Mikel Arteta has offered no guarantee that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be available for Arsenal in Saturday's big clash with Manchester United.

The striker and club captain left the squad just hours ahead of last weekend's FA Cup match at Southampton, because of personal reasons.

Aubameyang specified on Wednesday that his mother had been experiencing "health issues" and stressed he "had to be with her".

He said he was keen to be back on Arsenal duty, but how soon that happens could hinge on a range of issues.

Arsenal manager Arteta did not give a firm answer one way or the other when asked whether Aubameyang had travelled abroad to be with his mother.

If he did head overseas, that could bring quarantining into the equation and mean he may have to wait a while before returning to action.

Looking at the weekend prospects for the Gabon international, Arteta said: "I don't know. I spoke with him yesterday, things are looking better at the moment, but we're going to have to wait and see.

"He's our captain and one of the most important players. We are doing everything we can to have him back as quick as possible but understand he's been through difficult days, that he has to support his family and we are here to support him as well with the time that he needed to get that sorted."

When asked if Aubameyang had left the UK to be with his mother, Arteta said: "He had to support his family and he had to be with them."

Pressed on the possibility of quarantine, he replied: "I don't know about what happened."

Arsenal lost in the cup to Southampton but took swift revenge by winning 3-1 in the Premier League at St Mary's on Tuesday, to continue their recent revival in the competition.

Arteta had dedicated that victory to Aubameyang on behalf of the squad and explained it was important to support the 31-year-old at all times.

"That's what we always talk about and what we expect to do for each other," said the Arsenal boss. "When someone is having difficulties, that we understand for him, protect him, give him our love, because it's what is needed."

Aubameyang scored twice in his last Premier League appearance, the 3-0 win over Newcastle United on January 18, after netting just three in his previous 16 games in the competition.

In the Newcastle game, Aubameyang matched his season's Premier League highs for shots at goal (five) and touches in the opposition box (nine).

Having also scored against Newcastle in the FA Cup third round earlier in January, it suggested his best form may be coming back.

Only once last season did Aubameyang have more goal attempts in a game (seven against Brighton and Hove Albion on June 20), while he only had more touches in Arsenal's rivals' box twice (in December 2019 games against Norwich City and Bournemouth).

Dani Ceballos and Pablo Mari are expected back in training with Arsenal in the coming days after short injury lay-offs, Arteta said.

He said Arsenal would "have to see" how Kieran Tierney is, although video that appeared to show the left-back in training this week may suggest he could face United this weekend.

Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang thanked fans for their support after explaining he had missed recent matches after his mother took ill.

The forward sat out consecutive trips to Southampton - a 1-0 FA Cup defeat and a 3-1 Premier League win - with what the club described as "personal issues".

Manager Mikel Arteta had admitted he was unsure when the Gabon international would be able to return, with the Gunners now preparing for league games against Manchester United and Wolves over the next six days.

Aubameyang suggested he could be back soon as he confirmed his mother was recovering.

"Thank you so much for all the messages and calls over the last few days," he wrote on social media on Wednesday.

"My mother is going through some health issues and I had to be there for her. She's already much better now and I will be back home tonight. I'm more than grateful to the doctors and nurses helping her get through this.

"And of course, thanks to my Arsenal fam for the love yesterday! I'm more determined than ever to keep our momentum going!

"Thank you all again – I really am beyond blessed to receive this level of support and love from all of you and I can't wait to be back."

Team-mates Nicolas Pepe and Alexandre Lacazette dedicated goals in Tuesday's win at Southampton to Aubameyang, who has scored five times in 17 league games this season.

The Gunners' win moved them into eighth place in the league, five points behind West Ham in fourth, although many of the surrounding sides in the table have games in hand.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang being absent for a prolonged period would be a problem for Arsenal but Mikel Arteta is expecting big things from Gabriel Martinelli.

Arsenal were without Aubameyang for their 1-0 FA Cup defeat to Southampton on Saturday after the Gabon international left the squad to attend to a personal matter.

