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Arteta working to improve Gunners' target

LONDON • Arsenal must aim to score up to 100 goals a season to complement their solid defensive record if they are to compete with the Premier League elite, manager Mikel Arteta said on Friday.

The ninth-placed Gunners have conceded the least goals (seven) in the league this season, but they have scored just nine times in seven games – second-lowest among the top 10 teams in the competition after Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The Spaniard, however, said the team proved their attacking potential when they thrashed Norwegian side Molde 4-1 in the Europa League on Thursday.

“To get that balance right is not easy,” Arteta told a news conference ahead of today’s home game against Aston Villa, who are level on 12 points with Arsenal but have played one game less.

“It is something that we have been working on in 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.

“To be a top team, you have to score 90-100 goals (a season) 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 also said he expects Villa to be eager for a win at the Emirates Stadium, after successive defeats by Leeds United and Southampton, and that Arsenal will be wary of the threat possessed by their in-form captain Jack Grealish.

“He (Grealish) is a player who can make a difference at any moment in the game,” the 38-year-old manager said.

“He has this personality against any opponent, at any ground, to take the ball in any area of the pitch and he can make the difference, so we have to look after him.”

Villa have had more points now – 12 in six games – than they did after 12 matches last season and manager Dean Smith believes his team are in a good place despite the last two losses.

He said: “We still feel that we’ve had a good start (even if) the last two results have been disappointing. The players are still confident, that’s for sure, they want to put it right.”

REUTERS

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