Arteta delivers verdict on Arsenal's win over Tottenham
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Arsenal made a mockery of fierce rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the North London Derby on Sunday, winning 3-1. The Gunners were dominant from start to finish in a very well-rounded performance, with the flock of young summer signings all stepping up when it mattered.
Emile Smith-Rowe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka scored the all-important goals in a performance that Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta will be ecstatic with.
The Spaniard spent just almost £150million in the transfer window on six players, all under the age of 23.
The haul comes as part of a ‘project’ at the Emirates Stadium as the management and board look to rebuild the club so that they can return to being one of the best in the league.
Currently, they still aren’t there, but Sunday’s performance was a sign of progress.
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Their starting eleven had an average age of 24 against Spurs, so when Arteta manages to mould some of the bright prospects into what he needs then improvement is to be expected.
However, as that side develops Arteta will need to dip into the transfer market again for a central forward, potentially sooner rather than later.
Although he scored the second and played well, Aubameyang still doesn’t look like the animal that he has been in previous seasons at the Emirates.
The Gabonese forward used to have zip and energy to his game and was able to have a significant influence on the game, but he looks like he has lost that spark.
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The 32-year-old’s contract at Arsenal expires in 2023 and rumours circulated over the summer that he would be sent packing if the right offer arrived, but, obviously, that never happened.
Aside from Aubameyang, Arteta has Alexandre Lacazette, Eddie Nketiah and Folarin Balogun as forward options.
The latter two, granted that they are both young, both don’t look ready of stepping up and being Arsenal’s reliable no.9 – and Lacazette’s contract expires in 2023 and reportedly looks set to leave when the opportunity arises.
If Arteta wants a squad that is capable of competing with the likes of more monetarily sound clubs like Manchester City and Manchester United then investing in prospects is a smart move, but finding a goalscorer must be next on the shopping list.
In the short term, Aubameyang will suffice. He scores enough goals to be a regular starter in a team looking to reassert themselves as a Top Six side, but not a Top Four.
With City being an exception to the rule due to their whole host of goalscorers, the rest of the Top Four have an out and out goalscorer. At Liverpool it’s Mohamed Salah, at Chelsea it’s Romelu Lukaku and at United, it is obviously Cristiano Ronaldo.
Even Spurs have Harry Kane, for now, and Leicester City have Jamie Vardy, so Arteta will know that a striker that can score at least 15 a season is needed to regularly compete.
If Arsenal can continue to perform with the same intensity that they did against Tottenham then slowly but surely they’ll creep up the table.
They have all the ingredients of a top side and once a settled eleven is found, they will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season. But whether Aubameyang will be there at the end of the season is a question that only Arteta knows the answer to, especially if he wants his side to play Champions League football in the next few years.
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