Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta has defended the decision to let Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang join Barcelona and not replace the striker in January.

The Gunners allowed Aubameyang to depart on a free transfer in the last window after stripping the 32-year-old of the captaincy following a disciplinary issue.

The Gabon international, who reportedly agreed a significant pay cut to move to Barca, did not play for Arsenal after December 6, but has started in an impressive run of form for the Catalan club.

Aubameyang netted a hat-trick in a 4-1 thrashing of Valencia, becoming just the fourth player to score in LaLiga, the Premier League, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 in the 21st century.

He followed that up with strikes against Napoli and Athletic Bilbao to make him LaLiga's first African player to score in three games in a row in all competitions, since Youssef En-Nesyri for Sevilla in March 2021.

But Arteta does not regret the decision to let the forward leave, despite the Gunners appearing short-handed with just Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah to call upon up top.

"We always make decisions in the best interests of the club and to get the best performances from the team," Arteta told Sky Sports when asked about Aubameyang's exit.

"We made that decision as three parties. One was the club, one was Auba, and the other was Barcelona. The three of us believed it was the right thing to do.

"That was a possibility, but I think when you have a clear direction and process of how you make your decisions, you have to be ruthless."

Looking at how the decision angered some Arsenal supporters, Arteta added: "You have to have a certain courage and consistency in those decisions.

"If one decision is to only bring in players we can afford, who are going to make the team much better straight away, and who are sustainable for our future, then that should be the case.

"So, even if you are tempted to do something, but you think it's going to bring you trouble in the coming months or years, you should not do it. I think we were brave not to do it."

Indeed, Arsenal have improved markedly since Aubameyang's departure, winning seven of nine top-flight games since the last time the former Borussia Dortmund star played.

Lacazette has filled the void that Aubameyang left, with his role in Jose Sa's late own goal securing a 2-1 win over Wolves in their last outing, and Arteta has been pleased with the 30-year-old, who has taken on the captaincy for now.

"Laca has a really important quality, which is that he makes the people around him better," Arteta said. "He understands the game really well, he's a really intelligent player and his work-rate is phenomenal.

"I think he's been very unlucky not to score another four, five, six goals in this period. We want to give him the confidence and he will do that but, for me, he scored last week against Wolves. He was there to make the final action to win the match."

Arsenal will look to continue their pursuit of the Champions League qualification spots when they travel to strugglers Watford on Sunday.

Arsenal must not take anything for granted in their bid to qualify for the Champions League, according to Mikel Arteta.

The Gunners face Watford this weekend and sit sixth in the table, but with three games in hand over both Manchester United and West Ham.

Coupled with a more favourable run-in, on paper at least, Arsenal are arguably the favourites to seal a top-four berth come the end of the season.

However, Arteta has stressed his team will take it step-by-step.

"I think it's positive because that's where we want to be playing," Arteta told his pre-match press conference on Friday. "The reality is we are not fourth but sixth still.

"We have to win those games. We know what we have to do. There's a long way to go and the only aim is to win against Watford."

Since losing consecutive games against United and Everton at the start of December, Arsenal have dropped only five points over their last nine games in the Premier League.

It has been a feat bolstered by the impressive performances of Ben White, with the defender shrugging off his reported £50million price tag to emerge as the backbone of the Gunners defence.

Arteta had nothing but praise for the England international, saying: "I think what he's done, how quickly he's adapted, how he's handled the pressure of the price we paid and what we demand him to do at his age is very impressive."

White will hope to help steer Arsenal to yet another victory over Watford, with the Hornets having taken just seven points across 15 Premier League meetings with them over the years.

Arteta's opposite number Roy Hodgson meanwhile was won only one of his last dozen matches against the Gunners, way back in 2008 when he was in charge of Fulham.

Mikel Arteta had no issue with Arsenal leaving it late to beat Wolves on Thursday, suggesting that such a dramatic victory was good for the atmosphere around his team.

Arsenal celebrated a vital 2-1 win in their bid to qualify for the Champions League at Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners climbed to fifth in the Premier League, a point behind fourth-placed Manchester United with two games in hand, although they had to do it the hard way.

