Mikel Arteta admits Arsenal’s lack of efficiency and consistent threat in the final third is a big concern for him following a second straight Premier League defeat.
Arsenal lost 1-0 at Aston Villa and despite dominating possession with 66.4% were unable to translate time on the ball with pressure in the penalty area.
Former Gunners goalkeeper Emi Martinez faced just three shots on target from Arsenal’s 14 attempts and two of those were from outside the penalty area.
Arteta is blessed with some outstanding attacking talent, at least on reputation, in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alex Lacazette, Willian and Nicolas Pepe plus young stars Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe.
But Arsenal remain an inconsistent offensive side, scoring just once in their last three games which has slowed down their momentum gathered following a positive run from Christmas into New Year.
Aubameyang and Willian’s form remains concerning, even if Lacazette and Pepe have improved following a poor start to the season but the Arsenal head coach knows they won’t win enough matches without greater execution in the final third.
“I’m not really interested in the possession – it’s the positions that we take with that possession, the spaces we attack and how many open situations we create,” Arteta said.
“It’s about the final pass, the final move, the one-on-one situations where of course you have to hit the target, the cut-backs, the deliveries into the box.
“All those things we have to improve because with the numbers we produce in the final third, we have to be hitting the target at least 10 or 12 times.
“And then the fact that Villa had more shots on target as well is because we gave them – apart from the goal – another three or four big situations where they were open to shoot on target.”
Arsenal attempted 243 passes in the final third, almost double Villa’s number of 131 but that didn’t translate into enough good chances created.
Martinez saved Granit Xhaka’s free-kick, Pepe found encouraging positions but didn’t test Villa’s keeper amid some impressive defending and substitute Martin Odegaard fired over late on.
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Arteta’s side rank 11th in the Premier League for shots (11.9), 12th for shots on target (4.0) and are over-performing their expected goals for the season by 3.04.
Leeds are their next opponents with a Premier League visit to Emirates Stadium on February 14.
That break in play, due to their FA Cup elimination at the hands of Southampton, should give Arteta much-needed time on the training ground to work on his attacking system and patterns.