Mikel Arteta admits he has concerns about Arsenal’s attacking play and not only the goalscoring drought of captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The Gunners have lost back-to-back Premier League games 1-0 to Manchester City and Leicester City and have failed to score more than twice in any of their previous eight matches in all competitions.
After having an Alexandre Lacazette goal disallowed early in the first half, Arsenal attempted just one shot in the second period against Leicester before Jamie Vardy’s 80th-minute winner.
This season, Arsenal are averaging just 8.8 shots per match in the league – their lowest such figure since at least 1997-98 – and 1.3 goals per game, their worst rate in 25 years.
Aubameyang has scored just once in six league games in 2020-21 and has an expected goals per game rating of only 0.07, by far the lowest in his Gunners career.
But Arteta, who has omitted playmaker Mesut Ozil from his Premier League and Europa League squads, thinks his side’s overall attacking approach needs to improve.
“I think there were two different halves [against Leicester],” he told reporters ahead of Thursday’s match with Dundalk.
“The first half we interpreted really well what the game needed. We were dominant and aggressive. We won the ball back in really good areas. We didn’t give the ball away in any dangerous areas, we created enough chances to go ahead but we didn’t manage to do that.
“We scored a goal that was disallowed and the second half we started fatigue-wise to make more mistakes in more difficult areas and not be as threatening as we should have been to finalise the game.
“The moment we created open space they had a really good action and we conceded a goal. We lost the game on a very small margin and I’m disappointed because we should have done a bit better there.
“I’m concerned in the second half that we should have done better. We only had the chance from Hector [Bellerin] but they didn’t have anything until after 75 or 80 minutes, but it’s still something we have to improve on. To attack better and to sustain attacks in long periods. We’ve been working on that, so hopefully we can improve it.
“The pressure is related to this football game that you have to win every game. We didn’t win against Leicester or Man City. Consider the demands everybody puts on us because we are the club that we are and that should never change.
“In the last eight to 10 months, the improvement of teams, quality and organisation has been the biggest I’ve seen than in the last few years. It’s not a coincidence, you can see that in every Premier League game. The league is in a great place at the moment.”
Arsenal will be without David Luiz against Dundalk and Arteta said the Brazilian is also a doubt for Sunday’s league game against Manchester United.
Willian could return this week after resuming training, while Bukayo Saka is fully fit again after a knock.
“We try to go game by game, but in the last 10 days we have had a lot of issues at the back with central defenders,” Arteta said. “If we lose another one, we’re in big trouble.