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Half Mag / Half Zine

Mikel Arteta says his strikers need to rediscover their shooting boots if Arsenal are to maintain their exceptional early-season form.

Before the weekend fixtures Arsenal were top of both the Premier and Group A of the Europa Leagues, but their performances have tailed off during a hectic October, Thursday night’s 2-0 defeat at PSV Eindhoven particularly concerning Arteta.

Neither of his centre-forwards, Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah, has found the net since the latter’s strike against Bodø/Glimt seven games ago. Results have largely held up but, after a prolific start to the season, they have scored a relatively meagre four times in their past five.

“We need goals and we need goals from our front players, that’s for sure, to win the games and give us bigger margins,” Arteta said. “That run of [a] lack of goals has to end for us to be in a position to win more matches.”

There has been little time on the training pitch to put things right before Sunday’s meeting with Nottingham Forest at the Emirates but Arteta explained goal droughts are part of a centre-forward’s lot.

“Training is very restricted but sometimes it’s a lot of mental things you can work on and discuss,” he said. “It’s not the first time Eddie or Gabi have been five games without scoring a goal in their career, that happens to any striker that I’ve known of. And you have to deal with that, it’s part of their job.”

Defeating Steve Cooper’s improving side would ease any fears of a slump and ensure Arsenal remain in first place. Arteta was keen that the context of an outstanding run should not be forgotten and demanded a return to their level of the opening two months. “We’ve been on an unbeaten run of [nine] games, winning eight of those against really difficult opponents and those players as well deserve a lot of credit for what they’ve done,” he said. “And it’s my responsibility, especially, when we lose.

“The best way [to respond] after a defeat is to win the next game. We have been incredibly good at home and we have to see a different side.”