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Mikel Arteta believes that lack of confidence is the obstacle that his shot-shy Arsenal cannot overcome as they continue to slide down the Premier League table.
The 13-time English champions are 15th in the table, just four points behind the bottom three, and without winning in seven league games after their last loss to Everton.
Arteta believes that Arsenal have the fighters to turn their season around, but “some of them may hesitate at any time.”
The lack of a goal threat has been of particular concern, with the Gunners dominating games but struggling to create or convert chances.
Arsenal has scored only 12 times in the league – of which two have been criminal – and 17th in goals scored.
They have forged a relatively modest 21 great opportunities, from which they were expected to score, which puts Arteta’s men in a tie for 14th place in the top flight.
Even when Arsenal are taking shots on goal, score a meager 8.2 percent for your efforts – Better alone than Sheffield United, Burnley, Wolves, Fulham and West Brom.
By these crucial metrics, Arsenal are right where they should be: looking over their shoulder into a relegation battle.
It’s a steep decline that Arteta could hardly have anticipated, with Arsenal behind only champion Liverpool in terms of shot conversion last season (13.8 percent) spirit leading the way in 2018-19 (15.3%).
“I think it is related to trust,” Arteta said. “When you’re at it [confident] mood, when you shoot, the ball goes into the net.
14 – Arsenal’s return of points in 14 games this season is their worst record at this stage since the 1974-75 campaign (12 points, converted to 3 / win). Desperate. pic.twitter.com/wowPbSkoXe
– OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 19, 2020
“When it’s not happening, you are overthinking or sometimes unlucky. These are moments that you have to go through. It is difficult to explain.
“What has also sustained the team in recent seasons is that the conversion rate is much higher than it was supposed to.
“Now it is much lower. That’s a big gap and a lot of points at the end.
“We have to change that completely immediately and try to find ways to score goals even when the opportunities are not so clear.”
Arsenal were creating 2.3 great chances per game two seasons ago, but that fell to 1.8 last year and now to 1.5 in 2020-21.
It should come as no surprise then that technical director Edu has openly targeted “a player with creativity in the middle” in the next transfer window, although he reported the goal. Dominik Szoboszlai, who played 14 key passes in six Champions League games – has joined RB Leipzig from Salzburg.
“The plan is done, what we wanted to do in January, what we wanted to do in the summer,” said Arteta. “Sometimes we can do it, sometimes not, depending on many factors.
Edu is dealing with that right now. I am focused on all the games. We don’t have time to spend energy on that, because it is very clear what we want to do ”.
Nicolas Pepe was supposed to be the man behind Arsenal, but he has had only two chances in 10 Premier League appearances and has seen their attitude questioned.
“He’s hurting, he’s hurting, believe me,” Arteta said, flipping from topic to topic as he spends a year in charge at Emirates Stadium, quickly forgetting his FA Cup success.
8 – Nicolas Pépé has directly participated in eight goals in all competitions this season (five goals and three assists); the most of any Arsenal player. Life line. pic.twitter.com/cGcZthEIhV
– OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 19, 2020
“[Life president] Ken Friar has been here longer than anyone, I think 70 years, “he added.
“He said, ‘Mikel, it’s not one of the most challenging years in Arsenal’s history, believe me I’ve been here 70 years, it’s the most challenging and difficult year in Arsenal’s history.”
“I can take a lot of positive things in the things that we have done, the things that we have changed, the things that have worked, the trophies that we have won.
“But the results now in the Premier League are dulling what we’ve done for sure. We have to accept that. There is a negativity in the whole team, because that’s what happens ”.