Mikel Arteta must solve worrying Arsenal problem to aid top four hopes after Man Utd loss

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta will struggle to get his side into the Premier League’s top four this season unless he can rescue their dire form against the division’s best teams as quickly as possible. The Gunners fell to their second defeat in their last three league outings on Thursday evening, with Manchester United coming from behind to claim all three points under the lights at Old Trafford.

Arsenal took an early lead through Emile Smith Rowe, who fired home in bizarre fashion after United goalkeeper David de Gea fell to the ground in pain following an accidental stamp from team-mate Fred.

The hosts drew level shortly before half-time when Bruno Fernandes finished a sweeping team move into the bottom corner and got their noses in front through Cristiano Ronaldo after the interval.

Martin Odegaard hit back for Arsenal with a quick-fire equaliser just minutes later, but the five-time Ballon d’Or winner went on to score the winner from the penalty spot to claim all three points for United.

The result saw Arsenal remain in fifth place in the Premier League table, one point behind fourth-placed West Ham United.

The Gunners have enjoyed a much-improved campaign when compared to last season and look set to battle it out for a top-four finish over the coming weeks and months.

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However, there is still plenty of work for Arteta to do in order to stand the best chance of achieving Champions League qualification for the first time in six years.

Arsenal have only lost twice in the Premier League since the end of September but have long struggled to beat the sides they will be competing with at the business end of the table.

They have already played against the four teams that qualified for the Champions League last season and their record from those fixtures is simply not good enough to justify a place in Europe’s most prestigious club competition.

Arteta’s side have failed to take any points from Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and United since the beginning of the campaign, losing on every single occasion.


They have only managed to score two goals over the course of the four matches, both of which came against the Red Devils on Thursday evening.

Meanwhile, the Gunners have conceded on no less than 15 occasions, leaving little doubt as to the area in need of the most improvement.

It will be crucial for Arsenal to start beating the sides around them in order to stand a realistic chance of sealing a top-four finish between now and the end of the season.

They will be unable to sneak into the picture without bringing the fight to the likes of United, Chelsea and City, with every point gained able to play a significant role in their efforts to join the party.


The problem has shaped Arsenal’s fortunes over the last few years and will need to be quickly addressed if Arteta is serious about leading a successful campaign this time around.

The Gunners will have the opportunity to gain some much-needed winning momentum over the coming weeks, with a trip to Everton up next on Monday evening.

They will also face Southampton, Leeds United and Norwich City before the end of the month as they look to mount a renewed assault on the Premier League’s upper reaches.

However, their efforts will likely be in vain unless they can start troubling the division’s big hitters to fuel their Champions League ambitions ahead of next season.


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