Mikel Arteta warns Arsenal cannot just rely on Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for goals

Simon Collings
·3-min read
Arsenal FC via Getty Images
Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Mikel Arteta has told his Arsenal players that they cannot simply rely on Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to solve the team’s struggles in front of goal.

Arsenal have been defensively solid this season but they have struggled to find the net, scoring just 13 times in 10 games.

In the Premier League, only West Brom, Wolves and the bottom three have scored fewer goals and Arteta is keen for his side to rediscover their form in front of goal on Thursday night, when they host Dundalk in the Europa League.

The Irish side go into the match as huge underdogs, with their manager Filippo Giovagnoli saying the game “is a heavyweight boxer against a super-lightweight”.

When asked if the whole team needs to pull together and not just rely on this season’s top scorers Lacazette and Aubameyang, neither of whom is expected to start against Dundalk, Arteta said: “Absolutely.

“It is like when you face a low block like Leicester did, when they played a 5-4-1 and their striker came with our holding midfielder. If you don’t utilise your two central defenders you are playing eight against 10 the whole game - and that’s really difficult to play.

“So, [the central defenders] have to step in, they need to know which spaces to attack, which players they have to commit, which players they have to provoke, the areas that we have to try to provoke as well.

“They become crucial there and it is something that we haven’t had time to do, we haven’t really faced, and we have to start training. But again, I go back, it is a really good sign that teams come here, a big team like Leicester, and they sit and say, ‘We want to be here’.

“So, we will work on that and we will give much more to our strikers so that they can finish games off.”

Arsenal’s struggles in front of goal mean Eddie Nketiah could stake a claim for more game time if he impresses on Thursday night in the absence of Lacazette.

Eddie Nketiah is expected to lead the line against Irish side Dundalk instead (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Eddie Nketiah is expected to lead the line against Irish side Dundalk instead (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

It is at centre-back, however, where Arteta has serious selection headaches. He has just two available against Dundalk with Calum Chambers, David Luiz, Pablo Mari and Rob Holding all not fit to feature.

The Gunners are also unable to field Sokratis Papastathopoulos and William Saliba because they were not registered in their Europa League squad. It begs the question, with the fixture schedule so congested, whether Arsenal can compete for both the Europa League and a top-four spot in the Premier League.

Arteta said: “We are going to try for sure to do that. At the moment we have the squad to try to achieve that.

“What is going to happen in six weeks or six months, we don’t know. And how the players are going to assimilate all the minutes in their legs, and how they are going to respond to that, is a big question mark for all the clubs. But at the start of the season, this is our aim.”

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