Arteta was unsure how long the striker would be unavailable for, making him a doubt for the second straight game at St Mary's Stadium – this time a Premier League meeting on Tuesday.

Aubameyang has struggled for form this season, scoring eight goals – three of which have come in his past three appearances – and supplying one assist in 20 outings in all competitions

"Of course, it would be a problem [if he was out long term] because he's our top striker and the one who has scored the most goals," Arteta told a news conference.

"He's our captain and an important player in the team. We have to respect the time. Let's see. I don't have enough information right now to see how things are evolving and hopefully things will go in the right direction."

Martinelli made his first start in three and a half weeks against Saints after overcoming an ankle injury and was replaced just before the hour mark.

Arteta confirmed Martinelli had not suffered a setback and he expected the 19-year-old to really start producing for the team.

"He was fine, it was a tactical decision. He's missed a few training sessions from the last injury, but I expect big things from Gabi," said Arteta.

"He's been really helpful since he joined again after such a long period, so I'm really positive about him."

Arteta was impressed by Southampton's pressing in their FA Cup meeting and expects a similar challenge in their next meeting.

Ralph Hasenhuttl's team have the third-lowest opposition passes allowed per defensive action (PPDA) value in the Premier League this season at 10.9, indicating that only Liverpool (10.1) and Leeds United (8.9) press higher than them.

Furthermore, the average distance from their own goal that Saints' open play sequences start is 42.9 metres, with only Liverpool (44.4m) and Manchester City (45.4m) commencing sequences further up the pitch.

Arsenal, meanwhile, rank joint-11th in PPDA (13.8) and joint-sixth in average start distance (41.8m).

"We know they are one of the most effective teams in that [pressing] like we are," said Arteta.

"It was an intense game and we were expecting that for sure, and we are expecting that on Tuesday because they don't really change.

"They are a really great team, really good manager, they know exactly what they're doing and they've been doing it for years now, and they are good at it so we expect a similar game on Tuesday."

Mikel Arteta was unsure when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would return as he reflected on a "really sad" FA Cup elimination for Arsenal.

The Gunners went down to a 1-0 defeat at Southampton on Saturday, their hopes of retaining the trophy ended in the fourth round.

Arsenal played without captain Aubameyang, who had to leave the team in the hours before kick-off for personal reasons.

Amid reports attacking midfielder Martin Odegaard is set to join from Real Madrid, Arteta expressed regret at his side's exit. 

"Really sad to be out of the competition," he said to BT Sport. "Disappointed to be out and the way we conceded.

"We are looking in the market and will see what we can do."

The teams meet again at St Mary's on Tuesday for a Premier League clash and Arteta is unsure whether Aubameyang will be back.

"I don't know, he needs to address that issue and see how it evolves," the Arsenal boss said at his post-match news conference.

"We are here, we will have to support him. He needs to take the time that is needed because that is a priority at the moment."

Gabriel Magalhaes' first-half own goal settled a scrappy contest where Arteta felt Arsenal had improved after the break.

Arteta added: "We had issues in the first half and unforced errors as a result of the high-press they do. 

"In the second half we had two or three big chances but not enough. It was an even game.

"In the first half they won a lot of second balls. In the second half we added more quality. We became more dominant and created chances but it wasn't enough."

Arsenal have conceded four own goals in all competitions this season.

Opta statistics show this is more than any other Premier League side and the most they have conceded in a single season since 2015-16 (five).

Asked if Gabriel had been rusty, Arteta said: "Maybe. He hasn't played enough minutes in the last month or so since he had the Covid. 

"He had to stay at home, he hasn't trained as much as we would like him to. He is a player that has done so well since he has joined us. Credit to Southampton because they make it really hard for you."

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl was impressed with the way his team played, though suggested it had not been a perfect display.

"It was a good team performance," he said. "In general our work without the ball was good.

"We had in the first half more punch and more power. In the second half it's normal they have a lift. We must make the second goal. 

"We made one or two chances - Shane Long should have got a penalty. We had early ball wins, but our last decision-making was not always the best." 