Trailing to Hwang Hee-chan's early opener, Arteta's men finally equalised eight minutes from time through substitute Nicolas Pepe, who also then had a hand in the winning goal as he teed up Alexandre Lacazette for a shot Jose Sa deflected into his own net.

That decisive own goal clocked in at 94 minutes and 56 seconds, making it Arsenal's latest Premier League winner since Alexis Sanchez's January 2017 penalty against Burnley (97:14).

Asked if he would rather have seen Arsenal comfortable in a routine victory, Arteta told Prime Video: "Probably [I would prefer] the way we won it, because it creates such a belief, a togetherness, an atmosphere and cohesion with our fans as well.

"That's extremely necessary. We really want to create something special here, and without our fans we're not going to be able to do it."

Arsenal have now won seven of their past nine league games, losing only once in that run to Manchester City.

It is a far cry from a dismal start to the season, as Arteta acknowledged as he said: "After three defeats in the first three games, we had to avoid relegation.

"That was the first thing that we had to do, and then just go game by game."

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta described the horrific head injury suffered by Wolves striker Raul Jimenez at Emirates Stadium in November 2020 as among the scariest moments of his career, ahead of the Mexican's first return to the ground since his recovery.

Jimenez suffered a fractured skull in a sickening collision with David Luiz just minutes into Wolves' trip to Arsenal last season, which the visitors went on to win 2-1, returning to action with a protective headband eight months later.

Jimenez has hit five league goals for Bruno Lage's outfit since his comeback, and the Midlands club would go above Arsenal in the Premier League table with a repeat of last season's win, as the two clubs battle for European qualification.

On the eve of the Gunners' crucial meeting with Lage's team, Arteta looked back on a worrying moment for all concerned. 

"I have had others, but that was one of them," the 39-year-old responded when asked if it ranked among the scariest moments of his career.

"Straight away you saw the reaction, the anxiety that was suddenly in the team doctors and everybody involved trying to assess what was happening, it was frightening. 

"Thank god it ended the right way, but it looked really, really bad."

Arteta also revealed that his club remained in constant contact with Jimenez during his long recovery, as did the since departed David Luiz, who struggled in the aftermath of the incident.

"Of course, we were [in contact with Jimenez] and David was as well, because he was directly involved, he was really affected by that.

"We are colleagues in the end. We share the same profession and industry. When something like that happens, you are emotionally involved.

"In the case of Raul, it was a really scary moment. Thanks to the medical team, they probably saved [him from] something that could have been much worse."

Arsenal are looking to extend a four-game winning run in the Premier League when they host Lage's in-form team, and have lost only one of their last 10 home league games against the Molineux outfit (W5 D4), although that defeat did come on Wolves' last trip to the Emirates.

Jimenez, meanwhile, will be looking to carry over the form he has displayed from recent trips to another part of north London, netting in his last three visits to Arsenal's neighbours Tottenham, after Wolves' 2-0 win there earlier this month.

Mikel Arteta is relaxed about his future as Arsenal coach following reports a new contract is on the cards.

Arteta took over from Unai Emery in 2019 and won the FA Cup in his first campaign, also guiding the club to an eighth-placed finish in the Premier League.

He has come under pressure both last term – when Arsenal finished eighth again to miss out on European football – and in the current season, with the Gunners getting off to a shaky start.

But Arteta is generally considered to have made progress at the club, as they head into Friday's clash with Wolves just four points behind fourth-placed Manchester United, who have played three games more.

Arsenal, then, are arguably the favourites to take the final Champions League qualification spot ahead of United, West Ham, Tottenham and Wolves.

Arteta's role in that does not appear to have gone unnoticed, with reports recently indicating he is in line for a new three-year contract – while not exactly forthcoming on the rumours, he was undoubtedly relaxed.

Asked what the club had said to him about a potential new deal, Arteta said: "Nothing, it's just that I am really happy here and my aim is to build with the club a winning team that people enjoy watching, identify with and that can transmit what we want football-wise and as an organisation.

"As you think, things will happen naturally, like things that have happened in the last few months and now our focus has to be delivering what we want."

A key focus ahead of Friday's match was the race for Champions League football, which was made all the more pertinent by the fact visitors Wolves are very much in the hunt.

