The debate surrounding the striking department at Arsenal has raged amongst the fan base since Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goalscoring form dipped during the last campaign through to the present discussions around the signing of his eventual replacement.
Arsenal face Newcastle this Saturday and despite the northeast side sitting bottom of the table in comparison to Arsenal’s lofty fifth place, the Magpies have scored more goals in the league than the Gunners.
Goals remain a huge problem and regular graphics have been presented on television coverage of the Arsenal fixtures highlighting the problem clearly for all to see. Mikel Arteta is surely aware of the problem but so far little has changed in the Gunners line-up to address it.
During Saturday’s loss to Liverpool, Sky Sports put up a table for the viewers to analyse which depicted Arsenal’s rankings for goals scored, open play goals, xG, big chances created, shot conversion and possession.
These all fell far below the current fifth position in the table. In fact, the 19th place position for big chances created is the most damning of all the metrics.
It is this which brings about the discussion as to whether a new striker will even solve the Gunners’ goalscoring problem.
There is no doubt that despite Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s form dropping off, the Gabonese forward remains one of the best goalscorers in England, even Europe.
Given the opportunity in front of goal, it would take a brave person to bet against Aubameyang scoring. The problem is the 32-year-old is simply not being put in the position to score.
He is feeding off low xG shooting positions that do not fall to his strengths. Therefore, should Arsenal change striker, there remains no guarantee of seeing an increase in goal output.
Even the world’s best in Robert Lewandowski could be brought in and if he isn’t given enough service to score, the Arsenal goal tally will still not increase enough to make a significant difference. With Arsenal linked to forwards such as Dusan Vlahovic, Youssef En-Nesyri, Alexander Isak and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, it is a worry that Arsenal could overspend and still not solve their main issue.
The problem lies in the structure and the build-up play. The emphasis needs to be on players such as Emile Smith-Rowe, Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard to create more chances. However, the buck ultimately stops with the manager Mikel Arteta.
The Spaniard has without a doubt improved the overall defensive performances of Arsenal with both coaching and recruitment of far better players. However, this has come at a cost to the characteristically free-flowing dominant attacking displays once seen under Arsene Wenger and arguably even Unai Emery to a much lesser extent.
Arteta needs to work out how to increase the creativity of his side and change the current way of playing. Odegaard being brought back into the team for Alexandre Lacazette is a good place to start but he needs to ask more of the two central midfielders.
Thomas Partey, Sambi Lokonga or Ainsley Maitland-Niles have been the options in the pivot and whilst they have been good protection for the backline, they need to contribute more progressive passes in the attack.
Partey was known for being a progressor of the ball for Atletico Madrid but has been far more restricted in his game in north London. He needs to be unleashed which could in turn help with creating further shooting opportunities for the forwards.
Newcastle will be a great opportunity to see if any change has indeed happened since the Liverpool defeat. The Arsenal fans will be expecting a dominant display and the 4-0 loss at Anfield will have only increased pressure to respond.
All eyes will be on Arteta’s team selection and the performance his team demonstrates.
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