Mikel Arteta Discusses Arsenal's Lack of Goals, Shkodran Mustafi, Injury News & Dundalk Test

Ross Kennerley
Oct 28, 2020, 5:15 PM GMT
Arteta has come under criticism of late
Arteta has come under criticism of late / Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Mikel Arteta, for the first time since taking the Arsenal job, has come under criticism. Having added defensive steel into his side, the resulting lack of potency in attack is now cause for concern with the Gunners struggling in front of goal.

A tepid 1-0 home loss to Leicester last time out was the club's third Premier League loss of the season, with question marks over the perceived style of play making up the majority of the questions directed his way ahead of the visit of Dundalk in Thursday's Europa League clash.

Arsenal welcome the Irish side for a first meeting of the two, having come from behind to beat Rapid Vienna 2-1 in their opening group stage clash. Here is what Arteta had to say.

On Arsenal's Struggles in Front of Goal

As Arteta seeks to mould his side into a more attacking unit following the switch from a more defensive-minded 3-4-3 setup, the result has seen Arsenal failing to create many meaningful opportunities in front of goal. Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are struggling, and Arteta insists that the situation has him 'concerned'.

"Well, from everybody because when we are at home and we're not able to score a goal, I am concerned," he told the official Arsenal website.

"I am concerned about the second half [against Leicester], we should have done better, we only had the chance for Hector. They didn't have anything to be fair until after 75 or 80 minutes, but still it is something we have to improve in the final third, the solutions we have to give them to attack better, to be more continuous, to be able to sustain attacks in longer periods and put the ball in the box more.

"We have been working on that so hopefully we can improve it. It is the role of everybody, first of all mine to give them the solutions and structure to attack better."

Having Faith in Shkodran Mustafi

Mustafi replaced Luiz against the Foxes
Mustafi replaced Luiz against the Foxes / WILL OLIVER/Getty Images

Despite boasting a plethora of central defenders at the club, Arsenal have been beset with injuries in that department heading into the Dundalk game. David Luiz recently joined Rob Holding in the treatment room - adding to Pablo Mari and Calum Chambers already - while Sokratis has been omitted from the team squads and William Saliba is deemed not ready for action.

However, Mustafi made his return from an injury of his own against the Foxes, and Arteta is backing the German to make a positive impact.

"I have been really happy with Musti since I joined and the performances that he has had," the Spaniard insisted. "It is true that he had a long-term injury, he has worked so hard to get back into the position he is today.

"I just want him to show again the trust we have him in, play him and get the performance we have had in the past from him. I think there were a few cases when we joined in that position and what we tried to do it is help the players as much as possible, encourage them to play with confidence and try to give the right solutions and then it is up to them to show with their performances where they are."

Injuries to David Luiz, Willian & Bukayo Saka

Luiz was forced off after 49 minutes against Leicester
Luiz was forced off after 49 minutes against Leicester / Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Willian was an absentee from the Leicester loss after picking up a minor knock, but both Luiz and Saka were forced off at the Emirates having picked up injuries of their own, with Arteta offering updates on the trio.

"There is no chance he [Luiz] will play against Dundalk. There is a big doubt for him to play at the weekend too," he revealed.

"Willian has been training with us for two days and tomorrow he might be involved in the game at some stage. Bukayo picked up a knock but he’s been training fine."

On What Threat Dundalk Pose

Dundalk lost their Europa League opener to Molde
Dundalk lost their Europa League opener to Molde / Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Thursday will be a first meeting between the two clubs, in what is Dundalk's second foray into the Europa League group stages. Despite being a mostly unknown fixture outside of Ireland, Arteta claimed that he is well aware of the dangers they can pose.

He concluded: "We've got some Irish staff here and there are a lot of positive things about them. From what I've seen they've got a really determined coach that has found a really good cohesion with the team. You can see in every reaction when they are playing, how united they are. They're really well organised, they make it really hard and they will be coming here with incredible passion.

"As I’ve said, their strengths are the unity of the team and how hard they work together and how well they are organised. There are a few bits where they look really dangerous in certain contexts. Against us in certain situations it’s a little more complicated, but yes, if you allow any team time and space, they will create issues.

"They’re really strong on set-pieces as well and I’m sure they will have prepared them for tomorrow, so we will have to control the normal aspects we do every week."

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