Mikel Arteta has a crisis of creativity on his hands at Arsenal.
It’s been seven hours and 56 minutes since he played in the Premier League – and a change in Pierre-Amer Bameyang’s composition and little to solve the problem in Sunday’s 0-0 draw at Leeds United.
Nicolas Pepe’s stupid red card on the 51st minute didn’t help matters, of course, but even when he was at full strength Arsenal couldn’t find a way to make openings against their hosts.
He had five shots from Arsenal in the first 45 minutes but not one on goal – against Leeds with a statistically combined-bad defense in the league.
Toothless in the attack? Arsenal were barely coming to terms to threaten. That’s a recurring problem, now Arsenal are goalless in four of their last five Premier League games.
Arsenal’s lowest goal in 34 years
Arsenal have scored just nine goals so far this season – their lowest since nine games since 1986/87 (nine).
Essentially, Spotlight focuses on Arsenal’s star striker ub Bameyang at moments like this. He scored 22 times for them last season but has only one goal – a penalty – in his last eight league games.
The form has a drop off puzzle and frustration. But his switch to Center Forward did not prove to be a compromise, as many would recommend.
Instead ub Bameyang – the first-time midfielder to start a Premier League match for Arteta – went alone, managing just 17 touchdowns in the first half. In contrast, Arsenal keeper Bernd Leno had 27.
Twice he was quick successor by the Leeds defenders after coming out on long balls ahead of Leno before half-time. Playing with his back to the goal is not his strength.
That’s the end of the box, though – but the wild slash behind a nearby post highlighted his lack of confidence in his goal, while Ilan Maslier was shot directly at the clock’s mark and restrained by his standards.
After managing just three of the huge positions in his previous six Premier League games, it was the only shot on goal of the match. This is the weakest time for a player who has hosted goals since coming to England in January 2018.
Given that he and his Gabon teammates were forced to sleep on the airport floor last week while on international duty, the intensity of ub bamyang on Allende Road could be put in less preparation than ideal. Or perhaps there are broader issues surrounding his sinking that explain his problems before the international break.
Arbeta’s main concern when it comes to Arsenal’s attack problems is not Obmeyang’s condition or performance. This is a very broad issue, involving their entire team on the front foot.
They now rank in the bottom six of the Premier League for shots in the Premier League, shots on goal and chances to make a match per match in the top flight this season. Mesut Ozil is still in second place when it comes to the opportunities created by Arsenal players since the start of last season.
Progressing through midfield, beating defenders extensively, coming up with a spark in the final third, and creating space in and around the box for their attackers has become Arsenal’s problem – even if it’s 3-4- 3-4–3, 4- 2- 3- 2-3-201 or any other system.
Peps’s red card clearly distorts the analysis of Arsenal’s performance in Leeds. If anything, players are entitled to credit for the fight – for one point, using wood on those three occasions.
But at 11:11 a.m. in the opening 50 minutes there were indications that most of the attacks this season have been problems we’ve seen – and that won’t be solved by a simple change of players on the pitch.
Arteta’s focus now needs to be on how to re-fire the gunners.
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