Mikel Arteta has stressed Arsenal urgently need to improve their Premier League form after ending their Europa League group campaign with a perfect record.
Arsenal host Burnley on Sunday evening, live on Sky Sports, and are looking to end a four-game winless run in the Premier League that has coincided with a string of impressive displays in Europe.
Having scored 20 goals in six Europa League matches but just two in their last seven league games, Arteta admitted his side’s inconsistency has been frustrating as they look to improve on their 15th-place position heading into the weekend.
Arteta said: “[Sunday] is vital for us, we’ve been inconsistent in the competitions. A good run in the Carabao Cup and Europa League but unfortunately the results haven’t been the one we’ve wanted in the Premier League.
“We are very frustrated with that, we know how important it is to put results together really quickly, because we need them straight away.
“There have been a lot of games, and the ones we’ve played especially at home, small details have made a huge difference. But we haven’t scored enough goals, without doing that we cannot win football matches. It’s as simple as that.
“Obviously creativity is linked to the chances you are able to create in different positions around the box or final third. We are working on different aspects that we certainly have to improve. The profile of the players, depending on where they play as well, brings you one thing or another. Depending on how they play we will try to exploit certain areas.”
Meanwhile, Eddie Nketiah is currently the club’s top scorer this season in all competitions with five goals, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe all have four.
Arteta was coy on whether Nketiah would feature from the start against Burnley, but did praise the 21-year-old’s attitude after the club resisted sending him out on loan.
“Since we decided to keep Eddie at the club and not send him on loan, the main reason was we saw his anger and ability to score goals consistently,” Arteta added. “He’s been doing that since he joined the first team.
“He’s performing really well, last night he was a threat all the time and he has chances like everybody else to start the game Sunday.”
Martinelli ‘really good’ after playing 45 minutes
Arteta said Thomas Partey will remain out for a few games, while David Luiz will be assessed further ahead of Sunday, and the Arsenal manager had positive news regarding Gabriel Martinelli, who has not played for the first team since March and underwent knee surgery in July.
Martinelli played 45 minutes for Arsenal’s U21s in the Papa John’s Trophy defeat to AFC Wimbledon.
“He was good,” said Arteta. “He came through the game and felt really good. He’s training.”
Dyche: Welcome to the Premier League jungle
Sean Dyche believes Arteta will not be concerned about speculation over his position but warned it is a “jungle” for modern-day Premier League managers.
“Welcome to the jungle,” Dyche replied when asked if it was too early to question Arteta, considering he won the FA Cup just four months ago.
“It (the pressure) is there for all of us, seriously, it is there for all of us.
“It manifests itself very, very quickly in football nowadays, I think that’s just a reality and I certainly don’t think the manager will be worried about that, I think he’s been in the game long enough, we all know how it works.
“You take some good news and some bad news, you get on with it and there is always the next game that comes around no matter what.”
Time to trust the Arsenal youngsters?
Sky Sports’ Charlotte Marsh:
It’s a very strange situation at Arsenal. In the Europa League, they topped Group B with flying colours, winning every game and scoring 20 goals in the process. In the Premier League, they are languishing in 15th and have scored just 10 goals in 11 games.
The Europa League has traditionally seen young players given their chance to shine and in Thursday’s dead rubber against Dundalk, Mikel Arteta took full advantage of that. He made 11 changes to his starting team with more eager youngsters waiting on the bench.
There were plenty who impressed too. Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock added to their tallies for the season, with the former now Arsenal’s top scorer in all competitions this season with five goals. Emile Smith Rowe – making his first start under Arteta – and Ainsley Maitland-Niles linked up wonderfully down the left and clearly have a connection from their academy days.
The much-hyped Folarin Balogun also came on as a substitute and once again caught the eye. He scored his first senior Arsenal goal two weeks ago against Molde and added a second with a well-taken strike at the Aviva Stadium. He added an assist too for Willock’s strike, showing some superb hold-up play.
The question you have to ask now is should Arteta start using these talented young players more in the Premier League? Something is clearly not working with the current first-team choices, so why not give the likes of Nkeitah, Willock and Maitland-Niles more regular minutes? And what could Balogun do in the top flight?
When asked in his press conference, Arteta replied: “We need everybody on board, we obviously have a large squad at the moment with players back from the injury, so we’ll have the opportunity to pick who is better in the moment and still rotate some players. But it gives us more options in the Premier League, to focus there and try and get the results we need.”
Only Arteta can make these calls, but Thursday may have given him food for thought.