Football

How the absence of a natural goalscorer may have cost Arsenal fourth spot

Arsenal may just have lost out on a Champions League spot. It comes after the Gunners lost 2-0 to Newcastle at St James’ Park.

The disastrous result leaves them fifth, two points behind rivals Tottenham. Mikel Arteta’s men now need to beat Everton on the final day, and hope that Spurs lose to relegated Norwich.

Struggles earlier in the campaign can certainly be blamed for Arsenal’s final position in the table. But undoubtedly more worryingly is the club’s lack of a world-class out-and-out striker. They have truly been missing a natural goalscorer in the final months of the season.

Arsenal

The damaging stats behind Arsenal attacking struggles

First and foremost, the Gunners haven’t been scoring enough goals. Seven clubs have more league goals this season. That includes Manchester United, West Ham and Leicester. All three sides are below Arsenal in the table.

Now comes the important part. The lack of goals certainly isn’t through a lack of trying. Only Manchester City and Liverpool have taken more shots than the Gunners. A clinical finisher is, therefore, missing in that final third.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang may not have been the man Arteta wanted in his starting XI. But he may just have been the player he needed until the end of the campaign.

Youngster Eddie Nketiah has certainly been impressing in recent times. But an experienced striker like Aubameyang may have turned up when the going got tough. He has since gone to La Liga and has found the net 11 times in 16 matches.

Bukayo Saka is Arsenal’s leading goalscorer in the league this season. He has 11 goals to his name. It puts him behind players from the likes of Brentford, Crystal Palace, Leicester, and West Ham. Again, all of those clubs are below the Gunners in the table.

Following Saka is another midfielder; Emile Smith Rowe has 10 goals. Martin Odegaard is then in third with six. Such a leaderboard is unheard of for a team challenging for the top four.

Their north London rivals have the likes of Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane banging in the goals. While those two have carried all of the burden, Arteta would most certainly rather have the same situation happening at his club.

Another stat that the team’s background staff may analyse is hitting the woodwork. While some consider it unlucky, others may consider it as not clinical enough. Only Man City (24) have hit the woodwork more times than Arsenal (18).

Which striker could solve the problem?

Arsenal have reportedly been keeping tabs on several strikers. Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin is seemingly one such striker. He will most certainly be on the move this summer if the Toffees go down.

Another option could be Man City forward Gabriel Jesus. He has found form recently, and will want regular playing time as opposed to starts here and there in Manchester.

Lille striker Jonathan David is another man Arsenal have reportedly looked at. He has 19 goals in all competitions this season. One can only imagine the impact a natural finisher would have at the club, one that can look back to find Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli.

About the author

Peter Lynch

Sports Journalism graduate from the University of Stirling, huge Liverpool and Northern Ireland fan, currently working as a freelancer.