Arsenal have now failed to make the fifth round of the FA Cup in three of the last four seasons.

Mikel Arteta believes Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can build on his latest goals against Newcastle United after his brace led Arsenal to their 3-0 win on Monday.

Aubameyang scored in a fourth consecutive meeting with Newcastle in all competitions, adding to openers in both Premier League encounters last season and a winner in the FA Cup earlier in January.

The Arsenal captain broke the deadlock as he beat Karl Darlow at his near post shortly after half-time and then completed the scoring from Cedric Soares' cutback.

It was Aubameyang's first Arsenal double since last season's FA Cup final and should give the forward a lift, having failed to score with his prior 10 shots in the league before netting at Emirates Stadium.

"He tried even in the first half; I thought he had two or three really big chances and didn't score," manager Arteta told Sky Sports.

"He scored two today and I think it's going to be really good for his confidence. Obviously it's great for the team because he helped to win the match. Overall, I'm really pleased."

Arsenal were also boosted by Thomas Partey's return to the starting XI for the first time since December's derby defeat at Tottenham.

Partey completed 67 minutes and registered his first assist in English football for Aubameyang's opener.

"I'm really happy," Arteta said. "I think he got better and better as the game went on. He had a big influence. He gives us things that are different to any other player.

"Still, we have to protect him because he's missed a lot of football in the last few months, but I'm really happy with the performance."

The manager reserved special praise for Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka, who combined for Arsenal's second.

Smith Rowe forged four chances, more than any other player, and laid on the assist for Saka to sweep in on the hour mark, all but ending Newcastle's interest in the contest.

Smith Rowe, still just 20, has now either scored or assisted in seven of his 10 appearances for Arsenal in all competitions this season.

"When we are winning, they put a smile on my face," Arteta added of the pair. "I know what they are capable of doing.

"They are developing really well and that's merit to them, merit to their team-mates and to everybody that supports them and protects them as well. The performances that they are putting in are extraordinary.

"I think it is [a boost] for everybody, to have that mixture of energy, passion and a little bit of immaturity that, at times, is good, so you don't play as tense like the senior players. I think they've been doing really well."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang maintained his fine scoring record against Newcastle United as Arsenal continued to climb the table with a 3-0 win at Emirates Stadium.

Gunners captain Aubameyang has endured a testing season along with his team-mates but enjoys facing Newcastle, scoring in each of the sides' previous three meetings heading into this game - including vital openers in both Premier League encounters last season.

That trend continued on Monday with the breakthrough goal five minutes after half-time and a clinching third 13 minutes from the end as Arsenal picked off a Newcastle team showing eight changes but little improvement from their defeat at Sheffield United.

Bukayo Saka doubled the home side's advantage between Aubameyang's strikes as Mikel Arteta's men breached the top half, albeit having played four games more than 11th-placed Aston Villa.

Arsenal should have led after 15 minutes when Karl Darlow blocked Saka's low shot with his right boot but directed the ball only as far as Aubameyang, who hit the crossbar rather than the back of an empty net from a tight angle.

Aubameyang missed the target again under pressure from a retreating Andy Carroll and soon tallied his 10th consecutive attempt without scoring in the league, also seeing a deflected cross clip the post before the break.

Darlow got down to make a strong one-handed save from Alexandre Lacazette at the start of the second half but was soon beaten as Aubameyang finally got his goal, driving beyond the goalkeeper at his near post as Arsenal countered following a Newcastle corner.

Another break from another aimless visiting attack set the stage for the second on the hour mark, with Emile Smith Rowe able to run at Jamaal Lascelles and cut a low cross back for Saka to sweep in.

Newcastle, facing a ninth game without victory, were grateful to Darlow for a brave block as Lacazette headed goalwards, yet it was merely another temporary reprieve as Aubameyang completed the scoring, benefiting from a favourable VAR check as Cedric Soares kept the ball in play.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang believes he has paid the price for last season's exertions, but the Arsenal skipper is confident he can turn his campaign around. 

Aubameyang inspired the Gunners to FA Cup glory in 2020, scoring twice in each of the semi-final and final wins over Manchester City and Chelsea. 

