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Remarkable similarities show Leandro Trossard is Arsenal’s new Freddie Ljungberg

May 13th, 2024

He does not have the red streak in his hair, and he does not possess the cheekbones of a Calvin Klein model, but in so many other ways Leandro Trossard is proving himself to be Freddie Ljungberg reborn for Arsenal.

This year’s title charge for Mikel Arteta’s side has been built on collective strength, defensive solidity and, to an increasingly significant extent, the goals of Trossard. He is delivering with startling frequency at this decisive moment of the campaign, just as Ljungberg did for Arsenal in their run to the 2002 title.

In his last seven Premier League games, going back to early April, Trossard has scored five goals, including the crucial winner against Manchester United on Sunday. In his last six league appearances from April to May 2002, Ljungberg scored six goals.

These are remarkable echoes of club history, not least because the two players are so similar in their standing and positioning.

Neither Trossard nor Ljungberg are regarded as the main attackers of their respective teams. Trossard will never be as feared by opposition defenders as Bukayo Saka, just as Ljungberg was never as terrifying as Thierry Henry. But every title-chasing team needs a player like this, a forward who can provide crucial interventions when the other stars are not shining.

There are even similarities between the nature of the goals scored by the two forwards. So many of Ljungberg’s strikes in that incredible spring of 2002 came at the end of surging runs from the left wing, just like Trossard’s run from the left to convert Kai Havertz’s cross at Old Trafford.

In both of these players there is also a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Two of Ljungberg’s goals in his 2002 hot streak were scored from within the six-yard box, tapped in from close range. Trossard scored his goal from just a few yards out against United, and was also in the perfect position to finish against Bournemouth last week.

They even share a taste for the spectacular. Trossard’s goal at Wolves last month, which set Arsenal on the way to victory, was a slashed effort which flew into the top corner from the edge of the box. Ljungberg broke the deadlock against Ipswich in April 2002 with an equally smart strike, on the turn and through the opposition bodies.

With 17 goals in all competitions this season, and 12 in the Premier League, this has been Trossard’s most prolific season in English football. How many goals did Ljungberg score in 2001/02? You guessed it. Seventeen in all competitions, and 12 in the Premier League.

Remarkable similarities show Leandro Trossard is Arsenal's new Freddie LjungbergRemarkable similarities show Leandro Trossard is Arsenal's new Freddie Ljungberg

Freddie Ljungberg scored crucial goals for Arsenal in their title battles – EPA/Nicolas Asfouri

Consider this, too: in 2002, Arsenal’s last two matches were against United at Old Trafford, where they won 1-0, and against Everton at home. Next weekend, Arteta’s Arsenal play their final game of the season against… Everton at home. Is all this just a coincidence, or a meaningful quirk of fate? Perhaps if Arsenal’s players believe in the latter, it could genuinely help them over the line.

For Trossard, individually, this has been a season in which he has proven himself to be so much more than a useful squad player. He has instead become an established, top-class forward, relegating Gabriel Martinelli to the role of substitute in recent weeks.

So far this campaign, Trossard has scored at a rate of one goal every 128 minutes — by some distance the best return of any player in Arteta’s squad. The way he is going, the Belgian could soon be writing himself into the club’s history books, perhaps taking a place alongside a famous flame-haired Swede of Arsenal’s past.

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This content was originally sourced and posted at Yahoo! Sports – News, Scores, Standings, Rumors, Fantasy Games »
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