Mikel Arteta has admitted that Arsenal are not yet where he wants his Premier League title challengers. But he also accepts their problem is the ‘most difficult thing’ to solve.
The Gunners are one of just three sides to boast perfect records through the first two games of the season. Arsenal kicked off the 2023/24 Premier League campaign with a 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest. Martin Odegaard’s penalty then returned their 1-0 win at Crystal Palace.
Just Brighton & Hove Albion plus defending champions Manchester City have also won their opening two games. But the Seagulls lead the early table ahead of the Citizens, and Arsenal, on goal difference. They have scored eight times to Man City’s four and the Gunners’ three.
Mikel Arteta admits Arsenal are not playing at the level he expects
Chances for the Emirates Stadium natives were at a premium in the latter stages at Selhurst Park this Monday, too. Takehiro Tomiyasu’s red card forced the north Londoners to dig deep to defend their narrow lead. Arsenal did not attempt a single shot beyond the 66th minute.
Instead, Crystal Palace applied the pressure and took their tally from seven shots to 14 with Arsenal playing with 10 men, per WhoScored. Yet the Eagles finished the night having forced Aaron Ramsdale to make just two saves. The Gunners also guided just three shots on target.
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Arsenal were also wasteful with their openings as Arteta orchestrated an opening-day win at home to Nottingham Forest, per WhoScored. Eddie Nketiah and Bukayo Saka hit home from two of the Gunners’ seven shots on target. They registered 15 shots in total from six players.
Mikel Arteta accepts the scale of the challenge facing his players
Arteta now admits his stars are not playing at the level he expects ahead of Arsenal hosting Fulham on Saturday. The Spaniard is adamant that the Gunners must improve their form in front of the goal. But he also accepts the scale of the challenge facing the north Londoners.
The coach noted, via the Mirror: “No, because we have to put the ball in the net more often, especially with the dominance we are having in games. But that’s the most difficult thing in football. So, if you don’t do that, you have to do the other part, which is be extremely solid.
“We were last week [against Nottingham Forest] and we were again today [at Crystal Palace] with the chances we conceded. Let’s keep playing better and evolving.”
Arsenal missed out on the Premier League title to Manchester City last term as Arteta’s side mounted a surprise challenge. The Gunners emerged as the Citizens’ largest threat with the Emirates Stadium club often scoring freely. Only the Citizens would find the net more often.
Manchester City ended the campaign with 94 goals to Arsenal’s 88 and Liverpool’s 75. Erling Haaland hammering home a Golden Boot-worthy 36 goals helped the Citizens hugely. While Odegaard and Gabriel Martinelli were the Gunners’ joint-top goalscorers on 15 to Saka’s 14.