Arsenal have three problems to solve over international break as Arteta hunts top four

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has overseen a vastly improved period of form, with his Gunners side’s three-matching losing start to the Premier League season now long in the past. The North Londoners are unbeaten in their last eight league matches and are into the quarter-final of the Carabao Cup. 

A 1-0 win over Watford on Sunday was Arsenal’s third consecutive win. It lifted them to fifth in the Premier League and puts them on course to challenge for a European place.  

Emile Smith Rowe scored the only goal of the game. The youngster has been one of the most impressive aspects of Arsenal’s season so far, with his form earning a first senior England call-up.  

Continuing that form will now be key for Arteta. The Spaniard faced calls for his dismissal following defeats against Brentford, Chelsea and Manchester City in Arsenal’s first three matches.  

They sat bottom of the Premier League without a goal scored heading into the September international break. 

Heading into November’s internationals, Arsenal appear to be on an upward trajectory. Express Sport looks at three things the 39-year-old can do over the next two weeks to ensure his side’s form does not slip again. 

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Improve ruthlessness 

Half of Arsenal’s six wins this season have been by a single goal. The other three have been won by a two-goal margin.  

Against Watford, Arsenal had several opportunities to really put their opponents to the sword.  

Ultimately, they failed to do so and were lucky to come away with three points, especially after Josh King missed the target from a tight angle having gone around goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.  

A better striker would have finished the chance. Arsenal must make sure that they don’t afford similar opportunities to opponents of a higher quality, but also that they ensure games are won before allowing teams back into games.  

It feels that a truly big win is just around the corner for this Arsenal side, but to do so they must make sure that they finish their chances. 

Alexandre Lacazette’s future 

Lacazette’s contract expires at the end of June 2022 and there appears to be no indication that the French striker will pen fresh terms with Arsenal. 

The 30-year-old has had a slow start to the Premier League campaign. He finally made his first start against Aston Villa on October 22. 

His only goal this term was the added-time equaliser in the 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace.  

Lacazette has started the club’s last three matches but has had little impact, other than winning the first-half penalty against Watford which Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang saw saved by Ben Foster. 

Several reports over the weekend suggested that the Gunners are interested in signing Fiorentina striker Dusan Vlahovic. If that deal is likely to happen, it could be a good opportunity to part ways with Lacazette. 

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Kieran Tierney in for Nuno Tavares? 

Arteta could face a fresh issue when Kieran Tierney returns from an ankle injury. The Scotland international has not featured since the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace on October 18. 

But Arteta soon suffered bad news when he found out that Tierney would be absent for the club’s next few games.  

Summer signing Nuno Tavares has played well at left-back in the 24-year-old’s absence and that could present a tough decision for the head coach.   

Arteta could choose to revert back to Tierney when he is fit again, or he could reward the 21-year-old Tavares for his fine form by keeping the usual first-choice in reserve.  

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