While Bruno Lage's men are two points behind Arsenal, they have a couple of games in hand on West Ham and Man Utd as well – victories in those would have them level on 46 points with Ralf Rangnick's side.

Arteta is not getting carried away with Arsenal's standing, but he could not hide his desperation to return to Europe's elite competition.

"I do, a lot," Arteta replied when asked if he misses the Champions League. "As a player I have experiences and it's one of best feelings you can have, to be surrounded by opponents that are the best in the world and challenge yourself and evaluate yourself against that kind of opposition.

"As a club, you play in a competition that brings a different dimension to the club, different impact. It's a competition that's very attached to this club.

"I'm happy with the direction we are taking, not happy with where we are. We want to be competing, challenging the best in the league in consecutive seasons."

Martin Odegaard has made such an impression at Arsenal that Mikel Arteta already sees him as captaincy material.

Arteta said Odegaard "has all the qualities" for the job as he considers who should take the armband that previously belonged to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

After falling out of favour, then moving to Barcelona, Aubameyang belongs to Arsenal's past, and manager Arteta has yet to appoint a new full-time skipper.

Kieran Tierney is another that Arteta could turn to, with former Gunners defender Martin Keown having highlighted the left-back as a suitable candidate.

At the age of 23, Odegaard is already captain of Norway, and Arteta believes such a role at club level would also suit the former Real Madrid player.

"He certainly has all the qualities to do that, absolutely," said Arteta. "Talking to his national team coach and how highly they speak of him.

"He walks through the corridor and everybody loves him. He is such a nice, humble guy and he leads with the way he is. It is very natural for him and that will come."

Odegaard moved from Madrid to Arsenal in January 2021, initially on loan, with the move made permanent in August.

"Martin was really happy to join us because he had a really good time, he felt valued, he enjoyed what we are doing," said Arteta. "He got a really good connection with the players and the supporters.

"He wanted to be part of the project. Since then, he is getting better and better, and I am not surprised. The way he lives his profession, the way he likes to play football and everything he does is to become better."

Saturday's 2-1 win over Brentford means Arsenal sit sixth in the Premier League, four points behind fourth-placed Manchester United but with three games in hand.

Odegaard has had six goals and six assists in 45 games across all competitions for Arsenal to date. He has had just two yellow cards, pointing to discipline being a strength.

Among Arsenal's midfielders, since his debut on January 30 last year, Odegaard is the top performer when it comes to chances created after carving out 75 (Bukayo Saka is next on 66).

Of those, 60 of the chances were created in open play (Saka next with 55), and Odegaard's 22 throughballs is also a high mark among Arsenal midfielders, with no one else reaching double figures (Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey, both 9).

"He wants it probably more than anyone else on that pitch, every single day," said Arteta. "He will be top, top."

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta heaped praise on young England stars Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka after they fired the Gunners to a 2-1 win over Brentford.

Smith Rowe and Saka struck in the second half to down a resolute Bees team, with Smith Rowe taking his tally to nine Premier League goals this season, a tally bettered only by Raheem Sterling (10) among English players in the competition this term.

Saka, meanwhile, has now registered 11 Premier League goal involvements this campaign (seven goals and four assists), the most of any player under the age of 21 and a tally only bettered by Jarrod Bowen (16), Mason Mount (13), and Trent Alexander-Arnold (12) among English players.

Christian Norgaard grabbed a late consolation for Brentford.

Speaking in the aftermath, Arteta lauded his match-winning youngsters, and saluted a "convincing" Gunners performance.

"They are players that have been raised in our system, and I'm really pleased that we have these players to come and take responsibility," Arteta said.

"They managed to win the game for us, which is really impressive at that age. I think we played really well [before the first goal], and we created some great chances in the first half without scoring the goal.

"But in the second half we were really convincing, scored the goal, and then it was a matter of scoring the second to kill the game. It’s a shame that we conceded a goal, but overall, I think we should be happy with the result and the performance."

Mikel Arteta has backed Arsenal's mentality when under pressure, but acknowledged that his side have brought difficulties upon themselves at points under his watch.

Arsenal welcome Brentford to Emirates Stadium on Saturday as they look to close in on the top four.