The Gabon international's decision to sign a new three-year contract at Emirates Stadium last September was a cause for celebration, yet he has struggled since. 

An extra-time strike to clinch a 2-0 win over Newcastle United at the start of Arsenal's FA Cup defence last weekend was Aubameyang's sixth of the season in all competitions. 

Speaking to Sky Sports ahead of Thursday's Premier League match against Crystal Palace, the 31-year-old stated he is confident his toils are now behind him. 

"From the beginning of this season I was struggling a lot but I think this is part of football," he said. 

"We gave a lot at the end of the season to win the FA Cup and to qualify for the Europa League because it was really important for the club. 

"Sometimes you have ups and downs and you have to manage as best you can. I tried my best and until now it was not the best performance from me. 

"I'm still positive. I think I can turn this around."

In the Premier League this season, Aubameyang has scored three times – goals in an opening weekend victory at Fulham and last month's 1-1 draw with Southampton coming either side of a match-winning penalty at Manchester United in November. 

From 30 shots over the course of the campaign to date, he is under performing his expected goals (xG) figure of 3.4. 

The contrast to last season's heroics, when the former Borussia Dortmund star scored 22 times, is stark. 

Only two of those came from the penalty spot and his 20 goals from open play were the fruits of 91 shots with an xG of 13.2. 

It demonstrates how Aubamenyang has the capacity to be one of the most lethal strikers in the game, although he suggested the burden of captaincy at Arsenal has been a tough one to bear during his fallow period.

"It's really hard to manage both but you have to be as positive as you can because the team needs you," he added.

"I always try to give my best, not only on the pitch but also in the dressing room for the guys.

"Sometimes it's hard and maybe you are not in the right mood but you have to find a way to change it and give positive vibes for the guys."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has only been deemed fit enough to start on Arsenal's bench for Saturday's Premier League clash with Chelsea, while Emile Smith Rowe was handed a shock start.

Aubameyang has been struggling with a calf injury and missed Arsenal's two previous games, though he is an option for the under-fire Mikel Arteta as a substitute.

Arsenal's squad is depleted, with the club confirming Gabriel Magalhaes is out for three games after coming into close contact with someone infected by coronavirus, while Willian and David Luiz are ill – though both have tested negative for COVID-19.

As such, Pablo Mari comes into the defence for his first Premier League appearance of the season, while Smith Rowe starts in midfield.

The 20-year-old featured as a substitute in the EFL Cup defeat to Manchester City in midweek, though he has not played a Premier League game since December 21, 2019.

There is also a welcome return to Arsenal's Premier League line-up for Gabriel Martinelli.

The young Brazilian started against City but has been limited to one cameo in the league since suffering a knee injury in June, while a knock sustained in the week was only minor.

There are few surprises in Frank Lampard's starting XI, though former Gunner Olivier Giroud has to make do with a spot on the bench.

Timo Werner and Christian Pulisic are joined by Tammy Abraham in attack, with the Blues appearing to line up with a 4-3-3 formation.

Arsenal will be without striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in Tuesday's EFL Cup quarter-final with Manchester City.

The Gabon international missed the 2-1 Premier League loss at Everton, a match that extended the Gunners' winless domestic run to seven games.

Manager Mikel Arteta confirmed Aubameyang is improving but will not be ready to face Pep Guardiola's side at Emirates Stadium.

"Auba is feeling much better and he was more positive yesterday [Sunday] than in the previous two days," Arteta told reporters on Monday. "He will have another scan in the next few days and we will see how quickly we can get him back in the team.

"We know how important he is for us and he feels that responsibility and he is trying his best to be back fit as quickly as possible. For the rest, I don't think we're going to have any news today before training.

"Auba is not fit for tomorrow, that's for sure. He won't be playing tomorrow so we will see who is available because we have a few doubts as well in other positions. We want to get together a very competitive team because we know the level of City and we want to win the game tomorrow."

