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Mikel Arteta responds to criticism of Arsenal’s forwards for lack of goals


Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has offered his support to his struggling forwards following criticism from fans about the team’s limited output this season.

The Gunners struck 88 goals in 38 Premier League games last season, behind only Manchester City’s 94, but have just 37 to their name after 20 outings this time around and are currently being outscored by six other teams in the division.

Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Gabriel Jesus and Martin Odegaard all reached double-figures for goals last year but, this time around, Saka is the only player on track to repeat that feat. The England international has six goals to his name, while the other three players have a total of nine between them.

With many fans growing frustrated by the clear drop in goal numbers, Arteta was quick to remind those disguntled supporters just how special the team’s achievements last season really were.

“I think what they did last year is exceptional, and we knew that to maintain those numbers was going to be extremely difficult, because it was a one-off – and not a one-off for us, a one-off in the league,” Arteta said.

“So we know that we need other resources and other kinds of goals to maintain the levels that we want.”

Behind Saka, the only other Arsenal player to reach five Premier League goals this season is backup striker Eddie Nketiah, with Odegaard and Kai Havertz both narrowly behind on four.

Gabriel Martinelli

Martinelli is among those facing criticism / Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

Arteta went on to admit that helping his side learn how to put the ball in the net is tricky but vowed to continue battling to find ways to maximise his side’s output in front of goal.

“I think overall the execution is in every part of the field, but when it comes to those spaces, the timing and the definition of an action, [it] becomes trickier to coach and certainly to replicate an action in the game,” he said.

“That’s probably the hardest thing to replicate in football – the timing, the behaviour of the opponent, the distance between the ball and the feet of the opponent, the exact location of that shot, the position of the keeper, the game state – so it’s very tricky. But it’s something that we have to improve, especially recently, in the way that we have transformed those chances into goals.

“We have to [put in work on the training ground]. It’s our job, and the thing that puts them in the most concrete, reliable scenarios is going to help them to do it better.”

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