They will do so without Gabriel Martinelli however, with the 20-year-old's red card against Wolves the latest instance of an Arsenal player's dismissal under Arteta.

Speaking ahead of the Brentford clash, Arteta conceded that the way he chooses to play runs these risks, but added that he feels his team can weather the adversity that might result from the indiscipline.

"We have to face whatever challenges that we have in front of us," he said in a news conference. "Someday we have provoked those challenges ourselves, sometimes it has been someone external.

"Whatever is in front of us, we have to have that mentality and that attitude to say, 'Okay, let's face it' and 'let's go for it' and we can overcome it. This is how [Martinelli] wanted to play."

Arteta further added that his side should relish a bunker mentality, drawing comparison to the teams of Jose Mourinho and Alex Ferguson, and how they thrived under the spotlight.

"One hundred per cent, because I want the team to feel that they have the tools and they have the right mindset to face anything that is in front of us," he added.

"That's the only way that you are able to win."

Yet another red card for his side at Molineux sparked further speculation from the media over Arteta's methods, but the former Manchester City assistant added that he tends to encourage his side to block out the noise.

"We focus on what we can control [and] what we have to do," he stated. "Our focus doesn't change because we can't control what is out there."

While Arsenal do not lead the way for bookings in the Premier League, their red card haul over the past two years is noticeable for its sheer volume next to their rivals.

They have picked up a dozen dismissals since Boxing Day 2019, when Arteta oversaw his first game. That is five more than the next two sides, in Brighton and Hove Albion and Southampton (both seven), while their average total of fouls per red card sits at 65.4, a full 30 offences more than the second-ranked Bournemouth, at 98.5.

Arsenal sit sixth heading into Saturday's game, four points behind fourth-placed Manchester United but with three matches in hand.

The Gunners are unbeaten in their last 32 Premier League home games against promoted sides (W27 D5), since a 1-0 loss against Newcastle United in November 2010. They have only failed to score in one of those 32 matches, a goalless draw with Middlesbrough in October 2016.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has highlighted the importance of the support that the club gave him at the start of the season, as he looks to exact revenge against a Brentford side that defeated the Gunners back on the opening day.

Goals from Sergi Canos and Christian Norgaard gave the Bees victory against Arteta's team in their first-ever Premier League game back in August, with the Arsenal boss coming under severe pressure when his side lost their opening three games of the campaign.

Since those three defeats, only Manchester City (18) and Liverpool (14) have racked up more Premier League wins than the 12 accumulated by Arteta's team, and the Spaniard was keen to praise the Emirates hierarchy for supporting him during that poor run.

"I always felt very well-supported and understood, I'm very much in line with everyone at the club", Arteta said ahead of the reverse fixture against Thomas Frank's outfit.

"When we had difficult results, the club always stood with me, and has been really supportive for me and the players, which I do not take for granted.

"Losing matches is part of the job, and you can learn a lot of things. You have to be stubborn, to keep faith in your beliefs.

"That pressure is part of football. That is football today, with the facilities we all have to express our opinions, you know you're going to be very exposed as a coach."

Arsenal are sixth in the Premier League, trailing fourth-placed Manchester United by four points and possessing three games in hand, as the north London club look to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 2016.

While content with his side's strong run of form, Arteta was keen to play down notions that his team were now favourites to finish inside the top four.

"We have earned the right to be where we are now, and that's a credit to the club, to the players, to everybody.

"We have to go game-by-game, to maximise the position we are in, and that's what we are going to do.

"Tomorrow we will try to play well and win the match, that's the only target."

Arsenal are looking to preserve a 32-match unbeaten run at home to newly promoted clubs in the Premier League when they host Brentford, a sequence which stretches back to a 1-0 defeat to Newcastle United in November 2010. 

Their visitors, meanwhile, would become the first newly promoted team to do the double over Arsenal since Blackburn Rovers did so in 1992-93 if they were to win in north London.

Mikel Arteta wants to talk to the Premier League officials after Gabriel Martinelli's unusual dismissal in Arsenal's 1-0 win over Wolves. 

Gabriel Magalhaes put Arsenal in front against the run of play at Molineux on Thursday but the Gunners were forced to cling on for a first victory of 2022 after Martinelli saw red. 