Arteta admits the match will serve as a welcome distraction from Arsenal's league campaign, with the defeat to Everton leaving them 15th in the table having taken five points from their past 10 matches.

"This is what we want to use it for. It's a competition we want to try to win," he said. "We had two difficult opponents before in Leicester City and Liverpool, we managed to beat them both and now we are playing at home and we are one step closer to Wembley. So, it is a really nice game to play, as this is the type of game we are looking for through the season."

Arteta suggested he could choose to field some youngsters against City and admits he has been surprised by the maturity they have displayed during a difficult few weeks at the club.

"It's part of what they have to do and what they have to go through to become really important players for this football club," he said. "You have to see how people react in difficult moments and they have to experience it themselves, to get through these difficult moments and how they're going to handle that pressure.

"If they are able to do that, they have to handle good moments and how they handle that to continue performing at the level that is required here. So it's another experience for them and I must say that they have been much more mature, responsible and efficient than I was expecting. So in my opinion, they are doing really well."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed Arsenal's Premier League clash with Everton on Saturday after sustaining a calf injury.

The 31-year-old Gabon international had started all of Arsenal's first 13 top-flight games this season, but he missed the game at Goodison Park with what the north London club described as a "tight calf".

Aubameyang has struggled for the Gunners this campaign, although he did end a run of 11 league games without an open-play goal with the equaliser in Wednesday's 1-1 draw against Southampton.

Willian replaced Aubameyang in the starting XI after the Brazil international had been dropped against the Saints.

Liverpool claimed a big win in the Premier League title race on Wednesday, as the champions saw off Tottenham to take a three-point lead at the top.

The Reds will look to extend their unbeaten run in the top flight to 10 matches when they face Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Mohamed Salah is likely to play a key role for Liverpool, while Raheem Sterling is aiming to set a record at Manchester City and the duo headline our Opta-powered Premier League fantasy picks for matchweek 14.

 

MOHAMED SALAH

Salah has scored in all three of Liverpool's games in December so far, and is averaging a goal or assist every 66 minutes in the month across his Premier League career.

It is the best ratio in any month in which he has played more than one match.

Salah already has 11 league goals to his name this term, sitting top of the charts along with Son Heung-min and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

RAHEEM STERLING

Sterling created City's goal on Tuesday, with a neat cross for Ilkay Gundogan to sweep home his first Premier League goal in nearly a year, but Pep Guardiola's team could only draw 1-1.

It left them eight points adrift of pace-setters Liverpool, though Sterling is well in the hunt for a club record.

The England forward has been directly involved in 148 goals under Guardiola in all competitions, and is looking to become the first player to reach 150 during the Spaniard's time at City.

 

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG

Arsenal are in dismal form heading into Saturday's contest with Everton, who have won their last two outings – against Chelsea and Leicester City respectively.

Mikel Arteta's team ended a three-game losing streak when they drew at home to Southampton, though it is now six matches without a top-flight win for the Gunners.

One positive is that Aubameyang netted the equaliser against the Saints – just his third league goal of the season. He has scored four times in as many starts against Everton – he only has more goals against Burnley (seven) and Watford (six) in the Premier League than the Toffees.

 

CALLUM WILSON

An alternative to Aubameyang could be Wilson, who has been directly involved in 10 Premier League goals in 11 appearances for Newcastle United.

His seven goals and three assists mean he has contributed to seven more goals than any other Magpies player so far.

Newcastle take on Fulham on Saturday, with Scott Parker's team having drawn their last two games - versus Liverpool and Brighton and Hove Albion.

 

HARRY KANE

Before bursting onto the Premier League scene with Tottenham, Kane spent time on loan with Leicester, and against no club has he scored more in all competitions.

Kane has netted 16 times against the Foxes – five more than against any other team.

With Spurs having failed to win their last two games, their talisman will be determined to continue that form and get Mourinho's men back on track, though Leicester will be no pushovers.

PATRICK BAMFORD

Leeds United forward Bamford moved onto nine league goals for the season when he drew Marcelo Bielsa's team level with Newcastle on Wednesday.

