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Football Reporting


Arteta warns misfiring Arsenal stars he could give youngsters a chance to shine

The Gunners hope to get their domestic campaign on track after a run of disappointing results

Mikel Arteta has warned Arsenal’s experienced stars that he is willing to drop them to give the team’s younger players a chance.

Eddie Nketiah, 21, Joe Willock, 21, and Folarin Balogun, 19, were all on the scoresheet as the Gunners beat Dundalk 4-2 in the Europa League on Thursday.

While Arteta’s side finished the group stage with six wins and scored 20 goals, they have been struggling to find any consistency in the Premier League.

Arteta was  frustrated with their failure to convert chances  in last week’s 2-0 defeat to Tottenham, which left them 15th in the top flight.

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Only three teams – including Sunday’s opponents Burnley – have scored fewer league goals than Arsenal this season, with Alexandre Lacazette their top scorer with three and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang having netted just twice.

Arteta says he is open to giving the team’s rising stars a run in the starting XI.  

Asked if he could mix up the attack, Arteta told reporters: “When I feel that it is the right moment to do that I have to pick the players that I have the feeling, we have the feeling as a coaching staff, that has the best chance to win the game, so it has to be a yes.”

Arsenal host Burnley on Sunday and then welcome Southampton to north London three days later. They have lost three league games in a row at home, but Arteta sees an opportunity to improve their recent form. 

“Absolutely, and we can do nothing right now about what happened in the last few weeks,” he said.

“We know the home form is going to be vital for our success and we have to change that immediately.

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“So, if we want to have any hope of doing something important and relevant this season, it has to be by winning the games at home.”

He added: “I’m telling the desire, commitment, attitude and everything that they will try and put onto that pitch will be the best that they can do.

“It’s not just about character, because at the end you have to win football matches, you have to make a lot of decisions on that pitch and everybody has to contribute for that.

“So it’s not just about how much I want it, because it’s an opponent in front of you that are gonna minimise your strengths and maximise your weaknesses. What I can tell you is that the team will be prepared to battle with a real desire because we know how important that game is going to be for us.”

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