Mikel Arteta has admitted, following Arsenal’s 2-0 north London derby defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, that his side’s inability to score goals (10 from their first 11 games — 4th-worst in the Premier League) is a serious problem.
Despite dominating the game in most every statistical category besides goals — 70 percent of possesion; 11 shots to 6; 87 percent pass completion to 66; 9 corner kicks to 3; and on and on — Arsenal were held without a goal for the fifth time in 11 PL games this season. The Gunners have scored just one goal in their last four league games, and just two in their last seven.
“All the stats were in our favor, but at the end of the day it’s about putting the ball in the box. The first one they put in the top corner from 30 yards, and the second one Thomas has to come off. The team got better after the first one, got better after the second one, and probably had one of the most chances of the season. I take a lot of positives out of the way we played, the courage, the passion, the energy, the belief the boys showed. But you have to win it, and we lost again.”
To be fair to the Arsenal players, they did put the ball in the box on Sunday — quite a lot, in fact, as they crossed the ball an incredible 44 times. It would appear that was far from an aberration for Arsenal, as Arteta emphasized this week the Gunners’ need to cross the ball more. Only Aston Villa (23.8) and West Ham (21) cross the ball more times per game than Arsenal (20.5), and only Villa complete fewer crosses per game.
Putting the ball in the box is the easy part, whereas Arsenal seem to struggle with the whole “put it on target” part of the plan — their 3.1 shots on target per game ranks as the fourth-worst total in the Premier League this season.
Arsenal attempted 44 crosses against Spurs, the most by any team in a single Premier League game so far this season.
Nothing to show for it. 🙃 pic.twitter.com/HKqeBqJSoY
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 6, 2020
When asked how Arsenal can turn things around and begin their steep climb up the Premier League table, Mikel Arteta offered his new strategy going forward…
“By scoring goals — very simple. We need to score goals. If not, it’s unsustainable and doesn’t matter what we do in any other area of the pitch.”
After 11 games played, Arsenal sit 15th in the Premier League table — one point closer to relegation (7) than they are to the top-four. A fifth straight season — that’s a half-decade — outside the UEFA Champions League is looming large.