The Whites went onto win 5-2 and, since Bielsa took charge of Leeds in 2018, no player has scored more goals for the club than Bamford.

In 85 appearances across all competitions, the former Chelsea forward has 35 goals.

 

PEDRO NETO

Diogo Jota's departure to Liverpool and Raul Jimenez's head injury means there is extra onus on Wolves' remaining attackers, and Neto delivered the goods with a last-gasp winner against Chelsea last time out.

Neto has been directly involved in as many goals in 13 Premier League appearances this season – three goals, three assists– as he was in 29 games last season, when he scored four times and set up another two goals.

Mikel Arteta believes Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's first open-play Premier League goal since the opening day of the season could "dramatically" change their season.

Arsenal could only draw 1-1 with Southampton at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday, but Arteta focused on the positives as the Gunners showed character when reduced to 10 men once again following the second-half dismissal of Gabriel Magalhaes.

It was their seventh sending off since Arteta's first game in charge on Boxing Day last year, four more red cards than any other team in that period.

Gabriel's two yellow cards in quick succession came at a time when Arsenal appeared to be growing in confidence, having seen Aubameyang cancel out Theo Walcott's first-half goal early in the second period.

Ultimately Arsenal held on to avoid suffering a historic fifth successive home league defeat, and Arteta believes Aubameyang's goal could be vital to the Gunners' outlook, with it ending the striker's run of 11 league games without an open-play goal.

"Hopefully it's going to change everything dramatically and he's going to start to score every game because this is what we need at the moment," Arteta told reporters.

"We need the points, we need to score many more goals and to be more efficient when we have the chances. I think it's going to make him really good."

Arteta was then asked if he had already seen a change in Aubameyang in the changing room, the Spaniard replaying: "I don't have to see, I'm sure it's going to take a lot of pressure off him and release him."

Aubameyang himself has received criticism of late for a perceived lack of leadership, the Gabon international keeping quiet amid Arsenal's struggles despite being captain.

But he dismissed the importance of that after the game and ignored talk of his goal.

"At the moment, I'm a guy when things are going wrong I just work a lot, I try to do my job, to give everything, and I give my advice inside [the club], and it's true I've not spoken a lot in the last few weeks, but I'm here and I want to talk on the pitch, that's it," he told Amazon Prime.

"I think tonight is not about my goal and me, it's about the team. As I say, we need points, it doesn't matter if I score, the most important thing is to get points."

Despite salvaging a point, Arsenal's haul of 14 from 13 games is their lowest tally at this stage of a top-flight season since 1974-75.

Arsenal did little to ease the pressure on Mikel Arteta as they dropped points for a sixth successive Premier League match and had a player sent off yet again in a 1-1 home draw with Southampton on Wednesday.

Arteta's men did at least manage to avoid a historic fifth home league defeat in a row, but, as has become something of a habit, they were compromised by indiscipline just as they had started to show encouraging signs and could ultimately consider themselves lucky to hold on to a point.

Arsenal initially struggled to get to grips with Southampton and only really began offer a threat of their own in the latter stages of the first period – by that point, former Gunner Theo Walcott had already given the visitors a deserved lead.

Southampton's urgency dropped and Arsenal restored parity through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang early in the second half, the Gabon striker ending an 11-match streak without a goal from open play.

But their hopes of returning to winning ways in the league were dashed when Gabriel Magalhaes was shown Arsenal's seventh red card – four more than any other Premier League club – since Arteta's first game in charge.

 

Arsenal had Granit Xhaka sent off as they slipped to an insipid 1-0 defeat against Burnley at Emirates Stadium - adding to Mikel Arteta's woes.

The Gunners forced Nick Pope into a number of saves, but their hopes of sealing a first Premier League win since the victory over Manchester United on November 1 were hit when Xhaka was dismissed shortly before the hour mark for grabbing Ashley Westwood by the throat.

Their misery was compounded in the 73rd minute when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang headed into his own net from Ashley Westwood's corner, to the dismay of 2,000 returning Gunners supporters.

