza Ljungberg

    Subs: Lincoln, Barrett and Willie Huck (I still can’t get over his name).

    The Scum had Segers, Scales, Edinburgh & Wilson playing.

    Basically nothing happened for 35 minutes when neither side’s attack was particularly useful against a pair of solid defences.

    Tott’s right back (Kersey) opened the scoring on 35 minutes with a superb looping header over Segers from a Riza cross. A peach of an own goal.

    Just before half-time a rasping Riza shot was pushed away by Segers. Riza hit the underside of the bar from the resulting corner which was cleared for another corner. From this Freddie put a shot just over the bar.

    Greg Lincoln came on for Ljungberg at half-time and Gray was replaced soon after by Graham Barrett. The second half was pretty much the same as the first half with chances few & far between.

    Tottenham gave us a laugh when they brought their freak of a centre forward. The boy is 16/17, about 12 foot tall and makes Kate Moss look like a telly tubbie. Apart from beating Crowe to a high ball without even jumping he did nothing although he was very useful in the wall for free-kicks 😉

    With about 15 mins to go we brought on Willie Huck for Tommy Black.

    The last 5 minutes were extremely busy but I managed to miss most of the details because someone called me on the mobile. Riza scored with a superb solo effort. Day put a defence splitting pass through which Riza ran onto from about 40 yards out, beat three defenders and cooly slotted the ball under Segers.

    I’m not sure which happened next but Riza scored again with a shot from the right hand side of the goal and Tottenham’s number 5 was sent off for a late challenge but I’m not sure on who.

    Huck also looped the ball over Segers and just over the bar.

    Player Ratings:
    Taylor – 5 It’s a bit hard rating a player who has little to do. His clearances ranged from poor to very poor.
    McLeod – 6 Not bad but can’t see him making it.
    Cole – 7 Hardly put a foot wrong all match.
    Vernazza – 8 Very solid in midfield. You can see that he has that little bit more than the others.
    Crowe – 7 Again very solid.
    Weston – 7 Not particularly busy but knew what he was doing.
    Black – 7 Made some good runs and is definitely better than his brother.
    Day – 8 Obviously the holding midfielder. Ran the show. Not even close to Petit / Vieira though.
    Riza – 7 This may surprise you but I don’t think he had that good a game. Constantly caught in possession, in the wrong place at the wrong time but still managed to score two and force an own goal!
    Ljungberg – 7 I hate to say but he reminds me of Martin Hayes. You can see that he has something and needs a bit more than half a reserve game.
    Gray – 7 Pretty good game/
    Lincoln – 6 Nothing special
    Barrett – 7 Will make it into the first team eventually.
    Huck – 7 Can take players on and always looking for the ball. Managed to get in a couple of shots when it looked like there was no way through.

    All in all a great result but on another day it could have ended up 0-0.

    • Aah, Peter Crouch. I worked with a guy who played football against Crouch in his youth days. Didn’t have a high opinion of him as a player and didn’t think he’d improved much as an adult!

      I remember the Mailing List from the 80s and 90s. Initially joined it with the ‘receive each mail’ option but then turned quickly to the digest. Quite enjoyed the breaks in the day to read and sometimes join in. Such a transformation from a lurker to a blogger – not one I envisaged at the time! Don’t tell me you’ve got every email to that as well as copious press cuttings!

      • I’ve kept some with reserve team match reports and overseas games.

        Do you remember the mad French girl who said she was Tony Adams’ girlfriend? Then she said that she was Frank Lampard’s girlfriend. Then her mum posted to the losy saying that she died. Then she was miraculously resurrected!

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