On Wednesday night, Mikel Arteta lamented a lack of cutting edge in the box as Arsenal were downed 2-0 by Liverpool in a game decided by fine margins.
He’s since laid down the gauntlet to his squad, and those charged with bolstering it, by saying the Gunners will need to hit between 90 and 100 goals to have any chance of challenging for the title in the coming seasons.
For context, Arteta’s squad are plodding along at a rate of 1.59 goals per game this season. To hit 90, we’d have to up that to 2.36 goals per game. It’s a substantial increase and one that will likely have to be solved in the transfer market alongside improvements on the training ground.
“To be with the top teams this season you need to score 90 to 100 goals at least,” said Arteta on Friday.
“Somehow you need those goals in the team. Don’t ask me how, but you need them. They have to come. That contribution, how it’s done and how possible it is to happen, you have to find the right pieces to do it. But it’s a non-negotiable.”
While “non-negotiable” might be pushing it, the boss does have a point. Liverpool and City have netted 712 goals between them in the last four seasons, a staggering amount.
Arteta also pointed to examples on the continent. “You look at the Barcelona team that won six titles; they scored 100 goals for three years,” he noted.
“If you don’t need that then you need to have 30 clean sheets.”
He added: “In the last 11 games if we can score 11 goals and concede zero we’re going to win 11 games. Or we can score 35 and concede, and we’re still going to have 33 points. But in a very different way.”
Arsenal did try to add goals in January with a substantial offer for Dusan Vlahovic before the Serbian decided to join Juventus from Fiorentina. We’ve since settled for Alex Lacazette leading the line but know with the Frenchman and Eddie Nketiah both out of contract in July, recruiting a striker (or two) this summer is a top priority.
The last time we were active in the market, the club deliberately targeted players with a younger profile. When it comes to strengthening the attack this summer, it sounds like we’re open to a ready-made option.
“There are certain things that we have to achieve in the summer that are not always especially age-related, but things we want to add to the squad,” said Arteta.
“There are a lot of topics that are very important and we have to find the right piece. When we find that player, maybe the top priority won’t be the age in that position. Maybe in another one, yes. So we’ll have to get that right.”
Goals, Goals, Goals, we’re looking for a good time…
- George Allison was Arsenal manager the last time we hit more than 100 goals in a top-flight season. Taking over from Herbert Chapman, who had passed away on the job, George’s side smashed 115 goals in 42 games on their way to the 1934/35 First Division title, our third in a row.
- The Gunners twice surpassed a century of goals in the early 40s but with World War II in progress, we weren’t competing in a national league but rather the Football League South.
- The Gunners haven’t hit 90 goals in a top-flight season since 1963/64. That year we ended with a goal difference of +8. We conceded 82 times!
- The best single-season tally achieved under Arsene Wenger was 87 in 2004/05 – the season the Invincibles gave up their crown. Arsene’s title-winning sides scored 68 (97/98), 79 (01/02), 73 (03/04) respectively.
- The last time Arsenal surpassed 80 goals in a league campaign was 2009/10 (83). That season, the players shared the burden with Cesc Fabregas ending up as the top scorer with 15 goals.