Arsenal lost 2-0 to Liverpool in the thirdround match of the FA Cup at the Emirates Stadium in London last weekend. The Gunners’ recent form has been patchy to say the least. In fact, Mikel Arteta’s men have won only one of their last seven matches, which is definitely not in line with their obvious quality as a team.
Arsenal dominated the match against Liverpool in the first half, but were not able to capitalize on their dominance. They had more attempts than the Reds, but were not clinical or accurate enough inside the opposition penalty box.
This has been the trend of late for them, as they lost in two successive matches in the Premier League against West Ham United and Fulham despite being the dominant team in each of those two matches.
The Gunners played Kai Havertz as the center forward despite the German having proved multiple times in the past that he was not a number nine. He has actually played in the midfield for the majority of the season and played as the striker against Liverpool as a stop-gap measure. Havertz had a lot of touches in the final third, but was often too slow in his approach to breach Liverpool’s defence.
Then there were occasions when the Gunners had none inside the penalty box to meet the crosses played by the wingers, as Havertz was too mobile for a striker.
In fact, he played as a false nine and it was not until Eddie Nketiah came in in the second half that the Gunners had a proper striker.
Not that Nketiah himself has been setting the league on fire with his performance. His tally of six goals from 26 matches is not the kind of return Arsenal was expecting at the start of the season. Even Gabriel Jesus, who has seven goals from 21 matches, has also performed only marginally better. They have another auxiliary false nine in Leandro Trossard, who prefers to play on the left flank. The Belgian international has six goals this season from 23 matches.
It is in stark contrast with teams like Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, who have great goal-scoring forwards in Erling Haaland, Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-Min, respectively. The Gunners have been touted to be the frontrunners in signing Brentford striker Ivan Toney for quite a while now, but it remains to be seen whether that deal goes through.
In such a scenario, Arsenal will need a better attacking option upfront than the ones currently available to them.
Arteta seems to be in a mode of denial at the moment, as far as acknowledging the need of signing a new striker is concerned. However, his ostrich-act might not serve the Gunners’ purpose. It has to be remembered in this context that they missed a golden opportunity to win the league title last season.
If the Gunners are eager to avoid a repeat of it, they need to act quickly in this regard before time runs out. It will be interesting to see Arsenal’s approach in the January transfer window, as far as any new acquisition is concerned.