Arsenal, who have now lost four consecutive top-flight home games for the first time since December 1959, remain in 15th with 13 points, while the Clarets move up to 17th place.

The hosts made 10 changes from the side that beat Dundalk in the Europa League on Thursday, and started slowly. They should have fallen behind after 13 minutes, but an unmarked Chris Wood inexplicably headed wide from eight yards.

Rob Holding headed over at the other end, while Alexandre Lacazette was denied by the leg of Pope after being picked out inside the penalty area by Kieran Tierney.

The Burnley goalkeeper denied Tierney and Bukayo Saka in quick succession at the start of the second period before Xhaka's moment of madness.

The Switzerland international's initial caution for pawing at Westwood was upgraded to a red card by referee Graham Scott after he viewed the incident on a pitchside monitor.

That was the sixth Premier League red card for the Gunners since Arteta took over in December 2019 – double that of any other side in the same period.

Mohamed Elneny was fortunate not to also receive his marching orders soon after, Scott deciding his push on James Tarkowski warranted just a yellow card.

Arsenal's reprieve did not last long, though, Aubameyang heading past Bernd Leno from Westwood's corner to guarantee an uncomfortable few days for Arteta.

Mikel Arteta may believe it is a simple case of mathematics, but the numbers are simply not adding up for Arsenal. 

After drawing a blank in a north London derby defeat to Tottenham, the Gunners remain stuck on 10 Premier League goals for the campaign. To put that into context, it is the same number as Son Heung-min, who grabbed the first for a Spurs side who had just three on-target attempts and 30 per cent possession, yet still always appeared the more threatening. 

Having fallen into Jose Mourinho's counter-attacking trap, Arsenal responded with crosses. Lots of crosses – 32 of them in total. Willian contributed half that number, of which just two were rated as good by Opta.

It was Arsenal's highest tally in a Premier League match since February 2016, when they managed 36 against Leicester City, while their most in an away fixture since March 2011, when West Brom were the opponents.

"A cross doesn't mean just an aerial cross," Arteta explained after a game where his team had played football's version of Battleships, blindly guessing at the potential location of an intended target. 

It was not a one-off occurrence, either. Arsenal had attempted 30 crosses from open play in the home loss to Wolves in their previous league outing, albeit one of them – following a short corner – did lead to a goal, scored by centre-back Gabriel. 

The Arsenal boss was asked about the continual bombardment in his post-match press conference after that game, to which he replied: "With the bodies we have in certain moments of the game in that box, it's maths, pure maths. It will happen. It's how consistently we can do that and with what level of quality." 

The concern, though, is that the players Arsenal have in attack are not seemingly adept at scoring from such opportunities. Since the start of Arteta's reign in December 2019, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has managed two goals from crosses, Alexandre Lacazette just the one. 

In terms of the current season, Arsenal now average 15.5 open-play crosses per game, a number only beaten by Aston Villa (16.1) heading into matchweek 12. However, in terms of accuracy, they ranked 14th in the top flight, with a 17.1 per cent success rate. 

It may be a case of necessity without enough creativity in midfield to break down opposing teams willing to cede space out wide, but then that is what comes with ostracising your most gifted playmaker in Mesut Ozil, who managed 54 assists in 184 league appearances. His accuracy when it comes to open-play crosses sits at 30 per cent, by the way.

A crossing policy can reap rewards – Manchester United averaged 19.1 from open play in 2012-13 as they won a 20th title in Alex Ferguson's final season at the helm - yet it has shown little sign of working so far for Arsenal, who have collected just 13 points from their opening 11 league games, their worst start to a campaign in the Premier League era. 

The arrival of Burnley to Emirates Stadium would normally be a welcome sight, considering their next opponents have lost nine on the spin at Emirates Stadium in all competitions, but away sides have recently had success at the venue.

Arteta has overseen three successive home losses in the league – the club has not lost four on the spin since December 1959, a run that included a 4-2 reverse against Burnley.  A similar result on Sunday and the Spaniard will have to forget about being concerned with the gap to the top six and instead start looking over his shoulder towards the bottom of the table.

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