The Brazilian lost his composure after being denied a free-kick and was shown two yellow cards at once by referee Michael Oliver in the 69th minute. 

The first was for attempting to stop Daniel Podence taking a throw-in and the second was for barging Chiquinho over after chasing the ball back. 

It was the 15th red card Arsenal have received in all competitions since Arteta took over in December 2019 – seven more than any other Premier League side in that time frame. 

The Spaniard is eager for an explanation after what he considered an unprecedented dismissal. 

"It's the first time I've seen a red card like this in 18 years that I've been in this league. I think you have to be pretty willing to give a red card in that situation," Arteta said. 

"But it's what happened. We know that playing with 10 men in this league you're not going to get the points that we want and we have to stop it. 

"But to be fair, it's difficult to find more arguments and more ways to transmit that to the players. Everybody says it's the most disciplined group they've seen in the last 15 years, but still we are getting red cards for other things. 

"If you ask me if I'm happy with the decisions we've had this season, I'm not at all. But that's a conversation I will have privately with the officials. We need explanations, we need explanations with what happened in VAR and I need explanations with what happened today." 

Wolves boss Bruno Lage also complained about the officiating at Molineux.

He felt Gabriel's goal – the first his side have conceded from a corner in the top-flight this term – should have been disallowed for a foul by Alexandre Lacazette on goalkeeper Jose Sa. Lage also questioned why an own goal by Granit Xhaka was chalked off for offside against Raul Jimenez. 

"I think there were two strange decisions, especially for our 'goal'. But we continue to work," said Lage. 

"I saw the Arsenal goal and the striker kicked Jose Sa's hand. It's clear, so clear. When you look at the image it's a strange decision. 

"I'm disappointed because I thought we were the better team. Our tempo was very good and we managed the game well but we didn't score our chances and we suffered from a set piece." 

Mikel Arteta says he is hopeful that Arsenal can convince Bukayo Saka to stay at the club even if they fail to finish in the Premier League's top four this season.

Saka's current deal at the Emirates Stadium reportedly expires in 2024, with the club eager for him to sign a new one.

However, reports have linked the 20-year-old with a move to the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City, and the player himself has expressed his desire to play in the Champions League.

Saka recently told Sky Sports: "I think the Champions League creates so many special nights and it’s a dream for me still to experience one of them and hopefully many more of them."

At a media conference ahead of Thursday's trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers, when asked if the club needed Champions League football to keep hold of their star youngster, Arteta replied: "I don’t know. It’s a conversation we’re going to have with the player internally and then with his environment, his agent, his family, who are going to be extremely important, so everybody is on board.

"Obviously, our desire is to keep Bukayo as long as possible because we are really happy, he’s part of our club, he’s our DNA, he’s growing, he’s maturing, his importance in the team is unquestionable and we want to keep our best talent at the club, that’s for sure."

Arsenal currently sit sixth in the Premier League, four points behind fourth-placed West Ham but with three games in hand.

Saka has emerged as a key player for the Gunners, having played the most games in all competitions at the club so far this season (26), while only Emile Smith Rowe (nine) has scored more than his seven goals.

No-one has created more than the England international's 40 chances, and he has created eight big chances, whereby a team-mate would be expected to score, which is three more than the next highest (Martin Odegaard, five).

Arteta also outlined the balance Arsenal must find between allowing opportunities for their best young talents, while also strengthening the team with big signings.

"Here there are two things. It’s trying to build a squad that you have room for those players to develop, and the other one is to have those players developing when we are extremely competitive," he added.

"Because if you sign three top players, and then those kids start not playing, what happens? You cannot have it both ways. If you sign big players, with big money, the money has to be on the pitch – which means that these players are not going to be on the pitch.

"So we need to find the balance, but with the standards that this club requires, which is to be the best. This is what we are trying to do, but without killing what is growing."

Mikel Arteta insists he was "the solution, not the problem" in an apparently fractious relationship with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The forward, who scored 92 goals in 162 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal after joining from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018, was released from his contract and joined Barcelona on deadline day.

It was a move that came about after the Gabon international had been stripped of the captaincy at Emirates Stadium following a disciplinary breach.

