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Mikel Arteta pinpoints reason behind Arsenal’s struggles in front of goal

Mikel Arteta has suggested that Arsenal’s issues in front of goal have become “psychological” after another frustrating performance against Liverpool in the FA Cup.

The hosts squandered a series of excellent chances in a 2-0 defeat to exit the cup in the third round.

It came little more than a week after a similarly wasteful performance against West Ham and extended Arsenal’s run to four games without a win.

The London club have been heavily linked with a move for Brentford striker Ivan Toney, but Arteta suggested after the defeat that any attempt to remedy their scoring problems in the transfer market was unlikely.

The Spanish manager has suggested that his players need to “reset” and hopes that a 13-day gap between fixtures will aid his squad.

“Probably it has [become a psychological issue],” Arteta said of Arsenal’s goalscoring issues. “Especially after today, more than it was against Fulham or West Ham before that. That’s why I think we need to reset. This break is good. It comes in a good time.

“It was a really disappointing result with a big performance against probably the team that is the most in-form in Europe. We were better than them, we generated much more than them, we created so many chances but we didn’t capitalise.

“Against these teams, you have to capitalise if you want to win. If you don’t score in that box, and then you concede an own goal and the second one like we did, it is difficult to win.”

Arteta deployed Kai Havertz as the central prong of his front three against Liverpool with Gabriel Jesus absent due to injury.

The German was unable to capitalise on a number of good sightings of goal, with Reiss Nelson and Martin Odegaard also passing up a few opportunities.

Arsenal were unable to beat Alisson in a 2-0 FA Cup defeat (Getty Images)
Arsenal were unable to beat Alisson in a 2-0 FA Cup defeat (Getty Images)

Longstanding links with Toney could well be revisited this January with the England international reaching the final days of his ban from football for breaching gambling rules.

But Arteta was clear that any possible move for a striker is currently not close.

“At the moment it doesn’t look realistic,” Arteta, who will take his squad to Dubai before Arsenal’s next game against Crystal Palace on 20 January, said of the possibility of a forward incoming. “My job is to improve our players and get better results with the players we have.

“The players need [a break] because we cannot question their effort, what they’ve done today, and the attitude they have played with, the courage, aggression - everything is there but the ball is not going in the right direction at the moment in the opponents’ half, and then you concede an own goal which is incredible.

“We have to change momentum, that’s for sure, and we need our players and we need our people as well. In the difficult moments, we stick together and get behind those players that, in my opinion, deserve so much.

“They appreciate that and we stick together and do what we have done in the past. There is nothing new, results will come and enjoyment will come.”