Mikel Arteta: Arsenal manager targets 90-100 goals to become 'top team'

Mikel Arteta has challenged Arsenal to score more goals to complement their impressive defensive record this season if they are to compete with the best in the Premier League.

Arsenal have conceded seven goals from their opening seven league games – the best of all 20 top-flight clubs – but the Arteta admits his side need to evolve in attack.

A 4-1 win against Molde in the Europa League on Thursday underlined the goalscoring potential within the Arsenal squad but Gunners manager Arteta is aware consistency against different styles of opposition is required if they are to be a “top team”.

“To get that balance right is not easy. Considering the fixtures we have played this season; playing Liverpool three times, Manchester City and Leicester. It is not easy,” Arteta said.

“It is something that we have been working on the last two weeks. You could see last night that we were much more fluent in attack. We scored the goals and we had more opportunities.

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“It is part of the team that still has to evolve because we haven’t played many games against low blocks. That is something we have to improve on.

“To be a top team you have to score 90-100 goals if you want to be competing with the top guns. It is a challenge for us and an area we have to improve and get better.”

Arteta has shown faith in youth since he was appointed last December and is convinced the influential performances of 21-year-old midfielder Joe Willock on the European stage is proof he is overseeing their development in a positive manner.

“I think it is key in the development phase to be patient,” the former Arsenal captain said of Willock.

“But as well we have to be reading the situation as it is. He is playing in Europe regularly. Before it was just a case of ‘they can play in the Carabao Cup and we give them [the youth] 10 minutes. It is not the case.

“He is playing minutes in important matches. Does he want to start in the Premier League? Of course. But it is part of his development.

“You look at Joe 12 months ago and you look at Joe now; the player that he is, how he is maturing, how much he has improved.

“I am telling you that he is on the right path. If he continues to be like and be consistent then he will have his chances.”

Arteta also joined a group of managers leading calls for the Premier League to bring back the five substitutes rule, which was introduced following lockdown last season, amid a number of injuries early into the campaign.

“That is the way that we tried to plan the squad,” he said.

“We all thought the same rules would continue. Then you could have had a 20-man squad which makes total sense with the number of fixtures that we are playing.”

Arsenal host Aston Villa on Sunday, having lost to Dean Smith’s side in their last two meetings, as the Gunners aim to build on their first league win against Manchester United at Old Trafford for 14 years last week.

Emiliano Martinez made the move from Arsenal to Villa in the summer and Arteta says the goalkeeper deserved the opportunity to become a first-team regular elsewhere.

“He had a career of 10 years here. It wasn’t just the last six or eight months. You have to look at everything he did through his time at the club,” Arteta said.

“Obviously it wasn’t in my plans to sell him. We gave him the chance because he deserved it.

He performed really well but we have to balance the books, make the right choices in the market and I couldn’t guarantee him to be the No 1.

He is a very ambitious person, he had been working really hard and he could see that the opportunity was there. He has got the chance to play with Argentina.

“When a player asks you to do that I think you have to be open enough and tell him what you think about it. And if he makes the decision to leave to try and support him because he deserved it for how he served the club over the years.”

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