Arsenal’s season took a blow with a 2-0 loss to West Ham on Thursday night; the Gunners had 30 shots and 77 touches in the West Ham box without scoring, but Mikel Arteta says there is no panic; watch Fulham vs Arsenal live on Sky Sports this Sunday from 1pm; kick-off 2pm
By Sam Blitz, @SamBIitz
Mikel Arteta said his Arsenal side won’t win the Premier League unless they improve at both ends of the pitch, after their title charge took a hit against West Ham.
The Gunners were beaten 2-0 in Thursday night’s London derby despite Arteta’s side having 30 shots on goal and 77 touches in the Hammers box – the most in a single Premier League match since the 2008/09 season for a team who failed to score.
And for the second season in a row, Arsenal have dropped points in consecutive matches against Liverpool and West Ham. Last season saw the Gunners’ title charge come off its wheels in April, but Arteta is playing down this latest blip.
“There’s no panic, it’s about trying to do more and do better and win games,” Arteta said. “If the team is playing like this, then you’re going to go and win a lot of games.
“If we don’t improve in the boxes, then no [we won’t win the league]. Because at the end, that [the West Ham result] is what it is.
“But generating the rest, it was a record. So I don’t think there are many teams in the league who have done that over many years, so it’s something positive I think.”
Ahead of Sunday’s trip to Fulham, live on Sky Sports, Arsenal have made just one change to the Premier League starting line-up in their last three top-flight matches – and that singular switch was enforced as Kai Havertz was suspended against the Hammers for picking a fifth yellow card at Liverpool.
Asked if his Gunners players are being overused or showing signs of fatigue in this busy winter schedule, Arteta said: “There are a lot of games, but they looked really good and fresh. When you win, you don’t look at that.
“They are young, if they are 35 then maybe it’s a different question. But they have a lot of energy and can keep going, that’s for sure.
“Without a spark, you don’t generate what the team generated [against West Ham]. The it’s the final thing, the final touch, the final touch that puts the ball in the back of the net or not. That’s what we need.”
Arsenal’s upcoming fixtures
December 31: Fulham (A) – Premier League, live on Sky Sports, kick-off 2pm
January 7: Liverpool (H) – FA Cup third round, kick-off 4.30pm
January 20: Crystal Palace (H) – Premier League, kick-off 12.30pm
January 26-28: Possible FA Cup fourth round tie
January 30: Nottingham Forest (A) – Premier League, kick-off 7.30pm
February 4: Liverpool (H) – Premier League, live on Sky Sports, kick-off 4.30pm
Analysis: Arsenal’s January window just got bigger
Sky Sports’ Sam Blitz:
Mikel Arteta may be grateful that Arsenal’s 2-0 loss to West Ham came just days before the January transfer window opens.
Thursday’s night to forget showed why there are doubts that the Gunners can finish on top come May 19.
Thirty shots without a goal – including two big misses from Gabriel Jesus and little-to-no impact from attacking substitutes Eddie Nketiah, Emile Smith Rowe and Reiss Nelson – raises more questions about whether more firepower is needed, especially a centre forward.
But do Arsenal need a full-back too? Takehiro Tomiyasu is likely heading to the Asia Cup and Jurrien Timber is still on the injury list, which means there’s too much focus on Oleksandr Zinchenko – and it’s showing.
A poor outing against Mohamed Salah at Liverpool and then unconvincing for West Ham’s first goal. Perhaps it may be time to move on from the Ukrainian, especially in the big games.
But what order these two positions sit on the priority list – and whether there are decent enough options out there – is still unclear.
Watch Arsenal’s next game away at London rivals Fulham live on Sky Sports on New Year’s Eve from 1pm; kick-off 2pm