Aubameyang suggested that Arteta was the one at fault for the falling out, declaring at his Camp Nou presentation: "I think it was a problem just with him [Arteta].

"He made the decision. I can't say much more. He wasn't happy, I stayed very calm and that's it."

However, speaking ahead of the Gunners' trip to Wolves in the Premier League on Thursday, Arteta put a different spin on events.

"That's his opinion, that’s what he said and you have to respect that," he said.

"I’m extremely grateful for what Auba has done and his contribution.

"The way I see myself in that relationship is the solution, not the problem."

Aubameyang's departure came at the end of a transfer window in which Arsenal failed to strengthen, with January having also brought little cause for cheer on the pitch.

Arsenal were winless across five games in all competitions last month, exiting the FA Cup and EFL Cup along the way.

Despite the lack of incoming players, Arteta defended the club's approach.

"We did what we believed was the right thing to do," he said. "The squad composition and contracts were catching up, be fair with players who haven't had a lot of minutes.

"We had a clear plan of what we can do, but then it has to be doable.

"Edu [technical director] and his team have done a great job. We are very clear we only want the best people and the best players at this club.

"When we are in a rush and the reasons to get a player on board are not the right ones we didn’t do it."

Arteta's side sit sixth in the table, four points behind fourth-placed West Ham but with three games in hand.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has probably played his last game at Arsenal because the club never learnt "how to forgive", according to former Gunners striker Emmanuel Adebayor. 

Aubameyang was stripped of the Arsenal captaincy in December for a disciplinary breach, which reportedly related to him returning late from a trip abroad. 

It was by no means Aubameyang's first indiscretion, having also last year been reminded of his responsibilities after it was claimed he broke COVID-19 guidelines to get a tattoo. 

The punishment did not stop at having the armband taken off him, though, with Mikel Arteta excluding Aubameyang from the squad for the rest of the month. 

His exclusion led to Gabon asking for him to be released early for Africa Cup of Nations duty and Arsenal granted that request, only for him to return to his club without playing a single competitive game in Cameroon as he required medical follow-ups after contracting COVID-19. 

Adebayor knows what it is like to have a fractious relationship with Arsenal and the club's fans, having hit out at both following his 2009 move to Manchester City. Two months later he scored against his former club and ran the length of the pitch to goad Gunners supporters, a celebration that has gone down in Premier League folklore. 

Such have been his experiences with Arsenal, he seemingly sees no way back for Aubameyang. 

He told reporters: "I know he's definitely going to go through a lot because that's Arsenal for you. You can't do whatever you do. 

"They never learn or they never knew how to forgive. So, I know he will go through a lot. 

"But he's a strong player, he's a good player, he's a fantastic player. I wish him all the best. 

"I sent him a message already because we just want him to bounce back. 

"He's our African brother and we want him to keep representing Africa the way he was doing it before the problem. 

"This is what I know because it happened to me also. Not in the same way, but a way back? At Arsenal, I would be surprised. 

"But as I'm telling you, he's a great player so let's see how he ends up." 

Aubameyang has apparently rejected a move to Saudi Arabia, with the 32-year-old said to be eager to stay in Europe. 

Mikel Arteta was frustrated at a lack of guile from his Arsenal in a goalless draw at home to Burnley and the Gunners boss did not seem optimistic he will be able to bring in reinforcements this month.

Arsenal were looking to move level to go fourth in the Premier League by overcoming a Burnley team that had lost their last two away games 3-1.

However, the Clarets held firm at Emirates Stadium on Sunday, with Nick Pope making some fine saves and Alexandre Lacazette spurning a glorious opportunity.

It means Arsenal head into the Premier League's winter break sitting in sixth, while Burnley are bottom but hold between two and four games in hand on their relegation rivals.

The Gunners had 20 attempts, with five hitting the target, yet they have now failed to score in four successive matches in all competitions. It is the first time they have gone on such a run since December 2005.

Arsenal have also failed to win any of their first five games in a calendar year for the first time in 27 years, while it is the first time since October 2008 that they have not beaten a team at the bottom of the league at home.

