Mikel Arteta has admitted Arsenal have been underperforming in front of goal – but insists they are not thinking of signing a striker in January.
Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah started in the 2-2 draw at home to Tottenham on Sunday but both came in for criticism after failing to find the scoresheet.
Arsenal have scored 11 Premier League goals compared to an expected goals total of 11.38 this season, but Arteta said: “There’s various ways to score goals and we are scoring goals.
“But we should have scored many more with the chances we have created.”
However, despite reports suggesting Arteta is keen to sign Ivan Toney when he returns from his suspension in January, the Arsenal boss said when asked about signing a striker: “We’re not thinking at all about that.
“We have really good players up front. It’s true that right now we have some injuries. We will continue with the players we have.”
However, Arteta did namecheck Toney when asked whether the traditional No 9 was being fazed out of football, saying: “It’s coming back.
“There are a few players when you look at Harry Kane, [Erling] Halaand, Ivan Toney, [Aleksandar] Mitrovic. You have examples of players who score a lot of goals.”
Frank: Why should we sell Toney?
Brentford host Arsenal in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday and, although Toney remains unavailable due to his gambling ban, the striker was a topic of conversation for Thomas Frank.
Toney has changed representation and openly talked about the potential of leaving Brentford earlier this season, but when asked whether he could depart in January, Frank said: “I don’t know. The only thing I’m focusing on is the game tomorrow [Wednesday].
“We prepare for transfer windows ahead. We are prepared in any position if something should happen. Let’s see.
“I don’t want to sell him. I want my best players. I say, ‘don’t sell him’. Ivan is a world-class player so why should we sell a world-class player?
“I want him to play here for the rest of his contract but that’s not up to me to decide.”
Merson: Arsenal may need Toney in January
Sky Sports’ Paul Merson:
I’ve always said it from day one – Eddie Nketiah is not going to win you the Premier League.
You need a proper centre forward. I’m not blaming Nketiah because they drew 2-2 with Tottenham but with 32 games to go and all the Champions League games they have to play, I don’t think he takes them to the next level. I don’t even think Gabriel Jesus takes them to the next level.
I was so confident that Arsenal would win on Sunday but when I saw the teams, I was majorly worried. Jesus on the wing, Nketiah up front, Fabio Vieira – I don’t think he’s good enough. Then Declan Rice comes off and Jorginho comes on.
It wasn’t Arsenal’s strongest team but when you think about the Champions League and all the games they have to play, it looked a bit weak on Sunday, didn’t it?
It’s alright sitting there and thinking ‘they need a centre forward’ – but who is there?
Only Ivan Toney is available for them in January – there aren’t many centre forwards around in the world. They’re a dying breed.
I heard Michael Owen chatting the other day. Years ago you had him, Alan Shearer, Teddy Sheringham and Robbie Fowler getting 20 to 30 goals a season and they didn’t get a million England caps. Ian Wright and Les Ferdinand too. Now you get to 20 goals in the Premier League and you play for England.
Toney is a good player – he can hold the ball up, he’s good in the air. Arsenal might have to go for him. But there are not a million centre forwards around.
Now, if Arsenal lose against Manchester City on October 8, they will be out of the title race. They would be seven points behind.
A lot of people say: ‘But there are still so many games left’. But Arsenal wouldn’t catch Man City if there were 600 games left if City had a seven-point head start. You just can’t make that up, as from then Arsenal would only have one game against City and it would be away.
That game at the Emirates is a huge match, it’s make or break already.
Sky Sports’ Gary Neville:
I like forwards who are flexible and can play on the left and right, but you’ve still got to have a couple of players in your team who have that smell of where the ball is going to land.
Not a poacher – the days of traditional poachers are gone – but we’re still talking about someone who knows where to be.
Listening to Sir Alex Ferguson and the England coaches over the years, it was always the way that forwards had to make runs across the defender. But if the ball’s on the other side and gets crossed to the back post, that they can make a run into that area too.
On a corner when it’s getting flicked on, you’ve got to get in at the back post. I think of Ian Wright starting in and around the six-yard box, because I used to mark him at corners and he was a nightmare.
He would always peel around to the back post to make sure if the ball gets glanced on – which it does – that he’s there. Nketiah wasn’t there. He was hanging out and didn’t make that run.
And then earlier with Jesus, when he robbed [James] Maddison, these are big moments in the game. You’ve got to be on the move and be sniffing, smelling, anticipating, and Arsenal haven’t got that.
I really like this Arsenal team and they could go on to win a title or finish second, have a great season and win trophies without that type of player, but it became obvious in this game that it was missing.
Alan Smith pointed it out on commentary too and he knows far more than I do about playing up front.