"We started slow, we looked leggy and didn't have enough rhythm or intention to attack the way we wanted," Arteta told BBC Sport.

"We tried in every different way but lacked the quality in the final third. At the end, when we have a really low block, you need spark and creativity to win football matches and today we didn't do that."

For all their possession (75.7 per cent), Arsenal only created one big chance against Burnley, defined by Opta as an opportunity from which a player would be expected to score, though they finished with an expected goals (xG) of 1.4, suggesting their finishing was below par.

Pope made two excellent saves to deny Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe, who subsequently turned provider for Arsenal's best chance, only for Lacazette to prod wide of an open goal from the midfielder's cut back. 

With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's future uncertain – albeit he was unavailable for health reasons on Sunday – Arsenal are reportedly keen to bring in a striker this month, and it would seem it is a vital need if they are to secure Champions League qualification.

Dusan Vlahovic is said to be a target, with Fiorentina willing to sell the forward, who scored 33 goals in Serie A in 2021, matching Cristiano Ronaldo's record from 2020. However, the Viola have insisted no offer has yet been received for a player rumoured to be valued at €70million (£58.6m).

Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin has also been linked, while Arteta has previously said he would like to bolster his midfield, but asked about Arsenal's transfer plans for the remainder of January, he replied: "In this market things are complicated."

Burnley did offer a threat of their own, with Dwight McNeil particularly dangerous on the counter. No player had more than his four attempts, one of which almost caught Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale cold early on.

Ramsdale did his part, however, and that was the only save he had to make. The former Sheffield United goalkeeper echoed Arteta's complaints about Arsenal's attacking output.

"I will give credit to Burnley, we know what they are about, it is frustrating from our behalf because we were putting balls into the box and that's meat and drink for Burnley," he told BBC Sport. "We didn't create that quality we needed."

Ramsdale was not wrong. Arsenal played 42 passes/crosses into the box – a season-high for the Gunners. Indeed, their 23 crosses from open play was also a high mark for 2021-22, yet only two of these were successful.

Battling Burnley made 42 clearances, including 27 headed clearances. Both figures are season-highs for Sean Dyche's side.

Mikel Arteta insisted Arsenal can use the loss to Liverpool as a platform to build on as he called for improvements against Burnley.

A Diogo Jota double eliminated the Gunners from the EFL Cup at the semi-final stage on Thursday as Jurgen Klopp's side ran out 2-0 victors across the two-legged tie.

Arteta's side rarely troubled the Liverpool goal, bar an early Alexandre Lacazette free-kick hitting the crossbar, and their focus is now solely on the league as they are out of every other competition.

But the Spaniard believes his team can utilise their outing against the Reds to develop upon on Sunday against Burnley, who they have lost just one of their last 18 league games against.

"I will show them what they have done against Liverpool and demand more of ourselves as well," he told reporters at his pre-match news conference.

"We did a lot of good things but it is not enough to win the tie across two games against them, and this is the level of excellence we have to look for."

Burnley are winless in their last 11 Premier League away games, drawing four and losing seven, but have not played in the top flight since January 2 due to various coronavirus-enforced postponements.

The Clarets will be without the in-form Maxwel Cornet for the trip to Emirates Stadium as well, but Arteta expects a tough task against Sean Dyche's relegation battlers.

"They are a competitive team and Sean always puts them out there for a difficult game," he added.

"For us, it is a massive game after the defeat and disappointment – we have to get back on track and get winning."

Burnley did win 1-0 on their last league visit to Arsenal and are looking for consecutive such victories for just the third time, after doing so in 1950 and 1960.

While aware of his side's need to regain their form, Arteta insisted Arsenal are not feeling the heat of the top-four race as they sit in sixth – two points behind fourth-placed West Ham having played two games fewer.

However, north London rivals Tottenham are fourth, a point ahead of the Gunners, while boasting a one-game advantage over their neighbours.

"We are here to win football matches and that is the pressure, we know the amount of matches we have to win if we want to be up there," Arteta continued.

"We can't look too far ahead, there has been a lot happening in recent weeks and it has been extremely difficult to manage the squad and the team.

"We have lost a lot of players and we have to reunite, win on Sunday and move from there. Then we have a window to hopefully get some players back."

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